If you’ve ever had the experience working for a small business, you may be familiar with versatile job expectations and coffee makers that double as water heaters. If you own a small business, you know that there are many variables that factor into the day-to-day operation. In a small business environment, employees are often expected to wear many hats and make do with what’s available. The day-to-day items necessary to run a well-equipped office are numerous and tend to add up — shipping contracts, overhead, printing, and network capabilities are just a few examples of quotidian expenses necessary for running a business.
Fortunately, there’s several ways that you can use new apps, social media sharing, and great software to slim down your budget without starving your business of functionality.
1. Take full advantage of Social Media Marketing
Maximize your marketing efforts by magnifying your message reach to potential customers. Identify which social media platforms would fit best for your marketing efforts and focus on them. It’s important to be as visible and transparent as possible — all information about your company, including sales information and FAQs, should be organized on your homepage and easy to find. Not only that, but be sure that all your social media presence is coordinated to direct back to the information about your company on your website.
2. Produce great content
Take advantage of online media by putting your message out there consistently and frequently. Create a way to convey your brand’s message to your audience, so that your content becomes synonymous with your business.
3. Crunch numbers
Make sure you’re cross-referencing your weekly and monthly leads with unique web visitors. Evaluate the success of online strategy or a single campaign by noting where you saw results, and checking back with marketing to find out your ROI.
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4. Take advantage of free marketing tools
Email and online campaigns are great ways to shares news or products. Email blast services like Constant Contact are low-cost programs that are quick and easy to use for promotions and press releases.
5. Manage your content
Filesharing is a great way to quickly and easily share information across locations. Services such as Dropbox make it easier than ever to access important documents and materials from any location with an Internet connection. Not only is this a great tool for inter-office communiques, but it also makes daily hectic tasks easier, such as ordering banners for an upcoming event.
6. Invest in software
Depending on what you do, you may need to invest in software licenses for writing and editing, video and photo editing, and web design. Rather than hiring contractual or freelance employees, save money by bringing this work in-house where your full-time workers can handle projects as they arise.
7. Invest in your website
Your website should be two things: usable and engaging. As a small business, you really can’t afford to have an unprofessional home page. Pertinent information should be easy to locate, while the overall look of your website should be designed and organized by a graphic or web designer skilled in front-end and back-end programming.
8. Participate in industry conversation
This is a great easy way to get your business out there through technology. Industry forums are a great place to get the scoop on what clients and peers are thinking about the latest trends and products. News media outlets are also important to keep an eye on — share your business’s news with media, especially blogs and websites that cover your industry who would be interested in picking your story up.
9. Communicate with your customer base
Craft an open, honest policy for communication with clients and potential customers. Respond to emails, address questions and troubleshooting as they arise. Keep a file on FAQs so that answering simple questions is easy and useful. Most importantly, keep multiple channels open for communication; social media is often looked as a way to speak to the customer, but it’s a fantastic way for them to speak back.
10. Optimize your IT infrastructure
Your server and network should be able to support your company’s needs. The network should be organized so that finding important in-house information isn’t time-sucking chore. Additionally, keeping your infrastructure updated ensures against nasty surprises like server crashes which could cripple workflow for days or even cause you to lose data.
11. Take advantage of your partnerships wherever possible
Collaborate with your business partners on events and sponsorships. Not only will you save money, but you can set your designers and web team to work on publicizing your team effort.
The Diversity of expectations at small businesses leave very little down time. Finding ways to save money in any way possible will often lead to the success or failure of the operation. In the end, the most innovative–and driven–company needs to explore every route possible to see successful output.