We all know the standard tools that make a business run like it should. An accountant and bookkeeping system, inventory or project management software along with phones and computers to get things done.
However, there are a few lesser known types of tools that, when implemented, can make a major impact on your business and its bottom line.
A To-Do List Manager
Having a set to-do list for each day instantly makes the day more productive, which allows you to get more done. For some reason, the act of crossing an item off a to-do list (whether it’s virtually or on paper), gives a unique sense of satisfaction that can keep you moving forward.
If you have tasks that you need to get done every week, day, or month, choose a to-do list app that allows you to create recurring tasks, like ToDoist, which also allows you to assign tasks to other team members and break tasks up into different projects. Perfect for when you have different clients or want to add personal to-dos as well.
A Low-Cost or Mobile Credit Card System
If your business has a traditional credit card machine that charges high fees for transactions and products, consider switching over to a mobile credit card system, like Square, which offers a flat, low percentage fee per transaction. Square sends you a free card reader that you plug into your iPhone, Android, or tablet headphone jack, instantly making it a mobile cash register. Receipts can be sent to customers via email or text and the money usually goes into your bank account the next business day.
Additionally, if you have a lot of clients paying online, try to get them to switch to online payment provider Dwolla, which offers an extremely low transaction fee of just 25 cents. Most online payment providers charge 3.75% and up, depending on the amount of the transaction.
Besides saving you hundreds to thousands of dollars per month, this small change can also help you get paid faster.
If you want to keep up to date on the latest productivity and business books, but feel like you don’t have the time, consider utilizing a service like Audible or your public library to get audiobook versions of what you want to read. Listening to audiobooks during your commute, workout, or menial tasks can be a great way to learn new skills that can directly translate into your businesses.
Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits, found that “63% of wealthy [people] listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.” This means there is a positive correlation between income and reading. Corley also found that, “88% of [the] wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for [the] poor.”
A Virtual Assistant
If you are a solopreneur or have employees but not a dedicated assistant, consider working with a virtual assistant. Many overseas virtual assistants speak and write English fluently and have affordable hourly rates, usually ranging from $3 to $15 per hour.
According to Chris Ducker, author of Virtual Freedom, the Philippines has blossomed into a virtual assistant mecca, with thousands of highly educated, friendly and productive assistants willing to work part or full-time.
You can find virtual assistants through a matching service or on a freelancer job board like Elance.
No matter how uncreative you are, you can still benefit from creating a visualization board for your business. And if that doesn’t do it for you, try simply writing down your goals – both long-term (this year and the next five) and short-term (daily and weekly). Just writing down your goals instantly makes them much more likely to happen. (This was another positively-correlated behavior that the aforementioned findings by Tom Corley on wealthy behavior found: “67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor”).
Pinterest can be used to create virtual visualization boards of what you want for your business, as well as your home life. If you already have a Pinterest account for your business, you can create private boards for your goals.
Video or In-Person Chats
The majority of in-person meetings can be quite unproductive and a drain on employees’ time. However, if you run a mostly virtual business, there is some benefit to occasionally setting up video chats instead of phone calls. Being able to see the person you are speaking with can help you connect better to what they are saying, as our mind reads body language and speech simultaneously to get the best picture of what a person is actually saying.
In addition, holding meetings during a walk to get coffee or over lunch is a great way to break out of the conference room, which can lead to more productive meetings.