I am an avid reader of many a blog, forums, and groups that all relate to small business. I like to interact when I have something worth saying, but otherwise I tend to maintain a sit back and listen profile. Lately, I have been seen an uptick in small business owners looking for apps or software that will help them run their business better. Well, let me tell you, as someone that works with a boss that likes to change it up all the time, I have been there and back again when it comes to apps and software. Let me share with you my favorites and a little about why I love each one. I am not an affiliate for any of these companies, they have not paid me in anyway. This is just my solid opinion on these apps.
Evernote: https://evernote.com/ This cloud based app can be used on ANY device. It is not married to one platform or another. When I first started to use the app I was on an android phone, but also had an iPad and a MacBook. In other words you don’t need to be married to a platform in order to sync data on all your devices. It is a completely seamless way to store, sort and organize research, notes and random data. Best of all the basic plan is FREE!
Google Apps: So you use Gmail, but do you take full advantage of the apps that are automatically included with Gmail? It really is this simple, there is a little box up in the right corner, actually it is nine little boxes, open that up and you will find a world of wonder at your finger tips. Google Drive, formerly known as Google Docs got me through my masters degree program. It was really the first app that I used that was totally in the cloud. I could not have done it without Google. No worries about backing up to a flash drive, or losing the flash drive, just like you lose your keys. Another great feature is the ability to share and collaborate. This makes group projects a breeze. If you want more info on how to collaborate using Google Drive, just zip me an e-mail and I will share my super simplified tutorial with you. I can be reached via email here: kyra @ this domain. Then of course there is the calendar function. My mother yells at me everytime that she comes to my house, because I don’t have a paper calendar on my wall. If I had one I would never remember to do anything, but with the Google calendar you can organize yourself, your work, your kids, your pets, your life. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Set up reminders, recurring events, all that good stuff, and again it is shareable so you can set up a calendar for collaboration as well so that everyone stays on task.
Google Voice: I don’t much care for voicemail, when I had a traditional VM box it would often end up full before I got around to dialing in to listen to the calls, and would typically hang up halfway through because I had better things to do. Set up Google Voice, and you will get dinged via text as well as an email with the transcription of the voice mail. It is also a great way to screen the calls that you do not want to take. The transcription is not always the best, however you can listen to the recording via the app, or on your computer. I could not live without this.
Mail Chimp: http://mailchimp.com/ Super easy to use to build e-mail automation. Build your lists, organize them into categories, and create super easy awesome emails. Includes A/B testing and data on opens, clicks etc. If you need to send an email to any more than 100 people this is really the way to do it. The drag and drop templates even make me look like I know what I am doing when it comes to graphic design. Social integrations make it easy to share across platforms as well, and it integrates with my next fav: Capsule.
Capsule CRM: https://capsulecrm.com/ Unless you are the only person who ever talks to a current or potential client, and you know them all by first name you need a CRM. There are a lot of amazing CRM’s out there, but I just really like Capsule. I can’t really pinpoint why I like it more than the others that I have tried, I just do. It is super simple, easy to use, and gets the job done. It integrates with Google, Mailchimp and a dozen other great tools. For a small business it really has more than enough features, and some that you may never use.
Stripe: https://stripe.com/ Credit Card processing without the middle man, need I say more.
Hootsuite: https://hootsuite.com/ Social Media automation. All your accounts in one place. Post, schedule, and view news feeds. I am not by any means a social media expert, however I would consider myself savvy at the least. This app saves me a ton of time, and let’s me post and schedule in advance so I don’t miss out on opportunities to capitalize on holidays, local events etc. There is also a chrome extension plug in, so when you come across something that is interesting enough to share you can click and share across multiple channels. The posts can be sent auto scheduled, or scheduled at your designated time. This one is a true time saver and helps me drive engagement. The basic service is free which is great for smaller companies.
That about wraps it up. Hopefully you will find these tools as useful as I do. Regardless thanks for the read, and I would love to hear your comments.