After finally launching their startups off the ground, the next step that most entrepreneurs and small business/startup owners dream of is watching their new businesses grow.
Whether a startup grows into a larger SMB (small and medium-sized business) or into a larger enterprise depends upon many different factors.
And although some of the factors related to small business growth are truly random, successful growth requires strategy. One smart strategy for small business growth is finding the right tool or tools from the get go.
Small business growth and taking your business to the next level typically requires unique tools
There are plenty of tools available that you can start using as a fledgling company that will not only help you grow, but will also grow as you do.
Here are three types of tools you may consider when starting out:
1) CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Solutions
One of the first tools you should consider is a robust CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. A good CRM helps you stay organized, keep track of your business interactions, housing all of your important client (and potential client) data, and keeping that valuable data up-to-date – all of which are important for small business growth.
Brian Sutter lists the key reasons why a CRM is essential for businesses in all stages of growth in his recent article for Entrepreneur as follows:
- It maximizes financial opportunities by building relationships.
- It allows businesses access to customer information.
- It manages sales pipelines.
- It manages sales representatives.
- It analyzes performance and business metrics for spotting patterns and trends.
Here are three popular CRMs that are scalable for growing small businesses:
1) Insightly offers affordable CRM solutions for the smallest of businesses all the way through the enterprise level. It is a cloud-based CRM, which means employees can add and access data from anywhere, including mobile devices.
2) NetSuite CRM software is unique in that it is the only cloud solution that delivers a real-time 360-degree view of your customer. As they state on their site: “From midsize to enterprise, businesses of every size are slashing their total cost of ownership, improving their finance team’s productivity and integrating their sales and finance processes. And they can now securely access their business applications from anywhere.”
3) Salesforce is also top CRM pick among businesses of all sizes, mainly because it is versatile, intuitive, and easy to use. Salesforce comes with many options for expanding beyond the CRM’s core functionalities (i.e., contact management, lead generation, forecasting and reports). As your business grows, so will the practicality of this CRM.
2) E-Commerce Solutions
E-commerce has been a popular strategy for small business growth among retailers for quite some time now.
And without a doubt, the startups and small businesses that implement e-commerce into their sales and marketing strategies often experience faster growth than their more traditional brick and mortar counterparts.
Peter Roesler touches upon some reasons why small businesses need e-commerce in his recent article for Inc. He states the following:
Investing in ecommerce is important for all businesses, because consumers use all channels at their disposal when researching, selecting and buying a product. In-store browsers can become online shoppers and vice versa.
More benefits of e-commerce include elimination of geographical boundaries and zero issues with time zones. With online stores, small business owners only spend a fraction of the costs associated with starting up and maintaining their businesses compared to similar brick and mortar stores.
Here are three popular e-commerce solutions for small businesses that are anticipating or already in the process of rapid growth:
1) Magento provides flexible tools that meet your online business’ unique needs and allows you to run your store effectively and efficiently. Magento’s enterprise solutions are scalable, support your growth, and grow as you do.
2) Shopify offers a user-friendly, clean, and modern interface for its users and is known as one of the world’s most scalable platforms. They even offer e-commerce software for all business sizes: small, medium and even enterprise solutions. A large benefit Shopify offers online businesses is a fully responsive web platform. This is a must-have for the large numbers of people who now shop via their smartphones and other mobile devices.
3) WooCommerce is currently one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the web. This solution works when you already have a WordPress-powered website for your business; it is built to integrate seamlessly with your site. Through extensions, you can build and control the online storefront that is perfect for your business’ individual requirements.
3) Social Media Marketing Solutions
In November 2014, I wrote a post about popular social media tools that three well-known marketers use and recommend for their own businesses.
Here are three of the tools from this post which are useful for your startup – and they can keep up with you as you grow:
1) Buffer allows users to schedule and share posts to major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn – and most recently, Pinterest.
2) Google Alerts lets you monitor the web for content related to nearly any topic you choose.
3) Hootsuite lets an individual or an entire organization manage multiple social media profiles from one place. Hootsuite’s functions include scheduling social media content, reporting, and social engagement opportunities.
Over to you
Are you a small business or startup owner who is projecting large growth rates? What tools do you recommend for small business growth? I would love to hear your suggestions…please feel free to leave a comment below.
Would love to toss in the Perch App (www.perchapp.com) under the Social Media Marketing category as well. It is a free app that small business owners can use to track reviews, social posts, images and promotions for the owner’s business, and is designed to help them follow and compare their activity across Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare and hundreds of deal sites — all in one place. And just recently, they rolled our free performance reports that show you how you are doing with social engagement, chatter, and review activity. Here is Perch in action: http://vimeo.com/48963015