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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.
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.
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.
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.
Attending live events is a great way to meet new people and get exposed to new ideas and best practices. Part of every live event is the special offer from each speaker. I see many people get caught up in the time-limited nature of these special conference offers, so I want to talk about how to evaluate which special offers to pursue.
First, I am going to assume that you have chosen the appropriate topics for the sessions you will attend. Those sessions should be related to where you are and where you want to be headed in your business.
If you have chosen sessions that at at the appropriate knowledge and skill level sessions you should be learning some tips that you can take home and implement immediately in your business. I suggest keeping a separate list of action steps throughout the conference. Having a list of steps makes it easy to get started when you are home. It will also remind you of what you’ve learned so you don’t get a product or course that is something you already noow or have.
Next, carefully evaluate how good the offer is. Sometimes the offers are made on a regular basis. And sometimes they are not that big of a savings. If it still looks good, go on to the next evaluation step.
The final evaluation step for special offers is whether you are going to use it in the next four weeks. That’s right. If you are not going implement the product or course in the next month, don’t get it. It’s that simple really. I find that if you are not going use the product or start the course within four weeks, it will sit on your hard drive on on the shelf indefinitely.
So those are my steps for evaluating special offers when you are at a live event:
1. Choose the live sessions appropriately.
2. Keep an action step list to implement at home
3. Be sure it’s special
4. Be sure you will consume the course or product within 4 weeks
So don’t get stuck with a bunch of “shelf help” products or courses that you buy as live event special offers. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment. In fact, I prefer something like NAMS Total Business Membership because it provides a variety of training every week. Plus the two live events every year make it really valuable for learning and progressing in your business. I can’t wait to go to NAMS 10 next month.
Lately I’ve been meeting so many heart-centered practitioners who are afraid of technology. Reminds me of when I had the Technophobe Therapy course….But it’s okay. Really. It’s not that scary to express yourself through technology. But technology is more than just a communication medium. By leveraging technology you can serve more people with less effort. Which is pretty cool when you think about it.
Here are some ways technology lets you serve more clients with less effort:
1. Autoresponder Systems let you write a series of messages that automatically get sent out when a potential client completes a form, like the one over there in the right column. You can provide reports, samples, short courses and other information products to people who want to know more about what you do.
2. Websites and blogs allow potential clients to get to know you a little bit at their convenience. It’s like being on-call without any effort on your part. You can even have a membership site that serves people 24/7 and creates recurring income for you.
3. Telesummits and Teleseminars allow you to hold classes and courses online and by Continue reading