I’m the first to admit that it can sometimes be easy to get caught up in the “shiny new tool syndrome”. Sound familiar?
A great new software solution catches your eye, and you become carried away exploring, testing and trying said shiny tool, before spying the next one and being lured in again. As business owners, we really do have a plethora of options available to us today, but it’s easy to get trapped into making the most of none of them.
The full benefits and efficiencies of technology are gained by putting a tool or system in place and then sticking to it, until it becomes habit and an integral part of how we operate our businesses. Otherwise, do we really need it?
Of course, for something to be suitable to stick to, it needs to suit your needs in the first place. So, there is definitely some research that needs to happen before jumping in. You could occasionally allocate a small amount of time in your week to do some focussed research on something you’ve been wondering about, to determine if it’s worth pursuing and taking the time to implement.
I think it’s important to know what you’re hoping to achieve. Have clarity around what your pain points are, and therefore what it is that you want the tool to do for you. Will it save you time or money, will it make life easier, will it allow you to become more organised, connected or productive? Everyone’s reasons will be different, but I do believe that you can only find a great solution for something if you know what the problem is to solve.
While there are countless tools and software available now, below is a curation of the top tools we use on a regular basis at Kabosh Creative. Some may seem simple or obvious, but I try not to assume that everyone already knows about them. You may already be using some of these (or may prefer alternatives), but we hope that it can help those people who are looking for some help or suggestions on tools that could be useful in their business.
G-Suite is an amazing email solution that we recommend to all new clients who are getting set up with their domain and email accounts (and we can help existing clients transfer over to it too).
G-Suite is like having all the benefits of Gmail, for your own business email account (@yourdomain.com.au).
It includes excellent spam filtering, seamless synchronisation across devices and an intuitive interface. Also included are add-ons like Google Drive (file storage and sharing), Google Docs & Sheets (similar to a cloud version of Word and Excel), Hangouts, Calendar and many more features.
Price: $5 + GST/month per email account.
Dropbox and Drive are the two cloud-based systems we use to store some of our own files, and also to share folders with clients and team members.
They both offer access via simple folders on your computer, have apps for your mobile device, and can be accessed via the browser on any computer. You can add files into shared folders to easily collaborate with others, to avoid the tedious task of emailing files.
We’ve been using both for many years and they’re a regular part of our tasks.
Price: Dropbox has free and paid versions (storage amount varies).
Google Drive is free with a G-Suite account.
Project Management: Asana
Asana is a fantastic way to manage projects and tasks, either just to keep on top of things for yourself or with team members or clients. The cloud-based system means you can log into Asana on any computer, and there’s also a mobile app.
You can assign tasks to yourself or others, create project templates, synchronise tasks with your calendar, receive email reminders and much, much more.
Price: We use the free version. There’s also a premium plan with some extra features.
Xero has been our accounting system of choice for a number of years now. I like the simplicity, the ability to have bank feeds and easily be reconciled at all times.
I create rules for regular transactions (based on things like amount or name), and this allows quick and easy matching and instant allocation within the chart of accounts.
Our invoices are generated through Xero (making payment allocation easy through the bank feed). It has the ability to take credit card payments (ours is connected to Stripe) and also has a feature for automated recurring invoices. It has quick and easy reporting facilities, and there are many more features to learn about!
Like any accounting system, the key is in getting it set up correctly from the beginning for the best outcome.
Price: The standard plan is $50/month and includes unlimited invoices and quotes.
Time Tracking: Toggl
Toggl is a quick time tracking tool we use to monitor our time spent on tasks. That time can be allocated to a project and client, which allows us to generate reports so we can then create invoices for this work.
We believe we could implement some more automation around this tool, but we haven’t done so yet – there’s always room for improvement!
Price: We use the free version, paid plans start at $9/user/month and have added features.
Evernote is a handy place to take notes, compile information or files, be it on your computer or mobile device. You can have different notebooks (I use it for work and personal notes), share notes with others, and more.
Price: Free, paid plans start at $9.99/month.
Team Messaging: Slack
Slack is a handy way to quickly communicate with team members. There’s not the formalities of email, it’s less cumbersome, and allows for faster collaboration when you’re online together.
You can search past messages, share files, receive notifications from other tools and more.
Price: Free, paid plans start at $6.67/month.
MailChimp has been around for quite some time now, and continues to be among the top choices for sending simple e-newsletters, right through to more complex e-marketing.
It offers easy list management and segmentation, automation, landing pages, and much more.
Price: The free plan suits many small businesses (up to 2000 subscribers, 12,000 emails per month), paid plans start from $10/month.
Because our phones are iPhones, and our computers are Mac, we use iCal as our general calendar tool to manage events, general scheduling and other personal and work commitments.
We use multiple calendars within iCal, which allows us to keep work and personal entries separate and colour coded. Some of these calendars are shared with the appropriate people (who can also add entries), which allows for easier planning and collaboration.
Google Calendar is another good option, especially if you are not using Apple.
Price: Free with your Apple account.
Hopefully this round-up of some of our preferred tools and software has been helpful. If you have any questions about implementing any of these for your own business, please don't hesitate to contact us.