6 Must-Have Tools When Starting a Small Business
This article was created by BlogHer for Squarespace.
Starting your very own small business is hardly a small undertaking. Once you’ve crafted a standout brand story and developed a product you can’t wait to show off, the real work begins. Whether you’ve recruited a killer team or plan to build from the ground up as a solo act, there are certain must-haves that make the first year manageable in the midst of those inevitable surprises.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you’re marketing a product or yourself—staying organized and scaling profit are universal goals any business owner can relate to. And in 2020, that matters more than ever, as women small business owners have been disproportionately impacted by the economic aftermath of the pandemic. While recovery programs and funding opportunities are up for grabs, there are other tools you don’t have to apply for and can start using now. The mere thought of balancing it all can be daunting, so I recommend a platform like Squarespace that consolidates these must-haves so you can save time without sacrificing ambitious goals. If you’re ready to jumpstart your entrepreneurial journey, here are the tools to keep in your arsenal.
A Killer Website
This is a no-brainer. If you want to convert your social media followers or friends into loyal customers, your product needs a home base. Simply put, a top-notch website includes beautiful imagery that won’t negatively impact the user’s shopping experience. Nowadays, you can build a website in the matter of minutes with tools like Squarespace. Squarespace templates leave room for customizing every part of your design; from fonts to color palettes to overall layout so you can launch your site with just a few clicks. There’s also Squarespace Select, a game-changing premium plan that rolls out the red carpet with personalized support, private consultations and prioritized support.
A Foolproof Online Store
Speaking of commerce, your small business has little chance of turning a profit without an online store that can be easily navigated on the front and back end. Whether you’re selling services or a beauty product, you’ll need a commerce option that makes it easy to secure checkouts and provide incentives to your customers. Squarespace truly ups the ante not only with templates created specifically for e-commerce brands, but integrated systems that do all of the heavy lifting for you. I’m talking built-in tax tools and abandoned cart recovery, to name a few.
Website Extensions for Optimization
Beyond e-commerce integration, chances are you want to implement other extensions into your website, too. Maybe you want to implement playlists. Perhaps you want to work with a specific shipping service. Find a website host that makes it easy to implement a wide range of services. For instance, Squarespace Extensions take the pressure off of managing finances, shipping, and more with the click of a few buttons. These include apps for cloud-based bookkeeping, overseeing shipments from one dashboard, and automated customer feedback surveys, for example.
Profit-Boosting SEO Skills
Search engine optimization is what ensures your brand can claim significant real estate within search results. By mastering this aspect of your digital strategy, you’re guaranteed more page views which in turn leads to more loyal customers and ultimately, a higher profit. Typically, mastering this skill doesn’t happen immediately, so platforms that provide a helping hand are ideal. Squarespace is leading the pack, full stop. When hosting a website on their platform, you get SEO page titles and descriptions set by default (and modifiable), an SEO best practices checklist, and my personal favorite feature—Google Search Console integration so you can see what keywords people are using to find your site.
Clear-Cut Analytics for Reviewing Your Strategy
Crafting a content and commerce strategy is a huge feat, but reviewing it regularly is paramount for continued success. You can’t do this without mastering analytic tools that reveal the source of your website traffic, your most popular content, and sales data, to name a few. This isn’t exactly the most fun part of running a small business but the future of your business partly depends on it. Squarespace is one of the better options for this feature too, as its website analytics features include a deep dive into visitor insights including traffic sources, purchase funnels and your most popular content.
A Scheduling System
And if your product is a service—like, say, an online class or consultation—scheduling tools are a foundational part of your business. When you create a website, you need one that can seamlessly sync appointments with your existing email address, share your availability, customize forms, and even integrate video platforms for virtual meetings. Pro tip: Squarespace and its scheduling integration can do this, too.