Business Tools and Apps we Love
Lets face it. As entrepreneurs and business owners we gotta ‘get shit done’ as they say.
The old cliche ‘work smarter not harder’ is a cliche for a reason. Nowadays there’s no end to the number of tools and apps available to help us be more productive. Which makes it difficult to know which ones are worth trying.
We have tapped into the collective smarts of the 2017 SOHO speakers and asked them for the 2 apps or business tools that they could not live (or work) without.
Here’s what they had to say…
Voxer is a messaging app that basically turns your smartphone into a walkie talkie. I hate texting and emailing from my phone and VOXER allows me to have a one way or a two way ‘conversation’ with my clients, employees, suppliers…etc… I have clients all over the world and
Voxer helps me keep it more personal and tangible with those who are further away…actually, with everyone for that matter. Find me on Voxer!
SnagIt is my best friend. I use it literally every day. SnagIt is a screen capture tool that allows me to record my voice AND my screen. I use it to record visual presentations, proposal briefings, client feedback, instructions…I even use SnagIt to send audio emails to my clients. This tool is a must.
FreshBooks is our invoicing and timekeeping system. It makes us look professional, is simple to use and is online (web and mobile app) so we can, and do, access and use it from anywhere. I love the automated billing for the multiple retainer based clients we have as well as the loads of reports that enable me to keep track of cash-flow and the overall financial health of the company. FreshBooks easily saves me a couple of days worth or work a month.
BaseCamp is the project management tool we’ve been using since we opened in 2009. It helps us stay on top of every project we have one the go, generally 30-40 at a time, including what’s in progress, what’s coming up next, and who’s doing what. We can delegate work, assign tasks, set deadlines and review work in progress. You can also invite clients to collaborate and control what they have access to. It is indispensable for any company that is project based, especially web dev businesses.
Hubspot allows me to fully manage every step of an inbound marketing strategy. Blogs, newsletters, deal management, CRM, landing pages, incentives and downloads, meetings, task management, everything. The level of support and coaching has been incredible. The Hubspot Academy and blog are a wealth of information, examples, stories, resources. It ties in beautifully with my Facebook promotional work.
G Suite (formerly Google Business Apps) is the home-base for our entire practice. All web domain and email is routed through Google so everything we do is under one roof and share-able at a team level in an unprecedented way. We share email accounts, calendars, Google Docs, Google Sheets etc. We do client work on Google Docs that so far has proven superior to any other tool in doing business model and strategic planning as well as doing training using the powerful commenting feature in Docs. We even use ‘live’ Docs during management retreats because the multi-user participation is so slick. Google Forms creates basic useable surveys faster than SurveyMonkey. Often in our work, fast and simple really matters. We work with clients all over North America and between our team and our clients, G Suite feels like it makes distance irrelevant.
Inside Outlook, where I aggregate every email address I have, I have created a filing system that lets me house each email by client and subject matter. This way, my inboxes are empty except for the emails I have yet to respond to. In other words, if an email is on my screen, I haven’t dealt with it yet.
Google Calendar is also my to-do list. By scheduling tasks in my calendar I accomplish two things: I keep track of what must be done and I allocate the time necessary in my day to do it. As I complete each task, I delete it from my calendar and my calendar should be empty of tasks by the end of each day.
Slack: It’s hard to image life without it. People have been known to have a love / hate relationship with Slack (as with anything that brings uber efficiency into your life) but it’s a pretty powerful tool. The love comes from being able to communicate hyper quickly with a team of people. It basically renders email dead. Our agency works on a variety of very fast paced projects with folks located in different cities so being able to create private project channels for each conversation with access in one centralized location is so amazingly simple and effective. That’s the beauty of Slack, it’s so simple. The team at Slack (and part of that team is our own Victoria based Metalab) has the perfect amount of features that gets the work done. Especially in remote settings and teams. The flip side is that you can literally work 24/7 if you aren’t careful :). It’s the tool that changed the way people work. Hard to ignore that.
Instagram: Most people underestimate this one as just a social app for sharing pics of feet, food or dogs – which it can be – but for small businesses looking to establish a presence and following, pictures really are worth a thousand words. You are able to connect with so many people very quickly and you find inspiration along the way. Using it as a tool to connect with other local businesses, initiatives, and people have lead to amazing collaborations for our company.
Momentum, a personal dashboard designed to eliminate distraction and provide inspiration, focus, and productivity. Designed and launched by a local team from Victoria, Momentum has over a million users worldwide – I think, because it is so easy to use! If I’m working on my computer and I feel the urge to check Facebook, I am met with a simple reminder of my daily focus as soon as I open a new tab on my browser. The app throws in an easy to use task list that can be synchronized to your external calendars and even a countdown to important events, 57 days – (as of December 1st) until SOHO Victoria if you’re wondering!
The Watershed – more than just a co-working space! I had a number of critical beliefs before launching my own event management business, many of which have been proven wrong. One of those was that I could be just as productive from home as I could working in an office. It turns out, I need a clear delineation between work and home and I found it at The Watershed.
My first week as a Hot Desk member at The Watershed had immediate results; my mind was focused, my time was better used, work was getting done! As a Hot Desk member, I have access to a desk in a co-working environment, often surrounded by other likeminded entrepreneurs; 8 credits (or about 8 hours of meeting room time); internet access, printing, and even coffee (or tea if you prefer).
Not only that, but the communal kitchen (equipped with stocked wine fridge and Phillips beer on tap) offers just the right amount of water-cooler chatter; something that was greatly missing while working from home! Add to that the free weekly lunchtime yoga, community breakfast, and of course Community Manager, Tindy, who takes care of the whole place so I can focus on what matters; the $150/month membership fee was a no-brainer for me!
How about you. What business tools and apps do you use in your business. Drop us a note in the comments box below. We’d luv to hear from you.