As you race down the road toward success for your online business, there are going to be some potholes from time to time. But what you really need to watch out for are the “big blockers” in your path - the fallen trees, broken down cars, and sneaky speed traps that can halt your progress completely if you aren’t ready for them.
When you're building a business online, there are at least three roadblocks you’ll need to get through: Funding, diversification, and reach. Bonanza has a number of tools to help keep you on track, but don’t overlook the third-party tools that are also available to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Here are a few of our favorites. Some of them are Bonanza partners and some aren’t, but each one could make a big difference in the speed and success of your journey.
Kabbage: Fund Your Business
When you're ready to grow your business to the next level, the main thing holding you back might be a lack of cashflow. If you need to purchase more inventory, get new equipment, or need working capital for any other reason, Kabbage is likely the fastest and easiest way to get it.
What we like about Kabbage:
Fast. If you’ve ever applied for a traditional business loan, then you’re probably getting grey hairs just thinking about how long it took. Kabbage, on the other hand, is fast - sometimes less than 10 minutes.
Automatic approval. You aren’t at the mercy of a cranky banker to approve you, because Kabbage does it all with computer magic. Just fill out the application form, select the amount you need, and they'll deposit working capital directly into your bank or PayPal account.
Withdraw cash “as needed.” It’s like a line of credit. Once you’re approved, you can take extra capital without filling out more forms or jumping through any hoops.
Kabbage claims to have funded over $3 billion in business loans, and they’ve been featured in big-time publications like Time, Forbes, and Bloomberg. It’s a nice way to get a small-business loan quickly and easily.
ShipStation: Diversify Your Business
A key way to reach a broad audience with your products is to sell on several different platforms. ShipStation helps you out by connecting to all your online stores, allowing you to print all your shipping labels (at a discounted rate!) from one place - no matter which of your stores or marketplaces actually made the sale.
What we like about ShipStation:
Customization. You can set up your own automation rules (which can do almost anything), so you can customize the platform to match your own unique workflows.
Mobile app. ShipStation’s mobile app (for Android and iOS) lets you pull in orders and print labels using your mobile device. It’s a time saver, and helps you serve your customers faster.
Wireless printing. You can connect your wireless printer to ShipStation, and share it with everyone in your account to print wirelessly. This is especially helpful if you have multiple employees helping you with order fulfillment.
ShipStation uses the Bonanza API to connect to your Bonanza booth, so the integration is seamless. After you get Bonanza set up in ShipStation, you can easily diversify where you sell by linking ShipStation to over 70+ different platforms of your choosing.
Buffer: Grow Your Customer Base
A big part of finding new customers is having a strong presence on social media - the more you post, the more likely it is for customers to find you. But who’s got time to spend all day Tweeting, Facebooking, and Pinning? Not us, and not you.
Buffer to the rescue! Buffer lets you (or your assistants) queue up a whole heap of social media messages at once, and then it dribbles them out over the coming weeks or months without any extra effort on your part.
What we like about Buffer:
Inexpensive (even free). Buffer offers a free version that lets you schedule up to 10 posts in advance. That’s nice as a trial, but if you’re serious about social media then you’ll want to upgrade to the inexpensive "Awesome plan” to schedule 100 posts at a time.
Easy to use. Buffer seems to share Bonanza’s dedication to “relentless simplicity.” Their site is a delight to use, and it gets better all the time.
Smart. Buffer has some excellent analytics tools to help you understand which posts your followers liked - and which ones they didn’t - so you can spend your time posting more of the good stuff.
At Bonanza, we’ve been using Buffer to schedule our social media posts for a couple of years now. It’s fun to use, and it helps us serve our social followers consistently with content they love. If nothing else, you should try the free version and see how it goes - we suspect you’ll fall in love just like we did.
MailChimp: Connect with Your Customer Base
Once you've started gaining followers and fans through social media, it's time to let them know about the great products you have to offer. But it can be pretty overwhelming to collect contact information and send emails to a large number of people.
That's where MailChimp comes in. MailChimp is a third party email service provider (ESP) that helps marketers send bulk emails to clients, customers, and other interested parties. You can manage your communications with ease by using MailChimp to creat campaigns, send automatic emails, and more.
What we like about MailChimp:
Automation. MailChimp makes it almost too easy to set up and schedule automatic email campaigns. With these automatic campaigns, you can set triggers in MailChimp that will send subscribers an email whenever certain actions are taken - for example, every time someone subscribes to your booth or Webstore.
User friendly. Those of you without any knowledge of coding will be happy to know that MailChimp has a simple user interface that allows you to see exactly what your email will look like without touching one bit of HTML. If you do have some coding skills up your sleeve, you can always code your own email.
Budget-conscious. MailChimp offers a Forever Free plan, which includes up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 sent emails per month. Most sellers think this is plenty when they are just starting to manage their email campaigns.
Our new customer marketing tool allows you to export a customer list to use with a third-party email service provider, so you can easily load your customer emails into MailChimp and design a custom series of emails that will turn one-time buyers into repeat customers.
The Home Stretch
Creating and growing a big, beautiful Webstore on Bonanza is your engine of growth - it’s what keeps your business roaring forward. Think of the above tools as your pit crew, offering professional assistance right when you need it most. Whether you need help with funding, diversification, or finding new customers, these three tools - Kabbage, ShipStation and Buffer - will give you the boost you need to keep charging forward toward the finish line.