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3 Tools All Small Businesses Should Be Using

by: Michael Costin | November 10, 2015

When you’re a small business owner the fact your attention is pulled a hundred different ways every day is par for the course.

From working in the business to working on the business, there’s no doubt a typical day can see you dealing with clients, taking care of bookkeeping, training staff or working on the sales side of things just to name a few.

Sometimes it can all get a little overwhelming. With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick and easy list of the 3 tools that I find help me “get stuff done” throughout the day.

They are:

  1. Invoice Sherpa
  2. Freckle
  3. Trello
InvoiceSherpa

I’ve already spoken previously about how we use Xero here at Local Digital as our accounting platform.

Although it is a great tool, it does have some shortcomings. One of the notable ones is the fact it will not automatically follow up on unpaid invoices.

Luckily the guys over at InvoiceSherpa have built a great tool to deal with precisely this.

This tool plugs in to your Xero account, and will send automated reminder emails once you have sent the first invoice.

These reminders follow a set schedule (e.g on Day 14, 30, 45, 60 etc) so you don’t have to worry about the tedious task of chasing up unpaid invoices.

Here’s an example of their nifty drag and drop interface used to build the reminder schedule:

invoicesherpa-screenshotThey will even send a nice thank you email to the customer when you reconcile the invoice in your Xero account, which is a nice touch.

I find this tool great, as I know that I can often overlook paying invoices through general human forgetfulness, and a well-timed reminder kicks me in to gear.

Having an InvoiceSherpa account is like having an accounts receivable staff member on your books without the huge costs.

Freckle

Anyone that has worked in a digital or advertising agency knows the pain of timesheets.

They suck.

The fact of the matter is, however, they are an extremely useful tool for planning, invoicing, managing your team’s output and having a handle on which work takes the most time through to where more effort needs to be spent.

Up until recently, I had filled out time sheets in an ugly Excel document.

Not anymore.

Freckle is a cloud based time sheet tool, which is an absolute breeze to use.

You can quickly set-up all your clients or projects, then a range of hashtags for common tasks (for example we have hashtags for #keyword-research or #content-creation).

Here’s an example of their dead easy to use logging fields:

freckle-screenshotIt’s then a simple matter of logging your time against the client/project with a comment and a hashtag.

You can run all sorts of reports and drill right down to know exactly where all your time is going.

You can even issue invoices straight from the tool if you’re billing on an hourly basis.

Trello

When you have a few people working on projects it’s easy for things to get overlooked.

Trello helps avoid precisely this.

It’s a simple project management tool, where you can sort everything visually using a “boards, lists & cards” system.

Here’s an example of one of our client boards:

trelloEvery client has the same lists in their boards:

  • To Do
  • Doing
  • Done

At the start of the month we make sure the “To Do” list has all of the tasks (known as cards) we need to work on.

As we start work on them we drag the card over to Doing, then when it’s done we drag it there.

We then rinse and repeat, month in, moth out.

This is a really nice way to have a visual sense of what work is on the go, what needs to be done, and what you delivered for the month.

Summary

So there you have it.

A quick and easy blog post this time around with some tools that are a sure thing to save you some time running your business.

Cheers,

Michael

 

written by Michael CostinThis post by Michael Costin, Co-Founder & Director at Local Digital. A digital marketing consultant with a background in SEO and CRO. Over the last 5 years he’s worked both agency and client-side, with the last 3 years on enterprise SEO campaigns.

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