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Five Must Have Business Utilities In 2013

As we all know, it is tough to start your own business, especially with the drastic ups and downs of this modern economic climate.  With the right tools you will be able to tackle any task that you put your mind to; however if you are not prepared, your business will be eaten alive by the competition.  Here are some of the utilities that you will need to help your business grow, even in the face of these obstacles.

small business utilities

photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc

1. Google Analytics

Google AnalyticsWe all know how important it is to drive traffic to a new website.  Without traffic a business simply will not succeed. If your business does get traffic, you obviously want to know where it is coming from.  The traffic can come from a variety of sources, such as referrals and direct visits, and it is important to know where the traffic is coming from so you can maximize the money that you spend on internet advertising and marketing campaigns.

With Google analytics you can see where your traffic is coming from, as well as more advanced metrics.  You can also see the time a visitor stayed, the pages they searched, the bounce rate of your website, the keywords they typed into a search engine to get to your website, and much more.  You can maximize your traffic, enabling you to monetize your traffic more effectively.

2. Odesk

Odesk

When you start a business, you most likely will not have the budget to purchase a brick and mortar building right away, but there are some support services that you will need.  You will likely need some help building a website, marketing your business, and even building special software for your company.

With Odesk you can easily find qualified professionals that are willing to work at very competitive rates.  You can post the specifics of the job that you need done, and then have freelance experts bid on the services that you need.  The best part about Odesk, is that it is very safe to use.  Most of the time, with the right contract, you will not have to pay for the work until the work is done.  The rating system at Odesk allows you to see the feedback about the freelancers that you are considering hiring, so that you will be able to find the most qualified person to do the job that you need.

3. DropBox

DropboxWhile working with freelancers, it can get very overwhelming checking emails and logging into Odesk to check the work you outsourced.  You need a tool that will make gathering and sorting the information much easier.

With DropBox you can install an extension to your computer that works off of a cloud server where you can share documents and information with the people that you have doing work for you, without the hassle of sending and receiving the information through email.   It is very easy to use:  all you have to do is right click an icon on your task bar and it will open up files on your cloud server, enabling you to simply drag and drop the documents you need without sifting through countless emails and other communication.

4.SugarCRM

SugarCRMWhen you start to get traffic and increase the number of customers that you are dealing with at one time you will need a system to help you keep your sales focused.  Customer relationship management, or CRM, is the solution that your business will need to keep your customer information organized.

SugarCRM offers incredible CRM software that will help you manage your clients with ease.  You can upload contracts, enter in leads, add phone numbers, sync your social accounts, and much more.  The largest advantage to SugarCRM is that they provide open source code that allows you to add modules and other custom pieces that will let you customize SugarCRM to handle the tasks that you need it to do.  SugarCRM is by far the best tool to keep your customer information organized and help you convert more potential customers into paying customers.

5.EchoSign

EchoSign

After you have the tools to drive traffic, analyze traffic, monetize your traffic, and input your data, you will need something to make the transaction official.

With EchoSign you can send your contracts quickly to your client’s email, where they can open it and digitally sign their signature. After they sign it you will have a legally recognized copy in your EchoSign account, which drastically reduces the amount of time that it takes to get contracts signed, sealed and delivered, so that you can get to work fulfilling your customers’ orders.

About the Author: My name is Matthew Boley, and I run many successful small businesses that range from local construction to a large marketing company.  I could not have done it without the small business tools that I have already discussed.  I wrote this article because I feel it is important to tell others about what helped me along my way to success. 

Image credit: Creative commons – sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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This article is one of the excellent contributions from small business owners, decision makers and professionals.

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