7 Business Tools Which Will Help You Advance Your Business 0 1049

Nachum Kligman, CEO of Book Like A Boss Software

Many small businesses find that they reach a plateau from which they struggle to expand further. As you grow, your costs also increase, while any inefficiencies become harder to manage. This means that while you might have increased the number of staff and grown your turnover, you’re not actually generating any more profit at the end of the day. And this holds you back from growing as fast as you’d want.

There’s no single answer to this common problem. However, today there are ever more tools which help you become more efficient and productive, allowing you to do more with less. And when you can do more with less, it means your profit margins rise, and you can invest in further growth.

Let’s look at seven powerful, low cost tools which can help you advance your business. Each one of these I personally use to help streamline my business.

  1. Basecamp

Basecamp is a cloud-based platform that allows teams to organize their projects, client work and internal communications in a central place. It provides an easy-to-use interface where your employees can discuss work, manage tasks and get projects rolling.

Why is Basecamp good for business growth?

Basecamp brings all your projects and discussions into a single place, so the whole company can understand what’s going on. This means you avoid the risk that as your company grows, people simply aren’t aware of what their colleagues are doing, which results in missed deadlines and delays.

  1. Intercom

Today’s customers expect to be able to ask about your services and products from any device, via any communications channel, and receive a response fast. Intercom helps you do that. It gives your company a single inbox where all customer queries from your website arrive, allowing you to respond immediately.

Why is Intercom good for business growth?

Slow responses to customer requests kill your sales. If a customer tries to contact you, and you fail to respond fast, that gives them an immediate negative impression of your brand. Why should they trust that your product or service won’t let them down either? Intercom makes it much more likely you don’t miss these opportunities.

  1. Book Like a Boss

Where Intercom is great for allowing customer to reach out to you, Book Like a Boss is focused on making it as easy as possible for them to reserve and pay for your services as well as booking appointments. Through its interface, your customers can simply find a slot in your calendar and reserve your time, ask questions and pay for work in advance.

Why is Book Like a Boss good for business growth?

If it’s confusing and time consuming for customers to book your services or set an appointment, they’ll be much less likely to make the order. At the same time, using a simple tool like Book Like a Boss means you save hours with the typical back and forth of email messages, sharing calendars with customers and so on – instead, it’s all taken care of for you. I know I may be a bit biased about this one, but it truly does help me and thousands of others with their business growth.

  1. Better Proposals

When it comes to proposals, your sales team could spend hours every week re-inventing the wheel, typing up project outlines and trying to design them up to look reasonably professional. Better Proposals aims to totally change this. It allows you to quickly create smart, professional and consistent proposals which impress your customers and save your sales teams hours of typing and formatting.

Why is Better Proposals good for business growth?

The amount of time (and frustration) spent by your sales team writing up proposals gets cut massively. At the same time, you ensure all the legal T’s and C’s are included in proposals, and its e-signature feature means your clients don’t have to print out then sign then scan and return your proposal – meaning the deal gets closed faster.

  1. Zoom

Communication is king, especially in an era where employees work remotely or in different offices around the planet. Specifically designed for business, Zoom stands out in the VoIP (voice over IP) market as fast, cheap and efficient, falling squarely among Gartner’s leaders for online meeting solutions.

Why is Zoom good for business growth?

People can communicate faster and more effectively over VoIP than email or other chat tools. This means your employees can get more done and make decisions faster. And, it allows you to create a more coherent company culture, meaning staff work better together.

  1. AdEspresso

Marketing is key to growing your business, and AdEspresso helps you take full control of the most powerful advertising tool of the social media era: Facebook. AdEspresso allows you to create hundreds of variations on your ads for different Facebook users, meaning your messaging gets in front of the right people fast.

Why is AdEspresso good for business growth?

Creating targeted Facebook ads manually takes hours of your time – just to create a handful of ads which may not be effective for your audience. AdEspresso massively amplifies your potential for ads and remarketing in way less time.

  1. Sumo

Your website is almost certainly not reaching its lead generation potential, but Sumo aims to help. The tool provides you with an arsenal of powerful features which prompt website visitors to engage with you, share their email addresses and help get you more signups.

Why is Sumo good for business growth?

Put simply, Sumo allows you to get more juice out of your website, generate more leads and grow your audience. This all means you’re way more likely to stay in the front of those potential customers’ minds, making it more likely they’ll convert.

No single tool alone will immediately generate huge growth – you need internal organizational alignment and strategy here too. But, by cutting costs and doing a lot of the work for you, these tools help you boost your margins and grow faster.

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Get off the Phone: 3 Tips to Get Customers to Book Online 0 1094

For small businesses, your main marketing goal is finding new customers and getting them to book your services. Most business owners try to accomplish this by getting to know their customers, being there for them, and answering all of their questions and concerns. This tactic of being personal and reliable is well intentioned, but it can sometimes result in businesses getting trapped in a cycle of communication and reassurance with their customers, spending hours a day on the phone; booking appointments, reminding customers of appointments, giving directions, and confirming meeting times.

Being on the phone is a huge waste of time for businesses. Not only does being on the phone limit customers to only schedule during business hours, but it also makes interactions way longer than they would be than if it were accomplished through an email, text or other online communication. This is why so many companies have turned to online booking as a way to get customers off the phone and onto their website.

Getting your customers used to the idea of booking online can be difficult if they are in the habit of calling your business and talking to humans, but it usually only takes a few months for a successful switch over if you make sure to do it right. Here are some tips on how to get your customers off the phone and booking online without losing any business in the process.

  1. Make booking online easier than a phone call

    The main reason why people prefer talking on the phone to booking online is because they find online booking options confusing or unreliable.

    As a business owner, you know that this is not the case. Booking over the phone is time consuming both for you and your customer, and adds extra steps and hassles that are much more easily avoided through booking online. However, if your website does not make booking online as easy, intuitive, and clear as possible, your customers will not trust the system and will continue to call.

    The key to encouraging your customers to book online is to make the experience something they are comfortable doing– even more comfortable than being on the phone. The best way to do this is to get a booking software that has an intuitive interface and very simple directions.

    Booking apps like BookLikeABoss offer an interface that is very intuitive for users as it closely resembles the interfaces of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social media accounts that customers are already familiar with. It also makes booking very clear and easy with a visual aid of a calendar already on the page.

    By creating a separate booking page that people feel comfortable with, and making the process easy and intuitive, you will ease your customers into trusting the experience of booking with you.

  2. Answer questions online

    Another common reasons why customers call a business is because they have questions that they can’t find the answer to online. The best way to avoid this is to have an FAQ page that is actually helpful.

    Many FAQ pages are out of date, lazily put together, and of no real help to the customer. Make sure you have an FAQ page that looks up to date and trustworthy, answers common questions, and offers a reliable email address where customers can ask further questions.

    Don’t make the FAQ page so long that customers have to dig through it in order to find answers, but make sure it gets to the meat of common booking issues. If you take the time to create a truly useful FAQ page, you will reduce the amount of phone calls you get and save yourself time and money.

  3. Leave no room for doubt

    Lastly, if you’re going to offer online booking services, you need to make sure that your customers receive confirmations and reminders that reassure them they booked successfully.

    All booking services should come with an instant confirmation email that is sent to your customer’s email address, confirming their appointment and reminding them of their time so that they don’t have any doubt about their appointment. It’s also helpful to send out reminder emails a few days before the appointment in order to remind and reassure your customer.

    These little details will make a big difference to first time customers that want to be sure the online service worked the way it was supposed to. They will also reduce the amount of phone calls you get of people wanting to be reassured by talking to a person.

At the end of the day, succeeding in moving your booking services online is all about creating a system that is intuitive, reliable, and comprehensive. If you make sure your online booking is a positive experience, you will see that your customers prefer it to speaking on the phone as well.

Does being an entrepreneur mean ‘goodbye’ to your social life? 0 1095

When you tell people you’re an entrepreneur, most people imagine the dream lifestyle: a six-figure bank account, vacations on your yacht, working where and when you want. The reality, of course, is rather different.

While most entrepreneurs love what they do (one study shows they’re the happiest people in the planet), that doesn’t take away from the fact that being an entrepreneur is hard work.

You need to reply to emails at any hour, manage payroll and tax, chase up leads and search for new staff. And all that extra work can be a drag on your work-life balance.

One survey of small business owners found that almost half of them cancel social plans at least once per week. And 50% of entrepreneurs say they work more than 50 hours on an average week.

Of course, if you love what you do, doing some extra hours might not feel like work. But, managing your work-life balance is important as a small business owner.

Let’s look at why it’s so important, then cover some practical steps you can take to manage your work-life balance better.

The risks of being a workaholic

Entrepreneurs tend to be very driven people. You’ve got an idea you’re super passionate about. (That’s something we know from first-hand experience at Book Like a Boss – we’re a small team of solopreneurs who launched a tool we love – read about us here.)

But, just because you can work long hours, doesn’t mean you should. The risks of not managing your work-life balance include:

  • Missing opportunities: sometimes you’re so focused on small tasks, that you fail to see more important opportunities which could bring you a lot more value
  • Losing the passion: if you work yourself to the bone, your business could eventually become the thing you hate
  • Damaging relationships: whether it’s with your partner, friends or family, working too hard means you spend less time with the people who count
  • Burning out: if you don’t get enough sleep and spend too long under stress, your mental and physical health could take a hit

Ways small business owners can get back their work-life balance

So, what can you do to avoid these risks and get back your work-life balance as a small business owner?

  1. Delegate

The ability to delegate tasks is essential as an entrepreneur. If your company already has some employees, you need to learn to hand over some of your work to them, allowing you to focus more time and energy on strategy. If you work alone, there are a ton of online platforms where you can search for accountants, data-entry staff or web developers. Delegating these tasks allows you to give yourself a little time to breathe and think.

  1. Set aside time to exercise!

Setting aside some time to exercise during the working week is essential. If you’re getting up at 5am every day and living off a diet of coffee and snacks, you will end up sick! It’s super important to dedicate a little time to your health at least twice a week. Whether that’s going for a run, visiting your gym or taking your bike out for a ride, a good exercise session stops you from doing work at the same time, meaning your mind is totally focused on something other than work.

  1. Take mini-breaks

Entrepreneurs tend to take a lot less vacation than employees. That’s no surprise – if you’re uncontactable for two weeks, a lot of your clients will potentially go elsewhere for business. Mini-breaks are a great solution here. Even if it’s just once per month, take a Friday off work and go away for the weekend. Get a change of scenery and switch off your work phone.

  1. Re-evaluate your customer list

You know that client who calls you late at night with extra demands? The one who manages to get you to effectively give them free advice or work for less than its real value? The one who takes up all your attention? It’s time to evaluate if that customer is really worth the money they’re spending.

Many entrepreneurs have at least one customer like this, and they can be really exhausting. If the relationship just isn’t worth it for you, it might be time to ask if you’d be less stressed letting them go and working with a less demanding client.

  1. Set clear boundaries

Last but not least, you need to set clear boundaries around your work time and your private time. Sure, there’s got to be some flexibility here. Nonetheless, you should set yourself rules that you stick to. Turn off your work phone after a certain time in the evening. Focus on your family (and food!) during your evening meal. Give yourself at least one day per week where you do no serious work.

Balance your work and life like a boss

Working yourself so hard you get exhausted and disillusioned isn’t smart. As an entrepreneur, you need to manage your time in a way that allows you to get some of those rewards of being a small business owner – using some of the money you’re earning, treating yourself, and spending more time with your loved ones.

At Book Like a Boss, we aim to help small business owners manage their work life balance better. Our tools take out a huge amount of the admin time entrepreneurs spend managing their client calendars, taking payments and booking appointments. Learn more about our tools here.

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