Marie Kondo wrote a New York Times best-seller about organizing – the life-changing magic of tidying up!
Not only has her book has made her a household name. Her name has become synonymous with organizing; becoming more effective and more efficient!
So, as we are about to begin a new year, it’s a great time to reflect on our business and ask how we can make our businesses more efficient and effective, so we don’t have to work so darn hard! I think we could all be a little more like Marie!
One of the easiest ways to make your business more efficient; to do less work is to use great tools!
I wanted to share some of the tools that I use to make my business more efficient and that saves me so much time!!!
HINT: The most expensive or the cheapest tool isn’t always the right tool for you and your business. Remember your current stage of business growth (learn more here) and then consider what stage of business growth you want to achieve. This will help you make decisions about which tools are best for you.
Start up or Glorified Employee Stage
Use the free versions if you can.
At this stage of business growth, you’re probably overwhelmed with software options and don’t have a big budget. Your focus at this stage is nailing your messaging; validating your offerings, growing your email list and validating content for your list!
1. A scheduler (youcanbook.me) – For me, this was the ONE tool that saved me significant time! There are many schedulers on the market including acuity, timetrade, etc.
2. A calendar (Google calendar & GSuite products) – One of the best ways to be more efficient is to use a calendar to block time. Read – How to make more time for your marketing here.
3. Zoom – I’ve been using Zoom for about 6 years for coaching, networking and virtual coffee chats. Since I live in the country, it saves me hours of driving to events. Although I love live events, I’m careful to pick and choose the ones I attend! (Zoom webinar is an additional add-on which you can pay for as you need it).
4. Email service provider (MailerLite) – When I first started my business I used the free version of Mailchimp. More recently I transferred to Active Campaign as it has more flexibility with respect to setting up campaigns and sales funnel. My tech gal now suggests MailerLite in you’re in the startup phase. Remember creating an email list that you can nurture is a significant way to stay in touch with prospects, current and past clients!!
5. Website or landing page – Back in 2012, I had someone build my first website on a platform called Jumla (horrible). Then I migrated to Squarespace; and eventually to WordPress. If you know that you are building a business, then you must look forward to the types of capabilities you think you’ll need – membership, products for sale, blog, etc. For me, WordPress gave me the options I knew I would need to expand. That being said, many individuals get by with using a simple landing page (Leadpages).
6. Dropbox – Dropbox has become my go-to place to store and systematize all files. It’s like a backup system.
7. Canva – Early in my business, I used a graphic design tool called Pic Monkey. As my business grew, I outsourced the majority of my graphic design to my Virtual Assistant and she uses Canva for creating everything from social media posts to workbooks!
8. Magnolia & Sage – Although I used stock photos early in my business, I’m not a great fan. There are some great places to get free ones (Pexel, Upstock, etc) but I could never find ones that really felt like my brand UNTIL I found Magnolia & Sage (here) for free photos or a monthly subscription. With a subscription, I now get seasonal photos that I can choose that truly FEEL like me. (BTW – AnneMarie was also the one who did my most recent brand photos!)
9. Bookkeeping software – I feel that too many start up business owners don’t know their numbers either because they don’t track them OR they abdicate the responsibility to a bookkeeper/accountant and never really pay attention to their Key Performance Indicators (KPI). You need some way of tracking your profit, expenses, revenue, etc. You can even start with an Excel spreadsheet, or use simple software like Freshbooks or Quickbooks. I was lucky – my husband acts as my bookkeeper! However, I don’t wait till the end of the month, or quarter or year to look at my numbers. I have my own simple way of tracking money coming in and money going out!
10. Method of receiving payment – At this early stage of your business, accepting simple e-transfers is perfect.
You might also like these articles:
5 Easy Ways to increase your productivity without working more (2015) here
Paper or tech (2014) here
5 Quick Ways to jump off the hamster wheel & save 10 hours a week here
Stage 2 – Manager
At this stage you’re starting to get some traction and earning more $$$ but things can still be overwhelming because you might be the only person in your business (or you might have a small team i.e. bookkeeper, Virtual Assistant).
- At this stage, you may upgrade to the paid versions of some of your tools! For instance, I upgraded to the paid version of my scheduler so that appointment reminders were sent out thereby decreasing missed appointments (and saving me time).
- I also upgrade to paid versions of Gsuite, Canva, Zoom, etc.
- I was also able to expand my website to accept payments through Stripe and to host my online courses.
Here are a few additional tools I added:
11. CRM – As your business grows, and depending on the type of business you have, you’ll probably find that you need a way to track and follow up with prospects and customer. A CRM (customer relationship management) tool is like the brain of your business! There are simple ones such as Zoho, LessAnnoying CRM, Monday or more robust ones such as KEAP which combine a variety of systems in one software. Again, this depends on the size and type of your business.
12. Social media scheduler – Meet Edgar is a favorite scheduler which helps share your content in the right places at the right time, keeps your feeds fresh and diverse, while helping to grow your audience. TIP: some schedulers actually decrease the reach of your posts.
13. Payment receiving – Perhaps now is the perfect time to be accepting credit cards for payment or payment plans. I do this through my WordPress website and Stripe.
14. Yeti mic – if you’re starting to get more serious about video or even podcasting, you’ll want to upgrade your microphone. Believe it or not, improving sound quality is more important that video quality. Here’s the one I purchased here.
15. Lighting – As a speaker (or a trainer, or coach) you may want to improve your lighting especially if you do a lot of videos or even online coaching. In December, when it gets dark early, I find that even for coaching, I need a better light source than my window. A great inexpensive light is my Ottlite which has multiple light intensities and has a very flexible arm. (I bought it on Amazon here. It seems there are now new versions of it and it’s a great desk lamp).
Stage 3 – CEO
At this stage, you’re already earning 6-figures and you might be ready to scale quickly and make multiple 6-figures or even 7-figures! Your email list is growing and you’re ready to start making a significant profit. This is when you need more tools and systems to help you run your business, sell more with less effort, and …automate!
Now, you also have a team! Your team will probably require new or expanded versions of the tools that you already have.
16. Google Drive – Google Drive is a great tool to use for document sharing and team collaboration especially if multiple people are working with the same content, files or images.
17. Streamyard – Any time that I can stream a video or Facebook like on multiple platforms at one time, I’m happy. It’s a great time saver! I also love the fact that you can schedule live streams, and you can create titles.
Depending on the size of your organization there are tons of other tools that will help you increase the efficiency of your business AND work less!
I’d love to hear about your favourite tools that you use to make your business more efficient.
YOU CAN DO THIS!