10 tools you need to support serious growth

Unless you’ve spent most of your career in IT, knowing which technologies are right for supporting your growth can be a huge challenge. According to one study, “understanding changing technology needs and what products and services to use” was the top cited technology challenge among business owners.

So, our list of 10 technologies for growing your business will give you an overview of which essential apps and tools to support growth and help you grow.

Here are 10 kinds of tools which will become the backbone to your company’s growth.

1. Website

Clearly, no serious business today can launch without a website. And nowadays you don’t need to be a web designer to build a half-decent online presence for your company. Platforms like the ever-popular WordPress or Wix provide you with simple building blocks and templates to create a functioning website in no time at all.

2. Content storage

You and your teams will, over time, build up a lot of documents, files and folders. Storing them on your desktop is risky in case it malfunctions, and a server in the corner of your office is expensive. So, we’d recommend cloud-based storage like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.

3. Accounting software

Consistent and professional bookkeeping will save you a lot of time when it comes to paying your taxes at the end of the year, and can be a lot cheaper than hiring an accountant. Tools like Xero and QuickBooks are especially popular.

Read our intro to bookkeeping for small business.

4. Email management

When you want to send emails to your mailing list, a plain old message sent from your company Outlook or Gmail account isn’t going to catch anyone’s eye. Modern email management tools let you send thousands of emails without being considered spam, they let you build eye-catching, image-heavy messages and they provide tracking features for you to monitor the success of your campaigns. MailChimp is the king here, but check out alternatives like Get Response too.

5. Team task management

You need to be able to delegate tasks to your colleagues as you grow, and so tools like Asana (read our recent review), Trello or Basecamp allow you to share work on projects and ensure tasks don’t get delayed.

6. Collaborative communications

Email is still the most popular way for teams to work together, yet there’s a range of new tools coming onto the market which facilitate more collaborative communications. Check out Slack or Microsoft Teams which let employees across the company chat from any device and collaborate on documents in real time.

7. Essential office tools

Few businesses can survive without email, word processing and spreadsheets. Microsoft’s Office and Outlook remain the market leaders by a long shot, although Google’s Docs and Gmail are very popular among start-ups.

8. Analytics

For the sake of marketing, you need decent analytics for your website, but also for your social media and other platforms. Google Analytics is the undisputed leader for website analytics, while tools like Audiense are great for social media analytics and Mailchimp has great internal analytics.

9. Collaborative notebooks

Paper is so 1990. Today there are countess powerful, cloud-based note-taking tools which allow you to take notes on any device, as well as photos and screengrabs. Tools like Evernote and OneNote mean you’ll never lose an important idea again!

10. Social media management

The world is more social than ever, so tools like HootSuite or Buffer help you manage your social media marketing more effectively by timing when you’ll send updates and facilitating interaction with your audience.

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Len is a tech and business writer who covers small business and startup advice and has appeared in many print and digital publications. He lives in London, UK, where he's also a sub editor on a national newspaper. He loves to travel and has lived in France, Spain, Senegal and Rwanda.

5 Powerful Lead Generation Tactics

Struggling to generate more leads for your solopreneur business? You’re not alone. One recent survey of home-based entrepreneurs found that attracting new customers was the second biggest challenge they had to deal with (after managing their time). Generating new leads is, of course, essential for making your business grow. So, how can you get more leads?

Five Steps That Can Dramatically Boost Leads

The power to generate more leads is in your hands. Some of the tactics involve actively going out there and engaging with the world, others are more passive. If you’re shy, it can be tempting to avoid activities like networking and instead stick to sending emails. That can work, but to really get a consistent stream of leads coming in, you need to diversify.

The power of social media: Social media is an essential tool for work-from-home business owners. This survey from sales and marketing experts HubSpot found that social media is the most successful marketing tool when it came to lead generation for all kinds of businesses. What’s more, it was especially good at generating leads for small companies.

Your business needs a strong presence on social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and (if you’re a B2B business) LinkedIn. Come up with a unique tone of voice, interesting campaigns and engage with potential customers.

Also, use social media to link to new content on your website, promos or special deals.

Email marketing is the cornerstone: If your work-from-home business isn’t using email marketing, it should be.
Emails are easy to produce and get your brand in your customer’s email inbox. Add anyone who signs up to your services to your email list (remember to ask their permission though). We’d recommend producing a monthly newsletter, with the occasional campaign for specific promotions.

There’s a whole art to writing emails that make readers turn into customers. But, if there’s one thing your email must do, it’s include a call-to-action! This is normally a button in the email asking the recipient to do something once they’ve read your message (e.g. ‘book a session with me today’).

Get out there and network: Whether hate the idea of small talk or are a social butterfly, business networking is an essential way of creating leads. Start by reading this great B2B networking guide. However, don’t just think of networking in terms of business events—it can also include tapping into your own personal network.

Networking includes being active on forums related to your area of expertise. Join LinkedIn groups for professionals in your sector or city and start contributing. Once people know about you, they’re much more likely to get in touch or recommend you to someone else.

Use a CRM to store leads: A customer relationship manager (CRM), is a tool which stores all your contacts with existing and prospective clients. Once you start picking up more business, trying to manage all those contacts and their details in your email inbox is inefficient and likely to result in you missing important details.

Your CRM can be as simple as a spreadsheet where you store all customer details, and write any comments on your relationship with them and the work they’ve commissioned. But, most businesses today opt for a more sophisticated web-based tool (many are free), which integrates with your website, email service and other tools to store all that information more consistently.
The CRM won’t generate leads on its own, but it will make sure you don’t lose info on existing leads – and it also makes you a lot more organized.

Website basics: Your website does not need to be a work of art to bring in new business. That might help if you’re selling yourself as a web-designer, but for most companies, you just need the essentials in place. Your website should:

  • Be mobile friendly
  • Include photos and attractive imagery
  • Have connections with all your social media accounts
  • Offer easy payment options
  • Display all your contact details
  • Provide forms where people can contact you and book your services
  • Use text which answers all your customers’ questions
  • Have calls-to-action

Generate Leads Like A Boss!
Once you’ve optimized your lead generation process, you’ll see a real boost in the amount of business coming in. Now all you have to do is work out how to fit all that work in!

How To Create Your First Cold Traffic AD Campaign

We all want to be scooping up as many customers and leads as we can, right?

Of course…

In fact, a lot of people I know get “Lead Gen” stress…

What’s that?

It’s where they see all the Gurus and agencies telling them in their feed they need to do “X”, no wait, “Y”; but that’s of course after you’ve integrated with “A, B and C”…

They tell me they feel burned out before they start because it seems like…

  • A) They’re missing the boat big time on lead generation (probably true)
  • B) There’s no way they could know what they need to know to get it done and…
  • C) Scarcity mindsight. If all you see is ads and articles about people “killing it” you might be wondering…”How could I even compete anyway?” Worry not, you can with this simple guide to get you started.

*You’ve probably seen something similar to this post, but I am going to give you that last 10% you need to actually do it yourself. (NOTE: Everyone thinks Facebook Business Manager is Confusing! You’re Not Alone! Just hang in there 🙂

“How Do I Know What I Have To Share Works?”

Easy answer, I do it everyday.

Longer answer: Currently we’re averaging conversions for $1.75 or less, have over an 11% optin rate (on a form where we’re asking for First, Last, Email and Phone Number!) and a cost per pixel of less than $0.10? How are we achieving these great results? Keep reading to learn how…Armed with this information, you can start putting together a WINNING cold traffic strategy! Check it out!

Landing Page Conversions:

Creating Your Cold Traffic Campaign:

What is a cold traffic campaign?

Here’s my definition: “they don’t know you and haven’t heard of you or your product before”

Simple enough, right?

That’s probably a lot of people! I know you’re super awesome, but still, more people don’t know you, than know you; which is quite alright and leads us to our next point…

Where to start?

Right here, duh!

Here’s a quick tip to better target the right prospects for your campaign (and it actually works!)

What is the one thing your hardcore audience knows about your topic or niche that the casual audience wouldn’t?

Some examples (below)

Topic: Investing

  • Casual Audience: Knows “Warren Buffett”
  • More Serious Audience: Knows “Ray Dalio”
  • Hardcore Audience: Knows “Benjamin Graham” or “Philip A. Fisher” (never heard of them unless you’re into investing, right?)

Topic: Dog Shows

  • Casual Audience: Knows “Dog Olympics”
  • More Serious Audience: AKC/Eukanuba National Championship
  • Hardcore Audience: Crufts (Never heard of it, had to google it, but it is the world’s largest dog show!)

So think about who you’ll want to be targeting. Hardcore is always better than casual. Even your Grandma knows who Tiger Woods’ is, so if you were selling something Golf related that would be WAAAY to broad. Niche, Niche, Niche!

Facebook Ads by the Numbers

*I’m assuming you’re using Facebook Ads but this strategy will work with other platforms like Google AdWords, Pinterest, BingAds etc.

  • Targeting: Interest categories with target size of 500K – 1MM
  • Content/Offer: Cold traffic to High Value Content or Lead Magnet
  • Budget: $5 per day (as an example)
  • Success Metric: CPP (cost per tracking pixel)
  • AD Objective: Clicks to website
  • Bidding: Manual bidding by clicks (slightly higher than suggested bid)

To Break it Down For Ya…

Targeting: Use the interest targeting in Facebook to find your target audience, using the tips above, to create an audience site in the sweet spot of 500K – 1MM potential prospects.

Content Offer: Send them to highly relevant content that provides a ton of value! If you’re sending them to a lead magnet (i.e. they’re going to give you some information, maybe their name and email, and you’re going to send them some information, like a checklist or eBook, make sure it is a low friction offer with a lot of upside for them!)

NOTE: Please, do not send cold traffic to an order form or high dollar offer. It won’t convert. I’ve wasted plenty of money doing it in the past, so take my word for it. That’s like asking for a prenup on the first date! (and ends about as well as you’d expect) Remember this is cold traffic. You’re acquainting them, positively, with your brand for the first time – put your best foot forward here.

Budget: $5 per day (as an example) but start small to begin with so that you can see how things are going. Facebook Ads can run away on you if you’re not vigilant.

Success Metric: Cost Per Pixel (so, what’s the cost to pixel your traffic)

AD Objective: Clicks to website (more clicks the better obviously, remember we’ll be converting these people to warm traffic hopefully soon. Also this pixelled traffic will be used to create lookalike audiences for your future cold traffic campaigns)

BONUS: Make sure you have a johnson box, optin box within the content or an exit intent popup with a lead magnet (have something to offer). Just because you’re doing a cold traffic campaign doesn’t mean you don’t give them the option to sign up for something valuable. If you’re sending them to a lead magnet. MAKE SURE you landing page resembles your Ad both in look and content.

Summary

Why is this important? Ohhh lawdy… let me count the ways…

  1. You get new traffic to your site (win)
  2. You can measure how well your site converts that traffic
  3. You can optimize your ad copy and start learning today
  4. THIS IS HUGE: Make lookalike audiences of the people that click
  5. Gauge how prospects view the perceived value of your content
  6. Get new customers and Warm Leads
  7. You need more?

Follow these steps to get new blood into your business and learn what really works using small daily budgets. Run multiple offers and content pieces until you’ve got your own personal formula down for generating cold traffic leads. It really is that easy (and inexpensive). Stop thinking. Start creating.

Still feeling lost? Book a free 15 minute consultation to clear things up here.

Talk soon!