Making the decision to go into business on your own takes some serious guts. Some entrepreneurs that I've talked to over the years equate their experience and its dramatic emotional shifts to the guts-driven lifestyles of skydivers, bungee jumpers, and other adrenaline junkies. I would agree that they're not too far off.
I took my leap almost five years ago and started a digital marketing agency. My recipe for success is rooted in having the tools I need to get things done faster. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to know and love a few apps that empower me to be a more productive small business owner.
These services have helped me to:
As any entrepreneur knows, communication is key to the success of any business. You need a communication tool that keeps all of your employees on the same page with projects and loops your clients in about the status of jobs in progress.
Trello is by far the best collaboration tool that I've come across and we use it religiously. What's so great about Trello is that it organizes your various projects into boards. With a simple glance, I can see the projects that we're working on, who's working on what, and where we are on the project.
Each Trello board organizes a group of related lists. We create a Trello board for each project that we work on and add the team members that are working on that specific project. Each board is filled with relevant cards that organize what needs to be accomplished. Users can open these cards and create a checklist, add a comment, upload attachments, assign a due date, and more. This consolidates our efforts and helps keep things running smoothly.
What we also love about Trello (aside from it being an awesome collaboration tool) is that you're instantly notified when an update is made to a board. I keep the Trello tab open all day on my computer and never need to refresh the page to stay in the loop.
2. QuickBooks Online
You can't run a business well if you don't have a handle on your finances. Some of the most important business decisions that you'll make will depend on how well you know your numbers.
QuickBooks Online is our go-to accounting tool as it simplifies the bookkeeping process and syncs with a myriad of other apps that we use to help us maintain accurate records. We were initially attracted to QuickBooks due to its affordability, but quickly learned that it offers so much more than just bookkeeping services… like getting paid faster.
Most small business owners would agree that finding a way to speed up the process of getting paid is key. QuickBooks offers the ability to send a smart invoice that allows customers to pay online and on the spot. Something that I particularly like about this tool is the invoice management capability. I can see when a customer opens an invoice and send a personalized payment reminder if necessary.
Even better, once a customer pays, the money is deposited directly into our bank account. These transactions are synced and the data is then beautifully displayed on a dashboard that gives you an at-a-glance look at the financial insights that matter.
Research reveals that more than half of American consumers check their email inboxes at least 10 times a day. Email marketing presents small business with a powerful opportunity to stay connected with their customers.
MailChimp is our preferred email marketing tool as it's extremely easy to use and is packed with useful features to create results-driven email campaigns. This tool uses a drag-and-drop interface to help you create professional-looking emails without necessarily needing a degree in marketing or graphic design (shhh, don’t tell anyone).
Some of the features that we've found most beneficial include the ability to segment contacts to send them targeted content and the power to schedule content to arrive in inboxes on particular days and at specific times. These two features alone allow us to earn more conversions and get better results from our email marketing efforts.
Being aware of how well your email marketing strategy is working is crucial, and the extensive reporting that MailChimp offers allows us to make tweaks to our strategy when necessary.
Getting and staying organized can be a challenge for most small business owners. Trust me, I know. However, as we’ve implemented processes and apps like Trello, Quickbooks, and MailChimp, we’ve started to master the day-to-day stuff that can slip through the cracks.
For the heavy lifting, like designing a brand strategy, developing a new website, or reaching more potential customers, be sure to give our agency a try.
What are some apps that have helped you run your small business?