***Yeah! Congratulations – we’ve officially made it through 2/3’s of the challenge and the end of Act 2. Thanks for continuing this journey with me :). Since Day 21 ended up being another siesta, I decided to combine these two posts today)***
Today’s Challenge: State your top three tools that you will use (or already use) to save time and money and make your online world more seamless
It’s pretty much darn near impossible for me to narrow down the time and money saving tools I use for business to a top 3. They’re all so valuable and have merits in their own rights that they’ve become hard for me to live without. And considering I didn’t start out loving apps and software that’s a huge deal!
What I’ll try to do instead though is list our game changers – the stand-out tools that really made the journey of growing our freedom-based business easier. But before I begin, I have to give a huge nod to Chris G (from The Art of Non-Confirmity). We signed up for his Empire Building Kit years ago and it really changed, no revolutionized the way we do business. Hands down to date, it’s been the best investment we’ve made. It really helped us launch ourselves into the whole digital product world.
First and foremost, beyond embracing online tools, there’s a mindset that’s good to embrace that will make the road to entrepreneurship smoother. Start there and the rest is much easier!
Chris is just one of the people we found along the way that helped to make the life we’re experiencing possible. I can’t extol enough the value of having the right guides/mentors around you. And the Internet has made all of this increasingly possible and accessible.
Ok…so, now for the tools! (Drum roll please)
The biggest most dramatic change for us started when we built our virtual team. Having a team helped us free a lot more of our time and energy so we could focus on building our business. It also made it easier for us to specialize and provide more value to our clients. And you remember that phrase I’m always touting about building a business that demands what you want to give? Having a team has been a crucial part of that. Forget trying to improve your 20 in the 80/20 principle? Just find team members that have 80s in those areas so you can focus on the things you love to do.
Since we’re on the topic of virtual teams here’s some tools that have helped us with that. It’s probably better for me to focus on one area or we’ll be here for a long time. If you find it useful, please send me a note or comment and I’ll put together a list of more tools in the future.
You ever feel like your business is managing you more than you’re managing your business? I did too. Trying to manage projects and client relationships via email can be a nightmare! I was forever searching for information and concerned that I might be overlooking and forgetting something. And then adding a team to the mix and trying to keep track of things made it worse. activeCollab changed all that – it’s a collaboration and project management system that helped us get greater control in this area. No more managing projects and other client deliverables in my mind or my inbox. It made it so much easier to keep track of projects and their progress and communicate/collaborate with our team.
Jing – You’ve heard the saying a picture is worth a thousand words? This handy tools allows you to take screenshots and make notes as well as screencasts (short little videos you can use to explain and demonstrate information) Before using Jing, I’d find myself constantly re-explaining things – doing screenshots and videos helps to ensure that what you see is what the other person sees – so things get done right the first time :).
A few other noteworthy mentions
Bidsketch – Writing proposals use to be the one task I hated. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say we would spend hours if not days putting together a proposal. Now we can literally put together the details of our proposals in a tenth of the time – probably even less! Hugs and kisses to Ruben for creating such an amazing tool!
Billminder – I use this incredible app to track all our bills and payments – saves time, money and prevents headaches :)
Google Apps – Its like email on steroids. For the search features alone it’s already head and shoulders above the rest. Then add to it the filtering options, calendar features and one of my favourites Google Docs that allows you to easily manage documents and files from the cloud. Really the benefits are endless.
Ok I should really stop now :), but it would be a crime for me to leave without mentioning Evernote. It’s the app I use to write all my posts and capture my thoughts/ramblings/braindumps in text and in audio -I LOVE IT! It’s like my very own 24/7 personal assistant.