By Baruch Labunski
With 2018 just around the corner, entrepreneurs and small-business owners are not only preparing to wrap up their books for the year but also planning their future successes. And in today’s digital environment, efficiency must play a role in profitability. Fortunately, no matter what the objective, there’s a website or an app for that.
In fact, there are literally hundreds of online tools and resources to aid in almost any aspect of running a successful business. Some old favorites remain popular, while other new-and-improved programs continue to innovate the marketplace. Here, I’ve highlighted 10 of the hottest online resources for entrepreneurs in 2018:
- Awesome Screenshot: Today’s consumer is more visually-inclined than ever before, and the trend promises to continue into 2018. With Awesome Screenshot, you can capture portions of or entire pages without scrolling as you edit the image with simple annotations, hide sensitive information and even add simple shapes. Once you’ve finished editing the screenshot, you can save the image or upload it to Gmail, Twitter, Facebook or a linked Google Drive account. The tool is available as a free extension for Google Chrome and Safari. It’s saved us a lot of time creating presentations that would otherwise require a good deal of editing screenshots.
- ScheduleOnce: As an entrepreneur succeeds, his or her schedule is bound to get busier by the day. Use ScheduleOnce to schedule meetings. The online tool offers personal calendars that support all sorts of businesses and a variety of scheduling scenarios. The platform integrates with personal calendars, including Google Calendar, and offers feature-rich integrations with CRM, web conferencing and other online channels. With ScheduleOnce, you can collect meeting availability, accept appointments and bookings and even manage the scheduling of your team.
- Gumroad: Direct-to-consumer has become the bread and butter of e-commerce. Gumroad allows creative entrepreneurs to sell their digital products directly to consumers. Whether you’re an author, a designer, a musician or a software developer, you can use the plug-and-play tool to cut out the middleman as you process your own payments, host and deliver files, market your products and build your customer base. Freelancers we work with have used Gumroad to more easily market their creative products without paying fees to Amazon, iTunes and other retailers.
- Shopify: It may be considered classic software in the world of constant digital evolution, but Shopify is still a necessity for the online retailer. The popular e-commerce platform offers everything needed to sell online, in person or through social media. Shopify allows entrepreneurs to establish a brand with an online store and custom domain. Thanks to hundreds of themes, no design skills are necessary and each online store can be customized to match the personality of any business. You can even manage your sales from your mobile device using the app. Many of our entrepreneurial associates who aren’t experienced web designers use Shopify to sell their wares.
- Asana: The popular project-management tool helps entrepreneurs track productivity from start to finish with easy-to-use tasks, projects, conversations and dashboards. Quickly see the progress of any project, divide goals into smaller assignments and convert messages into tasks with the online tool that also offers a free app. Asana also offers custom workflows, inboxes, calendars and search functionality, to name just a few features. It has quickly become one of our favorite project-management tools.
- Nextiva: Entrepreneurs can improve the efficiency of their teams and close more sales with NextOS, a program that automates productivity and customer interaction tasks. Not only does it fully integrate marketing tools to connect with customers through voice, email, chat, social and SMS, but it also features productivity tools that provide all the information a business needs to resolve issues. And it automates workflows, so the frontline of your business can focus on helping customers.
- Expensify: Save on your accounting budget by using Expensify to manage all of your receipt and expense-management needs. The financial tool imports expenses and receipts from credit cards and emails to create expense reports, and its mobile app allows physical receipts to be photographed for easy uploading. It reads the receipts and automatically creates expenses or matches them to imported credit card transactions. You can export reports to a payroll solution and make reimbursements through ACH direct deposit.
- IFTTT: If This Then That (IFTTT) connects your various devices, integrates programs and automates tasks. Much like a mathematical formula, IFTTT’s website and app allow users to create logic statements that are carried out by applets -- tiny programs that use triggers to execute actions. For example, you may ask to receive an email every time your business is mentioned in a particular publication. Or perhaps you want to receive a notification on your mobile device anytime a meeting is added to your team’s calendar.
- Slack: Skype and email are so 2017. Slack integrates all your communication apps into a single seamless platform where you can search and find all your calls, messages and files in a single location. With Slack’s instant-messaging program, you can organize discussions into channels, sorting them by project, team or department. Plus, you can easily transition messages into voice or video calls. Slack also incorporates data from other apps and services, including Asana, Trello, Google Drive, Dropbox, Salesforce and many more, allowing entrepreneurs to access performance data, support tickets, budgets, leads and press without leaving a conversation.
Whether you’re just starting out or you run an established company, the above online tools will only help you more effectively and efficiently operate your business and build profits in 2018.
Baruch Labunski CEO of Rank Secure, a globally acclaimed SEO Company.