When you’re running a small business, it seems you work 25 hours a day. Yet you can never catch up! Fortunately, these days there are productivity tools to help you get more out of all your efforts. Your competition may be bigger, but the right apps can do a lot to level the playing field.
Here are 5 productivity tools that can help you punch above your weight in attracting the customers you want. They’re popular, easy to use, and affordable. Some are even free!
Calendly: Automating Your Appointments
Calendly makes scheduling meetings a piece of cake. This tool eliminates going back and forth trying to find a time that works with your schedule and someone else’s. You get a personalized link from Calendly that is synced with your calendar. You can share this link with anyone. For people who need an appointment with you just click your link to see all your available calendar times for this month and next month. They choose the day and time that works for them, and Calendly auto-generates an email invitation to both of you.
Now your meeting is on the books. Simple as that! If you prefer video conferencing to a phone call, you can easily add that to the invite. There’s also a prompt where your customer can fill in details about why they want to meet.
Calendly is a productivity tool that probably saves me 10 minutes every time I need to schedule a meeting. That time is critical to business owners like me who do not have an assistant to schedule meetings on my behalf.
Pricing: FREE for the basic plan.
Grammarly: Helping You Write Like A Pro
This app will help you write effectively even if you hated English class. Old-school spellcheck can miss the mark — it lets you write “site” when you really meant “sight”. On the other hand, Grammarly is smart. It corrects your grammar, spelling, and punctuation in real-time. If you want your writing to be clear, Grammarly is a must-have productivity tool.
Grammarly’s free basic version is capable enough to handle most business needs. This is what I use.
But if you’re writing anything for publication, you might want to invest in Grammarly Premium. This version also scours the internet to make sure you’re not plagiarizing.
Pricing: FREE for the basic plan. Premium: $139.95 a year, or $29.95 a month
Tailwind: Scheduling Your Instagram Posts
For your small businesses, social media is an effective way to grow your community and build your profile. But you do have to put in the time every day — or do you?? You may already be familiar with scheduling apps that help you post in advance. Tailwind goes a step further by helping you design posts that are better-looking and more effective for Instagram.
A few years back it was almost impossible to find a tool to auto-schedule on Instagram. And then I found Tailwind. This has been the best tool I’ve used in a while for my own Instagram and occasionally client’s Instagrams as well.
Tailwind’s advertising calls it “the smart Instagram assistant that enables anyone to confidently create scroll-stopping posts.” (The app works for Pinterest too.) Tailwind supplements its scheduling tool with a visual planner to help you put together a compelling brand story that unfolds over time. What’s more, Tailwind includes a hashtag finder to help your posts find the people you’re looking for. An analytics function helps you check up on how you’re doing.
In 2021, there are many more scheduling tools that allow you to auto-schedule on Instagram. We’ve actually moved away from Tailwind, but not because it isn’t a great productivity tool. We’ve started to manage multiple social media accounts for our clients and it’s a bit more convenient to stick with a tool that allows scheduling on all of the major platforms. Even with that in mind, I still recommend Tailwind.
PRICING: Starts at $9.99 a month.
Awesome Screenshot: 2 In 1 Screen Recorder And Screen Capture
Where would we be without screenshots? We share them with friends and co-workers, sometimes for a work project and sometimes for a laugh. Awesome Screenshot makes it a 1-click operation to capture screenshots for all those functions. And the app expedites the important job of giving instructions that are clear and easy to follow.
Say your business partner has sent you a list of proposed company goals for the upcoming year. You want to offer feedback and suggest fixes. Awesome Screenshot lets you mark up the goals list onscreen while recording the markup in real-time. I used the free version for over a year before I splurged and paid $5 a month to have more space!
This tool is used for basic screenshots, but I also use it for feedback. I often need to give feedback to team members on something they’ve written, a website they’ve created, or a series of social posts. This tool allows me to just hit record, scroll through pages and speak my feedback instead of having to write it. It’s so convenient and saves so much time.
Pricing: FREE with the basic plan. Pro level, with video, starts at $5 a month.
Intercom: Automating Your Customer Interactions
In any small business, follow-up is one of the biggest pitfalls. Once you find customers, how do you build a relationship? How do you nurture them long-term, so that when they’re ready to buy, they buy from you?
Intercom helps with all that. With live chatbots, messaging, video site tours, and more, Intercom helps you look convincing, responsive, and appealing. This is the priciest of the productivity tools we’re discussing today, but the basic “Start” level may be enough to get you rolling. “Start” offers features including live chat and in-product messages, Ticket IDs and titles, office hours.
“Grow,” the next level up, adds more functionality. It includes outbound emails, chatbots, banners, mobile carousels, lead qualification, conversation ratings, and more. Both basic levels integrate with Slack; “Grow” integrates with GitHub and HubSpot as well.
If you are lucky enough to get a lot of traffic to your website, you may need a tool like this to be responsive to potential customers.
Pricing: “Start” begins at $59 a month. “Grow” begins at $119 a month.
Productivity Tools Summary
As a small business owner, you may feel too stressed even to look for tools that could ease your stress. I get it! That’s why, at my company, Creative Allies, we work hard to bring you the information you can really use. We love small businesses, remember, we are one too.