When you’re growing your Virtual Assistant business you will inevitably start looking for ways to do things quicker or more efficiently. You will start to think of your business systems and how they support you and you may start to look for tools to use in your business to save yourself time and effort. This will become particularly important when you start working with others in your team.
In my business I review the tools I am using (and paying for) every 6 months as a minimum. I check my bills and see what I’m paying for starting with the most expensive tool. I make sure that I feel it’s giving us value for money and I check out any new alternatives I have heard of. I compare features and see which products are going to serve me and my team THE BEST. I don’t pay for stuff that only works 50% of the time, or causes us problems. In this post I’m sharing my current tech setup and maybe you will find some of these services as helpful as I do.
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So, let’s not waste any more time and get stuck into my top 15 tools I NEED to run my business – I wouldn’t want to know what would happen if one of these just disappeared!
CoSchedule for Content
I use CoSchedule to create all of the content in my business (apart from some of the posts on insta that are done as and when). CoSchedule is a marketing calendar and is extremely powerful, you should check it out. I love the calendar view which allows you to see everything that’s coming up in one place. I can tell if some days are more busy than others and spot longer periods without any content scheduled and start plugging the gaps with meaningful posts.
They post to all networks automatically apart from insta where you have to manually approve posts (this is down to insta’s API, everything else is actually against their terms). Don’t be scared off by the pricing, they do have basic pricing plans that are geared towards solopreneurs and you can also make use of their referral system. Each referral earns you 10% off the subscription, so if you have clients who could benefit from this, you can actually refer them and benefit as well.
Asana for Project and Task Management
We have loads of different clients, projects and tasks to manage and were initially using Asana. We then moved away to Teamwork and have now returned. I weighed up my options carefully and realised that while Teamwork has all the bells and whistles, we are not using most of the fancy features we’re paying for! So why pay, when you can have pretty much everything you need for free? I am not usually an advocate for ONLY using tools because they are free, but Asana has got to be an exception!
I have each client set up as their own project and then list out tasks in different categories. I love the fact that we can keep all the info for each client in one place.
Trello for Launches and larger Project Management
When I have bigger projects to manage, I usually use Agile Methods. I have tried it a few times and never looked back, so although Asana now offers boards as well, I actually still prefer Trello. So I use Trello both for my coaching clients as well as larger projects eg. launch management. It makes it so much easier to break tasks down into sprints and I still found Asana boards a little bit buggy!
I use ConvertKit for Email Marketing and have done so for 1 1/2 years. I really like the simplicity of it and can recommend it for any beginner. I am aware it’s not a free tool, however there will be a time where you need to upgrade your current setup as the free tools out there are clunky and are costing you more time and nerves than a paid tool would. So definitely consider giving ConvertKit a go.
For Pinterest scheduling, I tried Tailwind initially and I didn’t like it. I found the overview too messy and it took me ages to schedule pins. I am currently not focussing on Pinterest as a tool to grow my business, I am using others more at the moment, but I am still active and research there and enjoy pinning useful resources for others. So I like BaordBooster, because I can do everything from inside the Pinterest site rather than having to use an app or an alternative website. It ‘s really easy to use, you just save your pins to secret boards and then BoardBooster does the rest. BoardBooster is super affordable with prices starting at $5.
I use Google Calendar to plan my entire week on a Sunday night. I look at the main client projects and deadlines and get blocking. I block out 2 hour slots at a time and so I have time for 45 mins of work, 15 mins break and repeat. And then I move on. If tasks take longer I try and break them down and schedule them over 2 days. When I have lots of odds and ends to do I tend to schedule them all in one hour and then have a longer break to give my brain a rest… I also add all my appointments here for the whole team to see when for example I’m at hospital. I just like people to know when I’m not going to be available.
I have changed scheduling tools more often than I have moved house (and that says something!) and am very happy with Acuity. It allows clients to book their own Discovery Calls and Strategy Sessions, it can take payments and I can give people private scheduling links as well. Most of my clients are international so time zone conversions were important to me (that’s whats made me move away from youcanbook.me) and reminder emails are key as well. I have to say it may not be the easiest to set up (in particular the custom time slots for different appointment types, but it works perfectly, so the effort of setting up Acuity was worth it!
I keep all of my thoughts either in my paper notebook or in Evernote. I have different notebooks for different aspects of my business, so I can retrieve information easily. I have a notebook for blog posts where I pre-write and brain dump, before they get added into CoSchedule. I have a notebook for business planning, specific clients etc. it really helps me to reduce clutter and even if I have an idea while I’m out and about I can add it to Evernote through the iOs app. Another sanity saver!
I often have to share files and videos between myself and clients/ team members so I use Dropbox for shared folders. Saves me loads of time and always keeps items in folders up-to-date.
We usually communicate inside the project management tool about client work, however sometimes we just need to send a quick message to each other, so using Slack actually works a treat here. We can chat to each other and get notifications across different devices, so we don’t miss things. I also use slack with the clients who are on more strategic packages or high end support. We avoid sending emails at all costs, I’m sure I will get round to explaining why sooner or later!
I have made it part of my procedure to ask all prospective clients and coachees to fill out a questionnaire before booking in for a call. This has multiple benefits. I can pre-qualify the people that are getting in touch with me to make sure that we are actually perfectly placed to help them. I also don’t want to speak to lots of different people who in the end cannot actually afford any support yet or are looking for something we just don’t offer. So it saves all of us time if there is a certain amount of information I have, before I start accepting bookings for calls. It also makes my Discovery Calls more productive because I have already gained an insight into the person’s business and don’t need to ask so many basic questions.
If you do not have Google Analytics installed on your site, then do it now. Google Analytics is your go to tool to track your website visitors: Where are they coming from, how many do you have, what are they reading on your site, where are you losing them? These are important questions to know the answers to and they are stats worth tracking as you watch your business grow!
I have just moved away from my previous tool 17hats I used for CRM, quotes and invoicing, it just didn’t sit right with me and a lot of the functions it has, I wasn’t using at all, so I decided to just get the invoicing etc. covered under Xero and since I will be working with a new accountant, it can only be helpful to use a tool that lets them connect up as well. I absolutely love it so far – simplicity all the way!
For my basic packages me and my team track all the time worked on it – even my own biz tasks. Sometimes I feel like I have done nothing productive all day, yet I have actually worked on my own business for once. I can often feel guilty around that and have neglected my biz at times as a result. I’m sure most of you can identify with that. So if I have spent 6 hours writing content, creating freebies and spreading my message into the universe, then I can now see that. It no longer looks to me as though I have done “nothing”. It’s all part of me clearing some weird ideas I have about hard work. So you may want to try it too. Toggl can also produce neat reports which we send to our hourly based clients weekly.
My website is one of my key tools I use in my business. I have used Divi by Elegant Themes for the past year and would not recommend anything else. It’s easy to learn even if you are just starting out and gives you huge flexibility over time! So definitely check it out.
Phew.. I think these are all the tools I can think of now, I use a few more but they are less essential and I think I could definitely survive without them!
To get more tips and tricks, join my free Facebook Group: The Freedom VA here.
If you need to create systems and processes in your business to become more efficient, take a look at my course for new VAs here: The VA Accelerator.
Book a Strategy Session to create your own plan of action to increase the visibility in your business.