When starting a new business, two things you probably don't have much of are money or time. You have a million things to do and no money to make it happen. I know—I was there when I launched my Internet business six years ago. Here are five powerful free tools that I used to get things rolling.
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1. Weebly. Weebly is the best thing that ever happened to creating websites. It is easy, fast, and best of all, free. My favorite part about Weebly is how easy it is to maintain. You can make ongoing changes on a regular basis, like updating your address, adding customer testimonials, and changing your prices. If you already have a website but haven't updated it in years, consider switching to Weebly; it will make a dramatic improvement to your business. I like to start with Weebly anytime I have a business idea—I spend a few hours creating a simple informative website, then spend a week talking to customers to see if they would sign up.
2. Rapportive. Want to know what the person who just emailed you looks like? Or what they just posted on Facebook? Rapportive is the perfect Gmail add-on that shows you social media information on the person who emailed you, including their profile picture and their latest updates on Facebook. I use Rapportive any time a new customer signs up, I like to learn as much as I can about my paying customers to see where I can find more of them.
3. Skitch. Skitch makes it easy to take screenshots of websites and annotate on top of them. I use Skitch on a daily basis to show people exactly what I'm talking about. I use it to point customers in the right direction inside my Web business (Flying Cart) and visualize new features with my team. Explaining things in text is hard, but sending a customer a "Skitch" of exactly where they need to click saves a ton of time and cuts out frustration. Each Skitch is worth 10,000 words.
4. Digioh. Want to sell a PDF, image, or mp3 file on your website or blog? Digioh makes this crazy easy. Simply upload your file, set your price, and start selling it in less than 15 seconds. You can use the selling link Digioh provides to sell digital files on your website, blog, in an email, and on Facebook. This could be an image, an eBook, a simple spreadsheet, or anything else you can create digitally. I like to use Digioh to distribute free informative PDFs on guest blog posts in hopes of attracting new customers.
5. MailChimp. Need to email 100—or even 100,000—people for a major announcement or promotion? Look no further than MailChimp. They make it super easy to send bulk newsletters to everyone you need to. Here's how it works: Pick a fun design, type in your text, add in the emails of recipients, and click send. I use MailChimp to keep my customers informed on new features and customer case studies. This helps keep our old customers engaged with our company on a weekly basis.
Rishi Shah helps people get customers. Join his newsletter here to get 20 free tools every Internet entrepreneur should know about. Rishi is the CEO of Flying Cart, an easy way to create an online store. Over 12,00 small businesses use Flying Cart to run and manage their online store. Rishi is also a member of The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.