A frequent question I get is, “What tools do you use to run your business?” That’s probably because people who know me know that I like to automate as much as possible so my clients have a uniform experience, and frankly to make it easier on me. So today I’m going to run down which business tools I use and why.
Email Business Tools
1. Gmail I like the tags and being able to put email in folders, but most email systems do that. I think Gmail especially because I can set up any of my email addresses to come into my main Gmail account. It also allows me to select which email address to send from. I also use the contacts and calendar functions in my business and have an Android phone. Google is my main business partner, I guess you could say.
2. Boomerang for Gmail Boomerang is a plug-in that lets me return emails to my Inbox based on times and rules that I set. It’s great for keeping track of missing responses and has a delightful “Send Later” feature that lets me work in the middle of the night without looking like a nut. Best email business tool, period.
3. Time Trade Online Appointment system. This service integrates with Gmail and lets my clients book their own appointments, based on my calendar. They don’t see any information from my calendar, only the open appointment slots.. It also emails a reminder and puts it on the calendar automatically.
4. aWeber To comply with all the laws and regulations about business email, I use the aWeber service. Don’t use your personal account or it is very likely you will breaking some rules or another! Aweber is easy and intuitive and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the fines you can get for breaking business email rules.
File Management Tools
5. Insync for Google Drive. I’ve been using Google Drive only because this Insyc tool keeps a local copy on my compute and automatically synchronizes the files. That way I can access the files easily from any computer, they are secure and they update automatically. Google storage is inexpensive so you don’t need that paid Dropbox account.
6. Backup Buddy from iThemes. This is what I use to back up and migrate my websites. It’s super easy to use and set up. And you definitely need backup. Trust me, I have learned the hard way. To host my sites I use Bluehost. The folks there are patient with non-tech types and they make a backup everyday – just in case.
Business Tools to Plan & Implement
7. Premium Planners from Productive Flourishing. Hands down these are the best planners for me. I use a combination of the two sets, but they are stinking cheap so who cares? These are the handy tool that keeps my business on track month to month with the details of what has to get done and when.
8. Ooma Telo Phone Service This may be the best hardware I ever bought! It got me out of the grip of AT&T and into the VOIP phone world. I love it because not only is it cheap and reliable, but I can access it from anyplace and use my regular phone with it. You can port your own number to it, and you get two lines with the premium service.
I’m going to add one more thing that isn’t really a tool, but it helps me tremendously. NAMS – the Novice to Advanced Marketing Systems has been the best training about how to market my business online. At the start I just attended the free weekly trainings, then I joined the NAMS Total Business System to get access to the complete site and archives.
The online training is great, but attending the live conferences really helped step up my business. There are three jammed-packed days in Atlanta twice a year. The folks who attend have become like family and I really forward to going back. After NAMS 10 a new group was formed, the Insiders Circle, and we have weekly calls and a monthly training just for us.