17 Resources to Help Small Business Owners Get their Sh*t Together

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


Let's start with the fun stuff: getting money in your pockets. Prodigy & Co recommends using Stripe or PayPal for payment processing. (We also want to throw an honorable mention out to Square, which is great for retail businesses.)

2. E-Signature/ Transaction Management


When it's time to sign the dotted line, DocuSign or HelloSign can help you do that electronically- without any printing, scanning or emailing.

3. Accounting


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

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Once you have those customers, you want to keep them happy. Manage their needs and keep your customer support process flowing smoothly with systems like Salesforce Desk, UserVoice, SupportBee, JitBit, Bontact and Freshdesk.

6. Email Marketing


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 wow them with your ~~f@nCy~~ graphic design skills by using Canva or Fontspring. (Trust us. You don't have to be an artist to look like a pro when you have these tools in your belt.)

Need help getting started with all the graphic design shenanigans? Consider taking a course

9. Scheduling


When it comes to meeting with clients, skip the constant back and forth emails trying to find a time you can both meet. Instead, use Appointlet or Calendly, systems that will integrate with your existing calendar to let others know when you're free.

10. Video Conferencing


Or if you're trying to conduct meetings from afar, Skype, Zoom, Join Me, Go To Meeting, and Slydial are professional ways to do that. "These can be especially beneficial for international calls," Prodigy & Co adds.

11. Project/Task Management


Once all your business starts rolling in, you'll need a way to keep all your ducks in a row. Keep track of your to-do lists with Trello, Asana, Producteev or Wunderlist. (We use Asana, and we love it! It's great for teams collaborating on projects together.)

12. Document Management


You can also manage and share documents with resources like Google Docs, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. Again, this makes collaboration a lot easier.

13. Automation


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

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And after all your effort, it's good to check in and see how you're doing- specifically how your website is doing. Using Google Analytics or Clicky can show you exactly where people are going on your site and how they got there.

15. Employee Verification Services


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.)

16. Communication


Then you want to make sure you are communicating with your team well. Prodigy & Co suggests Slack or Facebook Groups "to keep in touch with your team in real time." (Slack works really well for us because you can create different chat groups for different teams and topics.)

17. Human Resources

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"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!