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If your New Year’s resolution was to start a business, or grow your current one, there are tons of digital resources that can make your life a lot easier (being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you can’t sleep). In fact, there are so many options out there, it’s hard to distinguish which ones are really worth your time and money. Here’s a rundown of the apps and sites that have really proven their worth in my company:
If you’re at the drawing board, start here. StratPad is a business planning software that walks you through every element of your business plan (it even does the math for you). It prompts you with questions you may not have thought about and pushes you to dive a little bit deeper into your business plan. Once you’ve completed your business plan, you can download it into a beautiful PDF ready to go.
Looking for your digital storefront? I encourage you to try Shopify. I started my company on Shopify five years ago and they continue to impress me with their ease of use and forward thinking. Not only can you set up your e-commerce site, you can also sell in person with their Point of Sale app and on social media. You can even accept Apple Pay on your site!
Another feature of Shopify that really changed my business is their app, Kit.
Kit helps drive sales by doing everything from creating highly-targeted Facebook ad campaigns to sending personal thank you emails to customers and handling the other apps that you use to manage your store. With Kit handling your marketing, you have the time you need to focus on other aspects of your business.
Showcase lets you easily create shoppable Instagram galleries for your site. You can tag products that are featured in each of your posts so your customers can shop directly from your gallery. You can see what ours looks like here.
The goal with Showcase is to help store owners sell more, boost conversions, and better connect with their audience. Lots of brands use Instagram to showcase (app name is not a coincidence) their products in a lifestyle setting, but fail to fully leverage all the work they put into to their posts.
Showcase helps store owners leverage this content by making it easier to find the products featured in their posts, creating social proof on product detail pages, and providing a more engaging and visually driven shopping experience, which usually has lower exit and bounce rates, higher conversion rates and cart totals, and an increase time spent on sight.
Now In Store is an easy to use catalog builder. If you’re using Shopify, you can build your catalog by pulling products straight from your store. If you’re like my company and need to update line sheets all the time, Now In Store helps streamline the whole process. You can share it digitally, print it or download it and share it as a PDF with your buyers. Depending on what plan you want, they’ll even do a beautiful custom design for you!
Privy is the first step to growing your email list. This app allows you to create targeted pop-ups to acquire customer information on your site. It has an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop designer and even allows you to offer a coupon code incentive for those who enter in their email. But what truly separates this app from the rest is the ability to target your pop-ups based on your customer’s exit intent, geography, cart value, referral path, device type and more.
If your company prides itself on its beautiful Instagram feed, then make your little squares come to life with Social Print Studio. You can upload and print your feed to a wide variety of beautiful products. My personal favorite are the contact cards. My company gives headbands to kids with cancer, so we get tons of amazing photos of children in the hospital wearing our headbands. Social Print Studio allows you to print a mix of photos in one run. So, we upload 50 photos of the kids and order thousands of prints to put in our orders (and keep the information on the back of each card the same). It allows us to provide a really unique experience for our customers to send different pictures in each box.
Not to mention, Social Print Studio’s customer service is amazing!
All of this technology makes it quite manageable to start a business. However, technology can’t always automate success. Everything comes back to your core mission and understanding what need your business is serving. Technology can help a lot with exposure, research, automating tasks and design, but it’s the minds and the hearts of the people behind it that will make your company successful.