The Best Software for Running a Small Business

The Best Software for Running a Small Business

Choosing the best software for running a small business can be challenging. It’s very important to select the right tools to serve your business needs but because there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes you can select the wrong tools or go overboard and end up using too many tools.

You could also try the software out and only after using it, decide that it’s not serving your business needs. This can be a big time waster because you’ll have to start from scratch with another tool or software application. It also might involve transferring data from one tool to another which takes you away from the things you really need to be doing to grow your business.

As part of our effort to help people grow their businesses and reach more customers, we would like to share with you some of the best software for running a small business. These tools have helped become more efficient, grow our business and reach more customers!

Below we share our favourite efficient and affordable tools to help you run your new freelance or startup business which includes a website content management system, SEO tool, newsletter and mailing list tool, accounting software, CRM database, and open office software.

1. Website Platform and Content Management System

If you’re in need of a website or platform for publishing content than WordPress is the easiest to use tool out there. It powers one in every six web pages! WordPress is incredibly flexible and scalable. It’s inexpensive compared to many website platforms as you don’t have to pay expensive monthly fees.

You can use a designer to help you design your website or blog on WordPress. You can also get a free or premium theme and design it yourself but it can be very time consuming and not everyone is a designer! It’s important that your website is mobile-friendly, looks professional and is easy for your potential customers to navigate.

Many small businesses decide not to invest in a professional designer for their website resulting in a poorly designed, hard to navigate website. Your website today will need to look great on both tablet and portrait views on smartphone and tablet, as well as on laptops and desktop computers.

Get in touch with us to learn more about WordPress and to see how we can help you with a mobile-friendly website for your start-up business or helping you upgrade your existing website.

2. Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy with the Yoast SEO Plugin

The Yoast SEO plugin can be installed on WordPress and is used to optimise your website pages and improve your search engine ranking. It has an easy to use form and guide that you fill out for each of your websites pages and blog posts to make sure they meet requirements of search engine algorithms used by Google & Bing.

3. Marketing Automation Platform with Newsletter and Mailing List Tool

We use MailChimp which integrates with our mailing list opt-in tool on our website. Anyone who signs up for our mailing list on our website is added to our MailChimp database automatically. We then use our custom designed newsletter templates in MailChimp to send out emails and monthly newsletters to all of our mailing list contacts. It’s free to use for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 sends.

We can design a custom MailChimp template and help you set up a mailing list opt-in on your website. Just get in touch and find out how we can help you stay in touch with your customers.

4. QuickBooks Accounting Software for Self Employed Freelancers or Small Business Owners

One of the best investments in your new startup business will be accounting software to help you easily manage the financial end of your new business. This is a task that many new freelancers and startups find to be the most difficult so it’s important that you get a software that makes it easy. One of the best online accounting software available is QuickBooks accounting solution. With QuickBooks, you can easily create and send invoices from anywhere, take snapshots of receipts, connect directly to your bank account, estimate tax, complete HMRC self-assessment, sort business and personal transaction and track mileage transactions. Their basic package for freelancers starts at $6.00 per month with promotions often offering discounts. They also offer a more advanced package for small businesses.

You might decide you want to go with a free financial or invoicing tool because they are available, but keep in mind that this solution might not grow with your business and might not offer all of the features of a paid version like QuickBooks. They also might not be able to provide the HMRC self-assessments or other tax features.

5. Customer Relationship Management Database Solution

A great free option for small business owners and freelancers and one we also use is Capsule CRM. It’s great because it can scale with your business. It starts out with two users with 250 contacts for free and you can upgrade to the professional version for $8.00 per month per user and up to 50,000 contacts.

6. Open Office Software for Creation & Collaboration on Documents, Spreadsheets & Presentations

If you want to avoid the cost of Microsoft Office for Windows PCs or iWork on Macs, you can use open software from Google like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. For more robust features similar to MS Office or iWork you could also use the Open Source LibreOffice software for creating documents, spreadsheets or presentations.

The great thing about these cloud-based office solutions is that you can easily collaborate simultaneously with clients or other members of your business. It makes it much easier than using tracked changes and sending documents back and forth over email.

 

Do you have a favourite app, tool or software that has helped you with freelance work or running a small business? 

Please comment below and let us know what apps, tools or software have helped you the most!

How Adding an SSL Certificate Benefits Your Business

How Adding an SSL Certificate Benefits Your Business

Have you added an SSL certificate to your website yet? Adding an SSL Certificate benefits your business in many ways. It can improve your website’s security and protect your customer’s data. In addition, it can improve your Google search ranking and also ensure people can still visit your website.  Below we go into more detail on the benefits of adding an SSL Certificate to your website.

SSL Certificate Benefits

1. Improve Your Website Security

image for ssl certificate benefits blog showing https in url to show ssl on websiteAn SSL certificate adds a layer of protection to your website in order to protect it from hacking. It encrypts and secures data on your site. Think of it as sealing a letter in an envelope prior to posting it. When you add an SSL, your website address will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. This added ‘s’ gives visitors to your website more protection against hackers.

2. Improve Your Google Search Ranking

You can also improve your Google search ranking by adding an SSL certificate to your website. Google is now prioritising websites that have SSL certificates in their search results so, adding one can give your ranking a boost. SSL certificates give websites more security and protection, therefore, your site is considered safer for visitors, so Google is prioritising them.

3. Prevent Your Site Being Marked Unsafe by Google

Google has recently announced they will be flagging websites without SSL certificates in their Chrome web browser. If your potential website visitor is using Chrome and visits your website, they might get a message that your website is not safe. This will mostly affect websites with contact forms where visitors are required to enter data. They could decide to flag other websites without contact forms in the future.  The new General Data Protection Regulation being implemented in the UK in June 2018 might affect their policies in this area.

Setting up an SSL Certificate

We can help you set up an SSL certificate on your website if you’d like to improve the security on your website. We can arrange the purchase of your SSL certificate through your hosting provider and get it all set up for you! Get in touch to see how we can help!

How a Free Google Business Listing Can Help Your Business

How a Free Google Business Listing Can Help Your Business

Make it easier for your customers to find you with a free Google Business Listing which is connected to Google Maps. It’s a great way to make it easier for your potential customers to find you. We can help set you up with an account! We can start a new account or help you update your existing listing! Find out in our article below how a free Google business listing can help your business!

Benefits of a Free Google Business Listinglaptop computer showing google search

A Google Business listing will make it easier for your customers to find you when they perform searches on Google. The Google Business Map results show at the top of the search results page. If someone searches for ‘Web Designer Edinburgh’ for example. These listings are separate from the normal search results on the page.  If your website’s ranking isn’t great and you’re not appearing on page 1 of Google then it will help to create a Google Business Profile. This will give your customers another potential way of finding you.

How to Improve Your Google Business Listing Ranking

Once you’ve signed up for a free listing, you can try to improve your ranking so that you appear at the top of the results. For example, when someone searches for your service (ie Web Design Edinburgh) you will be at the top of the list for web designers in Edinburgh.  It will also depend on where your potential customer is performing the search. The closer they are to your location, the closer to the top you will appear when they search for you.

Complete Your Profile and Add Posts

Your Google Business Maps ranking is also affected by other things including how well developed your profile is. It’s also affected by how often you post to your Google business profile. Complete your profile fully and add images of yourself, your logo, or any other images you want to share. Make sure you link to your website and other social media accounts as well.

Keywords

Your ranking in Google Business Listings/Maps is also determined by how closely your business name matches the keywords that are being searched for. If your business name is Edinburgh Website Designers and potential customers are typing Edinburgh Website Designers, then you will appear closer to the top of the results, however, there are other factors that determine your ranking as well.

Reviews Quantity & Quality

How many customers have left you reviews will also increase your ranking, as long as they’re good reviews with 4 or 5-star ratings.  The businesses with the most 5 star reviews will appear towards the top of the search results.

While good reviews can improve your ranking, bad reviews can also harm your ranking.  If you are left a bad review on Google or anywhere on the internet, it can affect your search ranking and your business’s reputation.  If you do receive a bad review, make sure you respond to the bad review online and resolve the issue so that people can see that you dealt with the issue in an appropriate manner and didn’t just ignore your customer.

 

We can help set you up with a Google Business listing or improve your existing listing. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements and let us know if we can help!

 

Calling Business Start ups! 5 Essentials for a Great Logo

Calling Business Start ups! 5 Essentials for a Great Logo

A test to start with…Can you spot the arrow in the FED EX logo? Took me a while but once I spotted it I thought what a great logo!

Your logo is the starting point for your business. It tells a story about you. It portrays what kind of person/business you want to be. It speaks to potential clients and stays in their memory recall. There are five little secrets to a logo’s success. I’m going to share these with you today!

1. Simplicity

The first element of a great logo is simplicity. A good way to think about simplicity is how many moving pieces are there in the logo. Or to put this more simply, how many parts are there to the logo? I’ll give you an example…the old Apple logo was rainbow-colored (a bit over done in my opinion) while the current one is rendered in solid black or simple greyscale. This new simplicity makes the logo easy to look at, which customers appreciate.

2. Branding

Your logo will communicate things to consumers about your brand, so you need to ensure that its design fits your business message. I’m going to refer to the Apple logo again. Apple used rainbow colors in their original logo as rainbows had a certain association with being free and easygoing. This had to change if Apple were going to take on tech giants such as Microsoft. To compete they rebranded their logo to the one you see now,  Apples current position as one of the most valuable corporations in the world calls for the sleek, futuristic logo it has now.

At the same time, Apple’s logo still seems lighter and friendlier  than tech organisations such as IBM’s, which is more dark and forboding. It seems that Apple are saying “We are technology, we’re easy-to-use technology.” I think If you’re starting up a new company, you should put some serious thought into your brand’s key characteristics and how you want to convey them in your logo.This can be done through colour/font and perhaps graphic image.

3. Memorable

A memorable logo helps for customers to recall, which leads to repeat customers and word of mouth. Simplicity is essential but a little something different or unexpected into your logo can make it stand out.

4. Remarkable

A lot of this is to do with the business name you choose. Try and be unique and stand out in your name so its memorable. In turn this uniqueness will translate into the logo design and customers will remark on your design.

5. Test your logo

So important! Ask your friends/family/colleagues their opinion. Get feedback. Don’t rely on your own judgement.

Is Your Social Media Profile Bad for Your Business?

Is Your Social Media Profile Bad for Your Business?

You know how important it is to have a professional image to represent your business. One of the first steps of a new business is usually having a professional logo and website designed, along with business cards and other materials. However, many fall short when it comes to their social media image, which could be bad for business.

Professional Profile Images and Banners on Your Social Media Pages

It’s quite common to see social media pages of businesses with logos and profile images that are blurry with poor resolution, that aren’t sized properly, or banners that don’t fit or look like you did them yourself, without a professional graphic designer. Some amateur graphic designers can get away with it, but it’s always a good idea to get a professional’s honest opinion on your homemade creations. Your social media account is another online representation of your business so it’s very important that it also looks professional.

It can be very time consuming creating profile pictures and banners, especially if you’re not a graphic designer, and if you have multiple social media accounts, as different sites use different image sizes.

Should You Use a Professional Logo or Head-shot?

Use your logo or a professional headshot for your profile image, depending on the type of business. A sole trader might go with a headshot, but if you have more than one person in your business, a logo might be more appropriate. You can use your logo in your custom styled, branded banner image.

In most cases, you can use the same profile images and banner images across your different social media accounts, but they all need to be sized appropriately which should also be done by a professional designer.

When your social media accounts don’t look professional, neither does your business so it is very important to use properly formatted images and banners across all your social media accounts.

Moo Web Design can create social media profile pictures and banners for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn Personal & Business Pages, and any other account where you need custom images. Just contact us for a free consultation on how we can help!

 

Are You Making These 5 Common Business Card Mistakes?

Are You Making These 5 Common Business Card Mistakes?

To write this post, I looked at ten random business cards I’ve received, so these are existing cards companies use for their business. I picked up that all these businesses make small errors which may significantly effect how they are viewed by potential customers. Here are 5 business card mistakes people make:

1. Too much information

Some cards are so full of information that you really don’t know where to start. A business card is not a good place for your sales pitch. It’s a place to entice people. To draw them in and guide them as to how they can learn more about your business or services. Are you over-delivering on your card?

2. Design inconsistent with website

There is great value in having a card design that integrates the look and feel of your brand. So if you have a website, a shop front, a product line look or anything else, shouldn’t the look of your business card be consistent? Few of us have enough money to be driving thousands of people to our site or store everyday. But you can at least create more recognition of your brand via integration of your marketing materials.

3. No email/web address or bad email

Two cards I was given are without an email address, one is also without a web address, just a phone number. If I want to find out more about their business I need a website to go to. I have been given two cards that had a nice logo and business name combined with a gmail address. That lowers your credibility in my eyes. Especially when it is so easy to get an email address with your own custom url.

4. Printed on poor quality paper

Please don’t use “cheap” printing. Your brand matters to people. And often the first and early impressions are based on things like your business card. Would you pay someone who has a paper-thin low quality business card?

5. Not using back of card

I believe in white space (room around the content that makes your card easier to read) so I always recommend you use the back side of the card. If you put your brand promise on the back, you can hand someone your card with that side facing up (and saying the brand promise out loud).

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