You’ve heard the rumors that there are online systems and tools out there that can help your business run more efficiently and save you a lot of time and menial tasks and organization. However, you don’t know where to go to find them or the thought of researching the thousands of options makes you want to just shut the blinds and turn on Netflix! It doesn’t have to be that way! Today I give you 9 tips to find the RIGHT tools for you and your business.
I invite you to join me and watch the video below. But if you prefer to simply listen instead, there is an audio version below as well! And of course if you prefer to read, I have that available for you too! Enjoy!
IF YOU PREFER TO LISTEN, YOU CAN STREAM OR DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO VERSION BELOW:
Do you feel overwhelmed with the admin side of your business and know that there are solutions out there that could efficiently and effectively organize your business and automate your tasks, but you’re not quite sure where to begin with even researching them? This week, I’ll give you 9 tips to find the best systems and tools for my own business as well as all of my clients’.
Welcome to the next episode of the BizMagic Podcast sharing expertise and solopreneur journeys to help business owners find the magic in their businesses by being more productive, focused, and successful.
I’m Patti Meyer, founder of BizMagic, where I help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and small business owners clear their plate so they can get back to doing what they love - running their business.
There are thousands of systems and tools out there that claim to have all the bells and whistles you need to run your business like a pro. But the truth is that it can admittedly be overwhelming trying to figure what to choose and a big part of that is because they often all seem to offer similar things and it’s hard to tell which one is the best. In reality, there is no ultimate best; this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. You and you are business are unique and require options that will fit your specific needs for where you are right now in your business while also taking into account your goals for growth. So my plan today is to walk you through the process I use to assess my clients’ individual needs and find the best solutions for them so you can start feeling a little less overwhelmed and little more focused on what’s important to you - your business!
But what if you don’t even want to think about researching the solutions that will fit your business’ needs and feel you’d just rather hire someone instead? That’s totally cool and I suggest you do that! There are lots of people like me out there that will happily ask you questions about your business and do all of the research and set up for you. But even if you choose to do that, I still recommend you check out what I have to say because it will, at the very least, help inform your decision of who to hire and what questions to ask them!
Ready to get started?
1) Start by figuring out where your pain points are. What does that mean? It means figure out where your biggest gaps are in the administrative or technological side of your business. Where are you dropping the most balls or where are you spending most of your time? Those are the solutions you want to start looking into. Your time is valuable, so you want to eliminate repetitive tasks that take up too much of your time and keep you from focusing on the actual function of your business. If you are spending tons of time emailing back and forth with clients to schedule them, you’ll want to consider getting an online scheduler – something that you can put on your website or send as a link in an email that will allow your clients to schedule their appointments independently and save you tons of time. If you’re spending time assigning and following up on tasks with employees and contractors, you may want to consider project management software. If you spend most of your time searching your computer for contracts and paperwork to send to your clients, there are solutions for that too. So the goal is to simply start by tracking how much time you spend on tasks NOT directly related to bringing income into your business and find solutions for those.
2) Next you want to consider what your skill level with technology is and how quickly you can learn new things and if you get frustrated with new technology. A lot of my clients come to me because they are creative minded and simply don’t have the desire or bandwidth to learn the technology that’s out there. But there are some software solutions that are easy to adopt and offer a lot of tutorials. So you want to be honest with yourself about where you are in those terms so you can find something that will work for you ongoing rather than just starting with it and dropping it after 2 weeks because it became too overwhelming.
3) Know your budget. Set a realistic budget for systems and solutions that you know you can afford. Again, if you are replacing your valuable time spent for a solution, you’ll be able to find some extra funds for the products, but you also don’t want to go big because something looks big and fancy and then not be able to keep paying for it in six months. So be realistic, and remember, there are some really amazing free solutions out there too! Likewise, if you have a very large budget for solutions, you’ll quickly see that there are options out there that can solve a lot of your problems all at once if you can pay for them.
4) Think about your long term goals. Do you see yourself staying a small business with just you at the helm and a maybe an employee or two or do you see your business growing, adding in departments and scaling the number of customers or clients you serve? Make sure to keep that in mind as you choose your software. You can always start with something small for now if needed, but if during your research, you come across a solution that can scale with your business, it may be beneficial to consider that when making your choice.
5) Now it’s time to start researching. You’ve figured out what problems you need your solutions to fix, the level of technological complexity you want to deal with, and how much you want to invest, so how do you find those specific solutions? I suggest you start by asking your friends, colleagues and family. If you’re on social media entrepreneur groups (which I highly recommend) or have a lot of entrepreneur and small business friends, start telling them what your needs are and ask for suggestions. You’ll likely get a good number of options and you then directly go to the website and start diving it.
If you don’t have those options, and are starting from scratch, then start with a simple Internet search. I prefer to start by searching, “The Best XYZ software.” It can be that straightforward. Then look for articles that are the newest as they’ll have the most up to date and best softwares. Those articles will often tell WHY the solutions they’ve chosen have made the lists and have links directly to their sites so you can see all in one place whether or not they may fit your needs and where to find them.
Keep in mind that one solution may not solve all of your problems. You may need to invest in a few different tools to get your business humming smoothly. So when you start finding solutions, choose ones that solve your biggest problems and time sucks first, then once that solution is in place, you can research and implement the next one.
Take only the top 3 or 4 solutions from your research and go to their sites. Any more than that and you’ll utterly overwhelm yourself.
6) Ok, you’ve made it to the site of a potential solution for your business. Now what? Most solutions these days give you a pretty strong overview of their product right on the home page. Start reading and scrolling, remembering your pain points and the problems you want solved. Don’t get too distracted by all the bells and whistles. Any good solution will give you a good idea of what they offer right on the home page or through a “Product,” “Services,” or “Solutions,” menu on their navigation. They will often make it very easy for you to view the pricing packages as well. If you see videos on their pages, always watch them as they will tell you quickly what their product is and you’ll usually get to see what it looks like.
Even better, many solutions have live chat functions so before you even read through their site you can hop on a chat with a live person in the company and tell them exactly what problem you need solved and they will point you in the right direction.
7) After you look through all 3-4 of the sites, you should have a pretty good idea of what features they offer, what their pricing plans are and how user friendly they are. If you haven’t yet made your decision, reach out directly to the the companies you’re torn between and ask for a tour or a demo or even just an exploratory call. That will usually help you seal the deal. Any company worth investing in will be interested in investing in you as a customer and making sure you feel confident in and happy with their product.
8) Once you’ve chosen your solution, utilize any tutorials they offer as well as FAQ’s, community forums and Youtube videos to learn how to best optimize your new software. Don’t get lost and frustrated in the setup and execution of your solution; reach out and get help when you feel stuck and put the time aside to fully set up your software - not just 30 minutes, but several hours if that’s needed. You’ll only have to invest that time once, and then it’ll be running and saving you tons of time.
9) Keep up with the software. Sign up for the company's newsletter or blog and read it regularly or at least once a month so you can find out if they are integrating or offering any new features that will benefit your business. And if ever you get stuck on something, contact support, they are there to do just that!
And there you have it: My 9 tips for choosing the right systems and tools for your business!
Now I want to hear from you. What do you think is your business’ biggest pain point? Do you have a favorite solution in your business? Do you have any questions about this process that I’ve shared? Share your comments and questions below or you can always email me at email@example.com.
And if you have any topics or questions that you would like to see me talk about in future episodes of the podcast, please scroll below and click on Ask a Question!
If you’d like to be a guest on the show and share an area of expertise or talk about your solopreneur journey in all its ups, downs, and sideways, you can also do that below by clicking on Be A Guest!
Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found some value and feel a little less intimidated, and even excited, maybe, about finding useful tools for your business!
If you like what you saw here today, please like, share, comment, and subscribe!
Then join me next time when I talk with Financial Planner and Author of The Heart of Your Money, Zena Amundsen. It’s a must watch!
Till then, keep the magic in your biz!