by Art Piccio . January 24th, 2013
Everyone and their grandmother knows how Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, and Pinterest connect people who monetize their hobbies with the rest of the world. The thing is, a lot of non-so-serious entreps find themselves fumbling around with hastily put together solutions for their microbusiness – often without realizing things can be made so much simpler.
Here, we’ve collected a few tools we’ve personally found to actually work and are scalable for smaller enterprises. After all, not everyone wants to be the next Steve Jobs, but darn near everyone hates working blind or sweating the small stuff.
Here are things that will save you time so you could do other stuff you find actually matters. This is NOT an exhaustive list. We’d love to hear suggestions from you.
google.com/analytics – You’ll need THIS at the very least. This free tool lets you keep track of your website’s performance.
google.com/insights/search/ – easy-to-access data on what’s being searched, how often, from where.
docs.google.com – Need an easy way to share and transfer data? Paranoid about losing important information? Google Docs is the gold standard for free cloud computing.
google.com/voice – This awesome free service lets you have a local phone number for free, and forwards the call to the phone of your choice. Even better, it distinguishes between personal and business calls.
etherpad.org – Sick of Google for some reason? Me too. Try this free alternative to Google Docs.
marketsamurai.com – if the Google Keyword tool isn’t doing it well enough for you, give Market Samurai a try. This paid tool eliminates a lot of the guesswork needed, streamlining keyword research.
dropbox.com – This handy tool makes transfering and copying large files a snap. Absolutely brilliant and simple – cloud computing at its finest. I actually personally use this myself.
freelancer.com – Need something done on a budget but don’t know how to do it? Freelancer.com offers CHEAP outsourcing for design, SEO, app coding, content, and everything else that could be done online. But you do get what you pay for.
odesk.com – Hire freelancers, or create an entire team or department online. If it can be done online and you have the money, ODesk helps make it happen.
elance.com – This paid resource does a pretty good job of sorting the chaff from the wheat, as far as labor outsourcing goes. Expect better quality applicants than general.
craigslist.org – Still going strong since the 90s, Craigslist is alternately a great and horrible place to buy and sell anything under the sun. Craiglist makes it simple to purchase equipment both used and unused, advertise job openings, buy and rent space, find freelancers, and notoriously – find love. Even the most cursory search is a path to hilarity, which should be great for keeping your morale up.
innocentive.com – Having trouble solving problems with your awesome ideas? Innocentive makes it easy to crowdsource brainpower. The site claims to “provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy, scientific, and technical challenges.”
weebly.com – Do you know absolutely nothing about web design? Weebly has all the resources you need to get started. Maybe you should read our past articles on design to help you get a better grasp on things.
quirky.com – Connects you with people who could bring the most unconventional ideas to life. Usually worth it.
quora.com – A great place for finding answers to a lot of newbie entrepreneur questions.
entrepreneur.com – For entrepreneurship news and inspiration, as well as thousands of tips and tricks, Entrepreneur.com remains a small biz standard.
sba.gov – If you’re ever in doubt about anything regarding incorporation laws, taxes, financial breaks, and other Federal policies, this is the first place to visit. Check if answers to your questions are here before paying a blood-sucking lawyer to tell you the same thing. No offense intended to blood-sucking lawyers. Really.
helpareporter.com– Brings reporters and sources together. Each day three emails are sent from HARO showing what stories reporters are looking for. Email reporters with your credentials and explain why your product/event/company is interesting.
wishcan.com – make a wishlist, connect with other startups, and hope they pull through with your wishes. If nothing else, it’s great for networking.
hootsuite.com – Manage multiple social media profiles on different platforms simultaneously. Did we mention it’s free? Because it is.
mailchimp.com – Email marketing made super-simple. The service is free on up to 2,000 subscribers. Wins our award for cutest logo ever.
kickstarter.com – good for basic funding for small projects. You’ve probably seen this parodied elsewhere – a sign of its growing importance.
geckoboard.com – Geckoboard takes most of your disparate, messy entrepreneuring (is that even a word?) tools and organizes them in one coherent whole. Great for managers and business owners who have constant migraines.
wordpress.com – We use it. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Makes blogging almost as easy as editing a Word document.
bluehost.com – For $4 to $6 per month, you can have some of the most stable webhosting available. Features one-button WordPress integration, so you could concentrate on actually designing your site, rather than all the technical details.
bigcommerce.com– Not sure which checkout system to use? For only $24.99 a month (cancellable at any time) Big Commerce offers more support and features than most of its other peers. The interface is stupid-simple. Perfect for hobbyists-turned-microbusiness-owners.
grasshopper.com– Need an 800 number? For a small fee Grasshopper can give you one, lending your business plenty of legitimacy. These 800 numbers can be forwarded to multiple phones and cell phones. Great news for businesses that see employees on the road.
We’re pretty sure we missed a heck of a lot of other tools. Suggestions/complaints/cupcakes are welcome.
Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.