Have you ever wondered why so many startups fail? According to research by Gallup, about 50% of new U.S. companies fail during their first five years. These failures are primarily due to reasons ranging from running out of money and marketing changes, to supply chain issues and a lack of talent. That last reason brings up an interesting insight. Why don’t some entrepreneurs have what it takes to get up and running?
In some cases, it’s certainly a lack of know-how, persistence and ingenuity. That’s true of anyone working in any field, regardless of whether or not they’re an entrepreneur or an entry-level employee. But entrepreneurs also need the right tools and support in order to develop and focus on their strengths. Without appropriate resources in place, small businesses and entrepreneurs are setting themselves up for a difficult uphill battle at best, and complete burn-out failure at worst.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools on the market that can help small businesses compete with the big guys. Here are seven to help you get your business off the ground, and more importantly, stay there.
Rapidly growing businesses don’t always scale to success. Instead, they often succumb to the struggles of cash flow and keeping enough inventory or payroll going to stay afloat. While big players can turn to their equity investors for a few million in startup capital, smaller businesses don’t usually have that option. Meanwhile, banks aren’t always kind to small business owners. That’s where alternative lender Kabbage steps in.
Spend a few minutes to set up an account and find out quickly if you qualify. From there, you can receive offers for instant cash, without the obligation to agree to the terms until you decide to take the loan offered. Expect to receive offers ranging from $2,000 to $100,000. How much will a loan ultimately cost you? Kabbage shows an estimated $1,200 in related fees for taking a $10,000 loan.
Getting bridge loans or wooing equity investors are not your only options to raise the capital you need to grow your business. Crowdsource your success by turning to a platform like IndieGoGo. Launch a campaign and show off your prototype, product or service while you solicit financial support in exchange for free merchandise, discounts or even an elaborate and public thank you.
There are no promises that you’ll realize your IndieGoGo goals, but the platform does have a history of success for both big and small companies alike. For example, Stone Brewing Company recently raised over $2 million for a series of rare, fine concoctions made with the help of other top brewers. What’s even more impressive is that their goal was only $1 million.
3. Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg describes itself as a pair of x-ray glasses that let you see exactly what people are doing on your website. That assessment is pretty accurate. The software allows you to see exactly where customers are clicking and spending the most time on your site. But instead of getting dry, detailed reports with numbers and charts that make little sense, you can view it all like a heat map of activity.
Instead of guessing what your clients want to see or do, you instantly and intuitively see what potential customers are doing, where they’re stopping to linger and where they’re leaving your website. Start using that detailed behavioral feedback to make changes in your business by adding in opt-ins or discount offers, or even by restructuring your website accordingly.
Even after spending hours refining your website’s design, content, videos and opt-in offers, you only have seconds to convert a customer. Grabbing someone’s attention online is at an all-time premium, and is often hit-or-miss for businesses of all sizes. But whereas big corporations have an entire team of web developers devoted to testing, analytics and design, small businesses rarely have the budget to do testing at that level.
Using a system like Unbounce can help you instantly create drag-and-drop landing page templates that work seamlessly across any device. But most importantly, you can A/B test a variety of landing pages to see which ones work best, and optimize your content accordingly.
5. Rocket Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer to protect your assets, legitimize your business and ensure it’s being run properly in the eyes of the law is an intimidating process at best. At worst, it’s expensive, time-consuming and doesn’t always yield the results you want. Instead of flying under the radar and hoping you can do it all on your own, use Rocket Lawyer.
Get over 30,000 legal questions answered online, create your own legal documents and start the incorporation process yourself. Rocket Lawyer’s package pricing can scale up as your business grows, and also can put you in touch with their On Call Attorneys anytime and anywhere.
Anyone can set up a quick Google alert to see who’s talking about their company, their competitors and certain keywords. But there’s more to tracking content than getting alerts in your inbox. You also need a way to figure out how that content ranks and is discussed and shared across channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. Buzzsumo can help companies and agencies alike figure out where engaging content is happening, and how to leverage it into an outreach opportunity.
7. Fancy Hands
It’s not always feasible to outsource all of your individual operations, business management and HR duties, but you can free up valuable time by consolidating various business and personal tasks through personal assistant services like Fancy Hands. Fancy Hands assistants can do anything from scheduling your client meetings to calling your cable company. In the latter case, they’ll even wait in queue, argue to lower your bill and patch you in to give any necessary go-ahead at the appropriate time.
Fancy Hands can also integrate with your existing billing tools or Basecamp to get up and running immediately. Pricing starts at less than $30 a month for a handful of requests, and they offer team discounts and bulk requests so you can scale up or down as needed, depending on your busy seasons.
With any of these seven tools, you’ll be able to decrease your chances of failure and increase you odds of reaching your potential. Big companies may have the resources to do whatever they want, but none of them can make a decision as fast as you can and change direction on a dime. As this list indicates, the power is increasingly in the small business owners’ hands.
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