When you own a small business, there are a million and one things to think about at all times. Your brain never shuts off, and it seems like to-do lists just multiply overnight. However, when a business owner finds the right tools, all of the chaos becomes more a little more organized and enjoyable.
In an effort to help entrepreneurs find the right tools to fit their needs, our friends at Prodigy & Co compiled a resource guide. "We all know that we need systems to help us be more efficient and consistent in our business. But search for any one type of system, and there are dozens of options. How do you know which systems are the best," says Prodigy & Co. "This is not an exhaustive list, and it is based on my experience, my client’s experience, and other startup founders and business owners who have been nice enough to share their experience with me."
We broke up the Prodigy & Co list to make it even more digestible, and added our own tidbits along the way. Hope it makes your life a little easier!
1. Payment Processing
And you should probably know what's happening with all that money you'll be raking in. Xero, Quickbooks Online, Freshbooks and Wave Accounting usually come out on top when it comes to accounting. You can use these programs to track expenses, revenue, capital contributions, invoices and more. "Many systems have integrations to other systems that have accounting impacts such as payroll, employee time and expense tracking, inventory and more," Prodigy & Co adds.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Now, to make money, you have to have customers (duh), and it wouldn't hurt to keep tabs on those customers. "CRM lets you store and manage prospect and customer information like contact info, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities, in one central location," says Prodigy & Co. HubSpot, Insightly, ZoHo and Salesforce are their favorite CRM platforms.
5. Customer Support
Email is a great way to keep in touch with your past, present and potential customers. Prodigy & Co says, " This is about more than sending a regular newsletter. Marketing via e-mail is still one of the most profitable forms of marketing. Mosts systems allow significant levels of automation, segmenting, tracking and more." Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Get Response, Convert Kit and AWeber are great tools to help you do that. (We also really love Emma! Their customer support is unbeatable.)
7. Social Media Scheduling
Of course, social media is one of the biggest ways to connect with your customers and develop your brand. Schedule all your posts- in every channel- ahead of time so you don't have to constantly think about it with tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, MeetEdgar and Sprout Social. (We've heard great things about CoSchedule too.) These platforms will also give you analytics to see which posts preform the best.
8. Graphic Design
And when possible, save yourself some time with automation. Zapier, our favorite automation tool, works with a TON of platforms to do everything from building spreadsheets to sending client emails to putting reminders on your calendar.
14. Website Analytics
Now let's talk about your team. First, you gotta make sure to hire the right people. For background checks, Prodigy & Co recommends TRAK-1. (PS- That's what we use too.)
"HR systems manage different aspects of having employees, such as employee information, onboarding, benefits, insurance, performance reviews, time tracking and more," Prodigy & Co explains. Make tracking those things easier with programs like Zenefits, Gusto, Namely, BambooHR and sum HR. (Here at 36°N, we use Gusto to pay our employees and Zenefits to track time sheets and vacation time.)
On that note, make sure to take vacation time for yourself too. Unplugging for a bit can refresh your mind and spirit, making it easier to make strides forward when you return.
Also, if you need help navigating these tools, or any other part of your business, we'd love to meet you and help you out. We're a nonprofit with a mission of helping entrepreneurs succeed, and we'd love to get you connected to our community.
Now get out there, and knock 'em dead!