Work Smarter, Not Harder with These Business Tools

Blog Work Smarter

As a budding entrepreneur, you probably don’t have a virtual assistant that you can just delegate all your tasks to… Like scheduling appointments, getting information from clients, recording an online course, or creating beautiful social media graphics.

You are a busy woman with an empire to build and the last thing you need is to be spinning your wheels working harder at the day-to-day tasks that, yes, keep the business running, but are not why you went into business for yourself. You are building your dream business because you have a passion for something and wanted to leave to shit work of a 9-5 behind.

But there is so much to do and learn as an entrepreneur! It often feels like you spend more time figuring things out than doing the work you love!

I get it.

I remember being at a conference for entrepreneurs and eavesdropping on a conversation about screen-capture software. I went into a panic… What’s screen-capture? Should I get it? Will it help me make my first million? Am I the only one without it? Argh, and there I went –  right down the rabbit hole of: total overwhelm, I suck, I should just quit now, I am such an amateur, who do I think I am.

Please let me save you from a similar fate!

Since that conference here’s what I’ve learned about the tools you need to streamline your business and create more time for the things you love:

  1. Focus on the tools you will use most frequently.
  2. Increase your productivity.
  3. Make you look like (and feel) like the pro you already are.

Also, I am a world-class scrooge when it comes to my time – and you should be too! Our time as a woman entrepreneur is our most precious commodity. You can earn more money, but you can’t earn more time. When you spend time working instead of with family or friends you can’t earn that time back… it’s gone!

There are a few tools I use on a regular basis that make my life easier, my business run smoother, increase productivity and I’m not wasting my time. I’m sharing these with you, not so you’ll run out and get them, but so that you might start thinking about what you need in your tool box that will streamline your business tasks so you can do more of what your passionate about and quit throwing away your precious time.

Form Builders:

Whether you are getting client feedback, asking questions, getting intake information or doing a survey, using a feedback form will make it super easy to analyze your responses and gather the information you need.

You might be familiar with Survey Monkey or Wufoo. There are lots of options out there and most of them have a free version if you’re not doing something super complex or sending it out to hundreds of people. To read a comparison of lots of the most popular form builders read this post.

I love and use Typeform for all my online forms. It’s easy to use and has a very elegant streamlined look to it. I’ve used it when I get intake information for my Yoga Retreat, feedback after a speaking engagement, surveys and much more.

Receiving Payments Online

Paypal is what most people thing about when it comes to receiving payments online. Paypal is an easy to use way to send invoices and receive payments. The advantages of it are that it’s easy to set up and most people are familiar enough with it that it’s easy to use. You also can use it without have an SSL certificate on your website (a little bit of code that secures your website when taking credit cards). I don’t have anything against Paypal, but (just being honest here) I think it looks a little blah.

For the past few years I’ve upgraded to Moonclerk. Moonclerk integrates with Stripe which a secure way to take payments online.  It’s super easy to create a payment button and/or do recurring payments. You can use your own branding colors and logos so you create a seamless experience for your user. There is a fee for Moonclerk transactions, but you will have that with almost any online payment system.

Click here to see payment buttons I made using Moonclerk.

Online Scheduling Tools

When you’re trying to schedule an appointment with a client it can be a huge hassle (and time suck) to go back and forth via email figuring out a time you are both available. When you up-level your pro-status and use an online scheduling tool you take out the aggravation (and time suck).

There are lots of these tools out there. The two most popular are probably Acuity and Calendly. Both have free and paid options. Obviously, the paid options will be more robust.  They also integrate with calendars you might be using such as google or Office 365. Read this comparison post of them to get more info.

The other thing I like about using a scheduling tool is that it’s another way to go pro. Instead of getting whiplash being available to your clients anytime they need you, you set boundaries around the time you work ‘in’ your business (with clients and taking appointments) and time you work ‘on’ your business (doing admin, social media, etc).

Graphics Tools

No blog post about everyday business tools would be complete without mentioning what I use to create graphics. Being able to create beautiful graphics, without paying a designer, is awesome!

I use graphic tools for everything from social media posts, email headers, infographics, and even business cards.

My two favorites are Canva and Get Stencil, but I also give you a few more of my favorites in a blog post I wrote, “How to Create Eye-Popping Graphics for Your Social Media”. Check it out to learn more about these invaluable tools.

To-Do List Management

Gotta be honest here, I’m an old school paper & pen girl, I usually write out my to-do list. This works great for big picture tasks. But when you’re trying to get a lot done and some things have lots of steps or details using an online tool helps systematize, prioritize, and create processes for getting things done with less stress.

I use Evernote when I’m working on a project and want to jot down thoughts I have or keep a running list of things that need to be done.

If you are really a detail person and love processes I would suggest checking out Workflowy or Trello. These are also great if you’re working with others (like a virtual assistant) to get things done because you can share them online. If you think you might be interested in using one of these, check out this post that compares Workflowy to Trello.

Ok, there you have it!

I’ve given you my behind the scenes tools that help me manage my time and keep my business running smoothly. You are going to find the perfect tools for your unique business and that fit your work style.

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