You need go no further than an App Store to realize it’s not hyperbole, there really is an app for just about everything. Some trend one week and die out the next. I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
For small businesses there are few things as ugly as inefficiency. Creating workarounds for tools to make them fit your business takes time, a scarce resource entrepreneurs do not give up lightly. Consequently, their tolerance is far lower than Oscar Wilde’s regard for fashion, and they’re not afraid to change out the tools that don’t play well together faster than Vogue can decide “what’s in.”
That said, once a business has found something that works, they’ll cling to it like a perfectly worn-in pair of slippers. Over the course of the last month, I reached out to over 200 small businesses to find out which tools are essential for their companies and received an overwhelming 120 suggestions. After more in-depth conversations I’ve put together a list of 8 of their favorite management tools.
Which tools do you love? Leave a comment, let me know which are your favorites.
Google Apps includes email, online storage, calendars, video meetings and documents. Business owners called it a “no-brainer” and favored the collaborative capabilities Google brings to the table.
Jim Hassert, Operations Manager at Grovemade, said “for efficiency we use all the Google tools for everything. We use the whole set up. I’ve been doing small business stuff for 12 years now, and I remember a day about a year ago where there was a technical problem with the google calendar, and I thought to myself, ‘well, now I should just go home.’ I was joking, but it made me realize how dependent we are on the Google tools.”
Trello allows teams to create lists and prioritize projects in a flexible and visual way.
“We go back and forth with Project Management tools. The one that we as of right now can’t live without would be Trello,” said Copley Broer, Co-Founder, and CEO at LandlordStation. They use Trello for their content management. “It’s chronological, it’s uniquely great, opposed to the task orientated software,” which tends to be more like a “shopping list.”
Asana describes itself as a tool for teams: “everyone knows what they should be doing, and why.” The software enables teams to track projects, assign tasks and attach relevant documents to a single task, in more of a list format.
“I really like the task management features, and the ability anyone has to see anyone’s workload. So, you know if you’re going to assign a task to someone whether they have the time to get it done, and that they have the tools they need to get it done,” said Mike Jones, Managing Partner at Resound Creative.
This is a technique, which helps break up your work into 25-minute segments.
“Being overachievers you don’t realize that you have just finished five tasks,” said Angela Delmedico, Founder & CEO, of Elev8 Consulting Group. She finds this technique enables her to enjoy the sense of fulfillment that comes with completing a task. She’ll take a brief break, like go for a walk or do something to clear her head.
Social Media Management:
The typical marketing of today requires “relentless” content creation as well as “pushing in every direction,” explained Jason Levinthal, owner at J skis. They use Later to schedule their Instagram posts and place a great deal of importance on timing, and speed. “I approach business the same way I approach skiing; I go in with the most speed possible to increase the chances of landing a jump.”
Gusto provides payroll and benefits; the platform integrates workers’ compensation, benefits, and payroll, as well as handles all the taxes for local, state and federal payroll.
Tracks time, creates invoices and provides reporting services, which are favored by remote teams.
Ben Walker, Founder and CEO of Transcription Outsourcing LLC uses the combination of Gusto and HubStaff to help keep time records, reports and pay their staff. “Before it would take us forever, pouring over spreadsheets, and if you found a mistake it would take time to get hold of the person. This has saved us lots of time, and Hubstaff and Gusto are both easy to use.”
Splash Event Marketing provides a platform that aims to create attractive event pages, capture leads and manage ticket sales and communications.
Monica Kang, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox, uses this tool to help with her event management. “I run a lot of community events. People can learn about me via online or about my events.” This is an important part of her finding new people and clients.
In addition to these there were the usual “no-brainers.”
Resound Creative loves the “transparency in Slack, that you can keep up with projects and clients can opt in and out of channels. As a manager, it’s great to keep track of all the issues people have.”
Facebook and Instagram got the most number of mentions out of all the tools. Jae Yee, Founder of JBodyworks, says they use their social media to keep their followers up-to-date instead of having a blog.
Jennifer Kessler, Founder and CEO of Bizzy encourages entrepreneurs to really listen to their customers; they have been using Facebook’s Shopify groups to better understand some of the pain points entrepreneurs have around marketing.