Top 5 Most Useful Tools When Setting Up a Business
Knowing the most useful tools to use when setting up a business is half the battle for avoiding overwhelm and burnout. So much of the advice out there will lead you to believe you have to do it all (all of the time! right away!) in order to be successful. And with so many options available and everyone trying to sell you their apps, software, and services, you can easily find yourself in a state of complete decision paralysis.
When it comes to choosing the tools to run your business the key is to find those that are robust (so that you can streamline how many you actually use), easy to use, and allow you to automate what can be automated (I promise it won’t make you soulless. Remember, you only have so much time and energy to go around!)
To help you navigate these murky and often confusing waters, I’ve compiled this list of the five essential tools you need when running any business.
An all-in-one system for campaigns.
E-mail marketing has come a long way over the past few years and it’s now possible to be really clever in sending targeted campaigns based on what individual members of your audience are interested in. Depending on your needs, MailChimp, ConvertKit (soon to be called Seva), Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, AWeber, and MailerLite are the big guns to look at (here’s a great article comparing their features and pricing). Don’t forget to read up on being GDPR compliant - I promise it’s not too tricky (and if you’re confused, I can definitely help!)
A headache-free accounting system.
Doing accounts probably isn’t anyone’s favourite part of running their business. But remember: what we track, we attract. So keeping on top of our finances is actually a really important part of making more money! Plus, no one likes getting to the end of the year and being hit with a bigger tax bill than they expected. Luckily the tools that are available right now are really intuitive to use and produce a wide range of useful reports. Between clients and myself I’ve used Wave, Quickbooks, Xero, and Freshbooks, and would recommend all of them. Take a few minutes to check them each out to see what services and pricing structure best fits your needs. And I promise that with just a few minutes invested every week, you really can stay on top of your accounts.
A robust organisation platform.
Running your own business can feel like keeping approximately five zillion balls in the air; a bunch of lists on scrunched up Post-It Notes isn’t going to cut it! Using an organisation platform like Trello or Asana will allow you to keep track of all your projects, clients, and day-to-day tasks in one place. You can also add team members or any contractors you’re working with so that everyone’s on the same page.
A comprehensive social media scheduler.
I’m not someone who thinks you need to be active on all of the social media platforms out there; that’s just a formula for spreading yourself thin and doing none of them well. But it is really important to choose one or two and be consistent with them. As we’ve talked about before, time blocking is a really great way to be more productive and scheduling your social media is one way to do just that. That doesn’t mean you can’t still post in real time when something really juicy comes along but it does mean you can spend a little less time clicking on those apps and on the days when you just don’t have much to say, you’ll know that you still have quality content going out to your audience. When it comes to scheduling, HootSuite, Buffer, and Later are all great options to look at.
Software to create your own beautiful graphics.
Long gone are the days of gif-laden, technicoloured Geocities sites. A strong aesthetic and beautiful branding are essential to standing out online. Luckily if you’re just starting out and can’t afford to pay a professional, there are great, affordable tools available online. Both Canva and A Design Kit come with many built-in templates, fonts, and design elements for creating beautiful graphics and PDFs. Just be sure to select a few strong brand colours and design elements and be consistent in using them.
Depending on your business, you might also want an efficient way to track your time (I recommend Trello!) Even if you don’t work with clients on an hourly basis, it can be great to know exactly what is eating up the most of your time and what efforts are yielding the highest results. A platform for communicating, like Slack, can also be great if you have a team working together on projects.
Using these tools, I’m confident that you’ll be more productive and find more ease in your business.
And I’d love to know, what are your favourite must-have tools as an entrepreneur?