When you're running your own business, every minute is valuable. You can't afford to waste any time. But with so much on your plate and limited hours in the day, how do you make sure everything gets done - and done right?
The success of your business depends on your business operations. In his autobiography, "Iacocca," business leader Lee Iacocca writes, "In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product, and profits." You need to keep all three organized and running smoothly for your business to operate effectively.
With the help of a few tools and technologies, it's easier than ever to run your business with efficiency. And with operations under control and moving things along, you'll be able to spend more time focusing on running your business - and boosting your bottom line.
Here are the seven tools you need to improve your business operations.
In her book, "The Outstanding Organization," business consultant Karen Martin writes, "Chaos is the enemy of any organization that strives to be outstanding." To combat that chaos, a project management tool such as Trello is necessary.
Trello allows you to organize and manage an entire project from start to finish. You create cards for each task needed and assign those cards to the task owner. You can assign deadlines, add comments and track progress as each card moves through to completion.
You could have a million business operations tools, but without open communication among your team, you're going to have problems. Slack offers a user-friendly online chat that helps teams stay in contact all day - no matter where they are.
In Slack, you can create conversation threads on a specific topic, so when you're working on a project, all the communication about that project will be in one place. This way, it's easy to collaborate and make decisions quickly.
Paperwork is a tedious part of business, and with so much going digital, it's a hassle to still rely on paper for things like contracts, proposals and quotes. By using a document management software like PandaDoc, you won't need to print and scan in documents. Instead, everything is handled digitally.
The tool allows you to create, send and track documents - all in one place. It also has the option of e-signatures. With everything streamlined in one tool, the time you spend on documents is greatly reduced, freeing you up for other important business tasks.
According to a survey by the National Association of Small Businesses, the number one challenge of running a business is economic uncertainty. Managing finances can be stressful, especially if you're doing it all on your own.
Freshbooks offers an easy and simplified system for managing your finances. You can track your expenses, send invoices and manage your books with minimal effort. Accounting is fast and secure, giving you more time to devote to other areas of your business.
Customer service is a hot topic for businesses lately, and those that do it well are seeing abundant benefits. On Twitter, customer service expert Shep Hyken writes, "Make every interaction count, even the small ones. They are all relevant."
ZenDesk is a help desk solution that will ensure your customers are satisfied with each interaction with your business. The tool allows you to connect with customers from anywhere - email, social, chat and phone - all from one dashboard.
As the head of your business, your schedule is probably pretty packed. So scheduling any new meetings or phone calls in your already-busy schedule can be a pain. On his blog, Seth Godin writes, "You don't need more time. You just need to decide."
Calendly makes scheduling meetings and appointments easy by allowing you to coordinate schedules and avoid going back and forth over email trying to find a time that works.
When you're looking to send a mass email, your typical email service provider, such as Gmail or Outlook, can only do so much. You need a marketing automation tool like MailChimp to better connect with your email list.
MailChimp allows you to create professional-looking emails, send them to your contacts and track your campaigns. You can also set up automated emails, which will save you the hassle of remembering to send. You just create and organize the campaign once, and MailChimp does the rest. Then, you can come back and gather data on how successful the campaign was.
What tools do you use to keep your business running smoothly? Let me know in the comments below: