I know all too well how hard it is to start your own business with little capital. Bootstrapping becomes a way of life. Along the way, I have learned the what tools are worth investing in and what tools are perfect for a lean business who can’t invest a ton in tools…just yet. Today I am going to break down some of my favorite tools that are ideal for both the Lean Entrepreneur as well as more established small businesses that need great tools to help run the show.
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Accounting for the bootstrapping entrepreneur: Freshbooks
Quickbooks has always been the gold standard in the eyes of many a business owner and CPA when it comes to keeping your books, invoicing and getting paid. But for many entrepreneurs, it can be a bit too much regarding need or price tag. For those of you looking for an alternative that is still pretty stellar, I give you Freshbooks. Freshbooks offers plans starting at $15 per month. You can also snag a free 30-day trial.
I love Freshbooks for its ease of use and ability to connect accept all kinds of payment types. From direct deposit, auto-pay, credit card and check. It gives you (and your customers) options. As far as I am concerned when it comes to getting paid, you should make it as easy as possible for your clients.
Calendar management: Acuity
There are a ton of scheduling tools out there on the market. Ranging in price from free to paid. I have used just about all the free ones out there, but once I started to get serious about taking on more consulting, I ultimately choose Acuity. Acuity is a relatively robust system, allowing you to create different scheduling types, schedule classes and workshops, connect directly to your meeting software (I use Zoom), your invoice software (it integrates with Freshbooks) and allows you to take payment directly from the app. You can also integrate your calendar, so you never get over booked plus you can create promo codes, gift certificate and packages. The more I use this tool, the more I like it. I can honestly say that once I started to schedule everything in my business (and my life), my business grew as a result.
Communication and Meetings: Zoom
In my business, it is super important that I have the option to share my screen when I meet with people virtually. This is why I choose to go with Zoom. Zoom allows for screen sharing and webcam use, so my clients and I can have face to face interaction, I can record my sessions and send them via mp4 or mp3 to my clients, and it integrates with my calendar and my scheduling apps saving me time. Zoom is also an affordable tool! Packages start at free (there is a 40 minute limit on free accounts) and premium packages are also ridiculously affordable, starting at 14.99 USD.
I do sometimes get asked why I chose Zoom over say a GoToMeeting. Outside of the price, I find Zoom to be much more intuitive and easy to use. Plus, every time I have ever used GoToMeeting it slows my computer (both my 2016 iMac and my 2014 MacBook Pro), and I have had to go back and delete countless GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar apps and updates from my computer which is frustrating, to say the least.
This last tool is one I just started using that my VA introduced to me. I have mentioned a couple of times in my previous podcast that I have a virtual assistant. The truth is I need to be better at giving her things to do. I recently asked her what the best way for us to stay on track, make it easy for me to assign her task, and keep us both organized was. She told me to check out Asana. I was amazed at how easy this tool was to set up. Within minutes I was adding to my todo list, assigning tasks to my VA and integrating my Google Calendar. All of this was done for free too! Asana has been a fantastic tool for me to get stuff off of my plate but maybe, more importantly, get my growing to do list out of my brain and in a place where I can keep track and tackle it better.
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