14 Ways To Save Serious Money When Starting Or Growing Your Business
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Running a business is no easy task. As you run daily tasks, you’re likely to encounter need after need, service requirement after service requirement, some of which you never planned on having to deal with.
That’s why we put together this handy checklist of items you need to take into consideration. And because we don’t just identify problems, but also give solutions, we’ve included an option or two that will help you resolve each need.
This is vital information, and taking a few minutes to go over it now can save your hours of time and potentially thousands of dollars as you set out on your entrepreneurial endeavor.
1. Legal Needs:
Starting a company? Do you need to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation (Inc.)? Do you even know the differences between them? What about registering your trademark and logo? There’s a lot of forms that need to be completed and submitted, and odds are, you’re not a legal expert.
You can either spend your valuable time doing all the research yourself, spend a good chunk of your funding by hiring a lawyer to handle it all for you, OR you can save yourself time and money by going over to Legalzoom.com.
Legalzoom.com is a business filing service that eases the pain and can potentially save you hours of work and frustration. They’ve been around for more than 12 years, have helped over a million small businesses, and are known for accuracy and friendly customer service.
And, if you need a little more than just help with the paperwork, you can even purchase a plan that will get you legal advice from a real-live lawyer for as low as $31.25 a month, which, if you know anything at all about attorney fees, is a pretty good deal.
2. Design, Design, Design:
You don’t pay any attention to a company with a half-assed website, poor graphic design and boring logos, and neither does anybody else. It’s important to stand out from the crowd if you expect to attract customers. So don’t waste your time using your limited Photoshop skills that will ultimately result in something less than effective. Drop that burden and give it to someone who knows what they’re doing.
But how do you know you’re picking the right freelancer? You don’t really know if they’re right for the job until you’re happy with their work, right? Wouldn’t it be great if you could just tell a bunch of designers what you’re looking for, have them submit fully designed work, and then you could pick and only pay for the one you like best?
3. Lead Generation:
Ready to focus on growth? If you’ve got a solid website and a lot of traffic (or at least a viable plan to get some), then you might want to check out leadpages.net.
Lead pages works like this: You set up a landing page through their site, and put up a product, subscription service–whatever you want. Then you send your traffic to that page, and Leadpages will give you all sorts of data to let you know who’s buying, who’s paying to subscribe and who’s passing through.
This kind of data can help you turn potential customers in to loyal, repeat business. It’s not the kind of service that every business needs or can use effectively, but if you’re at the point where you’re truly ready for growth, it can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.
4. Get The Word Out:
Plain and simple, email marketing can make or break your business. Utilized effectively, you’ll engage existing clients and attract loads of new ones. But if you try to DIY it, you risk having your emails go right into the trash, unread and unsubscribed.
There’s a lot that goes into email newsletters, from design, to copywriting, to timing your blasts, to tracking your results. It’s an ongoing process, and you have other things you should be focused on, namely delivering on the promises of those emails.
So you’ll want to use a great email marketing platform, and there are a lot of great ones out there to choose from, like: constantcontact.com, icontact.com, getresponse.com, sendinblue.com, verticalresponse.com, aweber.com and drip.co.
Check out each one to see which best fits your needs. Constant Contact and iContact are both very user friendly and know for great support. GetResponse really simplifies the process, which makes it ideal for new users. SendinBlue has great ecommerce platform plug-ins and transactional email options. VerticalResponse offers the most advanced editing features for picture-heavy newsletters. And Aweber and Drip have tons of automation options to make follow-ups incredibly simple.
5. Make That Paper:
There’s no such thing as paper anymore, but you still need to get paid. And you need to make it easy for your customers to pay you.
Square has been the leader in credit card processing for a while, that continues today. Their card reader prices are very affordable, and they get major points for only charging a single, straightforward processing fee, whereas traditional credit car processors have fees out the yin-yang, from activation fees, to monthly fees, to minimum processing fees.
Squre also offers a POS app, which is a handy way of tracking your sales, getting customer feedback and managing your inventory, among other things.
6. Track That Paper:
There are a lot of ways to take care of your business’s accounting needs, with varying degrees of accuracy, efficiency and cost. Since you’re probably doing it yourself (at least to some extent), you want to reduce the time you spend on organizing expenses, following up with clients, and tracking project time by automating as much as possible.
Try freshbooks.com, a cloud-based secure accounting software, accessible from wherever you are, and super-easy to use. It not only saves you time, but produces great-looking invoices, which will let your clients know you’re on the ball.
7. Build A Better Website:
The quickest way to get a professional-looking website off the ground is to use a template. There are hundreds of places on the web to find thousands of potential templates, but you could spend as much time browsing through them as it would take to learn how to create your own theme from scratch.
Check out templatemonster.com. They’ve been around since 2002, and they’re constantly updating their stock of templates. They also walk you through the process to make sure you’re choosing the template that’s best suited for your needs, and best reflects your business’s personality.
They also have great support to address your questions and help you make your purchase, and if you decide the product you selected isn’t right for you after all, they’ll change it for free.
8. To Host Or Not To Host:
Now that you’ve got your beautiful and highly functional website, you want to make sure it stays that way. Security, scalability, load time and uptime are things that need to be constantly monitored, so it’s important to protect your investment and the future of your business with a reliable hosting company.
WPEngine is ideal for WordPress users. It’s literally all they do. Theme installation is easy, even if you’re a newbie, and they give you a whole lot more features than the cheap options out there. You can trust that your site is always super-quick and super-secure, as they have their own cache system and constantly bat away hackers.
If you’re not a WordPress user, or you want to save a few bucks, you should definitely go with HostGator. They don’t offer as many features and require at least a little development knowledge, but they’ve been around a long time, have a track record of reliability, and can save you a lot of money without the risk you encounter at most bargain hosting companies.
9. Blog Early, Blog Often:
Blogging is one of the best ways to add content to your site on a regular basis, and when you get a head of steam going, you can expand outside of your own sites, and eventually drive business towards you.
Running your own blog is not only a good idea, it’s pretty much essential in today’s business landscape. It’s how you connect with customers, share your philosophy, demonstrate the usefulness of your products and services, fuel your SEO, and drive traffic to your site to make sales.
There are multiple easy ways to create great-looking blog sites like wix.com, weebly.com, mozello.com, and ipage.com. They’re all very easy to use, and some have features like ecommerce pages if you’re looking to do more than just blog.
10. What’s The Password?
The best security in the world won’t matter a bit if someone gets your password. But with every damn site we visit needing passwords, each of them having different parameters (UPPER CASE, lower case, special characters, numbers, etc.), it can be hard to keep track of them all.
So go over to dashlane.com, which only requires you to remember one, count ‘em—one, password. Every day, you enter your “master password” and dashlane automatically remembers all your other passwords for all your other websites.
And the really great thing is that not even Dashlane can tell you what your master password is, so you’ll never be vulnerable, even if Dashlane gets hacked.
11. Your Domain Is Your Castle:
Hopefully, you’ve put a lot of thought into your business name and your domain name. And hopefully you have a couple fallback options, because domain names get traded like currency.
GoDaddy is an affordable and reliable option, with a free domain (with their annual plan), free email addresses, hundreds of free applications, unlimited bandwidth, and a ton of other perks and incentives. They’ve been around forever, are trusted by millions of users running tens of millions of sites, and have probably the widest selection of domain names out there.
12. Sign On The Dotted Line:
Everybody knows that a deal isn’t a deal until the paperwork is signed. The days of using the mail or even courier services are gone with the fax machine. We take care of document signing instantly nowadays, thanks to electronic signatures.
Docusign makes it easy for you to pretty much almost any type of document, email it out for a signature anywhere in the whole wide world, and have it back in your hot little hands within seconds.
And yes, thanks to the ESIGN Act of 2000, electronic signatures are legally binding within the United States (your country’s laws may vary).
13. Speaking of Outdated Technology…
Sometimes we still need to fax. Well, we need to efax. Not a lot of businesses have traditional fax machines anymore, and there’s no need for you to hunt one down. But that doesn’t mean hard copy documents are obsolete.
In these cases, you can use efax.com, which allows you to send faxes over the internet using your phone, tablet or computer, directly to a recipient’s fax machine.
14. Who Needs Landlines?
No need to go through the phone company. Just use the cloud. Call and receive from wherever you want–the person on the other end will always only see your business number, which always makes you look more professional.