At our career coaching firm, we work with a lot of people considering opening their own business. We also network with other organizations like therapists, lawyers, financial planners and so on. Thus, we interact regularly with other people trying to run service-based businesses. We spend a lot of time developing and improving our business and this strengthens our ability to guide people in building their business or just understanding if running a business is right for them. This week we are sharing a few of the technologies and services we use that have made a big difference in our business and we feel can make a big difference in yours.
A CRM (customer relationship management) tool is invaluable to a business that sells to individuals or individual companies. It is the hub of your customer data including contact information, communication history, and appointments (in our case). It is an online service which is extremely handy in sharing all the information with our team and making it readily available from just about anywhere. Zoho is rather affordable – there’s a free version and a very well-equipped professional edition. The interface is very friendly and comes with decent support.
Google apps is a suite of related online tools that you helps your employees connect and your business run smoothly. Our calendar system, internal file system and email run on Google Apps. Plus, Google Apps ties into a number of other online applications through their ecosystem, for example, mail chimp, spanning backup, survey monkey, docusign and so on.
Google Apps uses Gmail for its email service. Gmail’s interface, search ability, talk feature and massive storage is a huge benefit. We found that using our website hosting provider for processing our email was a liability because there was a lot of additional work to setup email addresses if we switched hosts. Also, it’s great having everything stored online – it means our business is with us, on our phones, at all times.
It’s not easy (or cheap) to share files with other members of your company. It’s even more challenging to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations with co-workers and clients. Google Drive has simplified this by letting us store any type of file in a shared, secure folder. Additionally, Google documents and spreadsheets are one of the best collaboration tools available where you can share access to a file and even watch other users edit a file in real-time.
Sharing calendar’s with Microsoft Outlook and an Exchange server is expensive, requires maintenance and isn’t fun for business owners. Google calendar makes it easy to see others calendars and allows us to create calendars for resources (like meeting rooms) that make life manageable. The setup is fast and the functionality is very comparable to calendars large corporations use.
After Zoho CRM and Google Apps, we consider Spanning Backup our most important tool. Earlier in the year, we struggled with how to effectively backup Google Apps – if we lost that data (calendar appointments, email, documents on drive) we would lose our momentum and countless hours trying to replace it. Google doesn’t ensure your data so an additional step is needed. We found Spanning Backup and they take care of daily backups of email, calendar and Drive. It gives us peace of mind. Plus, the tool is very good at making those backups accessible and enabling you to restore individual items. It’s really a management tool to make sure we can undo a change we didn’t want and verify information from the past whether that’s for internal or client purposes.
Here’s a link to signup https://spanningbackup.com/s5m5/UVNWN7. If you use this promo code you’ll save $5/license: UVNWN7.
These were just a few of the tools we use to run our business. These tools have enabled us to make tremendous strides in efficiently running our career coaching business. We can directly see the positive impact on our bottom line and hope you benefit from these tools as well.
What tools do you use that are essential to running your service business?