How can you keep on top of everything as your business grows? Building a business you are passionate about is exciting but with it comes the overwhelm of managing your systems and processes as you scale. There are plenty of digital tools available which help you save time and keep organised. Here are five free organisational tools for your business that I use and recommend. They will enable you to save time and keep your business in order.
Imagine a virtual wall of post-it notes, and each note can be colour coded or have links, videos, check lists or documents added to it. Trello is a fantastic tool for project work, business planning, product development or keeping client information in a safe place. It enables you to collaborate, organise and prioritise your work.
I use Trello to plan my business strategies and organise my work flow. I list my business goals, to-do lists, resources, website copy, useful articles, digital tools and memberships. We even use Trello as a family, planning holidays, creating house projects - my son even uses Trello for his university studies. It’s something I would really recommend to get you started when it comes to organising your business. I even use the hashtag #TrelloIsMyLife
If it’s not in the calendar it won’t get done! I live by my Google calendar for work and play. It’s really easy to use, there are plenty of extensions which work well with it (eg Zoom, Streak, Zapier, Calendly). You can colour coordinate, separating appointments between personal and work. You can add banners to important info, invite others to your appointments and repeat regular events.
When working with multiple clients it can be difficult to keep track of your time, so I use Google calendar to clearly define my working week. I block out hours for each client, I add buffers for the unexpected curve balls and ensure that I allow time for daily tasks like email, admin, social media and industry news. It’s important to block time out for these tasks as they are part of your daily routine and so you shouldn’t be trying to squeeze these tasks into your already full day.
Streak is a free CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that comes with Gmail Suite. It allows you to keep track of your clients and potential customers. It’s free and a great place to start for a new business CRM system. I use it to keep all the important info about my clients, and importantly all the conversations I have with people who have expressed an interest in working with me. You are able to collaborate with others on your team and share a timeline of emails, call logs, notes and tasks. You are also able to filter and sort data as well as set reminders for chasers and deadlines.
Google Alerts is a fantastic resource for keeping up with industry news or being alerted to articles relating to your customers. You can have report summaries sent straight to your inbox and choose to be alerted daily, weekly, or as it happens. It’s a huge content marketing time-saver and invaluable for curated social media content.
Note - if you choose to have alerts sent to you weekly then this happens from the day you set up the alerts. So if you work for a particular client on a particular day try and set up the alert for the day before you work for them - this way your email report will be at the top of your inbox with the most up to date information.
Dropbox Sign is a tool that enables you to safely share and sign documents digitally. The app keeps you updated as to when contracts are opened and signed. Dropbox Sign also reminds you if a contract has been out for a signature for a while, so you can send a reminder. And it notifies you when a contract has been signed.
Note - you need to download the contract from the Dropbox Sign platform once it’s been signed. Just so you have your own copy and it’s in a safe place.
There are so many digital tools available that help you save time, though I am aware that there's so much choice it can be overwhelming. Plus, the thought of learning a new process is just another thing to add to your to-do list! All of the above organisational tools are easy to learn and have a free version (you can upgrade with some of them).
If you have 10 minutes this week head over to Google Alerts and choose a couple of topics you are interested in (work or personal) to be sent to your inbox weekly, just so you can experience the service and see if it works for you.
If you have an hour, explore Trello and have a play around with a Trello board to see how it can help you with your business. My first business Trello board had the following list titles:
To Do List
Training/Courses I’ve signed up for
Business Set Up
Digital Tools for Work
Website Plan, Pages, Content
Business Branding colours and fonts
Content Marketing Plan
Social Media Strategy
Equipment to buy
Let me know how you get on, and if you need help setting up your own business systems and processes, an extra pair of hands for a few hours a week or help with a specific project then feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my very best to help you.
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