What if you could save yourself hundreds of pounds a year by only paying for what you ACTUALLY need in your business?
What if you were no longer distracted by the latest tech because you weren't sure you needed it?
How much money could you ADD to your profit margins?
How much more money could you pay yourself?
The first thing that I do in ANY business that works with me is run a business audit.
Because there are some tools and systems that are ESSENTIAL for every business- no matter what size and income level. Everything else is just 'nice to have'.
So, in the first of a series of posts about the tools that I recommend, we are starting with the CORE. The ones that keep your business ticking over.
1. A Project Management tool
Project management tools ARE NOT a place for to-do lists. If you want somewhere to keep your to-do list, try Google Keep. This is a workspace for you to manage every aspect of your business (mine runs my whole life!) Once broken down into the key areas, you can break down your daily, weekly, monthly tasks etc so that you know what to do when. It is taking it out of your head and putting it on paper.
There are plenty of tools out there. Asana, Basecamp, ClickUp, Trello and Teamwork are amongst the most popular. I have used all of these with clients and my favourite is ClickUp, for the following reasons. I love the flexibility of having my work in both lists and boards form. Prior to ClickUp, I used Asana for my main management and Trello boards for my social media.
I also find Trello quite tricky for launching, as I like launch plans to be incredibly thorough (think tasks, subtasks, possible sub-tasks from that).
So ClickUp made my life easier. I have the paid version, which is minimal amounts for the year, which gives me access to goal trackers and creating my own main dashboard. I also like its white background- it feels 'clean' to me in comparison to other tools.
Whichever tool you use, I highly recommend trying them all for free and making your decision based on what suits your way of working.
For more info on ClickUp follow this: http://bit.ly/clickuplink
2. Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM)
This one can be a bit tricky, as it depends on what type of business you are.
If you are a small service-based business and likely only deal with small amounts of customers eg: a coach, then I recommend something small, like Dubsado.
If you are a small product-based business then you are going to need something bigger. This is where CRM's often integrate with email software. There are many out there, from Zoho and Hubspot to the giants such as Active Campaign and Infusionsoft.
As a Company of One, I love Dubsado. It does what I need, it links to Xero (my financial tracking) and I can have everything organised to go out with a click of a button. I can even set up a Client portal for each client, making it easy for them to see everything, as well as giving them that VIP feeling. To check out Dubsado follow this: https://www.dubsado.com
They do have a free plan, however, if you do sign up, use this code to get 20% off your first month or year https://www.dubsado.com/?c=rachelaiken
3. A Scheduler
When I first started my business, this was the first piece of tech I set up. It has been so useful!
I have tried many as there is usually a free version. The most popular are Calendly and Acuity. Dubsado also has its own native scheduler, however, I had already signed up with Book Like A Boss before using Dubsado. Book Like A Boss are making leaps in its design at the moment. I love how I can have a mixture of appointments and products in the same place, I can have global settings as well as individual time settings for some products and it all links to zoom (my calling platform) and my google calendar, as well as Stripe.
To find out more about Book Like a Boss, follow this: http://bit.ly/Booklikeaboss
4. An Email Scheduler
If you are a service-based company of one and aren't using one of the big CRMs, then you are going to need an email scheduler- so that you can email out to your lovely audience.
There are lots of established email providers who provide free options, including Mailchimp and Mailerlite. Out of the two of these, my preference is Mailerlite- mainly because Mailchimp has reduced the capacity of their free version. Mailerlite is free up to 1,000 on your list.
My new favourite that I have recently moved to is Flodesk. It is still in Beta mode at the moment, and I love it. It uses a drag and drop type builder and there are plenty of templates so you can ensure that your emails look just as good as everything else you send out (and who doesn't like something nice popping into their inbox!) I also love it because it was set up by 2 Women to make emails a little nicer. It is so easy to use and less clunky some of the other options.
It is free for the first days and then it's pricing (at time of writing) is $38 a month. However, if you use this link, you can get it for $19 a month.
And there you have it. I hope this helps you work out some of the essentials. Keep an eye out for the next in the series, where we will be looking at finance tools.
Don't forget to join the Facebook Community if you have any questions.
For further details on the essentials needed in any business, download The Ultimate Business Audit here: http://bit.ly/Ultimateaudit
In the interests of transparency, some of the links featured in this article are affiliate links, meaning I may get a little something for the recommendation, however, I ONLY recommend tools I use in my own business.