A new year is a fresh start — and an opportunity to level up your business operations.
Use this time to set goals for you, your business, and your employees — from increasing your profits to expanding your product offerings. Then, map out a plan to make sure you reach them.
Here are six solid resources for small business owners like yourself, to get you ready to step up your game in the new year.
Your shop may be small, but if you’re a smart owner, you’ll always be looking for ways to improve and expand your business. Stay on top of industry knowledge with the best development resources for small businesses.
SCORE, originally known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a free program that pairs small business owners with active and retired business mentors. It’s funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, an agency of the federal government designed to help start and support small businesses.
The program offers a variety of resources, so you can be sure to find one (or more) to suit your needs. You can:
- Find a local or online mentor to help you address problems and strategize to discover new opportunities.
- Participate in interactive webinars and courses, from “Developing a Business Plan” to “Managing Your Cash Flow.”
- Dive into the resource library, which provides everything from templates to checklists to blogs.
SCORE is one of the best resources for small business owners because it provides insight and information from successful business owners themselves. Make sure to take advantage of this free tool.
LinkedIn Learning is an online learning platform hosted by — you guessed it — LinkedIn. It offers a wide range of video courses on business, technology, and creative services, covering all aspects of business development you need to build a better business.
Search for courses by subject, like “Small Business Management,” or work through learning paths curated by the platform — try “Become a Small Business Owner” or “The Top Skills Sales Professionals Have Right Now.”
Education platforms are entirely worth it for small businesses — but here’s a tip. Although LinkedIn Learning has a monthly subscription fee, you can access the content for free with a local library card.
Small Business Marketing
Even small businesses need big-time marketing. If you’re going to grow, you need to get the word out — solid marketing efforts should be at the top of your to-do list.
There’s a reason email marketing is so beneficial for small businesses — it’s a simple way to promote your products, build relationships with your customers, and easily direct them to your website (or brick-and-mortar store).
One of the best small business resources for marketing is Mailchimp, an email marketing service that allows you to design, automate, and analyze individual emails or entire campaigns. It offers customizable templates, so you can stay true to your brand and your voice. Connect with your customers by sending them exclusive deals, keeping them up to date on what’s going on with your store, and simply maintaining consistent communication. When customers feel connected to your business, they are more likely to return — which can improve your overall profits.
Depending on the features you need, there are several plans to choose from — more advanced plans offer more in-depth testing and analytics. You can upgrade your plan as your business grows, but the free version gives you plenty to get started.
Good marketing is good content, and good content needs good graphics. Luckily, you can step up your design game with an online tool like Canva.
Canva is a platform that allows you to design graphics from scratch, or customize templates, to create everything from social media graphics to business cards to promotional flyers. The drag-and-drop features and layouts are easy to use, so you can deliver professional products with amateur experience.
Try the free plan, which includes more than 250,000 templates and over 100 design types, in addition to over 1 million free photos and graphics — with up to 5GB of storage. When you’re ready to amp up your marketing efforts, the paid Pro and Teams plans offer even more features, including the ability to upload your unique brand colors, fonts, and logo.
If you have an online webstore, or simply a business website, one of the best ways to measure your success is to take advantage of small business resources like web analytics tools.
Google is at the top of its class for good reason. With over 90 percent of the world’s search engine traffic, it is by far the most popular — and they provide solid marketing and analytics tools to help business owners make the most of these online opportunities.
Google Analytics tracks website data, and organizes the information into useful metrics and reports. Discover how many potential customers are visiting your website, how long they’re staying on your pages, and what actions they are taking — you can integrate it into your e-commerce platform to track sales activity, too.
There’s a paid plan, but small and medium-sized businesses will find everything they need in the free version, found in the Google Marketing Platform.
For small businesses, information is currency. So if you’re looking for analytical tools that allow you to keep complete ownership of your data, Matomo is your best bet.
Matomo Analytics lets you track data for an unlimited number of websites and users, and produces reports and insights (like heatmaps!) that help you make more strategic marketing decisions to improve your business. And owning your own data can put you and your customers at ease.
The on-premise plan is completely free to use, or you can try the cloud version for a small monthly fee after a free trial — both have their benefits, so decide which works best for your business.
Start the New Year Fresh With These Small Business Resources
Preparing your business for the new year can be overwhelming, but a clean slate opens up many opportunities for growth. Make the most of free and inexpensive online small business resources to help you reach your goals and your potential — these six are a great place to start.
Our industry experts have helped thousands of retailers nationwide get set up for success. If you’re ready to take your small business to the next level, schedule a demo of our best-in-class point of sale (POS) system today!