The Top 10 Productivity Tools To Run A Creative Small Business
Running a creative small business is no easy task. But there are productivity tools I use to make my biz life a little easier! Below I’ve outlined my top 10 productivity tools I use to run my creative small business.
I used to run EVERYTHING on Google Apps as you’ll see below. Recently, I’ve converted to Zoom to run my group calls and I cannot stop talking about it. If you’ve used Google Hangout, you know how fun it is to be able to do calls with a few different people, or to even run a mini-webinar from it. But it gets challenging when you need other functionality.
Here’s what I love about Zoom:
When I signed up, somebody actually emailed me to see if I’d be interested in him taking me on a tour. He asked me what my needs were and he showed me the most important features. That personal touch really made it extra valuable for me because I hadn’t turned on some of the things I could do!!
You can record directly from Zoom. You can save it to your desktop or you can save to the cloud (there’s some storage available in the paid version). You can also grab the recording of just audio, just video, and the chat. It’s SO simple and it makes it really easy!
The quality of video, the stability of the audio is unmatched. I’ve used Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom by far is the most reliable. No more freezing in the middle of the sentence if you have good internet.
I’m using the pro plan because the free plan cuts you off after 40 minutes of call time!
2. Google Apps
With the exception of Google Hangouts, I use Google Apps for all the things. I love Gmail, Google Docs (speadsheets, presentations, word documents), now Google Calendar since my favorite calendar app (Sunrise) is going away. It integrates with a ton of other platforms which makes it so easy to use.
I like to use Google Docs with my clients and my teams. I can be on a call with them, collaborate on something I’m working on in the moment to make sure that we’re on the same page.
I store all my stock photos, headshots, and other photos related to my business in Google Drive so I can access them to post on Instagram on the fly.
Google Keep is a great way to keep track of all of your tasks in a beautiful way. You can arrange them however you like and make the tasks in list form or long-hand.
Learning how to organize my Google Docs has really helped shape my systems of my business. I spent a few hours one day organizing all the documents I had created, all the documents that had been shared with me, and ones I wanted to get rid of. It makes it so much easier when I know where all my documents live.
3. Acuity Scheduling
When I started my business, Acuity was the first piece of software that I invested my precious money into. I worried, nitpicked and tried every scheduling tool under the sun! What I love about Acuity is the fact that you’re able to integrate multiple calendars (iCal, Google) so easily, nothing gets double-booked (my fear!). It does a beautiful job dealing with timezones. With clients all over the world, I can’t deal with worrying about whether I got the timezone correct or not.
You can have different links for your clients (maybe you have a few different types of appointments and you don’t want to make all of them accessible to one type of client). You can also have people pay at the same time they book a call with you.
Acuity is great at making sure things are automated and integrated. I love that it sends my clients a reminder email (and a text if they want), my clients can cancel and reschedule an appointment at their own leisure rather than having to contact me every time. It has been worth every penny for my business!
My favorite tool for making our website functionality easier is Leadpages. Reina + Co creates a ton of content so we make it easy for people to access the upgraded content via Leadpages. My Brand Manager, Rachel Wortmann, does a great job pulling everything together. It connects the email platform (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign) to your website and it ensures that the place where your audience puts their email address is pretty and customized to your brand.
Here’s what Rachel has to say about their features and how she customizes it for Reina + Co:
“I love how it cleanly integrates with email platforms so that as soon as someone opts-in on a leadpage we can add a tag, send them an email, etc. Leadpages also has a great semi-hidden function of sending people Leadmagnets. Confused by all these Lead-terms? So was I at first. A Leadmagnet is basically the opt-in you’re offering to those who sign up. Maybe this is an e-book or a worksheet. Leadpages makes it easy to send these opt-ins right away, in addition to adding those contacts to your email platform. Another great feature is Leadpages has tons of great templates to choose from when creating a page. What I’ve grown to love? The drag + drop templates so we can customize the pages completely.”
When I started looking at Slack, I was really intimidated. It looked like there were too many things to keep track of, too high tech and that I wouldn’t like it. Welp, I was wrong. I use it to work with my growing team at Reina + Co.
When we switched from our old system (read: email, email, email, gchat, google doc, random shenanigans), to fewer emails thanks to Slack, I was smitten. The conversation is more informal, the collaboration is smoother and my team is happier.
There are #channels that help you organize or group various areas of your business. You can tag people, very much like you can tag them in facebook or twitter to bring their attention to something. You can turn notifications on / off for business hours or if you have a call and don’t want to be disturbed.
If you want to get out of your inbox and get more productive, start using slack!
I love instagram but I get thrown for a loop whenever I feel like I have to post something. For the Creative Empire Podcast, we use Schedugr.am and it has been a lifesaver.
The one thing that this platform does that others don’t is that you don’t have to push to instagram to actually post it. Somebody, somewhere on the globe actually hits publish for you so it actually happens on its own, no effort on your part!
You can tag, add a first comment, use emojis, and schedule as many posts as you want. It even has a cool calendar app to show you your posts.
If having a beautiful feed is important to you, but you don’t want to fret about what you should post every single day and come up with the perfect caption, Schedugr.am is my go-to option!
Asana is for the list love and the task master. It’s incredibly intuitive and super robust. I use it with my internal Reina + Co team to manage bigger projects that have moving parts, deadlines and responsible parties (because if you don’t assign it, it won’t ever happen!).
I also use Asana with my clients. We track homework, coaching topics we want to cover, goals to keep in mind. You can easily communicate with people via the conversation tool. Asana is good at communicating with google docs so you can upload documents or leave a link to connect you to any of the google apps.
8. Streak for Google Mail
Sometimes, I write emails at night after the kiddo goes to sleep (gasp!). It’s not ideal but it happens because I have an addiction to my inbox being at zero. Instead of waiting to reply to that email, I’ll write a response and schedule the email to go out the next morning through Streak. Boomerang for Gmail does this too, but it limits the number of emails you can send.
Streak is mainly a CRM that you can use in your inbox; I’m super low tech and don’t have the bells and whistles set up to the max capacity.
9. Amazon Echo
When my husband told me, “I got us something” on Amazon Prime day, I was worried that it would be some useless contraption. When it arrived, I wasn’t super excited about the Amazon Echo. I’ve changed my mind on this one. You’ll hear “Alexa, add ___ to the shopping list,” or “Alexa, play Ellie Goulding” in the house. It has great voice recognition, can order anything you want off of Amazon and it allows you to play music abundantly from Amazon Prime. It has been such a surprisingly fun thing to have!
10. Canned Responses in Gmail
This is a total lifesaver when I know I have to write the same email over and over. It’s the beginning of a templated email (that I always customize for each person I send it to). There isn’t any copy and pasting required. It makes life so much simpler to be able to drop the appropriate email in and change it up a bit before sending it out!