Entrepreneurs are typically super busy. Sometimes we’re busy building our businesses. Other times we’re busy being busy. To build a profitable business that is constantly growing, we need to limit the latter.
The same applies to building a dynamic brand (of course it also helps to get super clear about what your brand represents and why it’s important).
I want to share some of my favorite tools that help me focus on what’s really important in my business. They definitely save time, make sense, and make a difference. You can always do things the hard way, or you can work smarter (make no mistake…sometimes you still have to work harder). Here’s to working smarter, and perhaps building a better business.
Some of my favorite business tools:
- Email marketing: If you’re not building an email list of your ideal prospective clients, you’re potentially leaving a ton of money on the table. I use Aweber for email marketing. Another great option I’m familiar with, and used by many, is Constant Contact. These tools automate your email marketing and allow you to build critical relationships with your audience.
- Scheduling: This is especially important for service-based entrepreneurs/solopreneurs. Even if you have an assistant, having an online scheduling system, preferably one that syncs with your calendar (Google is my online calendar of choice) will save a lot of time. Instead of going back and forth with people on scheduling , you can provide them a link to your calendar that allows them to schedule time with you on their own. This also allows you to offer consultations/prospect meetings with you just about anywhere online, including social media. For this, I use Time Trade.
- Landing/squeeze pages: You don’t have to know HTML or be a coding expert to create awesome landing pages. If you’re not sure what a landing page is, let Google do its magic (hint: great marketing tools). The thing is, you can create nice looking, effective landing pages in minutes. Sure, you can hire someone to do this for you. If you’re on a tight budget though, consider LeadPages or OptimizePress.
- Social media management: LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, oh my! Social media can take on a life of its own. It can almost become a full time job. A number of entrepreneurs spend way too much time on social media. Should it be a part of your branding and marketing? Sure. Should you spend a third or more of your time on it? Absolutely not! While Hootsuite is a popular option, I prefer Buffer. Not only does it allow you to schedule social media content, rather than constantly doing it manually, it provides you suggestions for more great content.
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management): This is very important for follow up and relationship building with existing and potential clients/partners. If you have a gazillion business cards in several shoe boxes in your office, you’re in dire need of a good CRM. If you forget to follow up with people half the time, you need a CRM. The one I use and returned to after a little experimenting is Nimble. This award-winning CRM system incorporates social media. You can connect with people via social media within your Nimble account. Want to follow that lady on Twitter you met at the networking event last week? You can do it directly from Nimble.
- Consider this one a bonus: great business books. Most entrepreneurs I know are constantly looking to learn and grow more. We tend to be really big on personal and professional development. At the center of conferences, podcasts, master minding, and webinars are books. It may be cliche but true; most leaders ARE readers. Ok, I’m not a fan of cliches. How about most leaders crave information? It doesn’t rhyme, but pretty accurate. I’m a voracious reader, although it can be challenging in terms of having enough time. What has made a huge difference to my development is leveraging audio books. It’s another way to “read” more in less time. The tool I’d hate to live without at this point is Audible. You can even enjoy two free audio books just for trying it out – also free – for 30 days.