A real one. You know, one of those canvas tote bags with lots of little places for your hammer, two screw drivers and a handy pair of pliers. Only, my toolkit is a nice gray with lavender trim.
Who knew that tools could be pretty? :)
Of course, a cool bag means nothing if the right tools aren’t tucked inside. And that applies to your business just as much as it does your home.
So I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools for running my business. Some of these I’ve used for years. Others are brand new.
I love (and use!) them all.
1. CLIENT SCHEDULING: Acuity Scheduling
For me, having an easy way to set, remember and track client appointments is critical, but I resisted online scheduling for years. I was afraid of giving up control, so when I finally took the leap, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Best. Move. Ever.
Suddenly, my clients had a greater sense of control, and my life was a thousand times easier.
Instead of daily calls asking for reminders (do we meet tomorrow or Wednesday?), or changes (could we move our 1:00 call to 2?), I get a simple email telling me that someone has made an appointment, cancelled or rescheduled.
And sometimes – that they’ve paid. :)
And although there are 100s of scheduling tools out there, AcuityScheduling is my absolutely favorite.
It has a ton of features, like customization, PayPal integration, email and text reminders. And, the customer service has been stellar. When I sent them a question one Saturday evening, I had a personal answer within two hours.
I love those folks. :)
2. CUSTOMER / EMAIL MANAGEMENT: Active Campaign
One of your most important activities is staying in touch with customers, those you have, and those you hope to have. Having the right email tool helps.
When I started this blog, I just sent emails with a “blind copy” to the few followers I had. Then I moved to Constant Contact, a program like MailChimp and Aweber that’s fine at first.
This year, I switched to Active Campaign.
As your list grows, this program becomes a more robust system customer relations management (CRM) tool, without the cost or complexity of tools like Infusionsoft or Ontraport. It allows me to do things like segmenting my list, tracking sales and integrating a shopping cart.
It fits perfectly where I am now, and I think we’ll grow together beautifully.
3. MY DIGITAL BRAIN: Evernote
Ahhhh…. what can I say about Evernote?
This amazing tool syncs automatically with everything, so I don’t have to ‘hit save’, and can access it literally from any device.
It’s like a giant filing cabinet, where I can dump anything that’s in my brain – and still find it later. Websites, recipes, receipts, product ideas, travel plans, blog topics, call logs and all of my coaching notes are in Evernote.
The basic version is FREE, and it’s plenty for me.
4. MY NEWEST PRODUCTIVITY TOOL: Trello
I’ve just discovered Trello, and am already using it several times a day. It’s a powerful to-do list, storage system, project management and communications tool all in one.
Not only can I track what needs to get done with ease, but I can group things by categories, move items easily one list to another, color code tasks, and set deadlines.
(I always, always do better with deadlines. How about you?)
I’m already thinking of using this with the team behind the Women’s Leadership Summit that we offer every summer.
And the best part? It’s free too.
5. MY FAVORITE PLANNER: Planner Pads
When it comes to my day to day work, I still prefer the feel of paper. And no matter what else I try, I always come back to my Planner Pad.
I’ve yet to find anything out there that matches their trademarked funnel system for capturing, prioritizing and scheduling time. They’re not the prettiest planners in the world – but their system works better than everything I’ve ever tried.
I use all of these several times a day. How about you?
Photo Credit: “zzpza” on Flickr