Have you ever seen one of those “desert island” lists, where people list the five books, five movies, or five of something else they would need if they were stranded on a desert island? This morning I was thinking about what top five small business tools I would need to continue running my business, should I find myself cast away with only a basketball for company. Eliminating the obvious necessities like a power source (because I could easily improvise that), computer, email, and Internet access, I focused on small business tools that help me improve efficiency, attract new site visitors, and boost conversions. I also considered cost, maintenance, and how easily my monkey butlers could learn to use them. I took into account how often I use the tool, the impact of its absence, and how much I rely on it to help my clients. Believe me, I’ve worked with dozens of small business tools, and stripping the number down to five wasn’t easy. But when I finally had my list, I learned to appreciate the Top 5 tools that much more. And so, after much agonizing, sacrifice, and getting used to coconut milk, here’s my desert island Top 5:
1) FreshBooks: Not a bookkeeper? Neither am I! FreshBooks makes it easy. Not only is it easy to create invoices, process payments, and track expenses in FreshBooks, there are some pretty cool time tracking and reporting features too. You can even capture the receipt from that business dinner with your smartphone camera, and the FreshBooksmobile app automatically enters it as an expense. Amazing functionality! 2) Gmail for Business: Still using a Gmail account for your business? Not anymore! For a small monthly fee, you can boost professionalism with a custom email domain (@yourcompany.com). I use it for my business, in tandem with a whole assortment of handy apps that provide easy collaboration, sharing, and conferencing with others. 3) Canva: I love InDesign, but also use Canva to quickly create beautiful graphics for memes, banners, and social media posts. Can’t even draw a stick figure? With Canva, no one will ever know. 4) Google Analytics: It’s no secret: Google Analytics is great! I know who’s visiting my website, where they came from, and what they did when they got there. With the robust data Analytics provides, I can take action that attracts even more website visitors, keeps them longer, and converts them faster. 5) LeadPages: LeadPages allows me to create attractive, fully optimized landing pages for both desktop and mobile devices. With tons of great-looking templates, I don’t have to worry about coding or layout. In minutes I can create a landing page, launch it, and start converting! Many of these small business tools are free to use, and offer premium packages at an affordable cost, allowing startups to test-drive the services first. They’ve also enabled me to grow my business the way I need it to grow, and I strongly recommend them to my clients as well. You know, just in case they find themselves stranded on a desert island too. Just don’t ask me where to plug in the coffee machine.