There are many tools I use to operate my business. Many of them are web-based applications. Others are local software applications or other tools to make conducting business more automated and easier. The elimination of duplicate steps and easy access to important documents are the main objectives for me. The more automation the better. I like to install systems and processes in the operations side of life, and when done right, I get more TEM (Time, Energy and Money). For to me, the word system means “Saves Your Significant Time, Energy and Money. Here are a few that I recommend to my clients to consider. In some instances I am an affiliate with them, which means I am commissioned when businesses sign up for their service. I designate these relationships clearly next to the recommendation. However, this does not increase the cost of doing business with them. I merely get paid for the referral.
Email Marketing System
AWeber by AWeber Communications (affiliate)
There are lots of email marketing programs out there, and I have been on most of them over the past six years. In the early days we were drawn to the html formatted emails, which were really cool. Today, I look for more features and options to make my online presence more productive. I chose AWeber due to these enhanced features. They all offer the ability to send and track emails. What I really like about AWeber is the Auto Responder and the Website sign-up forms. With just a few clicks and some really thought out formatted content, you create an very comprehensive email marketing system. Not one based on your ability to make money alone, but the ability to track and retain clients to your internal programs. I have tried the rest and have found these guys to really exceed my needs.
Identity Theft Protection
There are several programs out there that offer these services. They are use similar techniques to keep you safe. The top two seem very similar, but I have chosen to use Lifelock as well as running my annual credit report (which is free to everyone) each year. Lifelock provides alerts that are really valuable every time your credit is accessed by anyone. The free credit report site is Annual Credit Report – annualcreditreport.com. This reports runs across all three credit platforms (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) to provide the snapshot overview you need to ensure you are protected. If anything looks suspicious, you can address it right away. I recommend you run a report on each of your children as well, provided they are under 21. Once an adult, you should have them do this for themselves.
Online Backup System
Just like some of the other recommendations, there are several providers of online backup services out there. My vendor of choice over the last several years is Carbonite. What I like about these guys is the easy to understand interface and the ability to backup items like images, photos and videos on demand. Once the initial backup is completed, which can take several hours, if not days, depending on the size of your hard drive and the speed of your internet service, the other routine backups look for changes only, which is very fast. Retrieving your data in case of a hard drive crash is just a few clicks away. Oh, and another cool feature, I can retrieve individual files as well, for those cases where you left the office without your presentation, and you need it today. I can visit the site, login, and download the backup file for use. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Sounds expensive huh? Wait until you see how low real security is these days. This falls under my no-brainer category for the business owner who would lose hundreds if not thousands of dollars due to lost files and productivity issues once a loss occurs.
Basecamp by 37 Signals (affiliate)
An online project board that permits the user to share messages, files, to-do lists and milestones with others on the project in a safe, secure online format. I have been using them for over six years and have enjoyed the relative ease of communicating with my clients in a very professional manner. It also permits me to date and times-stamp the delivery of project related materials to ensure all involved are up to date and the variables are clearly understood.