6 Steps To Choosing Tools That Will Enhance Your Business
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So you’re probably thinking about adding some new tools to your business to amp up your productivity. Everyone’s talking about automation and project management and you’re feeling like you could definitely use a boost in that department (we all could, right?). Well, before you dive in and invest in the first project management system or CRM you can find, here are some tips to help you avoid wasting precious time (and money) on tools that might end up not working for you!
Taking the time to ask these eight questions before you publish a post will help you create the kind of content that will converts browsers into buyers…and that’s the whole point of having a blog for your business, right?
1. Know Your Processes
I know I know, it sounds like a no-brainer. But too often than not I see business owners looking for tools to automate their business when they don’t already know what processes they have in place! The tool itself isn’t going to make you productive, so you need to know the answers to these questions:
What problem is this tool going to solve?
What is the current workflow management process?
How will this tool support the current process?
If you can’t answer any of these questions, go back and reassess your current processes to avoid burnout and enhance what’s already there!
2. List Your Non-Negotiable Features
Although it would be like finding a magical unicorn, there isn’t one tool that will solve all of your problems or have all of the features you need it to have. So decide what features you absolutely can’t live without, and make a list of 10 or so at the most. Any more than that, you’ll be disappointed in your search or overwhelmed by all the things you need to research. For example, if you’re looking for a project management system, some non negotiable features might be checklists, recurring tasks, sorting/filtering tasks, calendar view, custom notifications, etc. Really think about what you’re looking for to enhance your current workflows!
3. Find The Roadmap
If you think that you’ve finally discovered the right tool, but it’s missing a few of your key features listed above, look for a product roadmap. A lot of companies have an ongoing list of features to come, new releases, and even suggestions made by users that might have what you’re looking for. Sometimes, if the tool seems like the perfect fit, it’s worth waiting for a few features and figuring out a different solution until that feature arrives! Here’s a really great example of what a roadmap looks like.
If the company doesn’t have a feature roadmap, don’t be afraid to reach out to customer service to chat with them about your needs and concerns! This will also give you a feel for how their customer service is should you ever have issues using their products 😉
4. Look For Integrations
Wouldn’t it be the worst if you’re brand new car didn’t have the Bluetooth capabilities you thought it did? Okay, maybe not the worst thing ever. But it would be disappointing. So when looking for a new tool to use, see how it can (or will) integrate with other platforms you’re using! Does it sync with Google Calendar? How about Stripe for payments? What other tools would work great in combination with what you’re looking for? A business should run as smoothly and seamlessly as possible, so make sure the tools you’re using will play nice with each other!
If the tools you have don’t integrate directly with one another, look and see what capabilities they have on sites like Zapier or IFTTT (two of the most popular automation tools for small businesses). The more you can automate, the better (right?!).
5. Grow Into It, Not Out Of It
Some tools may strike you as complicated or “too much” for your current business’s needs. Well, sometimes that “too much” will help you out when you grow your company from 0-100! It’s always best to overestimate what you may need, than to way underestimate and end up having to switch tools altogether when you expand your workload. That’s a lot of time that you could’ve spent doing something more important (like making money) and a lot of energy wasted learning a brand new system, or even money wasted having your assistant do the work for you! Thinking long term growth when looking for your solutions will always have a good outcome and make those changes that much easier on your brain.
6. Social Proof, Then Try It For Yourself
If a company’s product down right sucks, people love to tell other people how much it sucks. The same goes when they absolutely love something! Looking for reviews of the tool itself, how they handle their customer service, and how they operate as a whole will help you to save a lot of headache if it turns out they aren’t that great. But don’t stop there.
The only way you’re going to know if a tool is right for you is to try it out!
Give it some time to see how the tool can enhance your productivity, automate your business, or whatever else your looking to provide a solution for.
But above all, remember to be flexible, adjustable, and open minded! If something isn’t working, try, try again!
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About The Author >>
Meet Jessie McGath
Jessie is the owner and founder of Progress Planner, a business focused on bringing online business owners the tools and education to make movement in their business, reach their goals, and ditch perfection and paralysis for forward progress. She retired from her website and branding design business to make a positive impact on women in service-based businesses through personal development and productivity coaching. When she's not busy helping her clients, she's enjoying quality time with her 3-year-old son and family, reading a new book, or binge-watching Friends.
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