Tools of the Trade: Apps & Software for Small Business Owners
Every small business owner has their arsenal of tools that they use to run their business. These are our favorites—the software and apps that save me hours each day. When you’re a small business owner, you know that the key to making the most of your day is to make your daily tasks as easy and quick as possible. These are the tools that help us do just that, and it’s our hope that they’ll help you, too.
Keap is my go-to software on a daily basis, my own personal holy grail of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms. It’s my all-in-one solution for managing prospective clients, organizing my sales pipeline, automating my marketing, communicating with my contacts, and invoicing and collecting payment. It’s by far the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to small business CRM, and it helps me automate all of that pesky admin work that used to take hours out of my days.
If you need a more advanced scheduling system than a simple click-to-schedule platform, then definitely check out Acuity. Acuity lets customers schedule appointments, classes, and register for events, and it even has a payment platform built-in so that you can collect payment right when they book you. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that’ll help you end the constant back-and-forth of, “I’m not available at that time, but I’m, available at this time.”
Unfortunately, proposals written in Microsoft Word aren’t just cutting it anymore. Your proposals don’t only have to be well-written––they have to be attractive. I use Better Proposals to write all of my proposals, and it creates a beautiful online proposal-reading experience for your clients. My clients have been so impressed with my proposals since I’ve started using Better Proposals, and it’s helped me to win more high-value sales.
When you’re a small business owner, it’s crucial to track your time, logging every minute of every day so that you know exactly how you’re spending your time. When I first started tracking my time with Harvest, I made the not-so-great but very helpful discovery that the tasks I spend the most time on are always the least profitable. Harvest will help you keep track of that, but it’ll also help you keep track of billable hours and non-billable hours so you can see exactly how much money you’re making. When you work for yourself, tracking time will help you use your time more efficiently and increase your productivity.
This one is a no-brainer. At $6/month, I can have my custom domain email serve as my primary Google Account. I can use all of Google’s powerful and industry-standard tools while staying on brand, and it includes 30gb of cloud storage. It’s the easiest way for me to stay connected in my daily workflow, and because Google’s services are so ubiquitous, all of my clients know how to use them.
If you’re in need of a CRM system that’s not quite as robust as Keap but that’ll do all of the things a good CRM should do, take a look at Copper. Copper is great for managing contacts, leads, opportunities, and tasks, and because it’s built from the ground up to integrate with G Suite (and even with standard Gmail accounts), you can run it from directly inside your email inbox!
Zoom has quickly replaced Skype as the go-to platform for online video conferencing, and that’s mainly because of one simple reason: it’s ridiculously easy to use. Your clients just have to click on a link to join the virtual meeting, and they can automatically join––no account creation necessary. It’s hands-down the easiest way to hold virtual meetings. Period.
If Keap is my go-to for managing my marketing and clients, Asana is my go-to for managing the actual workload of running a business. Because it’s so easy to use and has great collaboration and integration features, I use it to keep track of all of the work I do. Every large-scale project down to every solitary one-off task makes its way into Asana, and it helps me make sure that nothing falls through the cracks
If you like the sound of the advanced marketing automation that Keap provides, but don’t think you’ll need the other CRM-centric features like organizing contacts, leads, and sales, and invoicing and collecting payments, check out ConvertKit. It costs about the same as Mailchimp, and it’s infinitely more powerful when it comes to email design, segmentation, and automation.
For great web hosting that isn’t absurdly (or even remotely) expensive, BlueHost is your answer. It integrates well with WordPress, and is one of the most reliable web hosts I’ve ever used. With plans starting at $3.95/month, it’s a really appealing option for creating a great website without spending too much money.
When you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need to pay so much more attention to your personal finances. I use You Need a Budget (YNAB) to manage all of my personal finance, and it automatically generates insightful reports that show me where my money is going each month.