Searching for software is like trying to order a meal at the Cheesecake factory. There are approximately 942 pages in the menu and information overload kicks in. Then, with your anxiety on full blast as the waiter arrives, you order a "slice" of cheesecake instead and end up with a stomach ache because that was a lot of cake (way too specific for me to have not experienced that first hand).
Technology makes anything possible these days but how do you know where to start? Not only can searching for the right tools end up being a big fat time thief, the actual learning curve to them can add up, too.
We've put together a list of our top 10 business essentials that met our rigorous standards:
1. User Friendly - We need to be up and running within 15 minutes;
2. Freemium - As we grow, we need our software to also;
3. Collaborative - You have to be able to have the whole team on board; and
4. Integrative - All hail automation.
1. Trello - we use this for project management, client management, brain dumps, etc. You name it, we have a board for it.
Here's an example of a client profile we board. We have a list of all the details of our clients: name, business(es), dates to remember such as anniversaries, photos, methods of payments, links to relevant websites, etc. we also have a communication card. We keep track of specifics in phone calls, emails, etc. that we can refer to next time we speak. And then we also have project management for each client as well.
2. Streak CRM - This is a gmail extension that is a lifesaver for businesses that rely heavily on email as client communication.
You can customize the pipelines you need but the defaults work well, too. At its core, it organizes and batches client communication through the entire lifetime of your relationship with them. A quick Youtube tutorial search will give you some fast setup walk through.
3. Acuity Scheduling - Say goodbye to wasteful back and forth emails trying to schedule a meeting.
With a customized scheduling link for all the different types of appointments you might offer, the ability to send an intake questionnaire, calendar integrations, and much more this our go-to platform. The paid version offers tons of features that are absolutely worth the price tag like accepting payments and integrations with Quickbooks.
4. The Skimm - Hands down, the best way to get your daily dose of current events - straight to your inbox.
With quick wit and clever puns, the team over at Skimm HQ makes it easy breezy to read up on what's happening in our world, good or bad.
5. Zapier- Workflow automation taken to a whole new level.
Software that communicates together stays together! Automating repetitive admin tasks can change the game. You tell this app to create a trello board when you add a new client to Quickbooks or saving gmail attachments to dropbox (such as client contracts or important documents that won't get forgetten). Zapier will make you happier with more additions all the time, your options are endless.
6. Rescue Time - Forced to face the reality of what you are actually doing with your computer time.
Tattle-tale on yourself! Time is money and when you can actually see where you are really spending it, it can change everything. This is a tool we use religiously with our clients to get an honest view of where the fat can be trimmed to put value on productivity and growth instead of social media stalking.
7. Last Pass - One less thing to remember and 1,541 less post-it notes with random passwords on it.
Security is the best part of this. Secure your credit card information, and store all the passwords and login information you need for running your empire in one place.
8. Dropbox - The essential you probably know about but needs an obligatory mention.
Store all your documents to access anywhere, easily share documents with clients, and keep all your receipts in a digital file. It's a no-brainer!
These are just the foundation builders we love in business. What other apps or software do you swear by? We'd love to hear from you!