The best business management tools and how I use them
Wouldn’t it be nice if your business could run itself sometimes? I bet you would love it if you could make sales, manage clients, and post to social media without even lifting a finger. And how much time would you save if you could batch all the important business tasks and get it done with a couple clicks of your mouse? You would actually be able to spend more time doing that creative thing you love to do. Living the dream, right?!
It doesn’t have to be a dream anymore. In my years of business, I’ve found some incredible tools to help run my business, and many of them are built for automation to keep your business running even when you’re not.
The key to running a streamlined business is utilizing these types of tools so that your one man show can feel like you’ve got 10 people working just for you. And if you want to spend less time working and more time living, you need these tools in your life too.
I finally jumped on the bandwagon with Asana in the middle of last year and I’m never getting rid of it. It has been the best tool for managing both client and personal projects and is the perfect place for keeping all the lists of all the things so you don’t have to keep it in your head.
I create a separate project for each of my clients and then invite them to join their project so they can see their tasks, files, and due dates. We can communicate, collaborate, and share project files all in one place, keeping conversations about the project out of email and saved in one place to reference later if needed. Each client can only see their own project and has the ability to send comments, add files, and check tasks when completed.
To streamline the process even more, I created a template project for clients that can be duplicated at the start of each process and then edited to reflect the specific due dates and tasks for that project.
And the best part about this app -- it’s FREE. You can do all of this without signing up for a paid plan, but there are always upgrade options if that’s what floats your boat too.
All in all, this tool saves me tons of time and makes my organized heart happy.
(PS: If you would like to see an Asana specific tutorial and the nitty-gritty of how I use this app, let me know in the comments below!)
I use Google for a lot of different things. To name a few I use Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Email. Last year I started using Google Drive for all my files. I have folders that match all the business folders on my desktop and transfer files there as needed. I also house all my client projects and files there so they can access the folders as well.
I use Docs and Sheets to create a lot of my business content. I have templates created for things I do often so I can plug and play and make the process a little bit quicker.
Plus, I love that I can access these things on any computer and on the go if needed.
I’m all about apps that have multiple uses, and 17Hats is definitely one of those apps. I’ve been using 17Hats for a few years to manage client projects on the back end. This app allows me to send contracts, invoices, questionnaires, and quotes from one place. I also use it to save my contacts and do my bookkeeping.
I have a client onboarding workflow created that I add to each project which already has the contract, invoice, and questionnaires ready to go (with minor editing for each project) and also reminds me what to send to the clients to get their project set up. This is so helpful when onboarding clients and managing payments. I also love being able to get an overview of my projects and what is on my calendar.
Email marketing is one of the most important things you can do for your business and it is my mission to master this area this year. Having a good system will make it that much easier to implement all the tips and tricks I learn along the way.
Making the switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit was one of the best investments I’ve made in business. It costs a little bit more so this is definitely something to do once you’ve made progress in your business and can afford the investment. But it also one that pays off too.
ConvertKit is easy to use once you learn it and has a simple interface that is easy to navigate. There are also lots of features like segmenting, sequences, and automation that are exactly what you need as a small business owner.
My favorite features in ConvertKit are being able to tag my subscribers and send them emails they are actually interested in and being able to set automation rules to help guide them through email sequences that I’ve already created.
(PS #2: I plan to share some more email marketing things using ConvertKit this year!)
This is a tool I started using more recently, but so far I’m in love. Not only is it easy to use, but it allows me to schedule both Instagram posts and Instagram Stories, which was a big selling point for me.
With the growing popularity of stories over posts, I needed a way to schedule some in advance so I would always have something in the lineup in case life was too hectic to stop and post live. I had trouble finding a good app that lets you schedule stories so this was a gem to find.
I use Planoly to schedule posts and stories for Instagram and lay out the grid in advance to maintain a cohesive feel and brand style.
I get most of my traffic from Instagram and Pinterest so I am focusing my marketing efforts on these areas and this tool had been a big help in the Pinterest department. Although I’ve used BoardBooster in the past for Pinterest marketing efforts, I am giving Tailwind a try now. I prefer the Tailwind interface and so far it seems to have more features than Boardbooster.
I am still learning my way around this one, but I like what I see. I think this tool is going to be great for automating and managing Pinterest in batches instead of having to sit and repin on the app for hours (you’ve gotten sucked into the Pinterest rabbit hole too?!).
Ok, this may be a shameless plug, but I have to mention it because it means so much to me. I truly believe that our businesses should be built on faith and this business devotional has been such a push in the right direction to build that foundation. It is an easy way to start your business with some truth and put your heart in the right place to make decisions and create with intention.
When you own a business, you wear many hats. And often your time is limited for each area of your business so that you can put your hand in all of them. Using these tools will help streamline your processes and save time in the long run. And although there are a ton of great tools out there to help you manage your business, these are the ones that I use on a daily basis to run my business well.