When it comes to tools and resources, I like to keep it straight to the point AND get the most out of each one to eliminate #teamtoomuch.
As technology advances, there are and will continue to be more tools, apps, websites and equipment than we could ever use, so finding a "dream team" of them is important. Narrowing down the tools you use in business is critical for a couple of reasons. First, it saves you money. Second, it eliminates overwhelm.
How many times have you invested in a tool and months went by and the only thing you've done with it is pay for it? How many times have you purchased the latest marketing app and couldn't quite figure out how it will help you to convert in your business?
Trust me. No judgement here. I did and and sometimes still do if we're being completely honest. It's an easy rabbit hole to fall into.
After years and years of going down this rabbit hole, I have finally found my dream team of tools that help me to run my business efficiently and consistently online! This team consists of a CRM (Customer/Client Relationship Management) and a project collaboration manager.
Let's break down the average client journey from the time they inquire about a service until the time that service is delivered.
Step 1: They go to your website.
Step 2: They submit an inquiry via the contact form OR schedule a consultation directly on the website.
Step 3: This inquiry/information is automatically sent to your CRM and starts the client journey.
Step 4: Depending on how your CRM is set up, the inquiry will automatically be responded to providing the prospect with the information they requested (this could be a brochure highlighting your services, rate sheet, next steps, etc)
Step 5: Once the prospect responds, you can submit a proposal or send an invoice directly to the client via your CRM or a payment processor such as PayPal.
Step 6: Once the client has paid their invoice, your CRM will automatically start the onboarding process by sending out questionnaires, next steps, emails, etc.
Step 7: Your client is now onboarded and can submit any requested information, communicate with you for the duration of project, access deliverables, etc in your project collaboration manager!
Now while your client journey may vary, for the most part the steps I just shared are pretty standard and can be tweaked according to your specific business. Once I was able to nail down what my businesses' exact client journey looked like, it made it so much easier for me to narrow down the millions of tools I was using to run it.
I currently use Honeybook as my CRM (Client Relationship Manager). This is an all-in-one cloud based manager designed for small business owners. You can literally manage most of your business processes from inquiry to invoicing through this tool. Try Honeybook for just $1/month for 6 months here. Trust me, it's worth the investment!
Once my clients have been onboarded, I then create what I like to call our private "creative hub." This is the place where we can both communicate without the hassle of going back and forth in email chains, upload documents, images, share links, etc. For this, I use Trello which is a visual collaboration tool that literally keeps track of everything you and your team are working on. I usually create a board for each client project, invite the client to the board and that's it. Give it a try here.
So you see, I literally only need these two tools to run my entire business. Of course, there are other tools that can be used to enhance them, market and communicate with your audience as well, but if you were trying to figure out a way to condense things down...there you have it!
Some other tools that I use to help me run my business are listed below. Check them out and let me know what you think.
Mailchimp- Email marketing software
Paypal- Payment processor
Canva- Graphic design platform
Vistaprint- Custom printed marketing materials
*PLEASE NOTE: Some of the links mentioned in this post are affiliate links.