Owning and running your own business is one of the most fulfilling things you’ll ever do – but it comes with challenges you’d never encounter if you worked for someone else. Among the most daunting of these is that, in many cases, you’ll need to be the Managing Director, the Finance Director, the HR Director, and the Marketing Director – all rolled into one.
It’s unthinkable that you could be fully qualified in all these disciplines, but you’ll need a good working knowledge of the subjects that will affect your company’s success.
But where do you go for this working knowledge? You could try night classes, correspondence courses, or even explore the mentoring route. But one of the easiest and most accessible solutions is sitting there on your laptop or smartphone. The Internet is effectively the biggest library in the history of our planet, and it's free!
Because of the sheer scale of it, however, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to help you bookmark some really helpful websites, here are 7 of our all-time favourites.
There are umpteen sites that can help you take your company online, many of them free. But if you want to create a website that really zings, wix.com is the daddy of them all. It’s intuitive, it's free, and it offers you an amazing choice of formats and templates that will let you show off your wares to best effect. Even people who have zero tech ability can use it quite easily, with surprisingly good results.
HubSpot sells software that automates many of your company’s most important functions, including marketing and sales. But even if you never buy from them, they blog with great authority on a host of management topics. And while you're at it, you could follow the company’s founder, Dharmesh Shah, on social media. He’s been there, done that, and has the T-shirt to prove it.
If you’re old enough to remember a time when we used telephone directories, you’ll remember the Golden Pages. These days, it sits online and offers a free listing for your business, helping to promote your goods or services at a local or national level. It’s also full of great blogs on topics and marketing trends..
This is a US site, but don’t be put off, as it’s packed to the gills with fantastic articles and blogs for the small business community. The site has a team of more than 10,000 contributors who write expertly on subjects such as marketing, finance and technology. New articles are posted regularly, so it’s well worth checking in every week or so.
If you’re in the process of setting up a new business, you’ll find something of interest at Startups.ie. Even if your small business is well established, there’s plenty of great content on subjects ranging from design, to successfully pitching for business, financing options, finding or switching accountants, promoting your business through blogging, and lots more.
Smallbusinessadvice.ie is a fantastic free source of advice and reference materials, specifically geared towards the small business community. Whether you want to find your Local Enterprise Office or join a representative body, you’ll find your starting point here. The site is run by a group of individuals from the business world, who have come together on a voluntary basis to help their fellow entrepreneurs.
The days of communicating with customers via costly printed brochures, delivered by snail mail, are well and truly gone. Today, email is the way to go when you want to have an ongoing conversation with your customers, whether it’s passing on special offers, announcing your sale, or simply adding value by telling them about developments within your industry sector. Mailchimp is a great way to dip your toes in the water when it comes to e-marketing, but it allows you to get more and more sophisticated as your confidence levels grow. You can even link an online store to outbound email, helping you lead customers to your virtual door.
So, as you can see there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips to help plug the gaps in your expertise. You’ll find yourself returning to these resources time and again as your business develops. Whether you’re looking for motivation, strategy or just a gentle shove in the right direction, these websites will set you right.