There are a couple things I hear from small business owners all the time:
- They don’t have the time they need to do everything they want to do
- They don’t have a lot of spare cash
Having been an entrepreneur for the last decade, I can relate to both.
In order to deal with this, I’ve spent a lot of time looking for little tools and techniques to try and improve my efficiency and get more done in the run of a week, and do it, well, for free.
Over the years, I’ve found a metric ton of stuff that has helped me keep my head above water and get things done.
Today, I’ll share my favourite free tools for helping entrepreneurs make magic happen.
Evernote’s tagline is “Remember everything”. This software helps you collect text, images, and other snippets from your life and organize them in one place. The biggest advantage for me is that you can easily search all your notes to find what you’re looking for. Text – even hand writting – on an image is searchable. You can also search based on the notebooks your notes are in, tags you’ve assigned the note, the geographical location you took the note in… you can do anything!
In my business, I use Evernote for:
- Collecting expense receipts
- Jotting to do lists
- Listing blog post ideas
- Collecting email newsletters
- Keeping client notes
- Collecting standard operating procedures for my business
- Clipping and saving interesting articles from my web browser
Asana is the ultimate task manager for teams. If you manage a group of people, especially if those people are stationed remotely, Asana is a must-have.
It does an amazing job of helping you manage tasks while staying out of your email inbox. You can assign a given task to a person, assign deadlines, track progress, and even have chats dedicated to that one task.
Imagine knowing where everything on a project stands with all of your staff at any one time. It’s amazing.
I’ve used Asana for years now to manage team members locally and internationally. I can hardly imagine running my business without it.
I’ve written before that every small business should be using Gmail, and I maintain that to this day. It’s free, it’s powerful, and it’s very easy to use.
To me, there are a couple powerful things that Gmail can do that other email clients just aren’t as good at.
For one, you can tag emails. Tagging is an alternative to filing. Basically, you can add any number of tags to an email, but you can only file an email in one folder. What this means is that you can tag a recipe that grandma sent you for a Christmas cake with #grandma, #recipes, and #christmas if you like. With this, you don’t have to remember which folder you put the email in. You just have to remember any of the three tags.
The other major advantage to me is that the search function actually works. ‘Nuff said.
I can’t even explain how cool this tool is for a nerd like me.
IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. Basically, it allows you to connect the apps you already use to do things automatically. Each little automation is called a “recipe”.
This tool detects if one event happens (say someone likes your business’ Facebook page) and then automagically does some other thing in response (like sending you an email to tell you you’re really popular today.)
For example, if the weather will be rainy tomorrow, you can get a text sent to your phone to warn you. Or maybe you want your Twitter profile picture to update automatically every time you update your Facebook profile picture. Or maybe you want to automatically send a thank you email to customers when they buy a product of yours.
The possibilities are endless.
To get you started, here’s a collection of recipes for small business owners.
What do you use?
Tell the TCC community about the tools you use! Use the comment section below to give us your recommendations.