Are you in the stage of growing your business? If so, you will need to start putting some order and structure in your work, digitalise and increase productivity. I share some of the apps and software I use for clients, and hopefully, you will find them helpful too. These are not affiliate links. Some apps are more suitable for beginners in a business journey, and some are ideal for already running or scaling businesses. So, depending on your needs and the stage you are in, pick up the right one.
So, let’s dive in (in no particular order).
MeetEdgar, Hootsuite and Buffer – are only three of the best platforms to plan and schedule social media posting. Like it or not, IG, FB, Twitter and LinkedIn have become the channels to communicate, offer and sell products and services. Especially in the B2C market. So, you need one of these to manage systematic development and posting.
Flodesk – is an email marketing service provider built by creators. I find they have the most beautiful emailing templates. Also, its pricing is excellent—the same price, always complete services.
Drip – is the perfect solution if you are looking for something more advanced. It allows you to run complex marketing campaigns. And the best part – all with zero coding skills required. It doesn’t matter if you are a solopreneur or have already run a scaled business; drip is the ECRM solution for you. Its competitively priced packages offer value for any size business. As I am growing my client base, I am considering using it.
HubSpot – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a powerful tool that any growing business needs. It helps to organize and manage customer data relationships in one place. HubSpot is one of the most user-friendly platforms, and their CRM is…. Free to start. My clients use it.
Shopify – planning to sell products online? Start with Shopify. It is an eCommerce platform that lets you start, grow, and manage a business. However, Shopify goes further: store owners can sell in physical locations using their point-of-sale app and accompanying hardware. My clients use it.
SalesForce – is THE CRM for small and medium & enterprise businesses. It helps improve customer service and generate insights as you grow your business. As a general trivia, SalesForce is one of the 50 most followed companies on LinkedIn. My more prominent size clients use it.
Calendly – use it to schedule, overview and follow up on appointments. Integrates will most video conferencing platforms, connects to your calendar and even processes payment. By the way, you have to open accounts with Stripe and PayPal. You need those to get paid. I use it.
Zapier – I am pretty resourceful, but I am not a geek (at all). I had to move back and forth with so many apps and data. When I discovered Zapier, I immediately found a way to be more productive. Zapier helps you automate repetitive tasks between two or more apps—no coding experience is necessary. It is straightforward. You can connect to Google Sheets. Gmail, Slack, Mailchimp, Calendly, Asana… the list is endless.
Slack – is a messaging app which is excellent for growing businesses. It helps connect people and teams to exchange information. It works great for group communication and discussion forums (called channels). Currently, it is owned by SalesForce. I use it to communicate with clients, especially when managing big-scope projects and larger teams.
Tableau – is an interactive data visualization software company focused on data intelligence. It helps you gather relevant data from different sources, explore it, manage it, and discover and share insights (develop KPIs) to make accurate data-based decisions. Ideal for when you are growing your business.
Monday – as you grow your team, you need a workflow system. With Monday.com, you can easily plan, manage and track all types of work your newly appointed team has to do, even for the most complex projects and workflows. My clients and service providers use it. Therefore I use it too.
Asana – is my prefered work management platform. Like Monday.com, it is designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. It is perfect for project work and team management. You can track individual tasks, plan sprints, and integrate with other tools like Slack, Dropbox, Instagantt, and Google Drive. I use it for my projects, like website development or service offering.
Jira – no IT team could survive long term without Jira. It is an issue/ticket and project tracking software incredibly popular with software companies. It represents one of the most flexible agile project management solutions for every shape and size team. In addition, Jira promotes a pull workflow system.
Lucidchart – from a simple project chart to a complex mind map. The software has it all to create powerful visuals representing and understanding processes, information and dependencies. So say goodbye to using rigid software like Visio or using the wrong software Office for process mapping. Lucidchart is easy, fast and highly user-friendly. It also comes as a Google Drive add-on and includes a free trial. I couldn’t do my job without it.
Freshbooks – I find accounting one of the most tedious activities (accountants, please forgive me). But, hey, we all need to do it, whether personally or professionally. We mainly need to manage invoicing, recurring billing, accounting, tax payment (OMG) and even payroll. Freshbooks comes to the rescue. It is flexible, scalable and user-friendly.
Fishbowl Inventory – is an excellent software for manufacturing and warehouse management. It helps to automate many inventory management tasks. For example, you can scan a barcode to update inventory records when you buy, sell, or receive products. Key features include inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP), job shop floor control, work order management, manufacturer orders and bills of materials. My clients use it.
Sage – is an ERP (enterprise resource planning). It helps automate business processes and provides insights and internal controls. It creates a central database that collects inputs from accounting, manufacturing, supply chain management, sales, marketing and human resources (HR).
You might think: This is great, Boriana, but where do I start? Well, here are a few pieces of advice.
The just beginner in a business journey, I know you are totally focusing on marketing. And you probably already have an email marketing platform and a social media planner. But please: don’t neglect your operations! Marketing and the front-end are crucial when starting a business, so are operations when you start getting customers onboard. You will be in trouble if your back-end processes don’t flow or respond to demand. The effort invested in that user interface, social media, mailing and funnels will be wasted. So, balance your investment and implement ASAP a scheduler, online payment, accounting service provider, and especially a CRM.
For middle-sized companies where processes start having a more considerable scope, and you already have management layers supervising teams, you need to scale up your software and incorporate new ones to accommodate increasing demand, workload and logistics. Focus on expanding your CRM modules, including an ERP system and issue tracking and project management software. Moreover, unless you want to lose perspective on the market and get buried in KPI’s reports, you need to develop a centralised Datalake where all relevant data finds its way.