So, the statistics for small businesses are at an all-time high. The way it is in Nigerian households, almost every family has at least one person doing a business or providing a service on a small scale. And to be honest, it’s a good thing. Everyone can do with some extra cash honestly and sometimes these 9-5s are not always cutting it. 

What I’ve decided to do in this article is to compile 5 essential tools every small business owner, service provider or entrepreneur needs to aid their business management and growth. These are free apps that are easy to use and easier to learn.


Canva.

Canva is a free graphics design tool that you can use to create designs, edit photos, create video presentations and so much more. Except you can afford a professional graphics designer, you neeeeeed Canva. It’s simple, with over 10,000 templates to use and it’s so easy to learn.

Perks:

  • Logo. 

Getting a logo is probably the next most important thing to your business after getting a business name. It’s your business’ identity marker and it stands you out amongst a sea of businesses. Canva provides many templates to create logos from.


  • Graphics Design

Every small business needs to harness social media as a marketing tool. Social media management needs 3 things: beautiful designs, cool videos of your products, and nice photos. You can access this array of features on Canva. In fact, if you need to create a pitch presentation for potential investors, you can also use Canva to do that.


  • Canva is free.

I need to add that Canva has an optional paid subscription and it has its perks. For example, in the paid plan, you can add up to 4 team members to work together on designs at different times or at the same time. Let me give you a little secret, you can just gather other small business owners together and split the paid subscription fees. Think of it like sharing a Netflix password. Win-win for everyone

  • Canva is beginner-friendly.

You don’t need past experience in design to use Canva. In fact, Canva has some free design courses you can take on social media design and brand identity.



 Bumpa.

Bumpa is everything that you need as a small business owner to start and manage your business - on your mobile device.

Bumpa is an e-commerce app that provides a wide range of solutions for entrepreneurs and small businesses ranging from website creation & management, basic accounting, inventory management, to bookkeeping and customer engagement. 


Perks:

  • Free Website

Bumpa provides business owners with free websites. Business cards are being replaced with websites and social media profiles, so getting a website is great for small businesses. Bumpa also has a cool feature where you can integrate your website link with your social media accounts, that way customers can directly access your website from your social media profile.

  • Bookkeeping

Business owners can record their expenses, sales, and profits on Bumpa and it gives financial analytics of your business from time to time. You can check out your best selling and least selling products on Bumpa.

  • Business Management

Bumpa makes business management easy. You get to engage your customers with Bumpa messaging credits.

Also, whenever transactions are carried out on your website, you and the customer get instant WhatsApp and email notifications and it also issues receipts automatically for customers.

Business owners can create discounts, sell on credit, track deliveries, and even add members of staff to their store.


Snapseed.

They say a photograph tells a million stories. They didn’t lie. A good photograph of your product can determine whether or not a potential customer will patronize your business. The good thing is you don’t need an expensive camera or mad Photoshop skills to have really nice pictures and that’s where Snapseed comes in. It’s a photo editing tool for mobile and it can do wonders for your images. 

Perks

  • Free

Snapseed is totally free. Even its spot healing feature that is paid for, on some other apps is totally free.

  • Beginner Friendly

It is easy to use for literally anyone, even if you don’t have any photo editing background. Plus, its controls are easy to navigate. You’re literally just scrolling to edit photos.

  • No Ads

This is a feature you rarely get from most free apps. There are no annoying pop-up ads in Snapseed. None whatsoever.

  • Presets

Presets are basically filters. Sometimes, advanced photo editors make a number of edits and create a new or special kind of filter called presets. Some presets can make your images look really professional and you can import presets to your Snapseed.



WhatsApp Business

Approximately 2 billion human beings use WhatsApp. In Nigeria, WhatsApp is still the most commonly used messaging app and it scales across age groups. There's a 90% chance that your customers have a WhatsApp line & like normal business practice, you should meet your customers where they are.  WhatsApp Business is one tool you should have as a small business owner. 

Perks:

  • Free

WhatsApp Business is totally free. 

  • Customer Engagement

This is probably one of the coolest features of WhatsApp Business. You get to engage with your customers in a less formal setting and on a platform they're always using. 

  • The Catalog feature:

You can create a catalog of your products on your WhatsApp Business line. Once someone has your number, they can automatically check out your products & prices without even talking to you. WhatsApp Business also adds other things like your business location, website, Open hours, etc, to your public display page.  

  • Syncs with other Platforms.

As you probably know, Uncle Mark runs Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram now. So, it's easy for you to link your accounts on each of them and post easily. 

  • The WhatsApp Bot 

This is an awesome feature WhatsApp has implemented. This customizable bot can give a customized response to customers if they make inquiries or message you when you're not online.



Google Calendar 

This is an underrated tool because oftentimes entrepreneurs think it’s just another Google product and it’s just another calendar, but Google Calendar solves a huge problem for small business owners: task tracking. 

There’s always a lot to do as the owner of a small business, products to update, content to create, social media things to post, meetings, appointments, etc., and one of the hallmarks of a great entrepreneur is keeping to your word and getting work done on time. This is something Google Calendar allows you to do.

Perks:

  • Create events.

Basically, every event you create, whether it’s on Google Meets, a flight, or whatnot, is automatically registered on your calendar with reminders prior to the event. You can also create different calendars for personal life, business, etc.

  • Syncs

You can sync your calendar across all your devices so you never miss out on anything.

Google Calendar also syncs with your Gmail, so you can respond to event invitations and much more straight from your mail

  • Personnel Management

Business owners are busy people and frankly, there’s a lot on your head. Now imagine you could remember the birthday of all your customers and members of staff because Google Calendar reminds you early enough. You become the nice boss and the friendly vendor but they don’t know that it’s Google Calendar that is helping your life. 

One other beautiful thing is that you can share a calendar with family members or members of staff. That way you can keep tabs on deliverables and personal events.

With these apps, you can literally start and manage your business at zero to little cost!





















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