When it comes to launching a new business, things are going to be crazy. Twenty-four hours in a day will never feel shorter or less sufficient than it will when you’re hustling for your new venture. It’s going to be a long journey, so it’s important you capitalize on anything and everything that will make that journey a little less painful and a whole lot more efficient.
Here’s just a few of the best free resources to build your new business:
Email marketing in 2017 is entirely underrated, and applications like Mailchimp offer a huge spread of breathtaking templates and insights into how your campaigns are performing. All for free! Create your own branded templates and schedule campaigns well in advance. You can also link your newsletter signup from your website directly to Mailchimp and watch your subscription list grow on its own.
The post-campaign analytics are a great way to investigate your audience: which types of promotions get the best reaction? Does a certain time of day get more click-throughs? Which subject lines get the most opens?
Pro tip: If you use the application enough, you can even unlock certain features like A/B testing, and if you really love what you’re seeing, you can upgrade to a paid account for more features.
Whether you’re going in solo or working with a team for your new business, Todoist is a great way to force yourself to stay on track. You can create projects, invite your co-workers, and fill individual projects with heavy to-do lists. You can assign tasks to specific people and set due dates for each item. It lets you organize the lists based off priority, date, name or responsibility to make sure you’re always staying on top.
Pro tip: Don’t let yourself call it a night until everything from that day has been checked off your list. If it needs to be moved because of other factors delaying it, then do so, but don’t let yourself rely on any “Oh, I’ll just do that tomorrow” lies.
If you’re growing a B2C (business-to-consumer) business, chances are your audience is on Instagram. Instagram has been growing steadily and offers so many opportunities to engage with your customers at no cost: Use clever captions to increase engagement, take advantage of Instagram stories to show the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of your business, or run contests with influencers in your niche to grow a solid community that will follow your journey.
With their new insights functionality for business profiles, you can get a thorough breakdown of your audience and how they engage with you. You can find out which days of the weeks get the highest engagement, what time of day new followers are most likely to discover you, and a demographic breakdown of your existing follower base.
Pro tip: Use the down arrow on Instagram profiles to find influencers or other brands you can work with to grow your own business. Once you find someone who’s a perfect fit, hit the down arrow and you’ll see a suggestion of like-minded pages – it’s a hidden gold mine of collaborations waiting to happen!
Don’t ever rely on hardware. Two years ago, I had my laptop stolen but the business didn’t come crashing down. Why? Nothing was on my laptop’s hard drive because I let everything live on Dropbox. Not only does it save you from a nightmare like this, but it allows you to access whatever you need, wherever and whenever you need it. If you upgrade your account (still pretty dirt cheap for what you get), you can keep anything you ever need on it and invite team members to share folders as needed.
Pro tip: If the files are taking up too much space on your computer, under your Dropbox settings, hit ‘Preferences’ > Account > Selective Sync > Change Settings and make sure you only have folders checked off that you need to access regularly from your device. Otherwise, just let everything else sit in your online account and you can re-sync it as needed.
No graphic designer? No problem. Canva is the ultimate solution for any new business to get the professional look they’re going for without the bill. While they do have an option to upgrade, the free version offers more than enough. They have pre-set dimensions for pretty much anything ranging from Twitter photos and infographics to posters and gift certificates. Having the dimensions ready to go makes life significantly easier already, but they take it a step further and offer creative templates for you to edit as you please or to spark some creativity of your own.
Pro tip: Create some templates of your own that you like for your different channels and ‘copy’ them as needed. All you have left to do is swap the background images and edit the text – a real lifesaver when you’re in a time crunch!
Taking advantage of Canva already but lacking on the photo options? Unsplash is an amazing website with a thick database of stunning photos you can use for free. The photos range from a stock photo vibe to hipster coffee shop shots and pretty much everything in between. These can really come in handy for seasonal promotions if you’ve forgotten to grab some shots of your own or if you’re creating regular blog content and don’t have the time to shoot some photos to go with it.
Talk about a serious “fake it till you make it”. Giphy is known for its database of gifs and the ability to make your own pop culture references, but it’s also a great way to take your email marketing and social media posts to the next level. Giphy lets you upload a series of photos to turn into a photo slideshow and change the speed as you please. Sounds lame? This is the type of simple magic behind sending an emailer where the title keeps changing colors or the product being shown keeps switching color ways.
Pro tip: Mailchimp lets you upload gifs directly from Giphy. When you go to upload a photo, there’s a dropdown that allows you to insert a gif directly from the Giphy website or to upload your own from your computer.