Imagine you are a small cafe owner and you want to be able to bring in the same kind of traffic that Starbucks gets but you just started, how do you go about doing that? The same can be said if you are a plumber or a independent fitness instructor? How do you go about getting your name out there so that people will come to you?
This is something that many small mom-and-pop shops have been dealing with a for a long time. If you lived in the anytime before the internet, the only way to get your name out there was to advertising on billboards, in the yellowpages, radio/TV (if you could afford it) and by passing out flyers by hand. Some businesses still do that today but the internet has changed things, sometimes for the better, but it has created a lot more competition for first time entrepreneurs.
Here are a few ways to start competing with the big boys
If you are an independent Coffee shop then getting on the band wagon with the app Cups will get you some business. Customers can sign up for a subscription to the service where they can go to any independently owned coffee house in the network and get unlimited coffee. The app pays the coffee shops a percentage for signing up to use the service. This allows anyone who uses the app to attend more local coffee houses instead of the bigger chains. Not bad for an unlimited cup of coffee. Subscription rates start at $7 and go up to $85. (Apple, Android)
Many small companies have trouble managing their accounts, some use small business software like quicken to keep track of stuff for them but what about printing receipts for a customer or accepting credit cards? If you are tech savvy and know where to go to set everything up it can take a bit of time but it’s possible but why go through all that trouble when you can let the app, ShopKeep, do it all for you. They take away the responsibility of needing a server so if your business has a fire or flooding nothing will get lost because ShopKeep manages everything on their own. The convenience behind this idea is that it lets you focus on just running your business and you can do it all from an iPad. (Apple)
Independent bookstores will be happy to see that there is a way to compete against Amazon using a service called Edelweiss. It lets librarians, bloggers, reviewers, rights acquirers, bookshop owners, and probably lots more interact with their database to find what they are looking for. It also lets them connect with publishers directly thereby taking out any middlemen there might be. This service can be very helpful to those looking to create a special collection of books for a specific audience in your neighborhood store. (Sign up here)
Any small business will be happy to know about this service when it comes to advertising what their company does in a style that matches what people expect from a professional company. They want style, elegance and feel when watching a promotional video instead of an armature thrown together look. That is where the company, Shakr, comes in and changes all that and makes it easy for you to create your own professional looking video in just a few minutes. They have cultivated the minds of industry professionals who work in advertising and marketing and take apart the pieces of what makes their work stand out and created a place that utilizes their skills in a unique way that anyone with a computer can access.
Creating Legal documents on your own can be a challenge but not difficult. Some small businesses have created one page contracts using just Word with simple to follow rules. Any contract that both parties sign and agree to is a legally binding contract. The only difference is that contracts created by lawyers have been thoroughly researched to include years of experience about what should be included in certain types of contracts. Now there is an app you can carry with you on your smartphone that includes tons of contracts for all kinds of situations. The nice thing is that once you filled out the form and both parties have signed you can email a copy to the other person. Shake is the name of the program that allows to you to reduce the costs of hiring a lawyer every time you need a contract (but it does not act as a replacement, every contract can be changed and edited before both parties sign and all contracts provided are just standard forms and do not include anything the other party might want to include which you have to be willing to agree to before signing). (Apple)
To learn more about Shake read here.
If you ever needed a site that lets you advertise your services but also find work in the mealtime? Thumbtack has changed how service companies find work. It used to be that if someone needed a plumber they would just go to the yellowpages and called each one to get different prices. That took time and energy to find the cheapest one. Now with Thumbtack all someone has to do is type in the service they need and a zip code and then fill out a questionnaire that explains what they are looking for. After they submit the form local companies in the area can then bid on the project allowing the person to find the cheapest deal or the deal with the best quality. Service businesses of all types can sign up to use the service to help grow their company. Anyone can also sign up and use the website regularly to find what they are looking for. A great way of connecting people with local businesses but also perfect for small businesses just starting out.
You can read more about how Thumbtack got started and why its a game changer.
Asana – App that allows for collaboration between work groups but also personal projects such as family events and friends. It is also able to connect with many popular apps as well for improved performance. (Apple, Android)
Whether you are just starting out or looking to reduce the costs of your business or just want to get more business these services are helping small businesses compete against the bigger guys by providing new ways of doing business. If any of these services help please provide a comment about how.