Tools of the trade: 10 apps and tools to improve your productivity
As a small business owner, it can be a challenge to find enough time in the day.
You’ll also find yourself wearing many different hats, from CEO to accountant to head of marketing.
That’s why it’s important to have the right tools to make things as easy as possible.
Getting the right combination of products and software can save you a lot of time and can help you to do more yourself without having to call in the experts.
Here’s a list of tools that can be a fantastic benefit to small businesses and entrepreneurs – in fact they’re so good we use them ourselves!
1. Google Docs and Google Drive
Those people at Google are good guys.
Not only did they invent Google and change the world forever, but they created Google Docs and Google Drive and gave them to us for free.
Google Docs gives you nearly all the functionality of Microsoft Office with one distinct advantage – multiple people can work on the same document at the same time.
This is great as it means if you’ve got remote workers, or even if you’re using freelancers on the other side of the world, you can all log in to the same document and work collaboratively.
In our office, Google Docs are absolutely essential and we use them on tons of projects, so why not try it out.
2. Flexitive – HTML5 Builder
Flexitive is a bit of a new one in our office, but it’s been a big hit.
Recently, Google made the move towards using HTML5 as the preferred format for Display Ads. HTML5 is naturally responsive and it supports animation, so it makes sense that they would want to head in that direction.
For businesses everywhere though it means transferring designs to this new format.
While Google have kindly provided their own HTML5 editor, we’ve found that the power and usability of Flexitive makes it worth paying for.
The drag and drop editor is straight forward and easy to use so even if you’re not from a graphic design background you can pick it up.
If you’re thinking about moving to HTML5 it’s definitely worth a look.
3. Buffer – Social Media Management
When it comes to managing your social media channels you can’t go wrong with Buffer.
Today, any business worth its salt should be on social media. It’s a great way to promote yourself and talk to customers.
Sometimes though, the idea of managing different social accounts on all the different platforms can be a bit scary.
Buffer makes it easy.
All your different accounts are displayed on one dashboard and you can schedule posts to go up automatically through the day. It will even recommend great content for you to share so you’ve always got something to talk about.
4. Sublime Text – Code Editor
When it comes to managing a website there’s nothing scarier than editing code.
It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.
But you shouldn’t be scared – doing basic edits can be easy, and Sublime Text makes it even easier which is why we use it all the time.
Unlike Notepad (the default Windows option) Sublime Text does lots of helpful things like changing the colour of code strings so you know where they start and end, and automatically closing tags.
If you just want to do basic edits to a page, don’t be scared into paying a freelance web developer hundreds of pounds, have a go yourself using Sublime Text and helpful online guides from the likes of www.w3schools.com.
It’s much easier than you think, and it can save you lots of money.
And while we’re on the subject of managing a website – let’s talk about WordPress.
There are lots of different options for building a website, but there’s a reason more than a quarter of the world’s websites use WordPress – it’s just so easy.
If you’re paying someone to make you a website that you can easily run yourself once it’s finished, it needs to be WordPress.
Adding new pages, blogs, and images is as simple as a click of a button – literally anyone can do it.
While people might recommend you all sorts of different CMS like Magento for a shop, or Joomla because of its lack of restrictions, if you want to keep things simple and easy to use, choose WordPress – it will save you time, headache, and money in the long run.
If you’re anything like me you’ll end up with lots of notes over the course of a day.
If you’re a small business owner and you’re forever going to meetings and talking to new people, keeping track of your notes can be a challenge.
That’s why you need an app like Evernote.
Evernote has heaps of great features, but one of the best ones for small business owners is the fact you can sync it across multiple devices.
But what does that mean in real terms?
It means you can take an iPad to a meeting and make notes. When you go back to the office those notes will already be available on your PC. Once you get home if you want to look through them again – no problem – they’re on your phone.
Evernote puts all of your notes in one place, and it lets you access them from anywhere which is great for productivity and taking work with you on the go.
As a small business, you’ve probably experimented with online advertising, whether it’s social media ads or PPC.
If you have, you’ll know how important it is to get as many sign ups as possible to make the most of your advertising spend.
That’s where Unbounce comes in.
Unbounce is a tool that lets you create great landing pages and pop-ups easily, and split test them so you can find out which style works best for you and your customers.
Optimising your landing pages can make your advertising spend go much further, so Unbounce is definitely worth trying.
8. QuickBooks — Account Management
Accounting software is a great investment for small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to save time managing accounts every month.
Accounting software programs, such as QuickBooks, can give you a full view on how your business is doing in less than a minute by providing important insights such as cash flow.
With the help of accounting software, you can stay connected to your business as well as your partners by sending invoices on-the-go and categorising income and expenses so you’re ready for tax season.
These tools offer a wide range of features to help increase your productivity by decreasing time spent organising your business’ finances. You can also check out other accounting systems such as Sage, Xero, Freshbooks to find a program that best suits your needs.
9. A Telephone Answering Service
You might think we’re a bit biased on this one (we are a telephone answering service after all!) but we really do benefit from telephone answering every day.
Whether it’s directing calls through to staff members out on the road, taking messages for someone who’s away on a break, or making sure there’s always someone ready to take calls from suppliers, our telephone answering service helps to keep communication within alldayPA top notch.
And, it can do the same for you.
Whether it’s just you in the business or if you’ve got a small team, call answering will make sure that whatever you’re doing, your callers always get a great customer experience.
When you’re strapped for time, it can give you the support you need to stay productive.
10. Virtual Office from alldayPA
To make our telephone answering service more effective and to help our clients stay productive, we created the Virtual Office, and now we use it all the time.
The Virtual Office is a piece of bespoke software that lets you view and manage messages taken by our PA’s, and it gives you full control over how we answer your calls.
This makes alldayPA one of the most efficient and productive call answering services around, as you can get full access to all our services from anywhere, on the go.
To find out more about how alldayPA can keep you productive, take a look round our site, or get in touch with our team on 0345 056 8888.