The 5 Tools That Keep My Business Running Smoothly

Grow Your Business

A few weeks ago I sat down and had coffee with a dear friend and do you know what she said when I arrived?

“I’m surprised you were able to make it. Every time I ask you to coffee you say you have work to do it. I was beginning to think we weren’t friends anymore”

Want to talk about heartbreaking? That statement nearly had me in tears because it was so true. My business had been consuming me and I had been neglecting the people I care about. And they had noticed. And if she wasn’t happy I can only imagine how everyone else felt.

You see my fear for the first month of my business was is if I walked away from my desk I would inevitably get a lead and their email would sit in my inbox until I sat back down at my desk. Not to mention I needed to write blog posts, market my business, and the dreaded social media that needed to be done… No wonder it was consuming me… that’s a lot of work for just one person.

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The good thing is, while I felt bad, I got to look my friend in the eye and let her know that it wouldn’t happen again because I had found the tools I needed to run my business even when I am not sitting at my desk.

And you, my friend, can have the same freedom to enjoy an afternoon (or a week if you want) away without worrying about your business falling apart. It’s absolutely possible and I am going to tell you the tools I use now that have given me my life back.

Siteground

 

So this isn’t really a tool I use as much as it is an insurance policy for my business.

Siteground is my web host of choice for me and my clients. Why? Because after trying multiple site hosts Siteground has given me the peace of mind that my website will be there when people search for me, or click on a pin, or click a link on social media. My site has never once been “down” for any reason.

And if that wasn’t enough to get to jump on the Siteground bandwagon how about the fact that their customer service is extraordinary. I mean I can call or get on a chat with any rep and I know they will take care of me or my clients. I am not a whiz at all the backend techie stuff that goes on and Siteground understands that and walks me through the process or does it for me.

Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better hosting company

Asana

 

Asana is a virtual project management system that helps you stay on top of your tasks from day to day. If you don’t know it or haven’t used I recommend giving it a go.

When I first starting using Asana I used to track my progress on everything. From my content calendar to clients projects. I was able to look at my calendar or day and know exactly what was on the books and what may have been overlooked.

Now Asana is the just the home for my content and marketing calendars. I am able to break down each blog post into its different stages and schedule them out. From generating the idea to final publish I know each step of the process and when I need to have it completed, thanks to those handy alerts.

I am also able to plan out my social media and even better keep track of all those Facebook group promo days. Keeping those promo days straight is one of those challenges we don’t really think about but it can suck up a lot of time and energy.

Dubsado

 

Why did it take me so long to find Dubsado? If there is one thing on this list that has been a freedom finder it’s Dubsado. Don’t know what this is? Sit back because I am about to blow your mind!

Dubsado is a project management system and customer relationship manager. That’s the brief clinical description.

Dubsado allows me to automate my business like nothing before. From the moment a potential client fills out the contact form to the final invoice and delivery of files Dubsado has it covered for me.

Every time someone fills out the contact form on my website they choose the service that best suits their business needs. Based on what they choose Dubsado immediately puts them into a workflow (branding, web design, or coaching) and send them an email that contains a brochure of the process and a link to my calendar (more on this in a moment).

Dubsado workflows are the step-by-step process from start to finish of any project. It includes emails to be sent in a specific order, proposals and contracts that can be e-signed, invoices that can be paid, and proofs to be approved. Yep, clients can e-sign contracts and make their payments right there in the program.

I no longer have to check my email throughout the day to respond to an inquiry… Dubsado does it automatically and gets the ball rolling.

Oh and one of my favorite things is I can set up a portal for each client with a unique login so they can access all the information about their project at any time. I know longer have to send emails with proof attachments. I send them an email to check their portal and their proof is waiting for them when they log in.

A view of my Dubsado workflows. Dubsado is one of my top 5 tolls to run my business.

Setmore

 

Setmore is my appointment calendar of choice. The free version has enough bells and whistles to get you started on scheduling appointments with potential clients.

With the free version you get:

  • Up to 20 schedules for staff
  • Unlimited appointments
  • The mobile app (yeah for being able to schedule with people you meet on the street)
  • A custom booking page

Been that I have three different appointment types Setmore has made scheduling my client calls super easy. I just put the link directly in my Dubsado emails and Setmore keeps track of my appointments and sends me reminders before a call.

HootSuite

 

We all know that social media is a must for any business, and something I am still not proficient at. We can’t all be perfect right?

HootSuite is a social media scheduling app that allows you to schedule your posts in advance and then walk away. Yes, that means you can go have coffee and not have to worry about posting to Facebook.

There is a free version of HootSuite to get you started. Here’s what it includes:

  • One user
  • 3 social media profiles
  • 30 scheduled posts

So what makes Hootsuite so much better than the other social media schedulers?

First, it is super easy to use. The composer feature makes seeing and writing your posts super simple.

Second, and probably the best feature, is its ability to post automatically to Instagram. You write your post, attach the image, and then schedule it to go out. HootSuite will post it to your Instagram for you without you having to go into the Instagram app. Winning!!

HootSuite also helps you keep track of your likes, comments, and followers. Yep, that means now you can see who followed you just to unfollow you later. Rude! But you can unfollow them, unless you really like their feed, right from Hootsuite.

These 5 tools alone have helped me gain a little freedom and made it where I don’t have to be chained to my desk 24 hours a day worrying about missing something. Now, I am off to the park with the kids for a little mommy baby time.

If you use or try any of these tools I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. And also let me know how you plan to use your new found free time.

Want to know more about me and why I love helping creative businesses brand with confidence? Head yourself over to my about me page to find out.

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32 Comments

  1. I recently switched to Siteground and have been loving it too! I haven’t had one issue at all. I had Bluehost before and had to deal with my site being down for almost a week because of “maintenance to the server”!! Siteground has been a breeze ever since 🙂

    Reply
    • I agree with you on SiteGround being amazing! The customer support is stellar, my site has never been down, and they are affordable. Best hosting company EVER!

      Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing all of these. I really should look into Hootsuite. I think I’d stick with the free version at first and see how well it works, but I LOVE that it will post to Instagram for you. That’s super handy. I’ve used Asana before – it’s great, especially if you have a team you’re working with or someone is delegating tasks.

    -Lauren

    Reply
    • The free version of HootSuite is great to start with. I really only use Facebook and Instagram so it’s perfect for me. Most of the 30 posts go to Instagram and a few to Facebook. And Asana is great to just organize your tasks with checklists.

      Reply
  3. I have hotsuite but I didn’t know it was so helpful for instagram! I remember trying to use it to schedule a photo but it never went out and I stopped using it… I need to check back. The follow unfollow game is soooooo annoying

    Reply
    • I have had it not post s couple times to Instagram it’s always been either the photo is too large or too small or I have put too many hashtags in the caption. Once I fix those it goes right through. And yes, being able to see side by side who you follow and who’s following you is so helpful to weed out those people who aren’t interested in your content.

      Reply
    • You’re very welcome. Anytime I find a tool that really helps me run my business more efficiently I like to share it. These 5 tools have been lifesavers for me. Being able to unchain myself from my desk has been amazing.

      Reply
  4. Great suggestions!!! I’m writing all of these down.

    Reply
    • They have been super helpful for me so far. I mean it completely changed the way I do business.

      Reply
  5. This is a great list and I’m definitely going to give some of these a try. I like the idea getting more things on automation.

    Reply
    • I love having parts of my business automated. It saves me so much time for other things, like writing blog posts.

      Reply
  6. Wow, Hootsuite is the only one of these I had ever heard of! Definitely looking into some of the other ones you mentioned, though. They sound like huge time-savers!

    Reply
    • HootSuite is amazing and so helpful. I used to hate to have to stop what I was doing to make a post to Instagram. Now, I forget when I have a post go live. But I found every single one of these so helpful in keeping my business on track.

      Reply
  7. I haven’t heard of these! Thanks so much for the tips 🙂

    Reply
    • I swear by each and every one of these tools. I have way more free time now that I have some of my business automated. Before I would have to check my emails to make sure I didn’t miss a lead come in. Now I don’t have to worry and that first email goes out automatically.

      Reply
  8. I have heard of HootSuite, but all the other tools are new to me. Balancing responsibilities is always a challenge when you wear many hats!

    Reply
    • Yes, solopreneurs have a harder time because we do it all. So anyway I can make our lives just a little easier I will share it. All of these have helped me boost my productivity in many ways. I love knowing that I don’t have to worry about something.

      Reply
  9. A great list thanks. I have been thinking about switching to Siteground bookmarking this now.

    Reply
    • SiteGround has been amazing! I recommend them to my clients because they are so helpful.

      Reply
  10. This are great tools! I just switched over from Bluehost to Siteground, so I’m excited about that!

    Reply
    • You won’t regret that switch. SiteGround is by far the best most affordable web host I have found. Their customer service is a dream to work with.

      Reply
  11. Tailwind is my lifesaver. It helps everything on my blog run so smoothly.

    Reply
    • I love TailWind for scheduling my pins to Pinterest. I also love the tribe’s feature because it really does help increase your reach.

      Reply
  12. I’ve never heard of Setmore, I will have to check it out!

    Reply
    • I found it by accident and the free program is perfect for what I need right now. The fact that I can have multiple styles of appointments was key. Calendly only allowed me to have one and it just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

      Reply
  13. Great suggestions, will be taking notes!

    Reply
  14. I can relate on being stuck on your computer trying to do everything. All these are wonderful suggestions. I should try HootSuite for social media.

    Reply
    • I think it was my g=husband that finally made me start to automate my business as best I can. He was tired of me never leaving the office. LOL. But I have to say it has been wonderful to find some spare time.

      Reply
  15. I haven’t heard about a lot of these so I’ve pinned it too! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome. I think Dubsado has really been the biggest game changer for me as a designer. I was always worried a lead would slip through the cracks but now I don’t have to worry.

      Reply

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