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01 Feb 2017

improve-productivity

The start of a new year is often the time when business owners take the time to work on improving their business, with the ultimate goal being to increase productivity and profits while minimising costs. There are literally thousands of apps available which can help you achieve your business goals so how do you decide which ones to use? We’ve put together a selection of some of the best tools out there to help you run you business better.

If your goal is to be more organised…

Trello is a great project management tool to give you both a focused and bird’s eye overview of your jobs. Recently acquired by Australian software company Atlassian, Trello is a visual collaboration tool (similar to a virtual whiteboard) which uses “cards” like Post-it notes that you can organise into lists and boards. It allows you to easily see what’s being worked on and who’s working on it. You can easily manage tasks by using deadlines and checklists. One of the best features is the power-up function. Power-ups let you see when tasks are due on the calendar, allow people to vote on cards (if you’re looking for feedback from staff) and visually highlight cards that are ageing due to inactivity. Different types of files can also be uploaded and shared. The free version is pretty good but the paid version has enhanced functionality including additional power-ups.

If you want to improve your sales pipeline…

To keep track of your sales leads and customers, you’ll need a CRM. There are dozens available with new ones being developed all the time. For instance, Teamgate is a reasonably priced CRM that gives you the option to try before you buy with its free 14 day trial. Packed full of features, Teamgate also allows you to keep on top of your sales funnel without taking up large chunks of your time inputting data. Another great free tool is Hubspot’s CRM which has been designed for small business owners to better track their leads and manage the sales pipeline. It also integrates with Hubspot’s other apps but, for those on a budget, the basic CRM is pretty good.

If you want to improve your cash flow…

Having a healthy cashflow is vital to having a successful business and one sure way to achieve this is to use a cloud-based accounting software. Using cloud-based accounting software such as Xero, Quickbooks Online, MYOB or Reckon enables you to easily invoice customers and collect payments in one step. The software also allows you to take care of your books on the go as your data is stored securely in the cloud so you can access it anywhere you have internet access.

If you want to attract more customers…

Building your customer base is the goal of most business owners at any time but if your aim for 2017 is to automate this process, you’ll need an appropriate tool. There are a number of email marketing tools that you can use for free or a reasonable price. MailChimp offers the basics for free and you can upgrade at anytime as your business grows. If you require more functionality, Active Campaign also includes a CRM and the ability to send highly targeted messages to your customers based on their interactions with your website. For those who like to support local talent, Campaign Monitor and Vision6 are two Australian success stories and they’re fantastic products to boot. Any of these tools will enable you to create sign-up forms on your website that you can use to attract new leads, which can then be nurtured by sending engaging newsletters, special offers and other great content to convert these leads into paying customers.

If you want to improve customer experience…

Many customers don’t like having to navigate complex phone menus only to be put on hold for ages, waiting for the ‘next available operator’. Having the option of live chat via your website is a convenient way of instantly engaging with your customers if they have an issue or just want to ask a quick question. There are a number, such as olark and mylivechat, which are perfect for small business owners and, best of all, they have free versions. Some apps even give you the option to track customer happiness once you’ve dealt with their query.

If you’re looking for more productivity hacks, especially if you’re on a budget, check out this list of 10 of the best FREE mobile apps for business. You might also like to check out this list of the Best Time Management Apps 2017 if one of your goals is to save time this year.


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