I went full time with my business during the summer of 2014 - almost 7 years ago!
Then, due to life changes, I (sort of) had to start from scratch in 2017. Since then, there’s been a lot of trial and error to get to where I am today – like, creating different processes, utilizing templates of all sorts, adding the wrong team members, adding the right team members, letting go and delegating, etc. Below you will find some of the tools that have improved the efficiency and effectiveness of my business – tools I recommend and can’t live without.
Being a business owner is not easy.
There have been days I’ve wondered why the heck I even picked entrepreneurship (well, it actually picked me but that’s a different story for a different day) and days when I wanted to run down the street and convert everyone! So, having the right tools to help me out is truly essential to making it happen.
Just like anything in life, it has been a roller coaster. As you know, there is quite a bit of pressure to make it all work, but it is also truly exhilarating when things do start to work!
I’m not sure about you, but I’m the type of gal who makes things work in a thrifty way. I don’t like to spend extra money when it’s not needed, but I certainly will spend it when it is necessary. To be honest, I err on the thrifty side because I don’t need the latest and greatest to move forward. And really, we don’t.
But when it’s time to level up, I do!
So yes, I catch myself sometimes holding on to things a tad bit too long. And, at times my sweet, fancy program colleagues, who wonder how I survive without using (fill in the blank), will get after me! Yep, I can own that I used spreadsheets for bookkeeping way too long when there are glorious programs like QuickBooks that simplify life so much (facepalm).
What I’m saying is that the programs I use are good ones. If you don’t like to overspend but like to simplify business, check out this week’s video and have a look-see at the list down below:
My team and I basically live in this program. As we say, “If it’s not in Asana, it’s not happening.”
So, if you are looking for a program to keep you organized, on top of due dates, in communication with your team or clients, this is it! We use the pro version, but the free version will get you far.
This is not a secret tool nowadays, but if you haven’t for some reason found your way to it, it’s time. We are virtual and have had all our meetings online since the beginning. This is our go-to platform. The free version works great for one-on-one meetings or for shorter meetings with a group.
Life saver, period. No need for the please-send-me-a-few-times-and-days-that-work-for-you kind of emails anymore. What’s even better is that you can pick which times you are available. (Nope, doesn’t have to be all day, every day.) I, for example, like to keep my calls on Tuesday and Thursday, so that on the other days, my head can stay in creativity mode. We have the pro version, because we have other program integration needs, but on most occasions, the free account should do. Also, the design of this program is just more pleasant than a lot of the other scheduling tools, which obviously is important!
Apple Reminders –
Yes, all our to-dos are in Asana, but I still like to have my own day planned out. I put the top three most important tasks in my reminders, and I set a time next to it so I can try to stay on schedule.
We deal with a lot of clients and client access, which means we have a lot of passwords to keep track of. It used to be a headache, because we didn’t have them all in one spot and honestly it wasn’t very secure (shame on me). We now have incorporated LastPass in our work processes, and it’s fabulous! Not only can our clients share their access without worry, but also the whole team has one spot where it is all neatly organized and secure.
A great and simple tool to get going and grow your email list. It’s free for up to 2,000 contacts, and I can’t wait to pay more to send out more emails. 😉 To grow your list, you might use something like a lead magnet. One thing I really like about MailChimp is that you can build out a popup/modal window to entice users to sign up for your lovely emails. This program also has a clean and clever design – always a plus to have a visual delight!
For hosting, this is our go-to for setting up client websites (and our own). They now also buy domains, which I really like, since I have a bit of an organizational addiction and like to keep things neat and consolidated in fewer places. They are also known for their security, which is essential when it comes to hosting. Sadly, nobody escapes the possibility of malware and hackers nowadays. They have great support, and the pricing is good. It might not be the cheapest, but this is one that is worth it! You don’t want to have trouble with hosting as it can get awfully expensive.
We use Dropbox as our filesharing tool. It’s free – I like it 🙂 and it’s easy to use. I like to be able to either share a folder with a client or just a link to a specific place.
This is our teams cloud storage that we work from. We actually picked this because it came with Microsoft 365 which we use for email. I was going back and forth regarding G Suite but landed on OneDrive because we had already started with it. We do love it, but for big programs like these that encompass a lot, do your research before you pick one. This is also another one where spending a little extra is worth it.
This is where my team and I discuss things. We communicate a lot in Asana, but if you need to go back and forth on something, Slack is the place. You can actually integrate it with Asana (which we haven’t) to create to-do’s, etc. It is a delightful tool, and the free version works great for our small team.
Cue the angel music. I mentioned at the top that I used to use spreadsheets…up until not long ago. Oh, but I liked collecting the numbers, adding the numbers, and… (facepalm).
Yeah, that can be done in QuickBooks too, and so much more easily. I had a bit of a learning curve when I started, but now – holy smokes! I might hand this task over to a team member in the near future, but I do believe it’s important to have a grasp and basic knowledge before handing it over. Never again spreadsheets! In addition to keeping our accounting in order, it keeps our products/services list, sends out invoices, sends out automatic reminders, etc. They do charge too much for clients who pay with credit card, I have to say, but at this point it’s worth it.
I hope this sparked some ideas on how you can simplify your business life!