Top Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

Oct 28

Top Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

The web has grown to represent opportunity and freedom, amongst other things, but these two are particularly attractive to entrepreneurs and business developers who want to stay light on their feet, and adaptable. From self-development and online training to solutions like virtual assistants and full-on web-hosted auto dialer systems that let start-ups operate to call-centre level with all the flexibility – and affordability – that cloud-based solutions provide, there’s a whole host of online resources that make starting a business from a small platform easier every day.

Online training

When it comes to self-education, the internet is second-to-none. From quick, free “how to” videos on YouTube, VideoJug and other popular video hosts, to comprehensive training resources like Lynda.com, if your skillset is lacking it’s fairly easy to find tuition online. Lynda offers training in everything from accounting and business development to content strategy and web development, with material accessible on a subscription basis, while a wealth of small business forums, like Businesslink and AMEX’s Open Forum, give free advice, information and development guidance.

Rapidly scalable infrastructure

When the future is uncertain, easily scalable infrastructure can make the difference between survival and going back to the drawing board. Whether this means renting virtual callcentre capacity, subscribing to cloud-based software licenses on a monthly basis, or using pay-per-mailout email marketing systems that let you manage your mailing lists on the fly; look for solutions that can easily be adapted to requirements.

Flexible human resources

Likewise an adaptable workforce is the best way for a business to stay streamlined while it gets off the ground. Freelancer-sourcing websites make it easy to find remote workers, contractors and self-employed specialists – look for one with a good rating system, which will help narrow down the best workers. Virtual assistants can run the office remotely, answering calls, emails and preparing documents and presentations – often from their own desk, at home, which reduces overheads and enables mobility.

Social media management

The ability to manage all social media streams in one place, using software like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, is a huge boon, especially when Tweets and Facebook status updates can be automated to post at specific times, even when there’s nobody there to post them. This is especially useful when a company’s employees operate in a different timezone to its target audience. Platform-specific tools like SocialOomph search for and automatically follow social media users who are discussing relevant keywords, and also “unfollow” users who’ve shown no interest in your company, or whose accounts have been inactive for some time, thus narrowing your audience to one that’s genuinely interested in your product or service.

Website POS customer service and sales

While the world caught on pretty fast to the possibility of selling stuff online, websites were missing that one crucial aspect – personal POS attention to close the deal – until in-site chat functionality appeared. Now website visitors can initiate chat sessions with customer service reps, and sales specialists can encourage visitors to dive in, with transcripts of the sessions saved for analysis.