Real talk: entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
It requires the audacity to dream big and the practicality to execute on those big dreams. Its landscape is filled with a never ending series of mountains and valleys and a gigantic sea of “Oh, I didn’t know I needed to do that.” At every turn, an entrepreneur is learning, pivoting, failing fast, leaning in and getting the right people on the bus. It is just as fulfilling as it is daunting.
I believe that, if there were ever a time to start your own small business, it would be now.
In a recent conversation with my fifteen year old cousin, I found myself excitedly exclaiming, “What a time to be alive! Thirty years ago no one ever could have imagined having her entire life encapsulated into a smartphone or posting selfies on Instagram. If you have a dream, you have the tools at your disposal to make that dream come true. There are makeup influencers shooting tutorials in their bedrooms as we speak. It takes a dream, a plan and the guts to make it happen!” She looked at me like I was a crazy lady.
As a solopreneur Life Coach, I work with clients all over the globe in my 1:1 coaching sessions and group coaching programs. My students take my online courses and my email list receives a weekly newsletter every Monday. I upload masterclasses, meditations, workbooks and more into my free Resource Library. Every other week, a new blog post is published and listeners anxiously await a new podcast episode every Friday. I disseminate my message all over social media to anyone who will look, listen, like and follow.
There are many moving pieces, deadlines, and requirements. I’m constantly learning as I go and taking it all in stride. When I decided to go full-time as a Life Coach, I knew I had to get serious about the way I managed my business. After all, not only am I a solopreneur, I’m also a mamapreneur who spends many hours a day chasing after a 22 month old toddler. Time is my most precious resource, so organization is my best friend.
Here are the tools that help me stay consistent and sane as I teach people how to love themselves into the life of their dreams:
1) Online Project Management: Asana
Asana is an online project management software that you can use on pretty much every single device you own (computer, tablet, smartphone). You can easily loop in team members, independent contractors, etc. Not only can you create tasks, you can add sub tasks and set them to recur weekly, monthly, etc. You can view your deliverables in calendar form, list form, post-it form, etc. You can have conversations, update the status of a project and upload project specific documents. I use the free version and it has a pretty extensive selection of capabilities.
2) Social Media Platform: Pinterest
Here’s the deal: social media is a beast of a thing to manage. Just because you CAN be everywhere doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD be everywhere.
To save time and money, think about your ideal customers/clients and where they spend most of their time. Understand what sparks their interest and what problems they are trying to solve. This allows you to intentionally create content that is meaningful to them and place that content on the platforms that they frequent.
For me, it’s Pinterest. My ideal client uses Pinterest to research her interests (which include quotes, books and personal development) and save the information she finds helpful (so that she can easily access it later).
3) Content Management: Tailwind
Knowing that my ideal client is using Pinterest, I have created a plan to engage with her. In order to share my fresh content with her, I use Tailwind. I upload my pins and decide which boards to post to and at what time.
Tailwind also offers a Smart Loop option which will automatically repin my most popular pins so that people who may not have seen them the first time around can check them out. I have joined Tribes that closely match my brand. Tribe members share each other’s content so that followers can have exposure to new content that they will find useful. Each week, I receive Tailwind analytics that lets me see how many repins I’ve gotten, my most popular pins and how my overall profile is performing over time.
Another thing that I really love about Tailwind is that they are constantly educating their users with helpful blog posts and masterclasses.
Other Options: Buffer, Hootsuite, The Content Planner (If you’re into traditional planners, TCP is your go-to. I highly recommend following them on Instagram because they share really helpful tips about building your following, increasing engagement and driving revenue.)
4) Graphic Creation: Canva
I am not a graphic designer and I don’t know the first thing about Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. In fact, just thinking about them makes me feel really anxious because I don’t have the bandwidth right now to learn a whole new trade.
I really love Canva because they offer a diverse variety of templates I can use. I have saved my brand colors and fonts, so that my graphics have a consistent look and feel to them. I also save my graphics in different folders so I can easily access them later.
Other Options: Picmonkey
5) Session Scheduler: Acuity
As a Life Coach, automating my business has been a game changer. The less time I spend chasing people about payments and scheduling their next session, the more time I can devote to activities that spread my message and get me in front of people who can truly benefit from my services.
Acuity allows my clients to review my availability and book their next session. It easily sends out both reminders and follow-ups to me and my clients.
They were recently acquired by Squarespace, which is awesome because I use Squarespace for my website.
6) Website: Squarespace
You may have guessed it: I am not the most technically savvy person out there. I love Squarespace because it’s user friendly and has a lot of options to choose from. I have a section for both my blog and my podcast (which syncs easily to iTunes). My clients purchase courses and coaching sessions. They access my free Resource Library and I’ve also created landing pages for different e-mail challenges and video series I’ve done. The opportunities are endless. Plus, there are plenty of Squarespace tutorials on Pinterest that have taught me how to do some cool stuff with basic CSS on my site.
Other Options: WordPress
7) Email Management System: ConvertKit
About three years ago, I started using Convertkit. I love how easy it is to create forms and landing pages (which they’ve recently revamped and now offer more variety) and to segment my readers.
Building your e-mail list is super important because your list keeps you in contact with your followers. Lord forbid, if Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest ever shut down, you could lose contact with the following that you’ve spent years cultivating. Plus, you have zero control over any changes those companies make (Algorithm, anyone?).
Using Convertkit, I send weekly newsletters and updates to my readers. If someone wants to receive my free workbooks or e-mail challenges, I automatically send those to them without having to constantly monitor sign-ups. It’s made life really easy for me.
8) Online Meeting Software: Zoom
I use Zoom to connect with my clients 1:1 or in groups — live coaching sessions, masterclasses, webinars, the HBIC Virtual Book Club, etc. I can record each conversation and send either the video or audio to attendees. I even used Zoom to record a podcast interview that I recently conducted.
9) Online Course: Melyssa Griffin’s Blog to Biz Hive
When you have a small business, the most important thing you can do is get your head in the game and take yourself seriously. BBH helped me do just that. In this extremely detailed e-course, I learned about many of the tools I can’t live without and how to use them properly. I learned how to think intentionally about my business and how to plan and execute consistently on the strategy I’ve set.
Other Options: Marie Forleo’s B-School
I truly believe that you are fully capable of turning your entrepreneurial dreams into reality. Investing in the right tools for your small business can play a huge factor in your success, so do your research, invest and execute consistently on the vision that you’ve set for yourself. As Marie Forleo always says, “The world needs that special gift that only you have.”
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below and let me know the tools that you use to run your business.
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