Don’t Build It; Use Tools to Grow Your Small Business

Small Business ToolboxSuccessful business owners are a group who know how to get things done. They’ve built something from the ground up and have the skills to make anything happen. Knowing this, many of them will confidently strive into a new arena and say to themselves, “Hey, I could build this even better.” and immediately get to work creating something newer/shinier/faster/cooler than anyone else. We’re here to say that sometimes using off-the-shelf widgets and standing on someone else’s shoulders is the winning strategy.

There are a hundred ways to get something done, but your time as a small business owner is extremely valuable and, except for your core business, you can’t afford to spend that time endlessly tinkering and perfecting things. There are tools out there to accomplish many of the tasks that are necessary to keep the doors revolving and even get them spinning faster.

Take, for example, appointment scheduling. You could hire someone to answer the phone, train them in the nuances of your business, develop a system of spreadsheets and timetables to keep everything in sync, and then set it in motion, like a cleverly assembled Rube Goldberg machine. Or you could sit back comfortably at your desk and sign up for a third party appointment scheduling service like TimeTrade which gives you a configurable appointment maker that can be synced up with your calendar. Simple, effective, time-saving.

Those more adventurous among us might try their hand at editing their own websites, changing buttons and creating newsletter signup forms. We applaud you, but while you’re at it why don’t you take a look at some of the offerings out there that can make your life easier and save you the effort?

Before you start writing html, take a look at tools out there like WordPress and Tumblr, which empower you to build snappy websites and blogs without having to get your hands dirty with html. While you’re thinking about buttons and calls-to-action to drive visitors to your best content, check out some free services like the simple but powerful DaButtonFactory which will have you churning out attractive,  clickable buttons that you can paste into your site. Leave the heavy lifting to the pros and spend your time focused on what makes your business really work– the business itself!

Designing flyers and logos is hard work. There are a lot of terrific design firms out there who will spend a month finely crafting a masterpiece of a logo, but for many small businesses these services are unreasonably expensive, time-intensive, and some of them even refuse to work with smaller clients. For the rest of us there is a new, exciting option called crowd-sourced design. For a lot less than the cost of a design firm, you can have multiple designers compete to provide you with a great design. Sites like 99Designs and DesignCrowd are pioneering the field and giving a design resource to business owners everywhere. If you’re interested, here’s a great article on how to effectively use crowd-sourced design.

These are just a few examples of services out there that can save you time and really give you an edge. Using these tools and services built by someone lets you multiply the effort you make by taking advantage of someone else’s time. There are a lot of great ideas out there. Take some and use them for yourself!

Image credit: Robert S. Donovan

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