Not sure which tools you need to effectively run your business?
I hear ya. It can be overwhelming sometimes, navigating through the littered landscape of small business tools. But, I’ve tried quite a few, and I’ve come away with the following list of amazing tools that I think should be in your arsenal.
1. Google Drive
Everything you can do on Microsoft Office, you can do on Google, with one exception—it’s free.
It’s kinda crazy how software that cost hundreds of dollars a few short years ago is freely available these days.
From word processing to spreadsheets to slideshow presentations, Google Drive makes it easy to do all sorts of office stuff. Even better, Google Drive is “in the cloud”, meaning that everything exists online, and not on your local hard drive.
This makes it so much easier to collaborate with a team. All of your team’s documents exist in one central location (in the cloud). And because nothing is saved on a local hard drive, nothing is inaccessible.
But, if you’d like, you can also download the drive onto your computer and then be able to access files offline, too.
While you can pay for added storage, you really don’t have to. Google generously gives you 15GB for free. That’s more than enough for most folks. But, you can also upgrade to 100GB storage for $1.99 a month (yes, the decimal is in the right place).
There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t use Google Drive, and if you want even more tips on how to use it, don’t forget to download my bonus resource below.
Here’s a look at 5 creative ways you can use Google Drive. Subscribe to receive this extra resource.
You need a website, no doubt about it. But you need to be selective on how you create your website.
You have three options: go with a pre-made solution, create your own site from scratch, or hire someone else to do it.
If you’re like most people, you don’t know much about coding, and you probably don’t have bags of money in the bank to hand over to a professional developer. So, a pre-made solution is often the best choice for most people.
But which pre-made solution should you go with?
I recommend SquareSpace. It’s what I use, and I think you should, too. Here’s why:
Set up is easy. You choose a template and start adding your content, no coding necessary.
It’s a website and host in one—you don’t have to pay separately for a host. You don’t have to install anything.
It’s always updated. You won’t be assaulted with continuous pleas to update.
It’s affordable. Plus, you can pay month to month if you’re not sure.
It looks good. All of the templates are professionally designed and look good on all screens, including mobile devices.
Having a website is important, but you also need a way to convert first-time visitors into customers and a loyal audience.
The best way to do that is with email. Basically, you’ll collect email addresses from first time visitors (usually through an opt-in lead magnet), and then market to this list of email subscribers with newsletters, promotions, drip courses, and other automated messages.
And the best way to do this is with ConvertKit. Sure, there’s plenty of email service providers out there, like MailChimp, but the reason I recommend ConvertKit is because I use it, too.
Not enough persuasion? Here’s a list of other great reasons to use ConvertKit:
Easy to create automated email courses
Attractive signup forms
Easy to deliver incentives
I probably don’t need to tell you that social media marketing is important for businesses, but I do need to tell you that there’s a way to make it infinitely easier to do so.
Social media is necessary, but it’s a big time suck. You go on to make a promotional post for your upcoming product or service, and before you know it, you’re liking cat videos and stalking your former high school crush on Facebook.
The best way to avoid this is with a nifty little tool called Buffer.
Buffer is a social media scheduler that allows you to save posts in a queue to be delivered on a time set by you.
You can connect Buffer to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.
With Buffer, you can spend as little as one hour composing all of your social media posts for the week.
If you like lists, you’ll love Trello. Trello is the ultimate project management tool. It’s great for organizing your tasks, and is especially useful when you’re working with a team. You can use Trello to see who’s working on what. Add checklists, assign responsibilities, upload attachments, oh my! Trello will change your life.
I know that sounds dramatic, but once you start using Trello, you’ll know what I mean.
Trello is definitely easy to use. After signing up, you can create a board for each main project you’d like to work on. (For example, product development, new hire process, or editorial calendar for your blog.)
Within each board, you’ll create lists. These lists help you break down the overall project into actionable tasks. Create checklists and assign individual to dos for you and your team. As you complete each task, move it over to the next list.
For example, you may create a board for what to do when hiring a new team member. On your board may be three lists as follows:
List #1: Sign necessary paperwork (along with a checklist of paperwork)
List #2: Training course (you can also assign a trainer)
List #3: Evaluation testing and job offer
You get the idea.
As you process through, you can drag and drop a task (known on Trello as a card) from one list to another. It’s so simple, so easy to use, and so effective for managing your life and work.
Plus, it’s free for the basics.
Eventually, you’ll probably want to teach a class. You’re smart enough, people want to learn from you, and you have the perfect medium to do so: the Internet.
I highly recommend a tool called Thinkific.
Thinkific allows you to create (and sell) online courses with ease. It looks great, they have amazing guides to show you how to set up your own online course, and it integrates with ConvertKit.
Sometimes you need to create a graphic or visual asset. Whether you’d like to beautify your images or create infographics from scratch, PhotoShop is so expensive and, frankly, hard to use.
That’s why I recommend Canva. It’s a web-based graphic design program (that’s free). You can create designs from scratch or use one of the gazillion templates Canva makes available to its users.
There’s no downside to using Canva for design. Plus, you can save all of your design projects in Canva (in the cloud).
It’s not 1997 anymore where you had to fork over money for cheesy stock photos like this:
Thank goodness we have access to quality stock photography for free. Visuals help bring emotion and attention to your content. Whether you’re using images to enhance a blog post, stand out from the crowd on a social media post, or spruce up your cover design, Pexels is my favorite stock image library.
Combine Pexels with Canva to create amazing graphics for free.
What are you doing about your finances?
When it comes to accepting payments online, there’s a lot of smart solutions out there—but they can feel overwhelming really quickly. If you’re a small business or even a solopreneur, you need a solid financial solution you can trust.
Acuity Scheduling is a simple scheduling and payment processing tool that allows you to keep track of payments, client appointments, intake forms, session notes, and more.
Booking is a breeze with this tool. You can embed your schedule on your website and empower your clients to book themselves with Acuity Scheduling’s user friendly interface. It’s also easy to share your availability schedule on email, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
Create your appointment types and products, send them out, see what’s paid and what’s past due all from a sleek dashboard. It’s not clunky, integrates with PayPal and Stripe, and it was created with the small business professional in mind.
Hope you liked this list of top tools. Which one of these is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.