3 tools that will help you grow your business

Image attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/gadgets-office-equipment-iphone-336635/

Image attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/gadgets-office-equipment-iphone-336635/

There are an amazing number of digital tools that can save you time, get things done or simply make your work better.

What I love about being in business today is that so much is possible with the help of digital – all at very affordable prices. 

In the 'old' days, it was extremely costly for business to purchase, install and maintain a lot of the digital tools that we now take for granted. For example, Customer Relationship Management systems to track, segment and analyse your client base, click to chat services, automated marketing systems with complex sequences and rules. Most of these types of capabilities were not in the budget of the average business. 

But with the advent of cloud-based tools (tools that are hosted in the cloud so you don't need to load them onto your computer), you can introduce interactions and capabilities that enhance, extend and allow you to scale your business like never before. 

I’ve got three cloud-based tools that I’ve been using to grow my business that I would like to share with you. They have been useful for my business because they either save me time and/or  money, or make things far more efficient and professional than if I didn’t use them. 

1.  Asana – project management that provides transparency and trust for my clients 

Asana is a project management tool and if you want it to be, so much more! 

For me, Asana has let me really be efficient in the way that I manage and work with my clients. It’s also given me the ability to focus on my key tasks for the day across multiple projects. 

As a project tool it’s got all the usual features, allowing you to create lists and boards of tasks that need to be completed. You can have multiple views (lists, boards or calendar) and share with your team members (and in my case clients), assign owners to tasks and set reminders and due dates. Of course, you can add notes and files to each task to keep all things relating to your project together and tracked. 

These features are not particularly unique or that valuable from a growth perspective but it does have other applications that provides me with a real value add. 

Where is the real value that’s helping me grow my business?

Asana is a great tool for communicating and collaborating
  • It has a desktop app and a mobile app, which means that I can easily switch between devices depending on whether I’m at my desk or out and about. It doesn’t matter which device I am on or where I am, I can access the list and add/update via my mobile phone when I need. No more messy notes made that I can’t read because my hand scribble is so terrible. This is the benefit of a cloud based service. 
  • It makes it very easy to track time spent if you have a business that requires you to bill by the hour with an integration with Harvest. This then allows you to invoice directly for time spent if you have a Harvest account. 
  • Even when it’s not about invoicing time for a client, I like tracking my time spent. This way I can evaluate whether I’m spending my time where it matters most in terms of growing my business (I’m applying the 80/20 rule here – this is great article if you’re interested in reading about using your time most effectively and leading a more balanced lifestyle). 
  • It is super handy when I’m in a meeting with a client and need to check notes or progress. In the past, I would be lugging a heap of heavy paper and some sad trees around with me resulting in a crook neck. 
  • It’s easy to share and store files and photos, particularly if you’re doing a swap of information and largish files. There are plenty of other systems for file sharing, but keeping everything in the one place is very useful. A good example of how I use this with clients is when we have a coaching session with a white board session and lots of great thinking scribbled down on the board. We then take a photo of it and we upload it into Asana for easy referral afterwards by both of us. 
  • MY FAVOURITE: You can share projects with anyone. I use this feature to share projects with clients. It means they have complete transparency into what I’m doing, can add notes/ questions and they have a complete record of the work program and how it’s going. It also means that it saves me time with clients that have questions about the project because they can jump in and look things up themselves, particularly with the ‘what next’ points. The reality is they don’t access it very often, but they have the comfort of knowing that I’m tracking everything and they can access it whenever they want. 

2. Optin Monster – Gives me control and flexibility to maximise each visit to my website 

The next tool that has brought a lot of value is called OptinMonster. It’s an email pop up capture tool for your website. You can quickly create pop-up’s on your website to capture emails and to deliver lead magnets, or even just to deliver and capture emails on my website without having to do a whole lot of work around setting up pages, etc. 

Your e-list is one of your most valuable digital assets and having a tool that can be applied with complete control and flexibility over how it displays is important. For example, I like to give visitors a chance to look around before offering them a sign-up piece, so I apply an exit intent rule before I interrupt their browsing with a pop up. 

It also allows me to control different pop up behaviors based on whether the visitor is on their desktop/laptop or a mobile. This is very important as Google are now penalising websites with popups that display on a mobile. 

I also like to have specific offers that are most relevant to the page content that they are on. Optin Monster allows me to tailor popup offers and in page offers at a page level. 

Optin Monster to help drive your elist

Where is the real value that’s helping me grow my business?

  • It is super quick to set up and integrates with all the major email and automated marketing programs, so I've not had to fiddle around with code. 
  • It’s easy to create multiple ‘capture’ points for the one activity. For example, you might have an exit intent popup on your page, but also have a capture box within a page of content. This means you can easily have different ways of putting out your sign up or download request. I like this as it maximises every single visit to your website. 
  • There are many many templates that make it very easy and quick to produce a professional and graceful popup. 
  • This doesn’t really fit here but it’s one of the reasons why I use it. It is very reasonably priced. The alternatives are generally much higher priced or have less features/ control over the display rules. 

Get Timely – Client activity and profitability reporting with appointment system all rolled into one 

The third tool that adds value is called Get Timely. This is relevant to those of your that are offering services that need appointments booked. I like this tool mostly because it serves double duty for two different activities. 

It’s first and foremost, a really good online appointment system that allows your clients to book in directly with you but it also replaces the need for an accounting package for invoicing purposes. 

The key value it returns to me is time. Get Timely is great to be able to allow people to book online directly via a link that I send them. The glory of a client being able to reschedule without the need for 10 different emails between us is bliss. All they need to do is follow the link from their booking confirmation email, and find a time that suits. I get notified, they get notified, no more email /phone call tag game. 

Where is the real value that’s helping me grow my business?

Get timely to do double duty with client bookings and invoicing
  • Time saving obviously with reduced phone calls and emails to set up and change appointments with clients. 
  • It allows me to have a clear call to action online. For strategy clients, I urge them to book in for a free 20 minute discovery session and the online booking system is perfect for this and makes my online activities more measurable and meaningful. As a clear goal to a Facebook post or ad, I can see return on investment from my promotion activities. 
  • You can set up text alerts to remind them of appointments – Gold right!
  • It comes with a quasi-CRM or client database which can record activity against a client based on appointments booked, make notes and act as an invoicing system. 
  • If you do your invoicing through this system, then you have access to a great set of reports on income, client earnings etc
  • You can also create ‘products’ that you can add to your invoices so that if for example, you deliver a job of some kind, this will be tracked against them client record (so you can see what they’ve spent with you).  I really like this feature as I don’t have hundreds of clients but instead a number of high value clients, so it acts as double duty and I don’t have to have a full blown accounting package. 
  • It fully and easily integrates with my Google Calendar so that I can have client appointments in my work calendar and they sync seamlessly so a client can’t book in when I’ve blocked out time for other meetings or activities. 

Getting the right tools to help you build your business can make a huge impact as to how fast you grow. 

If you are interested in learning more about cloud-based tools, this article I wrote explaining cloud-based tools - The forecast is cloudy, and that's great - might be of interest.  

Do you think you are missing out on important opportunities for your business in the online space? 

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