Toolkit Set 2: 7 Fantastic Tools Your Business Should Know About

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Business Resources / 7 comments

Due to popular demand on my first set of recommendations, here’s my second set of wonderful business tools every entrepreneur should check out.

Nobody likes accounting, well I don’t and that’s why so many people love Freshbooks.

It has a great interface that makes it incredibly user friendly. It is amazing for invoicing your clients and is decent at other basic accounting features.

With Freshbooks you can track expenses, create time sheets and log hours on projects. It is free to use for up to three clients and then there are a few options to upgrade and access more features from very little per month.

I really like the handy `time-tracking’ tool that I used a few times to track just how long I was spending on a project. Sometimes it surprised me.

Oh Skype. Let me count the ways I love thee.

I appreciate that Google are stepping in with a service that will definitely compete, especially as you can call any phone for free, but I’m still loyal to Skype.

You can use Skype to call other Skype users for free. All you need is your laptop or computer with an inbuilt microphone. Mine is not great so I have a nifty headset with a mouthpiece that makes me feel like JLo.

I use it all the time to talk to great people the world over, connect for the first time, do interviews and more. I love it for calling my family too.

You can easily add credit which then allows you to call landlines and mobiles for a fraction of the cost. While I was in Germany I called a US landline and talked for 30 minutes and it cost me 0.90c.

You can type instant messages on it, and insert links so when you’re on a business call you can share info, and you can also share your screen if you’re on a video call which is handy for product demos.

I love the new Beta version for Windows, a much cleaner interface and it allows group video calling which you couldn’t do before. Note I don’t know these happy people below 😉

Skype also has extra add-ons like Pamela (I know who names these products) that I paid for and installed. Now I can record audio and video through it.

Zoho has become so comprehensive that you could probably run your entire business using their suite of tools!

They have more than 20 different applications to help businesses and organizations get work done. They also have plugins to the Microsoft Office suite.

It’s all delivered via their site and your data is stored on their server, so you just need a browser and no special software. Their applications fall under three main categories.

  1. Collaboration apps – such as wikis
  2. Business apps – like their pretty easy to use CRM system
  3. Productivity apps – like a planner and note taker.

It’s free for personal use and for businesses you can have 3 users for free. After that the CRM system starts at just $12 per month and up. There are others for sure but I’ve had personal experience with this and it wasn’t as overwhelming as other CRM systems.

It is a proven fact that specialization is guaranteed to increase efficiency.

So why as entrepreneurs do we try to work all the jobs in our business? If you want to be more like Tim Ferriss and work a 4 hour work week (which by the way he doesn’t!) then you should be outsourcing the small stuff. It can save you a ton of time and money.

Don’t get bogged down with the tiny details of the business. Instead, focus on the core functions – those that you are most passionate about, and leave the rest of the work to professionals.

Global Response is a great resource for small businesses looking to outsource. As a fully functional call center, GR can handle any of your communication-related business processes.

This can be your inbound 800 number, your outbound sales calls, or your product fulfillment services. By outsourcing to them, you can not only save yourself valuable time, but you can rest confident knowing that an industry leader is handling your business calls for you.

With big client names like Toyota, National Geographic and Wall Street Journal they’re clearly doing something right.

If you’re going to be running any kind of event for your business, free or paid for then you can’t really go past EventBrite.

You can sign up in minutes and it’s free to do so. Their tools are really easy to use, very intuitive and they’ve recently added in some great social sharing features.

How it works is you just set up a name for your event, add details, pick a template theme you like, put in a logo, add a location and then set your ticket prices, start times, end times and even pricing tiers. Check out my LA Social Media Bootcamp example here

You can have your event listed in their public directory and tag it with relevant key words which means you’re potential to have your event exposed to way more people than you initially intended is very high.

What’s more all the built in features make it very cool for the end user who can pay by credit card or PayPal, receive a receipt, answer any additional questions, and add it to their calendar. They can also share it really easily now on their social networks.

They have embed codes to add it as a form on your website or Facebook page tab, they have a cool countdown widget that you can see in action on my site in the sidebar. Plus, for the geekier side of me, I heart their analytics that you can sync to Google Analytics to track visits to your event page and more.

If you’re a `To-Do List’ kind of person then you should definitely check out

It’s a cute play on French words which when pronounced properly sound like To-Do. It’s amazingly uncomplicated so you don’t need spend your time figuring out how to use the features. You just get stuff done instead.

TeuxDeux is completely free and simple to use. You just add your item to a list, and check it off when you’re done. All of your unfinished tasks automatically move over to the next day’s list.

This soon starts to show you what you’re consistently putting off, which probably goes to show you either suck at doing the really important tasks, or it’s not a priority at all so you can delete it.

I like the “someday” area for tasks that you want to remember, but don’t yet have timeline for. Kind of like your `Bucket List’ of cool things to do but that aren’t important right now.

For all your work from home business people may I recommend the KODAK ESP Office 6150 All-in-One printer.

It’s a great home office solution. Kodak offers the lowest total ink replacement cost in the industry and a high-quality alternative to high-priced ink, which I have to say from past experiences can be a killer for your budget.

First off it’s easy as pie to set up, I tried to outsmart the instructions and do it myself but found the pictures were just way too easy to install it in about 7 minutes flat.

It looks super stylish in black and is a printer, scanner, copier and fax. The quality of photo prints blew me away and the colour printing quality was amazing. Unlike other printers it’s relatively quiet too.

I like that it’s accessible via Wi-Fi and if you use an iPhone or iPad you can send docs direct from it to the all-in-one printer – pretty cool huh? It’s also really reasonable for the power it packs at approximately US $199.

Full disclosure here I got sent one of these to try out for free for a few weeks out of the blue. My first awesome perk of being a blogger! They figured I’d pass on my feedback to you so that you’d in turn check it out. And I have to say you should.

(PS their service was also second to none. I had specific trouble with my laptop not accepting the software and they were really helpful over the phone).

Tune in for more next month. If you like what you’re seeing please tweet it out or Digg it. It’s all part of my master plan to create the `Ultimate Entrepreneur’s Toolkit’ for you later this year!