An entrepreneur is a person who brings together people and capital and combines them in new ways to create value – or at least, that’s what economists would have you think. But what does that mean in practice in the digital economy of the 21st century?
It’s fair to say that the tools available to entrepreneurs have changed a great deal over the last twenty years. Back in 1997, you needed an office, a telephone, an email address (if you were really innovative) and a fax. But today, digitization has eaten a lot of that stuff, fundamentally changing the nature of business and helping entrepreneurs do more with less time and money.
Here are some of the tools out there that entrepreneurs swear by.
Twenty years ago, user-testing a website was practically unheard of. It wasn’t because nobody had had the idea, there just wasn’t the bandwidth available to make it happen. That’s all changed, thanks mainly to tools like UserTesting. This tool allows companies to get immediate feedback from real users on their website. There’s also a tool that allows businesses to record users as they use their site, watching where they go and whether they are able to successfully navigate.
Another problem for companies is effectively tracking IT issues. The idea that you could track bugs in real time seemed far-fetched once upon a time, but now applications like Jira make it easy, helping firms to prioritize issues and work through to resolve them quickly.
New digital tools are also helping businesses to communicate more efficiently. Yammer, for instance, is a private social network which enables busy execs to communicate with other people on their network as well as collaborate on files virtually. In a sense, Yammer is a little bit like Slack, except for the fact that it has gone for a social network approach, rather than a messaging platform approach.
Dropbox isn’t the only cloud storage tool out there either. Carbonite is an affordable alternative which allows businesses to both store their files and back them up remotely.
Marketing is perhaps the most complex part of running a business in the 21st century. Knowing exactly how to approach customers is difficult, especially when tastes are constantly changing.
SpyFu has developed a tool which allows you to view the SEO tactics of other businesses, including your competitors. This means that you’re able to see who is linking to them, which bloggers they’ve targeted and what you need to do to supersede them in the search rankings.
Getting great stock photos can sometimes be a challenge. But now companies, like EyeEm, are looking to improve the process. It’s now possible to source millions of photos taken by independent photographers all over the world, ranked by quality. What’s more, many of these companies are developing tools which help you match relevant photos to your brand.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning blog sites, like Hubspot, which provide information on lead nurturing, SEO and blogging as well as anything else you can imagine for starting up a successful digital business.