The American dream used to be owning a house, having a well-paying job, having time for the family, and retiring at the age of 60. That still holds true today, maybe even more so in the hustle and bustle of the digital age.
Some people, and you might be one of them, have found a way to combine some of those dream aspects together, running a well-paying business out of their home, using the digital age to their advantage, and giving them time with the family. But it can be difficult running a business; you need the right tools to keep your self-made company going.
Here are some of the essentials you will need to stay afloat and hopefully grow so you can retire at 60.
Inventory Tracking Software
If you are running an ecommerce business out of your home, then you know the struggles of managing all of the products you sell. If you offer an impressive array of items for sale, all coming from various distributors, then you are faced with a real challenge when those items are finally purchased.
Inventory tracking software allows you to catalog those items, set up alerts when your on-hand counts reach a certain level and maintain supplier information. Depending on the distribution channel you have established, it is possible for some software to communicate directly with suppliers to replenish your business automatically.
Quicken and Microsoft have both developed software to help small businesses maintain their stock levels. Lightspeed POS is another great software package many businesses are switching to. With its cloud-based program, you do not have to tie up your PC’s internal memory with so many items and transactions.
Customer Relationship Management
You need to provide your clients with the best experience possible. CRM provides you with the tools that allow you to do just that. This software tracks your customers manages their histories and can customize a campaign to lure them back to your business.
CRM systems analyze spending habits, social media likes and dislikes, previous interactions with a company (email, phone, chat), and a variety of information from a number of data channels. Utilizing one of these prevents you from having to record this information yourself or transfer it from an online form into a spreadsheet; the process of doing so can be very time-consuming.
With CRM, you can tailor a plan to retain your clients. Entice them to return with a discount, alert them to a new service that might suit their needs, or suggest other services you provide. You can also use it to manage a group of customers. By focusing on the types of services used or products sold, you can conduct email marketing en masse to save you additional time.
Search Engine Optimization
Running a business out of your home means that you are a small business bringing in enough revenue to pay your bills and maintain your independence from corporate-owned jobs. That is great! It also means that you may be struggling to maintain stability or to grow your business.
It can be hard to attract new clients. Online advertising and social media marketing may not be reaching the people who need your services. Search engines are the means by which potential clients find what they need; they will intentionally go looking for a company to buy from or use. If you are not showing up in the results of these searches, or your business is located on page 1138, you are not being found.
By hiring the services of an SEO company, you can expand your online presence to where the search engines can find your website or bump it up to the first page of the search results. This can possibly be the most important form of marketing you can perform to draw in new customers.
Accounting is not everyone’s forte. Math can be difficult to some and adding multiple sheets to keep track of only complicates the matter. By using bookkeeping software such as those developed by Quicken, you only have to enter in specific information. The program will do the rest, including the math.
Taxes can be even more confusing than mathematics. You will want to make use of tax software. These will help keep your business legal by determining how much sales tax you need to pay on a monthly basis, income taxes paid quarterly, and other taxes and fees paid intermittently throughout the year.
It can be tough managing a business all on your own. You are the planner, the doer, the shipper, the service provider, the buyer; you wear a lot of hats. And all of those hats are going to weigh you down. To alleviate some of that stress, consider using a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants are people and companies that can manage certain day-to-day aspects of your business. This will free you to focus on the crucial parts of your home business, the parts that only you can handle. Taking advantage of a virtual assistant could provide you with the time you needed to expand your business’s reach.
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