My Favorite Tools
When you run a business that’s all about systems, you inevitably become the go-to person when friends, family, and clients want to know the best tool to use. And as you can imagine, I have a lot to say about it! But really, the only right answer to that question is: the best tool for the job is the one you will actually use.
I can’t tell you how many times I ask a new client about the current systems in their business, only to find out they are “using” (aka, paying for) 3 CRM’s, 2 project management systems, a couple of to-do apps, and more. Not only is having this many tools time-consuming, it’s expensive. You only need one of each, so let’s get busy streamlining your tools!
Please Note: In the spirit of full disclosure some of these tools (but not many) may include my affiliate link, which means I may receive compensation from some of the entities listed here for referrals, as their “thank you” for sending you their way. However, I never recommend any service or product solely for the reason of receiving commissions (and neither should you).
Some of these tools I use in my business, and others I use for clients.
Shopping Carts & Autoresponders
- Infusionsoft – this is the shopping cart and list management tool of choice for many of our clients, and we love using it. It’s incredibly powerful for selling online, closing sales, and following up with clients. Update: A very large number of our Infusionsoft clients are having us move them from Infusionsoft over to ConvertKit. We can help you too!
- Popup Ally – To create popups on your WordPress website, this can help increase your list really quickly. It’s a paid, premium plugin but for what it does and how customizable it is, I think it’s worth the $97.
- Sumo Me – Since my website is on Squarespace, I use the free popup from SumoMe.com and get great results. They have other free features as well like heat maps.
- MailChimp – I still love MailChimp and think it’s awesome. While some claim that its autoresponder features aren’t the most intuitive, it’s still a great and affordable tool. ***Update*** On December 26, 2015 I made the switch from MailChimp over to Convert Kit, and I am freaking loving it.
- ManageWP – My tech team offers a service for backing up your websites weekly. They back up all of my websites for our clients and I so I don’t even have to think about it. Smart entrepreneurs make sure their valuable real-estate is backed up and restorable if something were to happen.
- Teamwork – I made the BIG switch about 6 months ago from Basecamp to Teamwork, and I’m so glad I did. With a large client-base, a large team, and a lot of moving parts, Teamwork runs the day-to-day business ops of EntreLeverage and many of our client’s businesses.
- Team Collaboration – Slack brings our team together like no other app. We set up a private channel (it’s really just a room) for each client, and all team collaboration happens there in real time.
- Insightly CRM – I admit, I don’t keep up with my CRM as much as I should, so I don’t really want to pay for it. Insightly is great because I can add new contacts directly from Gmail saving me a ton of time. I also love Pipedrive and refer clients to it regularly.
- Basecamp or Asana – Both of these are great PM tools as well, and we encourage our clients to use them as well when they don’t need or want Teamwork.
- HubSpot – a Free CRM Tool that works in the background with the tools you already use. It’s there when you need it, and out of the way when you don’t.
- Automated Client Intake – On WordPress I use the Gravity Forms plugin to create + set up forms for all different kinds of purposes. Everything from client feedback to questions and ideas. On Squarespace, there is a built-in form creator, though it’s not nearly as nice and easy to use as Gravity Forms. Honorable mention to Acuity (see below)
- Appointment Scheduling – I love, love, love Acuity Scheduling and refer this one often. For $10 per month, you can have multiple scheduling links, automated intake forms and even accept payment for sessions in advance. And it’s pretty.
- Client Care – Teamwork has a built-in client care system called Teamwork Desk and it is comparable to ZenDesk. I love that I can seamlessly create tasks in Teamwork PM from client requests in Teamwork Desk. This has saved my team and I hours. I also love that there aren’t any per-user fees.
- LeadPages – We use this program to set up our client’s landing pages for calls, webinars, and offers quickly and easily with their built-in customizable templates.
- File Sharing – We use a combination of Dropbox and Google Drive for sharing files with our team and collaborating with clients. Dropbox is also a great way to share large files like training videos.
- InstantTeleseminar – Our clients who are serious about their webinars use InstantTeleseminar to host and record webinars and training programs. While not the prettiest, I’ve seen far fewer glitches with it.
- 17Hats – I use this handy tool for many things, but the main thing that keeps me coming back is my ability to create a quote for a potential new client. Once they accept it, it automatically creates an invoice and then a service agreement is generated which can be digitally signed. This has streamlined the sometimes awkward event of sending agreements to clients separately.
- Active Inbox – This is a great time saver for those who don’t need a full project management system just yet. Active Inbox turns your Gmail inbox into a task manager.
- QuickTime or Jing – I use these screen recording tools to create quick visual tutorials for my team and even my clients. Both are free.
- Systems = Ease – I’m not great at plugging my own stuff, but this is a free resource that you don’t want to miss. This is a 4-day email series that breaks down the 3 core systems your business needs and how you can implement them with ease.
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