Running a business can be exhausting, and throw in all of the challenges and curveballs that life has to offer, it can get tiring at times. Sometimes you just need to sit down, take a step back, and look at all of the areas that can be taken care of by someone or something else -- we’re talking about technology.
There’s a whole gamut of services out there that can do almost everything and anything under the sun for you to save time, hack productivity, and increase output. For Trade Vitality, we leverage technology to help us automate all, or parts, of our processes, so that we can focus our energy on delivering the best product for your MAP monitoring needs.
Check out the tools and services in our technology stack that make our lives easier and support our business operations.
OUR BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY TOOLKIT
This list may look daunting, but we didn’t start them all at once. We began with a few services at first, and then gradually added to our toolkit as time went on. Try out two or three that interest you, and go from there. It’s about making life easier, not more complicated for you.
Project Management: Trello
Our lives wouldn’t be organized without Trello! It helps us keep track of tasks, deliverables, and deadlines using a combination of cards, lists, boards, and calendar views. You can assign tasks to people on your team, add due dates, attach files, makes comments, and integrate other apps as well.
It’s free to start, and you really don’t need much more than what’s offered in their free version. We love how simple and easy to use it is.
Team Communication: Slack
Moving away from flooded email inboxes to an instant messaging platform was a much needed step! It’s a straightforward communication tool for your team where you can add channels for various topics, setup reminders for yourself and others, hold voice calls straight from the app itself (no need to use Skype or Google Hangouts), and much more.
Two of our favorite features is the integration between Trello and Slack (makes us super on top of things) and slackbot (he has a super good memory!).
Assistant: Boomerang for Gmail
Sometimes email is still necessary, we can never get away from it. One of the best tools to help keep our inbox at, or as close to inbox zero, as possible is Boomerang for Gmail. You’re able to schedule emails for a different date/time, remind yourself about a particular email by “boomeranging” it, or follow-up if you haven’t heard back from the recipient(s) in a certain amount of time. It’s $4.99/month for unlimited boomerangs and scheduled emails. It’s definitely worth it.
Time Tracking: Toggl
We love working with freelancers, and one of the first tools that we recommend is Toggl. It’s a free and simple time tracking tool. Our team even uses it ourselves to keep track of where we’re spending our energy. You’re able to track your time from anywhere using the website, desktop or mobile app, or Chrome extension. You can create unlimited clients and projects, and code tasks to keep everything organized. There’s also the option to create reports with different filters and views.
Customer Service: Zendesk
Keeping customers happy is one of our top priorities, To make sure we stay at the top of our class with customer service, we use Zendesk as our ticketing system for any issues, questions, concerns, or comments that come in. We can assign tickets to our team members, watch them as they progress, prioritize them based on urgency, and create reports to see how well we’re doing. Pricing starts at $5/user/month and includes email and social media channels.
Email Marketing: Klaviyo
This is our email marketing weapon of choice. After trying countless other competitors, Klaviyo is clean and simple with an awesome customer service team! We use Klaviyo to send out our monthly newsletters, as well as setup email flows for different events.
For example, we’ve set up a welcome sequence of three emails for new blog subscribers. Another one is for clients who haven’t logged in for a certain amount of time and are prompted to do so. You can also integrate other apps, which provides you with more data to drive better marketing decisions. It’s free for the first 250 contacts.
Direct Mail: Lob
This service is super cool! Imagine being able to send a bunch of physical mail without leaving your desk and getting off of your computer. Using Lob, you’re able to create, customize, send, and track large amounts of physical mail, including postcards, letters, and checks.
This year, we used their service for our direct mail postcard campaign where we sent over 500 postcards across the country. We didn’t have to write any addresses, get any stamps, or go to the post office -- it was all taken care of! Pricing varies depending on the type of mail that you want to send out.
With so much stuff to do, every little second counts. Zapier helps take care of small, tedious, but time-consuming tasks in our daily processes and routine. Connect your apps and say hello to an automated life (at least parts of it!). We used Zapier during our direct mail campaign: we added new contacts to a Google spreadsheet, which then got pushed to Lob, and a new postcard was created and sent out. Getting setup takes a bit of time and practice, but once everything’s in place, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using it before.
Content Curator: Quuu
Our team’s small, so there’s not a single person dedicated to social media, yet, it’s a necessity. You need to be constantly keeping your consumers and followers engaged with relevant and helpful content, not just the stuff that promotes your brand.
We all know finding content takes time, and that’s where Quu comes it. You select areas of interest that contain related articles and Quuu sends hand-picked content pieces to your social media channels on a daily basis. Boy, were we excited when we found this!
Social Media Management: Buffer
Quuu coupled with Buffer is pretty much your social media manager. Buffer allows you to schedule and queue content based on optimal times depending on how many times you want to send out content. From this one platform, you’re able to manage all of your social media accounts and see how each post is performing. It’s free to start.
Virtual Assistant: GetFriday Ace
For simple linear tasks and processes that can’t be completed by Zapier, and needs an actual human being, we use GetFriday Ace. They offer a whole bunch of different services like business process support, web / IT, SEO / internet marketing, bookkeeping, and research and analytics. They’re affordable and reliable, and get the manual jobs done.
Creative Talent: Upwork
Now if we’re looking to get something done that’s a little more complicated, requires some creativity, or looking to form longer term professional relationships, we go to Upwork. Check out our post on how to start hiring your first freelancer on Upwork! It’s the go-to platform to find freelancers from all across the world doing different things at all budget types.
Snail Mail Management: Virtual Post Mail
In the same realm as Lob, but a little bit different. Do you work remotely or don’t have a physical business address? Virtual Post Mail is a neat service that gives you a real US address and you can see all of your mail online. These days, you can do everything from your computer!
Bookkeeping / Accounting: Xero
Xero is your all-in-one stop shop for most, if not all, of your finance needs. We use this for our invoices, to keep track of cash flow, pay bills, and track expenses, plus tons of apps can be integrated. It’s a clean, slick service that starts at $20/month.
Like many other companies, we use Google Adwords and Facebook Business for pay-per-click campaigns, as well as Google Analytics for data gathering and reporting.
A couple other services that we’d like to try in the near future include:
SumoMe - They offer 12 free apps to help businesses increase website traffic. FOR FREE. Some of the things that we’re interested in trying are the Scroll Bar for a fly in pop-up that’s triggered based on user scrolling, Highlighter to increase the number of people who share our content, and Content Analytics to see how our readers engage with our blog posts.
Canva - We’re not necessarily the best graphic designers out there, but we stumbled across Canva and maybe we can be? We always need small design things done every now and then and instead of hiring a designer on a full-time/part-time/as-needed basis, sometimes it’s just easier if we did it ourselves. Excited to try this one out!
Enjoyed our list? Do you have any services that you swear by, that EVERY business needs to try? Let us know! We love hearing about and sharing tools for time saving and productivity hacking. If you're looking MAP monitoring, you don't look to look any further than Trade Vitality :p