After you’ve been in business for a while, you start to discover tools, technology, and tricks that can make entrepreneurial life a lot easier. Some things can be so helpful in running a small business that once you discover them, you wonder how you ever did without.
In the hopes of giving your small business a boost, we asked 10 of our AllBusiness Experts if they would share one of the “secret weapons” they use to run and grow their own business. Read on to learn their insider recommendations for all the other entrepreneurs and small business owners out there!
Secret Weapon #1: Ontraport
“One of my very favorite tools is Ontraport (formerly Office Auto Pilot). It’s a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform specifically designed to serve small business. What I love about this technology is that you structure your contact with people based on ‘If/Then’ scenarios. This applies to both mailing and activity on your website. The possibilities for what you can do are purely based on what you offer and what action your contact takes. You are in total control. It gives you the ability to systemize, which can save a bunch of time in your business.
“On top of that, the technology can help you manage memberships, payments, and affiliates – just to name a few. It can help the small business owner who has basically 'duct taped’ systems together (like I did!) to move their business management all to one place, saving both time and money in the long run.” –Denise O'Berry, Small Business Expert, www.deniseoberry.com
Secret Weapon #2: Evernote
“With multiple devices and a mobile working environment, I’ve come to rely on the Evernote app to keep track of things. No matter where I am, if I have a thought, idea, or new to-do item, I can open Evernote and write it up, record a note, or take a picture to illustrate the item.
“No matter where I am or what device I’m working on, I have instant and easy access to those notes. While I still use a pen and notebook for meeting notes, project planning, and other things, Evernote is my go-to app for jotting down ideas or tasks quickly and keeping me organized and on track.” –Michel Theriault, Founder, Success Fuel for Managers
Secret Weapon #3: Google Drive
“I couldn’t live without Google Drive. I always hated emailing clients a Word doc, only to have them send a revised version. The back and forth often resulted in confusion about what the newest version was. But with Google Drive, I can share documents with them (and this is something I’ve trained most of them on) so that we can modify the same document online without the emailing.” –Susan Payton, President, Egg Marketing & Communications
Secret Weapon #4: Bill.com
“Bill.com has changed the way my clients run their business. It takes all the paperwork, filing, approvals, reminders, and guesswork out of paying bills (and getting paid). It’s the accounting interface you always wished you could have. Not only does Bill.com interface with all your favorite accounting software (Quickbooks, Xero, etc.), but more important, it is a simple interface that small business owners will love. And, of course, it’s all in the cloud – storing as many pages of receipts, bills, and other documents as you want at no extra cost.” –David Worrell, Founder, Rock Solid Finance
Secret Weapon #5: Google Hangouts on Air (HOA)
“I discovered Google Hangouts on Air (often shortened to HOAs) last year and it’s difficult for me to summarize in one paragraph how much value they have brought to my business. Let’s just say: enormous value! Google Hangouts on Air can be compared to your own private TV show where you broadcast your webcam to the world but can also invite up to 9 other guests to your show. They can be used in literally any business: I’ve seen successful shows from culinary chefs, real estate agents, violin artists, social media specialists, and even homeschooling experts. If you’d like to find out more about HOAs and how to get started, you might find value reading this post that reviews a private community called 'The Hangout Mastery,’ where I learned the 'skills of the trade'” –Sarah Santacroce, Founder, Simplicity - Simple Small Business Advice
Secret Weapon #6: The Readability Test Tool
“I recently discovered an excellent online tool for writers, The Readability Test Tool. It’s extremely user friendly and comprehensive, as well as flexible, in that you can test a complete web page or just part of a page’s content. When you enter the content (either by URL or direct input), you’ll see the content’s average grade level, several major readability test scores, various statistics relating to the composition, and a brief analysis. This tool allows you to quickly see how your content can be edited to better align with the target audience. Invaluable for online and offline copywriting!” –Brad Shorr, Director of B2B Marketing, Straight North
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Secret Weapon(s) #7: TweetDeck, HootSuite & Pocket
“The tools I rely on more than any other are probably TweetDeck and HootSuite. Not just for sending out and scheduling updates on my posts (across many platforms, not just Twitter), but for getting and sorting information. The other tool I use a lot is Pocket, which makes its simple to 'file’ articles I read online for later. I use it for stuff I want to read, as a way to keep track of some of my posts, and for a place to save articles I’m using for research by 'tagging’ them.” –Rieva Lesonsky, CEO, GrowBiz Media
Secret Weapon #8: Professional Bookkeeper
“My SEO agency has grown quite a bit in the past year. Previously, we could get away with my wife using Quickbooks to manage our finances. Well, come tax time we knew we were in trouble when our accountant worked up our huge tax debt. What we needed was a professional accountant, but we didn’t need them full time. It turns out that it’s pretty easy and affordable to hire a professional bookkeeper. It’s only a few hundred dollars per month and is really making our lives A LOT easier.
“So I would recommend, once you start to grow and bring in significant revenues, that you hire a professional to manage your books and payroll. It will pay off big time in operational costs and at the end of the year in saved taxes from properly classified write-offs!” –Miguel Salcido, CEO/Founder, Organic Media Group
Secret Weapon #9: Constant Contact
“I love Constant Contact! I do all of the email marketing for CorpNet.com with them because they make it simple and cost effective. Their team basically handles everything from A-Z when it comes to all of my email marketing needs so I can focus on doing what’s best – running and growing my business!” –Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet
Secret Weapon #10: WordPress
“For me, it’s WordPress. As an entrepreneur who not only manages a website but a blog, living without WordPress for the first few years was insane. I couldn’t afford to hire anyone to make changes to the website so the content had to remain stale. When we moved our web properties to WordPress in 2007, my life changed. Suddenly, if there was a word or phrase I didn’t like, I could change it as easily as opening a Word document. It took a few weeks to get used to writing in the software, but now I can’t write anywhere else. If you are picky about your web content, want to have the ability to add or change things, create landing pages, and provide new content consistently, move your site to WordPress. You won’t regret it.” –Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich
What about you? Have you discovered something that is making a huge difference to how you run your business? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comment below.
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