Advertising
Advertising

Four Types Of Business Tools You Haven’t Tried – But Should

Four Types Of Business Tools You Haven’t Tried – But Should

It’s a new year, which means it’s a new chance to take your business to the next level. Now that the initial resolution rush is over, you’re likely left staring at a long list of tasks and goals, without knowing where to start. Don’t worry–this list of business tools has you covered, even in areas you may not have thought about before.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.21.20 AM

    Communication

    Communication can make or break your company. The way your business is perceived by customers or clients and potential customers or clients is one of the defining factors in whether you’ll fail or succeed in the long term, and how you and your employees interact with and are reached by people is a huge part of that. Most tips for this area focus on social media and email communications; phone tools often get left out. So with that in mind–

    Free: Google Voice is probably the most useful free solution out there–it will let you create a business number that will redirect to your phone(s) of choice, without you having to plaster your personal phone number all over the internet. It also transcribes your voicemails, which is very handy (when it works right–sometimes the effect is more comical than useful).

    Advertising

    Paid: Grasshopper is something like a more full-featured version of Google Voice, with the added ability to make the default phone number that people call a toll-free number. If you’re looking to go 110% pro with your business communications, the Hastings Humans are a good place to start–you can have them handle receptionist duties, answer calls 24/7, and take orders from your customers, among other things.

    Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.31.05 AM

      Delegating

      Communication is all about how customers are perceiving you; delegation is all about making sure your business is running as efficiently as possible. If you’re trying to do everything, chances are that you’re not getting near as much done as you should be–and the work you’re doing that’s outside your zone of genius is definitely not going to be your best work.

      Free: Unfortunately, free delegation tools are pretty thin on the ground. Delegating is all about getting someone else to do the things that you’re not good at or don’t want to do, and that means you have to pay them.

      Advertising

      Paid: Two great places to start are FancyHands and Zirtual, both of which come with multiple plans to fit different peoples’ needs. FancyHands is a little more focused on life-related outsourcing, Zirtual is a little more focused on business-related outsourcing. Both of them are geared towards general needs–if you need a specialized task done, check out the contractors at Upwork, oDesk, or the old standby: Craigslist.

      Not sure where to start? Check out these 9 tasks you should be outsourcing and the lazy geek’s guide to outsourcing everything.

      Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.42.40 AM

        Security

        Data breaches are big news when they happen to big companies (like the Target fiasco this last Black Friday), but small businesses aren’t exempt by any means. Cyber crime is on the rise and if your business gets attacked, it could be expensive.

        Advertising

        Free: There are a lot of free ways to increase your security–here’s a list of ways to secure your online privacy. If you and your team members follow all of the steps, you’ll be at least a little bit ahead of the hackers. And if you use WordPress, the Better WP Security plugin is a great place to start.

        Paid: If you manage a team and work largely out of the cloud, CloudEntr can save you from the dreaded “login credentials” spreadsheet that’s rarely updated and is a huge security risk when a team member leaves. One click lets you remove their access, without you having to change every single team account password. Carbonite can help you securely back up your data, and Prey will let you find lost devices before someone uses them to access sensitive data.

        Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.07.54 AM

          Productivity

          You probably have tried productivity tools before, of course–what business owner doesn’t want to be more productive? But the usual productivity app lists focus on task management tools, which are great, but not the be-all end-all of productivity.

          Advertising

          Free: SelfControl will let you block distracting sites (including the productivity black hole that is Facebook) and your email inbox for a predetermined amount of time. IFTTT‘s slogan is “put the internet to work for you,” and it can streamline and automate a lot of your processes using “if this, then that” rules (hence the name). For example, you can set it to email you every time there’s a new result for a search on Craigslist. FocusBooster is a free Pomodoro timer that works on both Mac and Windows, and makes it easy for you to utilize the Pomodoro method of productivity.

          Paid: Zapier is similar to IFTTT, but with more business-related apps available in the library. Concentrate is similar to SelfControl, but lets you set up different routines for different activities (for example, a “writing” routine vs. a “designing” routine). VitaminR is a full-featured tool intended to not only train you into better productivity habits (reducing task switching, for example), but also letting you see data about what conditions lead to peak productivity levels for you.

          More by this author

          Four Types Of Business Tools You Haven’t Tried – But Should Three Steps to Overcoming Overwhelm Like it old school? These 10 planners will keep you productive 14 Tools to Run Your Business Wherever You Are 10 Fun Apps for Dog Owners

          Trending in Work

          1 Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More 2 12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job 3 10 Key Elements of Effective Meetings to Avoid Wasting Time 4 Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In. 5 What Is a Mentor And Why You Should Find One For Yourself?

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on September 23, 2020

          Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More

          Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More

          Are you waking up each day looking for that perfect thing, activity, or job that will make your life work? Or, maybe you are looking for that perfect relationship. Once you “get” this new thing that will allow you to do what you love, you are sure that you will be happy forever.

          In reality, life doesn’t work like that, and we would probably get bored if it did. There is likely no one thing, experience, or activity that will keep you feeling passionate and engaged all the time. What’s important is staying connected to what you love and continuing to grow in the process.

          Here, we’ll talk about how to get started doing what you love and achieving more in life through the motivation it brings. Doing this doesn’t have to take a long time; it just takes determination and energy.

          Most People Already Know Their Passion

          So many people walk around in life “looking for” their passion. They look for it as if true passion is some mysterious thing that is difficult to find and runs away once you find it. However, the problem is rarely lack of passion.

          Most of us already know what we love to do. We know what excites us, even if we haven’t done it for years. Instead, we focus on what we think we “must” do.

          For example, maybe you love building model cars or painting pet portraits. Yet, each day you work a completely unrelated job and make no time for the activity you already know you love. The truth is you probably don’t need to find your passion; you just need to start doing what you already know you’re passionate about[1].

          Advertising

          No Activity Is Exciting All the Time

          Even people who are living their dream lifestyle or working their dream job don’t love it all the time. Every job or lifestyle has parts of it that we won’t like.

          Let’s say your dream is to become an actress, and you succeed. You may not enjoy the process of auditioning and facing rejection. You may experience moments of boredom when you practice your lines over and over again. But the overall experience is totally worth it.

          Most of life is like that. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by demanding that life be perfect all the time. If things were perfect and easy, you would ultimately stop learning and growing, and life would begin to lack even more meaning in that case.

          Be grateful for both the good and bad moments as they are both entirely necessary if you genuinely want to do what you love and love what you do.

          Doing What You Love May Not Be Easy

          Living a life you love is unlikely to be easy. If it was, you would not grow very much as a person. And, if you think about a great book or movie, the growth of the main character is what matters most.

          What if the challenges you meet along your path to living a life you love were designed to make you grow as a person? You may actually start looking forward to challenges instead of dreading them. An easy life hardly ever makes a compelling story.

          Advertising

          If you struggle to overcome challenges, try writing them down each time you encounter one. Then, write down three ways you could tackle it. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another. This way, you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for you.

          How to Do What You Love

          There are many small steps you can take to ensure you are making time to do the things you love. Start with these, and you’ll likely find that you’re already on the right track.

          1. Choose Your Priorities Wisely

          Many people claim they want to do something, yet they don’t do it. The truth is they might not really want to do it in the first place[2].

          We all end up following through on what matters most to us. We make decisions moment by moment about what we need to focus on. What we choose to do is what we deem most important in our lives.

          If there is something you claim you want to do but you don’t do it, try asking yourself how much you really want it or where it’s currently placed on priority list. Are there other things you want more?

          Be honest with yourself: what you currently do each day is a reflection of your priorities. Recognize that you can change your priorities at any time.

          Advertising

          Make a list of your priorities. Really take the time to think this through. Then, ask yourself if what you are doing each day reflects them. For example, if you believe your top priority is spending more time with your family, but you consistently take on extra hours at work, you’re not really prioritizing things in the way you think you are.

          If this is happening, it’s time to make a change.

          2. Do One Small Thing Each Day

          As stated above, doing what you love doesn’t have to mean finding that perfect job that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. If you want to do what you love, start with one small thing each day.

          Maybe you love reading a good book. Take ten minutes before bed to read.

          Maybe you love swimming. Get a membership at the local YMCA, and go there for thirty minutes after work each day.

          Dedicating even a short amount of time to something that brings you joy each day will improve your life overall. You may find that, over time, a career path related to what you love to do pops up. After doing the thing you love each day, you’ll be more than prepared to take it on when the opportunity arises.

          Advertising

          If you need help making time for your passions, check out this article to get started.

          3. Prepare to Make Sacrifices

          If you are an exceptionally busy person (aren’t we all?), you may have to make sacrifices in order to make space for the things you are passionate about. Maybe you take on less extra hours at the office or take thirty minutes away from another hobby in order to develop another that you enjoy.

          Looking at your priority list will help you decide what can get put on the back burner and what can’t. Remember, do this thinking about what will help you feel good about how you’re spending your time. 

          For example, if you love writing but rarely make time for it, consider getting up 30 minutes earlier than normal. Or instead of browsing your phone for 30 minutes before bed, you can write instead. There is always a way to find time for what you love.

          Final Thoughts

          If you love what you do, each day becomes a joyful adventure. If you don’t love what you are doing, life feels like a chore. The best way to achieve success is to design a life you love and live it every day.

          Remember, doing something you love doesn’t have to include big gestures or time-consuming projects. Start small and grow from there.

          More on How to Do What You Love

          Featured photo credit: William Recinos via unsplash.com

          Reference

          Read Next