I’m always on the look out for new tools and resources to ensure I waste less time, become more efficient and make sure my money stretches further.
The thing is there’s a plethora of them out there and new companies springing up every day with cool services or products to help you run your business better.
This can all get a little overwhelming, and if you’re like me you’ve probably signed up to several of these in the hope that they will transform your life and then never logged in again.
In my mind these tools or resources either didn’t fill enough of a need at the time or weren’t user friendly and so I abandoned them. However I’m here to try as many as I can and test them on your behalf – I’m just that kind of gal.
Plus I love new things, and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest. So I’ll be featuring a regular post reviewing the key tools I like and want to recommend (full disclosure some of these may be affiliates because when I really like things I like to promote them).
With a tagline of `The Virtual Phone System Designed for Entrepreneurs’ how could you not love Grasshopper.
Grasshopper was started by two entrepreneurs back in 2003 who wanted a simple way to sound professional and stay connected no matter where they were.
They couldn’t find a solution with all the benefits and featured they needed that was affordable so they created Grasshopper, where you have complete control of the experience you give your callers.
You can set up multiple extensions. You can adjust voicemail greetings based on time of day. You can have your voicemail transcribed and sent to you. It’s also been proven that having your phone number on every page of your website increases sales (ok so not set stas but trust me it does).
I really like is that they have no long term contracts, and prices start at just $9.95 a month which is so affordable. I’m excited to support Grasshopper to support you. If you click here you’ll get $10 off just for being part of the WomanzWorld commuity.
When I discovered Dropbox earlier this year I was thrilled. Now I could host files on their secure server and access them anytime online, from any computer or even my mobile. What’s more the software syncs my files online and across my laptops (yes I have more than one).
Put your files into your Dropbox on one computer, and they’ll be instantly available on any of your other computers that you’ve installed Dropbox on (Windows, Mac, and Linux too!).
For example I could upload my eBook to the public folder on Dropbox and grab the link it gave me so that I could paste that into my blog and anyone could download it.
I also posted some of my `PR’ shots up there and then just sent the link to any media who needed it. But I can also keep files just for me in my private folder. It’s super handy and you can store up to 2GB for free. Check it out here
This service takes DropBox one step further. It’s a cloud content management system that helps businesses share information and collaborate on projects online. The basic platform is free and is monetized by upselling advanced features, increased storage and additional security.
In just a few short years, Box.net has grown tremendously, the company now has more than 4 million users so they’re obviously providing a handy service.
Not only is it a cloud file server, you can also manage file transfers and track them, manage all your docs and media in one place, manage projects around your content and securely manage files. Plus they integrate directly with Google Apps – sweet. Click here to find out more.
If you have any kind of customer database then you should be using an email platform to make the best use of your list otherwise you’re wasting valuable leads and referrals. Even though Aweber has a great reputation and has been around for a long time, as does Constant Contact, I love Mailchimp.
Ever since I signed up and the cute monkey avatar told me `You look great today Natalie, wanna share a banana?’ I was hooked. They have great tutorial videos – humorous too, and a really beautiful interface and dashboard that makes it really intuitive.
I use it to design fancy emails (still working on that!), then Mailchimp sends them so they stay out of junk mail filters. I can even see reports on who opened, clicked, do some split testing on what subject lines work better and track it through Google Analytics. I mean there’s a ton of features.
I also like that they’re free for the first 500 subscribers you have and so many of the others charge straight off. Once you go past that their rates are really reasonable. If you are interested click this link and when you sign up you’ll get $30 of free email credits, and so will I. Yay!
This is a brand new free resource for any business owner that is ready to accept credit cards or ready to switch credit card processing companies.
The site provides valuable information about merchant services including the different types of processors, the fees that are often included in the service, what to expect from the merchant application process and much more. You can also find useful tips for negotiating with processing companies.
For example, if you are expecting a high volume of credit card purchases in your business, it is more important to focus on negotiating a smaller transaction fee as opposed to negotiating smaller start up or monthly fees. Additionally, you can find tips on how to save your business from dreaded hidden fees or outrageous cancellation fees.
Being aware of common tactics credit card processing companies use to charge you additional fees can save your business a lot of money. Aside from providing information on merchant services, they’re also developing a free database full of reviews of the best credit card processing companies, which are posted on their site so you can compare different processors and then choose the right one for your business. Check them out here www.CreditCardProcessing.org
If you’re anything like me you probably have a gazillion ideas a day and if you could capture them all you’d be a genius. Well you actually can. SpeakWrite allows you to speak your mind and then turn it into written word for you. Just like dictating to someone, you get on the phone and say what you want to say.
SpeakWrite transcribes your message and emails it back to you, typically within 2 hours. The charge? 1.25 cents a word for general, non-legal work. That’s $1.25 for every 100 words. So if I calculate the words in this article so far it would have cost $12. When you start thinking about how much your time is worth it’s really cheap.
I can think of multiple uses for this service especially if you write a lot, or produce a lot of information content, or if you’re travelling a lot and have downtime on the road.
There’s also software that can do this for you. If you have an iPhone you can download Dragon Dictation and it does the same thing (although it doesn’t recognize my Kiwi accent so well!). Look at what they offer here .
It’s a collaborative mindmapping tool that you can use to set up complex campaigns, todo tasks, map out websites (and track progress), visually delegate tasks, map out marketing/sales/fulfillment strategy, and a handful of other things.
My marketing savvy friend believes it’s the best tool he’s ever used for visually organizing complex things (and collaborating on them with others).
He’s tried project management software (celoxis, MS Project Manager), task management (Basecamp, Manymoon, paper), collaborative tools (google docs, google wave) and none of these compare. Cost is $9 per month. Check it out here http://www.mindmeister.com
My new all-time favourite tool is this amazing scheduling service. I can’t say enough good things about it, other than sign up for free and start tungling. It’s the easiest way to stop wasting time going back and forth to find a time to set a meeting and it eliminates double bookings and time zone mishaps
It automatically connects with your existing calendar(s) so if you use Google Calendar or MS Outlook or both or more – it updates them instantly.
All I do nowadays is send an email saying `Tungle me’ and send people to my page http://tungle.me/nataliesisson and they pick a time that suits them and that is free on my calendar.
I get sent an email and can accept, suggest another time, leave a comment and suggest a location if I want. They get a confirmation email saying it’s on and it updates their calendar even if they’re not on Tungle.me. Try it!
Have you used any of these? Want to comment on your experiences – go ahead below