Let’s face it. Running a small business can be exciting but hard work. You’ve implemented your big ideas and it’s working. However, you might not be in the position to be able to afford to hire extra staff yet. This means that many business essentials, like accounting and marketing, might have to be completed by you. In turn, this means working extra hours and wearing many hats. The lack of skills in some of these areas could inevitably cause delays or mistakes.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, most small businesses fail within their first three years. What if having the proper knowledge or skills in unfamiliar areas could help your business continue to grow, ensure positive cash flow and reduce costly mistakes?
Here is a list of free (or affordable) handy skill improvement tools for busy, overwhelmed small business owners:
1. Free Courses – While you might not have enough revenue to hire new staff or pursue a full diploma or certificate yourself, there are alternatives. There are plenty of free or low-cost courses available. For example, General Assembly offers online courses as well as in-person courses in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Topics range from web development, data, design, business and more!
2. Automation platforms – The days of entering customer information into books and excel sheets are over. It is essential to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) software as it will help your business manage customer data, interaction and other useful information. Most platforms will provide training and support. There are also platforms to manage email marketing like Mailchimp and social media, like Hootsuite.
3. Listen to Podcasts – Podcasts are a free and easy way to learn new skills or advice. The best part? You can multi-task while listening. Podcasts are available on almost any topic that you can think of. A quick Google search will reveal the best ones to listen to for digital marketing, business to business and more.
4. Audio books – Similar to podcasts, you can also listen to best-sellers on the way to work, whilst at the gym or while you run your daily errands. Apps like Audible, make it easy and affordable too.
5. HubSpot Academy – Website optimisation, landing pages and lead nurturing are must-have skills for business owners as they try to grow their business and online presence. This free certification program offers courses on all of these essential skills.
6. Moz is a great resource for SEO – If you aren’t already aware, SEO makes the world go round when it comes to making sure that your website has visibility in searches. Moz offers a free academy, webinars, a downloadable beginner’s guide to SEO, and guides to link building.
7. EdX – The site offers over 300 free courses on a large range of topics across various industries. From financial analysis and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) accredited courses, to business management courses, there’s a course to fit whatever skill you need to acquire or improve.
8. Freelancers – Do you need graphic design work done or simply need to update your website with new copy? Sites like Airtasker, Freelancer.com and Upwork are great opportunities to find talented individuals to outsource the work to. You can also check Facebook as many communities and cities have their own groups for the purpose of posting freelance work. For example, Find-a-finder’s-fee (global) group on Facebook is a great resource.
9. Webinars & Ted Talks– A quick Youtube search will provide you access to inspirational Ted Talks and webinars. If you want to learn new skills, tips, industry information or just feel empowered, these are great resources.
10. Blogs and websites– Another quick and easy way to stay on top of industry changes and skills is by subscribing to relevant blogs, newsletters and their associated social media channels. For examples, Digital Marketer is a great resource for the latest marketing tips and tricks.
11. Accounting Software – Platforms like Xero or MYOB, can make the accounting process so much easier and streamlined. Manage payroll, customer databases and more! Additionally, integrate with your CreditorWatch account and monitor your contacts to flag risks to your business.
12. Credit Management– If you are managing accounts, marketing, sales and more, when do you have the time to accurately assess your customers/suppliers for risk to your business? You will not be able to monitor them regularly and as a result, adverse actions may slip through the cracks. With CreditorWatch, you can monitor your database and receive alerts for important information such as court actions or payment defaults. Additionally, you can register bad debt, run credit reports, view credit scores and take advantage of debt collection tools.
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