An Inside Look at Our Business Performance Toolkit!
This definition of a business breakthrough – coined by the late Chet Holmes (author of The Ultimate Sales Machine) – really sums it up. As a coach, business owner, and entrepreneur, I understand the power and value of great systems. As I remind my coaches and clients regularly, a SYSTEM Saves You Stress, Time, Energy, and Money.
Part of our long-term vision as a business coaching firm in Ottawa and beyond includes being “a model and example of systems, automation and efficiency to both our clients and fellow coaches within the coaching world.” We take this very seriously, and are constantly on the lookout for cutting edge business tools/resources that can help us empower our clients and grow our business as well!
Here’s a list of the tools we use most frequently at Breakthrough Coach – a sneak peek “under the hood” at the tools that fuel our business performance. We will update this list as our tools change. In future blog posts, I will dive deeper into some of these tools and provide additional insight into their many features and benefits. If there’s a tool we are missing or one you think is better than the one we are using, please let me know in the comments at the bottom of this page.
- Virtual Assistant – More and more business professionals are discovering the value of having a virtual assistant. My VA is indispensable to my productivity. I can’t imagine working without one now! It has been one of the best decisions I have made, allowing me to delegate many of my administrative tasks while I focus on what matters most. (Using a tool like TeamworkPM makes it easy to manage the workflow virtually.) I use the folks at uassist.me and have been incredibly satisfied with the results. (They are offering my readers at special discount on their services. Just use discount code UAM01.)
- TeamworkPM – If you’re a fan of cloud-based project management solutions, then you will love TeamworkPM. It has been described as Basecamp on steroids! It has enabled us to manage our mobile team of coaches and virtual assistants with ease and has improved our productivity significantly. We also use TeamworkPM to manage our coaching work with clients. Every client has an online portal that allows them to log in and view all their active tasks, notes from coaching sessions, and milestones. Amazing! TeamworkPM even has FREE mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices as well. You can check out their tour and sign up for a FREE trial HERE!
- Infusionsoft – Can’t say enough good things about this tool! Infusionsoft is the only all-in-one sales and marketing automation software for small businesses that combines CRM, email marketing and e-commerce. We use it extensively, and even recommend it highly to our clients. If you are looking to take your marketing and customer experience to the next level, check out this great tool. Or better yet, contact us and ask us how it has revolutionized our business. (For those of you that are big fans of integration, Infusionsoft also provides a great plugin for Gmail called Sync, which allows you to access your CRM from within Gmail and Google Calendar. What a great time saver! There is also a plugin for Outlook, but I can’t verify how well it works since I am a Mac user.)
- Snap for Infusionsoft – This great smartphone app for the iPhone and Android platform is a great tool for quickly adding contacts on the go to Infusionsoft. Just take a photo of a business card with your smartphone and Snap will use that data to create a new contact record. All of our coaches love this one, especially after attending networking events and collecting lots of business cards!
- AppointmentCore – Another great productivity hack that saves me a ton of time, AppointmentCore is the easiest way to create and share appointments with prospects and clients! Instead of going back and forth by email to try to nail down an appointment time (which can waste several minutes of my day), AppointmentCore allows me to send them a link to my online calendar (which integrates with Google Calendar and MS Outlook). Prospects/clients then simply book a time that is convenient for them based on my availability. And with its integration with Infusionsoft, people booking appointments can be automatically added to my CRM and e-newsletter… and much, much more!
- Google Apps for Business – As our entire team works remotely, Google Apps has been a great solution for us. From Gmail to Google Calendar and Google Drive, we are able to collaborate and work very efficiently even though we don’t have a central office at this time. Another great feature is the awesome integration that Google Apps has with our CRM (Infusionsoft) and our project management solution (TeamworkPM). Fantastic solution for us!
- Quickbooks Online – The Online version of Quickbooks is a great solution for us. Easy invoicing, payment collection, and access for our accountant are just some of the many features that makes this a great tool for us. I love the fact that I never have to worry about who has the most recent version of the file.
- Kindle/Amazon – As someone who is constantly on-the-go, taking my reading library with me via the Kindle app on my Macbook, iPhone, or iPad is a great solution. Regardless of which device I use, all my reading progress is synced and kept up-to-date. One great time-saving feature is the “My Highlights” section of the Amazon website (you must have create a free account to use this feature). While reading, I can highlight important sections of the book I am reading, and these are automatically saved to My Highlights on Amazon for easy retrieval later (i.e. for writing, research, or reviewing the key points of the book). Another great time saver!
- TextExpander – My favourite productivity hack – TextExpander for the Mac – saves you time and keystrokes, expanding custom keyboard shortcuts into frequently-used text and pictures. With a few keystrokes, you can call up custom templates into any application. I have created an extensive library of templates that I use daily. As a matter of fact, my signature/bio included at the end of this post was created with a simple four key combination! Love this app! Best $35 I ever spent!
- Evernote – Until we transitioned to TeamworkPM, we used Evernote extensively. From capturing notes of coaching sessions with clients, brainstorming sessions with my team, or simply recording important information, Evernote was a great asset to us. I really like the ability to share notebooks with other people, which helped me collaborate better with my team. Although we don’t use it as much now, it is still a very valuable tool in our toolkit. Evernote is free, but the paid subscription comes with many great features you might find quite useful.
- Tweetadder – For scheduling tweets, this is a great tool. Allows you to bulk upload automated tweets and drip them out on a set schedule. Scheduled tweets include links back to articles on our blog, promotion of my ebook, and business tips and quotes. Tweetadder provides many other useful features, but I use it primarily for scheduling tweets.
- Socialoomph – A far more advanced tool than Tweetadder for scheduling tweets and posts to other social media platforms. My new social media tool of choice!
- HootSuite – Here is another great alternative for managing multiple social media channels.
- Social Catalyst – Our friends at Social Catalyst are an integral part of our social media marketing, from helping us with our social media strategy to helping us find our “voice.” Head over to their website to learn more, and tell them we sent you!
- WordPress – WordPress is our platform of choice for all of websites. It is very easy to use and has a massive community of users and resources which make this a great choice for any individual and/or business.
- Bluehost – For all of our website hosting needs, we use Bluehost. I have been a Bluehost client for years, and have never been disappointed. For about $4-5 a month (depending on the promotion they are offering at the time), you get unlimited domain hosting, unlimited storage space, unlimited email accounts, and much more! They also have incredible customer service who respond to help requests very promptly! I highly recommend them!
- GoDaddy – For domain name searches, registration, and management, we use GoDaddy. They just make it easy, and their pricing is very hard to beat. The account management features alone take the pain out of managing your domains (especially when you have as many as we do)!
- Pixelmator – For all image editing work, my tool of choice is Pixelmator. At only $30, it is a powerful, cost-effective replacement to Adobe Photoshop. You can edit just about any graphic file format (including .psd files), and once your images are ready, you can access them anywhere with iCloud, send them to iPhoto or Aperture, email, print, share, or save them to popular image formats–all right from Pixelmator. A free 30-day trial is available.
- iMovie – We use a lot of video to market our coaching services. (Check out our YouTube Channel for a sampling. At last count, we are nearing 44K views!) For editing the videos, my tool of choice is iMovie, which is comes pre-installed on all Macs. Very easy to use and great to work with, it also has enough advanced functionality for my purposes (including chroma keying capabilities for green screen work).
- Jing – For taking screenshots on my iMac or Macbook Pro, I love Jing! It is very easy to use, and it allows me to edit the screenshot directly in the program before saving the image, or copying/pasting it into the document I am working on. It can also record your screen activity, but for that I prefer Screenflick (see below). Best of all, Jing is free!
- Screenflick – With this great utility for the Mac, you can record anything shown on your computer screen. I use it mostly to record training videos to teach my team how to use our systems, and to train my virtual assistant to perform certain tasks. I simply sit down in front of my computer, record my screen activity and voice-over, and then export the new video to my VA, who then creates an accompanying walk-through document. Creating training modules can be that easy. Well worth the $29 investment for Screenflick.
What about you? Have any tools you recommend? I would love to hear from you.