In the world of start-up businesses, it’s all about being online. Web-based tools and services are indispensable assets for your business – there’s no doubt about that. But there are so many services out there that it can be hard to tell which ones you really need, and which you don’t.
Let’s make things easier and take a look at five essential services that will help your start-up grow and thrive.
1. Toll-free/1300 numbers
If you want your customers to call you, there’s one thing you can do that will definitely encourage them: provide a toll-free or 1300 number. Providers like Zintel offer solutions for business phone numbers that won’t cost your customers a cent when they call.
2. Cloud-based solutions
Instead of having desk drawers and filing cabinets full of paper documents, imagine if you could keep all your business documents and data in one place that’s easily accessible from wherever you like? That’s what you get when you employ a cloud-based storage solution for your business.
It’s very easy and practical to store everything you need for your business, such as website data and customer relationship management systems, ‘in the cloud’. And as your business grows, you’ll really appreciate the convenience and functionality of a cloud-based system, which allows easy access to everything you need in the one place.
3. Virtual receptionists/online chat functions
With much of today’s business being conducted online, customers and clients may miss that extra level of communication they receive at a bricks-and-mortar business. However, there are a couple of online solutions that can provide this: virtual receptionists and online chat functions.
A virtual receptionist is basically a person whose job it is to answer incoming business-related calls. In a digital capacity, they perform the same function of a real-life receptionist, whose job it is to greet clients and answer any queries they may have. The difference between an in-house receptionist and a virtual receptionist is that the latter is usually outsourced (meaning they work from a different office, even a different country). A virtual receptionist is usually based in a call centre, and is trained to manage all your clients’ questions efficiently, leaving you free to manage other aspects of your start-up.
An online chat function also provides immediate support for your clients, but a little differently. Using this function, you or another member of your team is able to talk directly with clients over the internet, without having to take a phone call. You can answer queries and provide help and advice, and the chat-based function means you can go back and forth between the conversation and any other work you’re doing.
4. Marketing software
A start-up has no hope of growing into a successful, established business without a marketing campaign. Luckily, there’s an abundance of convenient online tools and services designed especially to help you manage the marketing needs of your company.
Every start-up needs an online presence, which means a website, social media channels and an email marketing campaign (at the very least). To help your website stand out in search engines, there are tools like SEMrush, which help you with things like statistics, advertising, analytics and keywords. For social media, there are scheduling and management applications like Hootsuite, which help you manage your presence, increase reach and analyse your success. And for email marketing, there are services like Campaigner, which allow you to create and automate effective email campaigns for your base of subscribers and potential customers.
5. Online fax
Gone are the days of physical fax machines – these days it’s all about online faxing. More convenient than post or traditional faxing, online faxing allows you to send and receive faxes digitally via your computer, tablet or phone.
Services like eFax enable you to use any device with email access to send and receive business documents – including large files and documents with electronic signatures. eFax also offers a cloud storage system, the many benefits of which we explored above.
These are just five of the most beneficial small business tools available online today. Once you start utilising the internet to its full advantage, your start-up will run more smoothly than ever – and will expand and improve significantly as a result.