7 Types of Platforms You Can Use to Grow Your Small Business

You have big plans for your small business. Or maybe it’s not even a small business yet. Maybe you’re still in the planning stages, working out the details of your hoped-for future success.

No matter what stage of the business development process you’re in, you know you’ll need some help growing your enterprise when the time comes. You can’t do everything on your own, and you certainly can’t do everything by hand.

Fortunately, you have plenty of business growth resources at your disposal. Your job in the early going here is to identify the ones you’ll need right away, or at least soon-ish, and make sure they’re ready to go when you’re ready to grow.

These seven types of platforms all qualify as early-stage growth aids. They’ll help your business get off the ground and gain crucial early traction. Hopefully, they’ll set you up for success.

1. A Wholesale Buying Platform

 If your business buys and sells physical inventory, you need a platform that helps you source wares at scale. For example, if you’re a women’s apparel retailer that deals in the latest fashions, you’ll want to use a wholesale women’s clothing platform to purchase a variety of different items in bulk and see how they work for your audience.

Buying wholesale is much easier than buying in small batches from individual suppliers. And you don’t have time to manage those relationships yourself anyway.

2. A Social Media Scheduling Platform

 Social media marketing is an iterative process. If you want to do it right, you’re going to need help.

Start with timing. Setting aside the rigors of A/B testing messaging and post construction, the seemingly simple exercise of figuring out when to post is surprisingly complicated.

It may be that, for whatever reason, the best time for your brand to post about a particular product is in the wee hours of the morning local time. Maybe you’re a big deal in Europe or a hit with early birds on this side of the Atlantic. Whatever the reason, you could be missing out on conversions and sales if you don’t listen to the data.

The solution? A social media scheduling platform. This resource can help you draft, plan, and schedule content days or even weeks in advance. Instead of spending 30 minutes on social media messaging every day, you might spend 60 uninterrupted minutes on it each week and be done with it.

3. An Email Marketing Platform

 Another thing you don’t have the time for: Building and managing an email marketing list by hand. That’s what your email marketing tool is for.

The right email marketing platform helps you acquire leads quickly and keep them interested in your brand. It lets you reach them when they’re most likely to engage and most energized by what you have to say (or sell). And it does all this in the background, relying on you only for high-level supervision and maintenance.

4. A Customer Relationship Management Platform

 Whether you know it or not, your growing business stands to benefit from implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Yes, even if you’re not quite sure what a CRM is or does.

A CRM is a sort of all-in-one platform that maintains your brand’s connection with its customers. It incorporates the pillars of your marketing operation, from digital ones like email to “traditional” ones like direct mail (which still works in many industries, by the way).

Think of your CRM as a single dashboard to manage your company’s relationship with the outside world. Come to think of it, it’s a wonder people don’t call it a “company relationship management” platform.

5. An Infographic Production Platform

 Infographics. You know, those colorful, data-rich tableaus you see on landing pages, in ebooks, on websites? The ones that really make your competitors pop.

Even if you have not a lick of design sense, you’re capable of producing interesting, eye-catching infographics that educate and delight your prospects and customers. You can simply use one of the many infographic production platforms that enable non-experts to produce customized, high-quality visual products at scale.

6. A Scalable Ecommerce Platform

 The tools we’ve discussed thus far are all well and good, but can they actually help you sell?

Well, yes. Maybe not directly, though. That’s where a scalable ecommerce platform comes in.

Truth be told, your business will need to establish multiple digital points of sale if it wants to succeed. But the anchor of your online sales ecosystem, and possibly the highest-margin platform at that, will be your website-based online store.

To run that store successfully, you’ll need an ecommerce solution that can grow with your business. Choose one that’s adaptable to your industry, pricing model, and inventory levels.

7. Recruiting and Onboarding Platforms

 You already know you can’t do it all on your own.

Those first few hires you can make informally, maybe even through word of mouth and a few static job postings. Eventually, you’ll need to make things official and list open jobs on hiring platforms seen by millions of unique users every month.

You’ll also need to invest in an onboarding platform that makes it easy to get multiple hires at once up to speed. This onboarding platform can be one and the same with your self-service HR platform, which you’ll need anyway as your company grows.

 Give Your Small Business the Growth Opportunities It Deserves

 Your small business deserves to grow. But as you know all too well, growing a business isn’t as easy as waking up one morning and saying, “Today’s the day.”

Growing a business takes hard work. Commitment. And a whole lineup of purpose-built tools.

Each of the platforms we’ve described can play an important role in your enterprise’s future growth. Your social media scheduling and email marketing platforms help you reach and convert new and existing customers. Your wholesale buying platform helps you purchase inventory in bulk and scale your retail operation. Your ecommerce and customer relationship management platforms help you sell your products and keep your customers happy.

Now that you know a bit more about the resources your business needs to grow, it’s your move to make. Because your business won’t put these pieces in place on its own. It needs a capable leader — that’s you — to set it up for success.

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