5 Survival Tools for Small Business Owners
Every business owner has their go-to tools and resources that they can’t live without. They are vital components that enable their business to function. Yes, there are hundreds of tools out there and every business owner and industry will require different tools.
My business specializes in marketing, public relations, event planning and social media. The tools and resources that I find most beneficial and use on a daily and weekly basis in order to run my business are as follows:
Mobile Dictation by Mobile Assistant Professional dictation & transcription service.
It took me some getting used to this system but after some practice I fell in love! After training myself to dictate and recap my notes after my meetings, I have found this to be one of the best tools out there for busy professionals on the go. When you are bouncing from meeting to meeting all day it can be overwhelming to remember all the important little details and follow-up tasks at the end of the day. Therefore when a meeting is over I quickly do a dictation in my car on my way to the next meeting and by the time I get home at the end of the day I have several emails from Mobile Assistant with all of my transcripts which are pretty much perfect with hardly ever any mess ups! Free Month Trial Available $72/month for unlimited usage after Trial mobileassistant.us
In my case, I am on retainer with most of my clients and still find it a valuable resource. I like to use Toggl to keep me focused on the task at hand and also know how many hours I am actually spending on a task, project or specific client.
I like that it will generate reports for you and can break it down as generic or specific as you want. I break mine down by months so that I can see how many hours I dedicated to each client per month. It helps me know how well I am balancing my time on resources and if I am spending an enormous amount of time on one client and only getting a small retainer, I need to re-evaluate my workload balance. Free Trial Available $5/month ? $79/month depending on # of users toggl.com
Ever since reading Tim Ferriss’s book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” my world has been opened up to the new concept of outsourcing and delegating. I have worked with several contractors for the past year and half and currently have two employed right now. Elance is wonderful at bringing highly skilled workers seeking employment to those searching to employ. Elance acts as the middle man for payment and timesheets and leaves you worry free. It is perfect for a small business owner who is not looking to hire full-time staff but is at the capacity to hire contract workers and needs stability. It is completely free to register, post jobs, and hire on Elance.com
Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social media accounts, monitor keywords, and schedule messages.
Hootsuite allows you oversee and manage multiple social profiles from one dashboard so you don’t have to log into each one separately. Mostly I focus on my personal Twitter and Facebook profiles along with my business Fan Page, as well as all of my client’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can however also update LinkedIn, WordPress and more social networks.
One of the greatest features that many people sign up for is the “scheduled messages” which allows you to schedule tweets and Facebook updates in the future. While this is great it is not the only feature that I love. I also love that you can build “lists” within each account. For example; say you want to follow media contacts for one of your clients but they are industry specific maybe fashion related, you can create a media list specific only to that Twitter account. It can be time consuming at first but once you get your “lists” created the monitoring becomes easy and fun! With all the accounts I have to monitor, maintain and keep up with I honestly would not be able to live or function my business without Hootsuite. Free ? $49.99/ month depending on plan and how many users/features needed on Hootsuite.com
Boomerang is a plugin for Firefox and Chrome that allows scheduled emails and reminders to Gmail.
Much like Hootsuite, Boomerang allows you to write an email now and schedule it to be sent automatically at the perfect time. So if you are someone like me who stays up at odd hours burning the midnight oil and would prefer to have your email go out at a normal working hour than 2AM, this is perfect! Just write the message as you normally would, then click the Send Later button. You can even schedule it to go out a week from now by using their handy calendar and choosing “Next Thursday” to tell Boomerang when to send your message.
Another feature it offers is a reminder for follow up within a specific time frame after sending a message. This is helpful for when you have not heard a response from someone and need to remember to follow up. You can select to only be reminded if nobody replies, or regardless. I have tried several CRM tools that I have not been a fan of and so far Boomerang has been the best reminder for follow up for me.
-Guest writer Alesha Nicole Corey lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and is the owner of Above & Beyond Communication, LLC.