10 tools that drive my business forward

business Mar 24, 2022

These days, we all move at a supersonic rate with beeping phones attached to us. A phone shaped pocket has even been invented on gym leggings to house our most precious belonging! After a night out, if I come home with my phone, it' s an amazing result. If I lost my cards, I could make peace with that - how crazy is that!

To move a business along, it may seem you need to be on some sort of device all the time, but if you have a few clever tools, you can break the back of it and spend more time doing whatever it is when you don't work!

Here's are my absolute favs...

1) Kajabi

I started teaching online courses during the pandemic to boost my earnings but fell in love with it. Not only did everyone pick up photography skills, they also found something way more important - confidence in themselves. This leaked into other areas of their life, and things they 'd been putting off were prioritised. 

I knew I had to provide a platform that could help my processes in the background, but more importantly help everyone connect with one another easily. Community is the backbone of my business so when I fell upon Kajabi, I knew it had everything that would take it up a notch. You can build a personalised website, that offers clear, customer experiences and endless opportunities for the clubbers to connect. 

It allows us to create courses and membership capabilities, circulate automated campaigns, process payments and gain insights into how the clubbers are doing. Is there a sticking point with the content? How can we ensure they make it to the very end of the course with all the skills they need? It's expensive one-platform-does-everything in comparison to the others but it ticked every box for my business. Having used Wordpress previously for my website needs, I couldn't be happier with Kajabi's streamlined workflow. I can build my own site before my fabulous designer, Mirlah makes it shine. This system could quite possibly be the best investment I've ever made. Time will tell! 

2) Slack

If you work with a team who have different schedules and priorities, Slack will become your best friend. Essentially, it's an attractive, user-friendly team chat that allows you to create channels for those involved in certain projects/tasks. It's the best tool to collaborate and get questions answered quickly. With emails, it takes me time to locate messages and then time to compose, however Slack is built for fast communication which gives you your precious time back. 

I have part-time/freelance help who have their own schedules but if I need something quickly, we can get in touch via the computer or even the phone app, and same goes for when I'm out and about. Slack has changed the way we work, and provided a communication hub to feel connected, working towards the same goals. And the best bit - we use the free version!

3) Pixieset

I've used Pixieset to deliver my client galleries from day dot. It presents the imagery in a very professional way with an easy interface for the client to understand. It incorporates your branding which is always high on the list. I've enabled the print shop which is linked within each gallery, and you could even create a website through it. You can opt for the inbuilt studio management which lets you create contracts, invoices and collect payment. It even has a free option to get you started and you can upgrade as you go. I love it!

4) Google Workstation

This is a new business purchase for us but one that's changed how fast we can work. Having numerous email accounts can get confusing and messages were getting missed. With Workstation, I can access them all under one  ` All inboxes' on my phone which has been a godsend! We use the 'shared drives' a lot so we can share ideas, blogs and even track payments for upcoming events. You also get extra cloud storage which isn't to be sniffed at!

5) Quickbooks

Rewind to a time not so long ago, and I had no idea what my 'profit & losses' were  - not a Scooby Doo! Once I'd taken on Kat, she quickly transformed the way we approach accounts by signing us up to Quickbooks. Now we know the exact revenue, expenses and profit margins, and we know if it's worth doing something again whether we'd like to or not - do the sums stack up basically? We have Quickbooks on our phones so can add receipts on the move, and it also tracks your mileage which is genius! It calculates your tax bill as you go so the end of year payment is no longer a shock - in fact, you actually put money aside for it! WHAT! You can quickly look back at previous months and understand why you did well or not so well financially. It's been a game changer and the main reason why money is now an open discussion. Get comfortable with it, manifest it and go after it - money isn't a bad thing - it's something that gives you choices and lets you spend time doing what you love.

6) Trello

My husband Jim has always sworn by Trello. Other project management tools have come, gone and stayed but Trello has always been top dog in this house for managing our tasks. It's drag-and-drop navigation is so easy to use and you can easily collaborate on shared boards. We used this for work obviously but we also use it for personal use. You know that feeling when something drops into your head like, 'must buy more toilet roll' or 'we need more marge' - well this is the perfect tool! We create lists for blog ideas, holiday planning, reading lists, and DIY (the bloody dripping tap!)

7) Flodesk

This revolutionised the way we market - aka the way we capture our audience and how we communicate to them. If you have a business and no email list - I would beg you to reconsider. We all rely on social media for our marketing (we are soooo guilty of this because it works), but what if you took time to explore another avenue? The best thing is it allows you to see who signs up for your free offerings, but then who goes on to buy something - another amazing indicator of what works and what doesn't!

8) Backblaze

As a photographer, you have the fear of God in you that pictures from a shoot, or god forbid a wedding go missing for whatever reason! To stop this, on top of my physical hard drives, I use Backblaze as a way to backup online with unlimited storage. It's a cheap solution that helps me sleep better at night!

9) Canva

This tool transformed my business and stopped me from begging my husband for designs in his spare time (which he has none!) It's essentially a graphic design tool that makes the creation of custom graphics easy and accessible to everyone. You can upload your brand colours and logo which is handy for inclusion in templates (which we tend to source from Creative Market). Canva has enable us to strength our brand at speed and low cost.

10) Squaready

And finally, this app comes into its own weekly to get around Instagram and its awkward formatting. It allows me to add white borders to my portrait and landscape images and yet again, it's completely free! It's the best way to post entire photos to Insta without zero crop.