The Afro Coach Operations Agency

7 Must-Have Tools for Your Online Business

Anyone can begin a business these days,

But to run and grow a business efficiently and sustainably – you need support both in strategy and systems.

All your marketing goals and KPIs can be very well defined, but if you aren’t equipped to achieve them – you’ll end up spending a LOT of time, effort, and resources in your pursuit to reach them, which is a recipe for burnout.

Efficient operations, well-defined systems, and the right support from software are absolutely non-negotiable if you are thinking of scaling your business. Be it performance, tracking, productivity, education, management, scaling, or even communication – the technology has an option today to help automate it for you.

And while I am one to ALWAYS say that the right tool is the one that works best for you, I do believe that there are types of tools EVERY online business requires in order to run effectively and provide a solid foundation to grow.

What are Business System Tools?

All the systems, applications, controls, calculating solutions, methodologies, etc. used by a business to be able to cope with changing markets, ensure a competitive position in them and improve business performance in the market.

Whether you realize it or not, all these tools cost you beyond just a subscription or licensing fee. In most cases, more tools mean more time spent integrating, managing, and reporting from each of these various point solutions. Therefore, a conscious choice, keeping in mind your expectations, capability, and budget, and comparing features and specifications, should be made to select the exact tools that you need for your business.

In this blog we’ll take a look at the 7 must-have operation tools for your business (with some of my favorite tools recommended!)

Document Management Tools
Scheduling Tools
Project Management Tools
Communication Tools
Marketing Tools
Accounting Tools
Client Experience Management Tools

 1. Document Management Tools

Content – yep this word again.

In this era of online business, content still reigns supreme in a business owner being visible, meaning many wear the hat of both a content creator AND an entrepreneur.

However, beyond PRODUCING content, there is also a lot of content that passes through your business that needs to be kept track of.

Because who really likes looking through several emails, slack communication, and notes to find the information you’re looking for? 

To manage and revisit the information, teams and businesses are increasingly relying on document management to work efficiently.

Think storage, management, tracking collaborating, approving, accessing information, and whatnot collaboration – document management tools – all your content – in one place – secured.

Google Drive, Dropbox, Hubspot, and Airtable – are a few of my favorite document management tools.

 

2. Scheduling Tools

The first impression matters – a lot.

And in the age of online schedulers, playing a game of email tag with clients or potential clients on when to meet can provide difficult and frustrating for both parties!

Being able to have your schedule defined and have people effortlessly schedule an appointment, whether a lead or client and gather all the information you need prior to getting on the call, is a God-send.

Scheduling tools such as Calendly, Zoho, and Doodle work like a charm. If you use Dubsado, they even have a beta version of a scheduler that can connect to your offer! Sharing your availability through a scheduling link post through which they can book a time available for them – saves time for you both. It’s the first step for your prospect to have a peek at your business – leave a good one.

 

3. Project Management Tools

It is really easy to feel overwhelmed and disorganized when working on projects or managing projects or teams. Client Portals, deliverables, information, planning, objectives, tracking task status, etc – as a business owner you need it all accessible and un-cluttered.

Managing the information and communication within projects by using pen, paper, emails, spreadsheets, etc – all the while working with team members can be overwhelming and messy. Project Management tools help you keep track of those tasks and projects in one place. They are web-based, widely interactive tools you can use to plan your entire project from beginning to end, manage your project’s schedule, and collaborate with your virtual team.

Virtual project management solutions have become essential for firms to streamline their operations and perform their jobs more quickly and effectively. Softwares like Asana, Trello, Slack, and Podia are a few software which you can choose from to support you and your teams in daily operations.

 

4. Communication Tools:

Communication may come in a wide range of forms in any organization. From communicating with clients, to your team, to stakeholders, wider audiences and leads, having a clear communication channel to manage conversation is key. Therefore it becomes imperative to invest in the right communication software for your team.

Messaging provides instant access to information that email cannot. Your friends here are Microsoft Teams, Slack, Loom, and Zoom. These are the three most in-demand tools that can up your comms game to the next level.

 

5. Marketing Tools

SO many places to start with this one.

Online businesses rely on marketing – whether paid or organic for visibility and reaching new eyes.

The heart of your business lies in how well you promote and market your products to your audience. So being able to amplify and track your marketing efforts is incredibly important, so you know how effective your promotions have been.

A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution can help you in staying connected to goals that drive profitability. Some of my personal favorites are HubSpot, SalesForce, Dubsado & Zoho. You can run a full-blown inbound marketing campaign and share key insights on revenue, traffic, and prospecting.
Checking in on past clients to see how they are coping with the rising prices – helps you to form a deeper relationship with them too.

 

6. Accounting Tools

You cannot simply take a chance when it comes to finances in your small business. It becomes imperative that you invest in precise accounting tools to manage your money.

Modern accounting software helps you keep track of the money coming in and going out of your business. You can save yourself time as these tools aid you in tracking your revenue and expenses, handling taxes and payroll and generating custom reports, etc. For accounting software, Quickbooks, Xero, and Wave are some of the best providers in the market today.

 

7. Customer Experience Tools

A delightful customer experience is how you convert more leads into new customers — and more importantly, retain current customers. It’s how you increase customer loyalty and keep your target audience members coming back for more.

So, when you keep thinking that you are a tool to be ever-present to make your client’s experience of working with you just the best – they are ACTUAL tools that you can rely on.

The customer experience tools (there are A LOT of them) can be broken down into sections (customer experience management, customer experience mapping, customer experience analysis, and customer experience measurement tools).

As a reminder, here are all 7 again:

  1. Document Management Tools

  2. Scheduling Tools

  3. Project Management Tools

  4. Communication Tools

  5. Marketing Tools

  6. Accounting Tools

  7. Client Experience Management Tools

Bottom line is that you don’t have to be always ‘on’ to have your business scaling and thriving. Your business model can be based on energetics, strategy, or empathy – but it can still operate on its own without you being always working ‘in’ the business.

Also, just a reminder your business might not need all of these tools separately, as many can be combined via the many features of a single software, or, your model simply doesn’t call for it. There is a bit of nuance in this list, given how each business model looks and operates differently. The last thing you want is to be SO tech-y that you can’t leave your phone without a notification going off.

If you want to know which ones your business needs at the moment, take this FREE ops quiz here and begin with clarity and not confusion.

I’m Elisabeth—
I live in Melbourne, Australia, but I’m from the States (Washingtonian through and through). I’m a cat-mom, wifey, and in love with a good workflow; it gives me that warm, fuzzy, Christmastime feeling. My goal is to help hard-working service providers stop having to choose between creativity and productivity to build a successful, sustainable business.

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