Software & Apps for Business & Life
It’s a great time to be alive.
There is so much software available today to help us communicate better and be more efficient. At the same time, having so many different tools on the market to choose from can be overwhelming -- especially if you are a business owner already fully occupied with running your business.
That’s why I took some time to write about some of my favorite tools.
In this post, I will cover several digital tools that help me in my business day-to-day and keep operations running smoothly. In the next post, I’ll include several more tools that not only help me with my business, but also improve my life. There is some crossover here: many of the tools could fit in either post, but I did not want to overwhelm anyone with an article that was too long.
Finally, before we get to the list, some of these tools are free, and others are paid. I do not mention pricing in this post, because it is subject to change, but I am not an affiliate for any of these platforms. Many of the paid tools have free plans so you can try before you buy.
LastPass is a great tool for any business owner with many passwords to remember. The software handles all your passwords for you and will automatically log you into websites, saving you time.
This tool is also great for a business owner with a team that needs to share access to an account for business purposes. When you hire a new employee, you can add them to your LastPass Enterprise user list and share login information for any one of your business accounts. They will then be able to log in using LastPass, without actually seeing the password to your account. When employees leave, you just delete their user information from LastPass. Once removed, they lose all access to passwords shared in LastPass. This keeps things easy and secure without changing passwords every time an employee leaves.
Toodledo is a nice, simple task manager. It is cloud-based and syncs with all devices.
If you’ve ever had a critical insight about a project occur to you while standing in line at a coffee shop, you will love using Toodledo. You can easily add items to your task list from your phone when you are away from the office. Also, if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by a disorganized to-do list, Toodledo will help. The software makes organizing your projects extremely easy. It’s highly customizable and robust enough to handle complex business operations as well as grocery lists.
Basecamp is an excellent way to keep everyone up to date on projects and tasks. It is ideal for the business owner who manages a small team of individuals and who wants all communication and project organization to happen on one easy-to-use platform. It eliminates the problem of tasks getting lost in email inboxes. This tool allows an owner to see what’s going on with their team at a glance, and it allows the team to collaborate more effectively by keeping the project timeline, messages, to-do’s, and files all in the same digital space.
Other popular project management platforms for remote teams include Trello, Asana, and Notion.so. Though they perform many of the same functions, each tool has slightly different features, so it all depends on your team’s needs and preferences.
Scheduling software is essential if you or your team has a need for people to set appointments on your calendar. I use it to set appointments with potential clients. Having a tool like Acuity in place eliminates back and forth emails on mutually convenient times for meetings. I know from experience that Acuity is inexpensive, straightforward, and customizable. It integrates well with Google Calendar and iCal, and you can set the program to send email reminders to attendees before scheduled meeting times to cut down on forgotten appointments.
Almost any business can benefit from email marketing. (Certain marketers might argue that all businesses can benefit from email marketing, but I will leave that debate to the marketers of the world.)
Regardless, ActiveCampaign offers sophisticated email automation with a light duty CRM at an affordable price point. It is relatively easy to set up and use, and their customer service is excellent. Other tools for staying in contact with your customers with email marketing include MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Constant Contact, but ActiveCampaign is the tool that I choose to use in my business.
Textiful is a service for communicating with your customers via text message. The tool can integrate with your email marketing software to send out marketing campaigns via text and also collect email addresses from your customers when they text your keyword to either 444999 or 345345 (US only).
For example, when I spoke at a conference recently, I was able to tell attendees to just text the word “Profit” to that number, followed by their email address, to receive my guide to 32 Golden Opportunities Inside Your Landscape Business via email. The owner of a landscaping company might wish to use this service to communicate with their most loyal customers about seasonal promotions or new offerings.
According to a 2017 study by Deloitte, the average person checks their smartphone over 47 times throughout the day. Text-based marketing may be an important part of your future marketing plans.
It should not surprise you that I appreciate useful financial software. I am a methodical person, so I have tried several iPhone apps for tracking business expenses, and BizXpense Tracker by Silverware Software is the one I like the best. It is simple, user-friendly, and dependable. BizXpense records your expenses and then enables you to submit expense reports. A built-in backup feature ensures you will never lose your data. When you need to submit a report, you simply export the data to your desktop and open it up with Excel.
Although Upwork is not a software tool, I still felt it was worth mentioning here because it can be incredibly helpful to a business owner. This online platform is a great place to find capable, trustworthy people to work on projects that require some specific expertise.
Whether you need help with redesigning your website, executing your marketing efforts, or even with certain customer service tasks, you may find the talent you are looking for on Upwork. Remote hires can sometimes be challenging, so I advise business owners to screen prospects on Upwork with a single, simple project at a low price-point before making a long-term hire.
Habits for Excellence
No matter what tools you use to power your business, it is essential to use them to build on foundations of strong personal habits you have already established. Some people might complain that everything is moving online now, and it’s causing people to be more distracted than ever. The fact is, any app can become a distraction if the person using it is unfocused in their work.For the modern business owner looking to add more margin to their life, these tools can be incredible time-savers. What are your favorite software tools and apps?