The 5 Tools and Services I use to Grow my Business
Most entrepreneurs have a lot of responsibilities on their plate from day one of operation. Everything from hiring employees, managing teams, marketing the brand and dealing with finances can fall under a founder’s responsibilities. Juggling so many tasks can be daunting and lead to a lot of stress. If you’re an entrepreneur and you want to become more efficient, productive and successful, take a look at the list of tools below.
Due is an online estimates, invoicing, and payments platform that can help an entrepreneur organize their time through a time-tracking tool plus automate numerous time-consuming tasks. The free platform offers estimate and invoicing templates, reports, database for client and project information, automated reminders and acknowledgements, integration with Basecamp, and multiple payment methods.
Asana is a free project-management tool that allows teams to communicate without email, in one central location. Because many entrepreneurs work with virtual teams, this is a great tool to stay in touch.
Most people already know about this tool, but Chromebooks and ability to convert and edit Microsoft Office documents make Google Drive (and accompanying Docs and Sheets) a great way to collaborate and share documents with your clients, freelancers or employees.
Translate online content — like news and blog posts — into an audio file. This allows you to “read” any content that can help you with your business — including articles on productivity, sales and branding — on the go.
If you need a logo, social-media cover photo, podcast intro, website content and more, be sure to check out Fiverr. Sure, the gigs start at $5 but that doesn’t mean they are sub par. Look at reviews and actual Fiverr gig samples before deciding on a contractor.
If you are an Android user, connect your Google account to your phone and take advantage of Google Now, which can tell you when to leave for appointments that are on your calendar, whether or not your flight is delayed or even new articles from websites you frequent often. This “virtual personal assistant of sorts” can help you stay organized and on track, even if you have a lot of balls in the air, as most entrepreneurs do.
If you fly or travel to a lot for conferences, meeting with investors or clients, or other events, TripIt Pro (there’s also a free, less robust, version) can help you stay on top of flight changes, frequent flyer numbers and more.
Startup NerdWallet offers an array of airline credit cards, which can help you accrue points to fly where ever you need to build your business. Put all your business expenses on a single card — from Dropbox subscriptions to office supplies — and watch the points stack up.
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan and Audible (also part of Amazon) allow you to listen and read several books from its service each month. Just like SoundGecko, it’s another way to stay up-to-date with business, self improvement and more.
One great way to build a good business is to meet other entrepreneurs and industry colleagues through conferences. There are several conference search engines available, but some work better in certain industries (and areas) than others. Make sure you check out a variety to see which one fits your needs.
If you are looking to drum up business within your local community, try Meetup to find networking groups, industry meetings and speakers. EventBrite is also a great place to find tickets to smaller, local events as well.
Surprisingly, Pinterest can be a great place to find inspiration for new products and upcoming trends (so you can use them in your own projects), as well as a place to share your products and inspirations as a company. Power personal blender Nutribullet is a good example of a growing company that capitalizes on its audience’s interest in healthy living on Pinterest.
Once LinkedIn accepts your request to join its long-form content publishing platform, you have free reign to contribute content as much as you want. While the jury is still out among marketers whether or not Google will flag republished posts as duplicate content, it’s probably best to only post original content on LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn is already such a large platform, its content will get indexed faster and could potentially give you more visibility than your company’s blog.
LinkedIn content is just one way to build your brand through content. You should also set up profiles for your employees on Contently, which automatically creates a writing portfolio for them based on the websites they say they write for.
Think of Talkwalker as Google Alerts, but better. It offers more comprehensive results and more options that allow you to check for mentions of your company online. This helps with public relations and the chance to interact with people who are discussing your brand online.
Help a Reporter Out is an email that goes out multiple times per day, with requests from reporters for sources for their stories. This can turn into free publicity for your company. Be sure to respond ASAP, as some requests can get competitive.
These are legally binding digital document signing services that allow you to get contracts, agreements, W2s and more signed quickly and over email. Be sure to check your state’s regulation on these documents, but they usually stand as legal in the majority of states.
Going back to working with a distributed workforce, Join.Me allows you to share your screen with another user quickly, for free. All you need is the free software, and the other user can see your screen from their browser. If both of you have the software, however, you can also cede control of your mouse to the other user, allow tutorials, customer service and how-to demonstrations easier than ever.
Jing is a free screencast (screen recording) and screenshot software that makes it easy to record product demos, illustrative how-tos for virtual assistants or screenshots for blog posts and product description pages.
Like PressPass and JustReachOut but for bloggers, BlogDash allows you to connect with bloggers in your specific niche to review products, sponsor blog giveaways or build relationships. Bloggers have a significant audience base and impact on trends, product sales and more, so it’s important to have a great relationship with them.
What other tools do you recommend? Leave a comment below and add your suggestions to this list.
In his 14-plus years as a marketer and entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has helped hundreds of companies boost online traffic and sales and strengthen their online brand reputation. Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits and Mailshake.