Ideal for those new to graphic design, Canva is an online graphic design software that can be used to create a variety of print and online graphics for free or at an affordable rate for its pro edition. It offers plenty of templates and imagery to help you easily create collateral with a professional look and feel. It has a very user-friendly set up and intuitive interface, which makes it perfect for anyone starting their own small business.
You can create a company logo, social media posts, newsletter campaign templates, website headers, and much more. Your branding will look professional and you will save money and time by designing marketing materials with Canva.
As a business, you can easily create a Google My Business profile so your business can appear on Google searches. You will need to create a separate account to manage it, but it will allow you to respond to reviews and engage with your customers, edit your business hours and information, and even gain insights on who is looking for your business. You can learn more about how to set up your profile here.
If you are looking to complete your marketing mix with some email marketing, Mailchimp is one of the best options available. With plans adapted especially for small businesses, Mailchimp is an email marketing and marketing automation tool that will make your life easier when it comes to sending emails and creating customer lists. It will not only help you automate most of your email marketing, but will also send automated emails to those who show interest in a product (like adding an item to their cart) or those who perform an action on your website.
Their free plans allow up to 2000 contacts, which includes plenty of features that will help you ace the e-world: subject line helpers, sign up forms, landing pages, email templates, etc. Mailchimp integrates with more than 250 apps so it will run smoothly with the rest of your business software.
From networking to talent acquisition, LinkedIn is a business focused tool where you will be able to stay up-to-date with the latest news in your industry (and with whomever you choose to follow). Free to use, LinkedIn is a great place to find qualified candidates for your job openings, get to know fellow small business owners, and learn about grants, webinars, resources, expos, and more. LinkedIn is easy to set up and requires low maintenance, so the benefits outweigh the work by far!
Built to connect companies with prospective employees, Indeed is one of the most popular job searching platforms out there. If you are struggling to hire staff for your company and can’t afford a recruitment agency, Indeed is probably your best bet. Posting a job is free and will save you the hassle of creating a career page on your website. They’ll provide you with the candidate's resume and you’ll be able to contact them through one platform, so hiring is as less time consuming as possible.
Specially designed for small and medium businesses, Quickbooks is an accounting software that helps you with your bookkeeping. Built to accept payments, track expenses, create invoices, and much more, Quickbooks is the accounting software of choice for many of our Coho members.
Their plans start from only $5.50 per month. They even have a plan for self-employed professionals that costs $3.75 per month. They also offer a handy payroll add-on for when you have to pay your staff. Quickbooks allows you to have all your accounting information in one place, so the time you spend managing your finances can be invested in something else.
As a local non-profit organization, Small Business BC focuses on helping British Columbians build their own companies from scratch. Their resources tab is full of very useful information, such as how to start your own business, or how to scale it. Moreover, they have a specific list of resources for Food & Beverage entrepreneurs in British Columbia, so you don’t have to scramble around for all this information.
You will find general resources such as a Business Plan template and Cash Flow Forecasting tool, educational webinars, BC Government requirements to start a food business, as well as a list of associations that could be very helpful as an entrepreneur, including the BC Restaurant & Food Service Association and Small Scale Food Processor Association.
Whether you are brand new to the business world or have been around for a little while, Shopify tools will definitely have something for you. Shopify offers a bunch of free tools that would help any small business go from meh to amazing!
From the logo creator to business name generator and slogan maker, Shopify includes an array of tools that could help any small business owner with parts of the marketing, accounting and even operations of their company. They even have a profit margin calculator if you are planning to deal with wholesalers and distributors. Moreover, Shopify itself is a Canadian ecommerce platform ideal for those who want to sell their products directly to consumers online (B2C). Check it out!
As its name suggests, Recipe Cost Calculator allows food businesses to have a much better understanding of how much their recipes cost them to make. Built by a cook for cooks, this tool helps you understand your costs and margins in a much more detailed way, helping you decrease waste and increase profits. The free version allows you to work with up to 20 ingredients and 5 recipes, which is perfect for any starter. Features also include allergen tagging, cost history, sub-recipes and suppliers list, ingredient waste calculator and much more. You can then print or download a PDF of the files to share with your team. A must-have tool for anyone looking to tighten up their recipe cost and decrease food waste.
Social Media. Ah, yeah, social media… Gives headaches to every small business owner. They tell you to publish once a day, respond to comments and story reactions, stay engaged with your audience, create behind the scenes videos, and whatnot. However, everything is a lot easier if you help yourself with Later, a social media managing tool that will allow you to keep your Instagram looking cool and professional while doing all the other things you have to do as a food entrepreneur.
They offer a free plan that allows you to connect a set of social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tik Tok and LinkedIn). You will be able to link your website from your Instagram profile with the “linkin.bio” feature and gather analytics from the last 3 months. Moreover, Later allows you to schedule your social posts so you don’t have to do it at the little hours you get to it (we all know you’re responding to emails at 1am!). Upload all your media to Later, plan your week’s posts with images and captions, and voilà, Later will do the rest.