There’s an endless supply of business tools out there, and it’s easy to get caught up in thinking you need to have them all in order to run a successful business, but that’s just not true.
One thing I discuss with my clients on a regular basis is how I went to do 2017 taxes and discovered I was paying almost $700 a month for tools, apps, and services I thought I needed to have. That was an eye-opening discovery for me, and I immediately went into audit mode, checking to see what tools I was actually using, and what I wasn’t.
Long story short, I brought my monthly overhead down from $700 a month to less than $100. That’s an 85% decrease!
And it helped me create a streamlined set of business tools that I actually use in my coaching business, which I’m going to share with you now.
The beauty of this list is that many of them are absolutely free! And I like free tools.
Paid Business Tools I Use
Dubsado — $20/mo
Dubsado (affiliate link, yo) is my main client management system. It’s the tool I use to send all my contracts and invoices, track client emails, and manage client projects (aka their branding). It has a call-booking feature, which is super helpful. Plus I build out workflows for my clients so I always know where they are in their business.
Basically, it’s the answer to my prayers. And since it’s web-based, I can access everything, anywhere. So when I’m on the go and need to send off a contract or invoice, I can do it quickly without waiting until I get home to my computer.
Everything Dubsado does is replaceable with other tools (many of them free), but I’m paying for the convenience of having everything in one place for each of my clients. It’s efficiency at its finest.
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Active Campaign — $9/mo
Active Campaign is my preferred email marketing software. I love the flexibility and control I have in sending emails when I want them to be sent, and the platform is easy to understand and use.
If you’re using email marketing in your business, I definitely recommend this one, but if you’re looking for a free version, you can use Mailchimp up to 2,000 subscribers. It works just fine, but doesn’t have the ease of use that Active Campaign does.
Adobe — $52.99/mo
Adobe Creative Cloud is the design software I use to create my clients’ branding, all of my own branding and marketing collateral, and all of my documents or workbooks for download or distribution. It’s a professional design software that I refuse to give up. Hello, graphic + website designer, here.
But Adobe would be total overkill for you. Instead, I recommend using Canva. It’s a great internet-based design platform that allows you to create almost anything you need and download it as an image or PDF. And the basic plan is totally free (and more than good enough to allow you to create what you need).
So swap out my $52.99/mo tool for the free version of Canva in your business. Woot.
Quickbooks — $12/mo
One thing I’ll never do again is wait for tax season to categorize and track all my business expenses. It’s a nightmare. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean.
Quickbooks connects to my business checking account and lets me do it as I go.
Every month, I take an hour and go through my Quickbooks account, marking income and expenses in the appropriate categories and uploading the corresponding receipts.
That way, when I get to tax time, I don’t have to spend days searching for where my money went. It’s quick and easy to manage with their phone app on the fly, and it saves me having to hire a CPA (although the time for hiring one is quickly approaching).
Free Business Tools I Use
Now technically, I’ve upgraded my Zoom account to a paid version, but I’m listing it in the free section because it’s probably what you need at this point, unless you’re already doing group coaching calls.
Zoom is the video call tool I love. I record all my calls so my clients can refer back to them, and it’s easy to log in just using the link I set up for each call.
Google Drive + Docs
I can not say enough about Google Drive and Google Docs. It’s where all of my content is created. This post you’re reading right now, for instance, was written in Google Docs, and is saved in my Drive so I can come back to it in the future if I need to.
Here’s why I save my content to a cloud server: I’ve had two laptops crash and delete my work in the past. It’s a tragedy, and I’ll never be caught in that mess again.
Plus, I can access my work from any computer, or even my phone, which is super convenient.
I’m terrible at remembering appointments. No judgement, no shame, just a reality.
Google Calendar lets me check (and recheck) my schedule a dozen times a day, and doesn’t judge me for it. All I have to do is open my calendar on the computer or phone, and my entire schedule is there for me to see.
I use it to plan out my tasks, work time, meetings, and anything else that comes up, and access it wherever I need to. Believe me, every consult, client meeting, doctor appointment, and extra curricular activity gets added to my calendar. And I’m so grateful for it.
I’m also grateful for the reminders it sends me about all those appointments.
Calendly is a nifty little tool that allows people to schedule appointments with you. Their free version includes one appointment type, so you can block off an hour of time and send the link out to any consults, clients, or anyone else who wants to book time with you.
I’m big on utilizing SEO in my business so people can find me organically on the internet. But SEO needs to be used with intention in order to make it work for you. That’s why I use Ubersuggest to help me find keywords that people are actually searching for on Google.
Ubersuggest lets you rank keywords and choose the best ones for your website. I won’t go into full detail here (I’ll save that for some later posts), but I totally recommend checking it out if you want more people to find you on Google.
I’m a daily journaler, and I also take notes on my client calls. To help keep it all in one place (and not kill as many trees), I use OneNote on my iPad and iPhone.
It allows me to create different folders with different documents and keep everything organized. I have a section for my journaling, one for clients, a separate one for my self-coaching, and also one for my business where I jot down ideas for content or brainstorms I have while shopping (which happens all the time).
Keep in mind that I also have an actual notebook I use for planning and strategy, but this app keeps me from blowing through notebooks at lightning speed.
Don’t Overspend on Tools You Don’t Use
That’s the list of business tools I use. You’ll notice that nowhere do I include any of the magic tools that will supposedly grow your email list faster, or fancy tricks to improve your marketing.
Those tools aren’t worth the price they charge, and most people see through them. Our audiences are wise to the marketing game, my friend.
Stick to the basics, and put in the effort to grow organically. You’ll get a whole lot more results that way.
About The Author
Hey! I’m Cass, a brand coach and the Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer at Lovely Impact, a website template shop for coaches. I help coaches elevate their businesses with beautiful branding and websites. Here on our blog, my content focuses on branding, web design, and storytelling.