When it comes to doing business, there are a ton of tools to help get the job done. And it seems like every week there’s something new trying to wiggle it’s way into my workflow. Some of them make the cut and others get kicked to the curb. Here’s the tools I use most (meaning, daily) to help me do, create, and manage my business and products.
I’ve always used Google Drive, but until recently it was mostly to manage my e-books and aspects of my personal hobbies. Since getting a tablet to help me stay productive without having to lug my entire laptop/office around on my back, I’ve been using Google Drive more and more. It manages my notes, drafts for Web site content, and storage for presentations. It’s free for personal use, but it’s worth attaching it to your existing G Suite account (that used to be Google Apps for Business - they just changed the name) if you have one. I’m able to access it from any device with Internet access, which, thanks to my Nexus 5X, I always have a hotspot on hand. It’s come in handy as I’ve developed workflows for upcoming digital products and given me access to my presentations when I didn’t have a monitor handy, but still needed my notes for reference. Combined with Google’s office apps (Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings are my preference), it’s an important tool for every small business.
Many small businesses need to manage projects and we’re no different. Basecamp does the job for most small service businesses, but we needed something with more features to help with project planning and execution. We develop all our project plans in Mavenlink first, then transfer that in executive summary form to a proposal that the client receives. This saves us some time down the road after we close a deal - the project plan is already there. We just need to invite the client so they can participate in the execution and keep tabs on where their project is at.
Feedly is a news aggregator that allows me to bring all of the links and news stories from multiple different sources into a single place for me to review. Which is exactly what I do a couple times (at least) each day so I can get blog ideas and know what’s going on. Feedly combines my social network feeds (just the links that are posted, not all the other noise) with any other feeds I want to include (currently that includes Wired, BBC, Ars Technica, and a number of technology blogs to satisfy my geek cravings).
Next on my list is Xero. This is my accounting platform of choice. I migrated to Xero after using Quickbooks for years and haven’t looked back since. Xero lets me create my invoices and email them out easily. Best of all, since I have multiple different lines of business, i can even customize each one with a different logo and give my accountant access to everything so he can take care of my taxes.
MailChimp saves me countless hours on a regular basis. Even without the paid tier (and I pay the bill happily every month for more automation features), Mailchimp automates everything about my blog and email newsletter. I just have to type up the blog and post it to my site. Now that I have Mailchimp set up, it does the rest and picks up the latest blog to email out to my audience. I can separate my lists out based on the line of business and silo everything, including branding, based on who I need to reach. If you’re not using Mailchimp, you’re probably spending too much on email marketing. We recently moved a client over from another service and cut their bill in half. They had over 5,000 email addresses and wanted to automate the blog weekly, but their previous service didn’t allow for it. Now, they have more features and pay less.
There you have it - five great online tools that help me “do” on a daily basis. Did I miss any? Let me know some of your favorites in the comments.