Is an ‘all-round’ Tool the Right Option for Your Business?

Is an ‘all-round’ Tool the Right Option for Your Business?

The Pros and Cons Explained

Every business relies upon systems and processes, and this requires tools. Yet, finding and implementing the right tools that work exactly how you need them to can be a time-consuming process. Not only that, but once you have those systems up and running, you may need to change things around if your business changes.

There are many tools out there that help keep those everyday tasks simple. Some are ‘all-round’ tools that perform several functions as part of a single platform. Or, you may prefer to use separate tools for different processes, and link them together. There is no right or wrong answer to this, it simply depends on the nature of your business and how you prefer to work. If you are having trouble deciding, here’s some pros and cons of both options explained.

Using All-Round Business Tools vs. Separate Tools

  • With an all-round tool, there is increased collaboration between team members. When your team are all working together using the same platform, it increases communication and collaborative working. This helps processes run more efficiently and problems can be spotted and solved more quickly.When using separate tools, data is scattered between them. This makes finding information and communicating it effectively a lengthier process. If you have more than one team, such as a marketing team and a CRM team, you may experience some disconnection that could have a negative impact on your business.
  • All-round tools may save time, as you are not continually switching between tools and apps to get a job done. Having to search for information between tools might not seem like it takes much time, but add this up over a week and you might be surprised at how much time is wasted. However, it is possible to link separate tools together to create effective workflows. This means that while it may be a bit more of a challenge to set up, you still get many of the benefits from linking separate tools as an all-in-one option.
  • Using separate tools, you can design systems to meet your precise requirements. It can be difficult to find an all-round tool that does everything you need, which is why many people prefer to use several different tools. That way, you can customise your systems and processes by using different tools to fulfil the demands you need, rather than trying to work around something that doesn’t quite fit when using an all-round tool.
  • Less tools saves your business money. Effective tools with the features you need are often a one off-cost to purchase, or subscription based. If you add up the costs of all the tools you are using, it may make more sense financially to opt for an all-round tool.

Examples of All-Round Tools

If you choose an all-round tool, there are many competitive options such as Dubsado, Plutio and HoneyBook. For the coaching industry, Coach Accountable is a good solution that helps deliver more programs with less work. Or you could check out this list of coaching tools and software that integrate many business areas, such as accounting, scheduling, communication and content management.

How do I link separate tools together?

If you choose to use separate tools for your business, linking them together to create effective workflows can be done using platforms such as Zapier and Integromat. This can be done so some actions trigger automatic responses that work between the tools and platforms.

The bottom line…

There is no right or wrong answer to whether you need an all-round solution or separate tools to manage your business. The best way to decide is the weigh up the pros and cons, and work out what would work best for the way you currently operate and the future of your business.

If you are looking for help or advice on what tools to use, or how to implement an all-round solution, feel free to drop me a line!

Airtable…What Is It and How Could It Benefit Your Business?

Airtable…What Is It and How Could It Benefit Your Business?

When running a business, there’s always a lot of organising to do. You are likely to be familiar with the good old spreadsheet, something that is standard when it comes to managing the many tasks, processes and projects that you do every day. Similarly, you may use database software to collect information, create files, records and reports. But what if there was an easier way to handle this information? Let’s meet Airtable!

What is Airtable?

Airtable is an online spreadsheet tool and database all rolled into one, allowing information to integrate between the two, as well as being shared from other apps, and makes it easy to store structured data. Its flexibility makes it ideal for many types of project and information collation, both in a business sense and for personal use. Here are some of the top features:

Flexible Views

Unlike Excel or Google Sheets, Airtable can display information in many ways. For example, you can use tables, columns, or even photos to display items in a way that suits your working style. Within the Airtable workspace area, you can access a calendar view, gallery view, and a Kanban view, where information is shown as cards in a stack that can be dragged and dropped to where you need them. Organising and storing information using Airtable’s colourful interface makes boring spreadsheets and databases a thing of the past!

Database Building

Most businesses use databases, for example, a contact list of suppliers, a customer database, or staff records. Airtable has all the features you need to create any kind of database, such as single bases, tables, input fields, records and different ways of viewing information. The information added to each base can be relational, making it easy to create, add to or bring up records at the touch of a button. There are also over 200 templates that you can customise if you prefer not to start from scratch. With Airtable, finding a specific piece of information is quick and efficient, as is accessing a ‘bird’s eye view’ over your databases.

Connection to other Apps

Airtable can seamlessly integrate with other apps and software such as Google Sheets, Zapier, Slack, Google Calendar, and Dropbox. This makes it easy to share information to and from Airtable, and collate it in a single place.

Automation

This is a key feature that helps you streamline your processes and save time. Using Airtable means you can set up triggers that create an action to be performed. Triggers could include the new addition of information to an area of your database, such as a new record or an amendment to an existing one. This reduces the time spent on those repetitive tasks and makes you, or your team, more productive.

Collaboration

Airtable has many collaboration features that enhance communication between team members. Different permissions can be set for people, such as editor, creator and commentor, and you can notify someone in a comment using the @ symbol with their name. This fast communication allows teamwork to move faster, as everyone has access to the same information.

Using Airtable has the advantage of saving time and increasing productivity for you and your team. Rather than installing technically complex database software and tweaking it for your business, which can often require coding skills, Airtable has simplicity, yet also the power and features you need.

If you think Airtable would be a good fit for your business, why not get in touch for a quick chat? I can help you see the benefits it would have for your specific business, and how it could make a difference. Feel free to schedule a call or send me an email!

How Automation Tools Can Boost Your Business

How Automation Tools Can Boost Your Business

When you run a business, there are always ongoing jobs that take up precious time. It can be frustrating to spend hours on tasks that need doing, yet which don’t necessarily push your business forward, bring in money, or drive growth. Luckily, there are some ways to make life easier and free up more time to focus on other areas of your business, and that is by using automation tools. Here’s a quick guide to some business processes and workflows that can be automated, and some of the best tools to use.

Accounting

Even though we live in the digital era, accounting still uses many different processes and ways to gather information. It may involve data entry into numerous spreadsheets, electronic and paper invoices, filing, and using a calculator. But, using automation tools can save you time, eliminate human error, and give you the convenience of retrieving information whenever you need it. What’s more, many of the tools will merge seamlessly with your accounting software and can interact with one another. For example, payments that arrive through a gateway such as Stripe or PayPal can assimilate with accounting software, for an invoice or receipt to be created using a tool such as Zapier.

Not just for accounting, Zapier is a fantastic tool for connecting different apps and automating many business processes. It allows data to be shared from many apps you use, and passes information between them, so workflows become more streamlined.

Call Scheduling

Call scheduling tools make it easy for clients or people interested in your services to book a time slot for a call. It is then automatically added to a calendar so you can see exactly what is booked in on any day. This saves you time on sending correspondence via email to arrange appointments, and organising your diary.

Some of the best call scheduling tools are Calendly, ScheduleOnce, HubSpot and YouCanBook.me (I use this one), and most will also sync with Google apps such as Google Calendar and Gmail.

Social Media

Creating an engaged community around your business is an essential part of marketing, but posting on social media takes time. This is especially true if you have an audience on many different platforms. One great way to save time is to use social media scheduling tools. This means you can batch create posts and set them to be published at the best times of day to reach your audience, and it can be done in advance.

Tools such as Hootsuite can schedule posts across different platforms, and you can also reply to comments, see new followers and keep an eye on your timeline too. Other options include Social Sprout, Buffer and Later. The key features of many of these tools allow you manage multiple social media platforms from one place, saving time.

Lead Magnets and Email Marketing

When someone lands on your website, one of the best ways for them to become a customer or client is to offer them something, in return for their email address. Once you have a subscriber, you can then contact them directly with news of the services you provide. Lead magnets include useful resources, such as a planner or template, an eBook, a mini email course or taster coaching session.

Once you have your lead magnet created, it can automatically be sent once a website visitor has opted in. Every new subscriber will follow the same path, and receive a lead magnet and set of follow up emails over time, automatically. One of the most commonly used tools for this is MailChimp. Other options include ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft and ConvertKit.

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Using automation tools can be a great benefit to your business, and many are free to begin with. As your business grows, or you increase your use of the tools, you may need to upgrade to use additional features. When running a business, smooth workflows makes all the difference. If you want some helpful advice on how we can work together to streamline your processes, feel free to get in touch.

Social Media Time Savers for Business Success

Social Media Time Savers for Business Success

5 Simple Steps to Utilising Social Media
Without it Taking Over Your Life

No matter the size of your business, Social Media has become an integral part of its success. Whilst large companies have the finances to employ full-time social media managers, it’s not a luxury afforded by all. Small businesses, start-ups and freelancers are still responsible for managing their own social media presence and more often than not, the success of their business depends on it.

Using social media to your advantage and connecting with your market doesn’t need to be overwhelming, time-consuming or expensive. Following these simple steps can help your business succeed online without surrendering your life to social media.

Start With A Plan

As with all business models, the most important aspect is to have a strategy in place. By figuring out exactly what you are trying to achieve through your social media presence, you are better prepared to direct your time to the most useful tasks.

  • Set specific goals and objectives attainable, measurable goals based on metrics that will have a real impact on your business, like acquiring customers or increasing sales.
  • Research your competition. Save time and blunders by learning from your competitors mistakes and wins.
  • Conduct a social media audit. Step back and examine what is already working for you and what isn’t.
  • Create a social media calendar. Make sure that your content is where it should be, when it should be, with the right mix of content types for your audience.

Now that you know what you will be using social media for, you will be able to schedule how and when to use it in the most efficient ways.

Social media use is more than just posting content, you need to be engaging with your potential customers, too. Make a calendar or timesheet with allocations for creating content/graphics, scheduling, engagement etc.

Visual aids are great for reminding us to keep on task so make sure it’s physically noted in your to-do list or calendar and kept in view. You should set a specific amount of time to each part and you can even use a timer to make sure that you stay on track.

Choose the Right Platforms

It might seem like a good idea to be on all of the social media platforms, but if your target market isn’t there then you’re wasting your time. Your energy could be focused on another more profitable part of your business. It’s important to know where your target market is so that you can be there, too. This will result in less time spent making more profit.

Don’t assume you know where they are. It might seem obvious that Pinterest isn’t the best platform if your business sells bodybuilding supplements but you can use these handy social media demographics, put together by Hootsuite, to figure out where you should be.

Know Your Audience

As a small business or freelancer, you are able to micro-target your ideal clients via social media. This is a crucial part of your time spent on social media. Getting to know your audience allows you to create content which is specifically geared towards them and in return converts to more sales/customers and less wasted time.

Twitter and Research Now reported that 93% of people who follow small and medium-sized businesses on Twitter plan to buy from the businesses that they follow.

Quality Over Quantity

Trying to post on all of the social media platforms all of the time is a sure-fire way for your social media use to spiral out of control.

It’s much more time-effective, and successful for your business, to reach out to your audience in the places you already know they are present. Providing good quality content instead of spam builds a trustworthy brand and a well managed social media schedule.

Automation

The most effective means of social media use is to take advantage of the vast array of automated management tools. These are designed specifically to simplify your workload and mean that you can be posting on social media without actually being present on it.

There are countless different software options for this and they cover everything from scheduling content posting and centralising messages/mentions from all platform accounts, to curating content and creating in-depth analytic reports.

You may not yet be in the position to spend money on such programs but there are many free options available to you. Most of them have upgrade options for paid versions, too. If you decide to pay for them, you can include the rates in the bills for any clients that make use of them in your account. Some of them include –

  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • Later
  • Tweetdeck
  • VSCO
  • Canva
  • Google Analytics
  • Followerwonk
  • Social Oomph

Utilising these will allow you to allocate just one slot per day or week to your social media use instead of being stuck on it all the time.

If there is one thing to remember about social media though, it’s that:

Automation is no replacement for organic engagement.

Social media users are always looking for authenticity and connection. This is what will ultimately drive your business success on social media. Make sure that whatever else you automate, you include time in your plan to interact with your audience.

  • Respond to comments/messages
  • Comment on blog posts
  • Like other relevant groups/pages
  • Repin images on Pinterest
  • Mention/Tag on Instagram

Whilst engagement/interaction may seem like an easy thing to omit in order to spend less time on social media, it is actually the most important part! If you choose only one thing to implement from this list, make sure it’s engage-engage-engage!

Running a business is time-consuming enough, don’t let social media marketing take up all your valuable time or cause unnecessary stress. Try these steps and let me know in the comments if you have any other tips to share!