We live in the technology age, so there are endless amounts of useful tools and resources to help you with your everyday life and business. The only downside is that there are so many of them! So, to save you time, I've put together a list of my top 20 digital tools for you to help build, manage and grow your company. Enjoy!
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Marketing & Social
Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your social media from one dashboard. There are a few similar services such as Buffer and Social Pilot (and several others) although from experience I have found that Hootsuite is the best. At first glance it can be a bit confusing (especially compared to Buffer's very simple layout), although once you get the hang of it, it offers some great services and much more functionality than other platforms that I've used. You also get to manage 3 platforms for free, which for most of you may be enough, meaning you can use the entire website and app for zero cost!
Mailchimp is easily the best platform when it comes to simple email marketing. Design beautiful emails, create customer lists and segments, automate welcome emails, view analytics and more. They have a free plan which is a great way to get started, although upgrading to a paid plan (still super cheap) unlocks some more features, the best of which is the email automation. This is perfect for when you're sending a welcome email after someone opts in, or getting people to sign up and receive a free gift like an eBook.
Create and publish online surveys in minutes, and view results graphically and in real time. Create any type of survey—from simple to sophisticated—with their easy-to-use survey builder. This is great for doing market research, getting customer feedback and generally anything else that requires a survey. I used this to find out key information from potential customers very early on in my development of my app.
Bitly is a free URL shortening service. This is a critical tool for Twitter which only allows 140 characters (although if you're using Hootsuite they also offer a link shortening service). Not only does it make it short, some links are incredibly long and ugly so even if it's not for Twitter, I recommend shortening gigantic links. Bitly is free although if you upgrade you get personally branded links and some heavier analytics.
Find Meetups and meet people in your local community who share your interests. Meetup is used for all sorts of things from dog walking to professional networking, so simply search for events that are for startups, marketers, entrepreneurs and you're bound to find something that will be for you! I simply searched startup and there were a stack of groups within 10 kilometres of where I am.
This is easily in my top 3. I would be very surprised if you have never heard of and / or used this before. For those of us not sufficient with Photoshop or other complex design platforms, Canva is the best god damn design site around. Whether you're designing posters, Facebook covers, business cards, YouTube thumbnails, anything! It's so easy to use, there are great templates available with endless possibilities, and I highly recommend upgrading and getting Canva for Work. It's only $13 or so a month and offers way more options, custom dimensions, transparent backgrounds and more.
Piktochart is an easy infographic design app that requires very little effort to produce beautiful, high quality graphics. Infographics are becoming more and more popular, so I recommend jumping on and playing around. Always remember that pictures are much prettier than words. I have used infographics for investors for simplistic pitch deck overview, and for outlining my services instead having boring blocks of text. You could even do a blog post in an infographic that is much more fun for your audience to read. Worth looking at!
Another legendary platform that freakin' rocks. Squarespace is the easiest way for anyone to create an exceptional website. Whether you need simple pages, striking galleries, a professional blog, or an online store, it's all included in a Squarespace website. Best of all, everything is mobile-ready right from the start, which is an absolute must for 2016. Simple drag and drop functionality, great templates and an awesome support team that reply really quickly with very useful and friendly responses.
Visual content creation in your pocket. Now you can create beautifully custom text layouts that would normally take minutes - or even hours - with just a tap. Super easy to use, and they have direct access to Pixabay so you can search for background images. For the best results I recommend going on Pinterest to find high quality, powerful imagery, and then using a simple font on Wordswag like 20,000 Leagues to make really visually pleasing images. It's what I use for the Exceptions Instagram every day!
Administration & Team
If you have a website (which I assume you do) then you need to install Google Analytics. It's a free platform that offers seriously in depth, powerful analytics. Get the data you need to make intelligent marketing and business decisions, available for websites, apps, and enterprise businesses. It's super easy to install and you can get setup in minutes. Go go go!
Trello is a platform used to keep track of everything that needs to be done with easy collaboration abilities. Trello keeps track of everything, from the big picture to the minute details. You can create tasks, checklists, boards and different projects. Their app is great too. Best of all, it's free!
The Pages app allows you to manage your Facebook pages that you're an administrator for from your phone. Post updates and pictures, view analytics, ad campaigns and more. In the past it has had some bugs although these days it's pretty sharp. If you manage any Facebook pages you certainly need this app!
Upwork is the best site I have found for finding freelancers and posting freelance jobs. There are other sites like Freelancer, although through experience with both, Upwork certainly takes the cake. If you are looking to get some work outsourced, definitely check it out. Although before you do, read my article 'A Guide on How to Succeed at Outsourcing' to save you time and money!
Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more with Google Drive. It starts you off with 15GB of free online storage, and you can also create documents, spreadsheets, forms and slideshows that are easily shareable with links. You can choose to share files with just team members, only people with the link, or making it public. Personally I enjoy having files on Google Drive because it means it's in the cloud and not taking up space on my computer. The app is great too!
When it comes to small business accounting, Freshbooks rules. I've been using it for years. Easily send invoices, track time, manage expenses, and get paid online. With other competitors such as Xero and Quickbooks, I've found Freshbooks to be the easiest to use and also the most cost effective. If you have complex accounts then Xero may be better, however it's certainly harder to use and you're also only allowed to send 5 invoices a month on the starter plan which is annoying.
To try Freshbooks free for a month, click here!
If you need to raise money for your business, it could be worth considering crowdsourcing! Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. A home for film, music, art, theatre, games, comics, design, photography... they fund all kinds of things! Obviously some projects make more sense for crowdfunding than others so it may not be a perfect fit, but still check it out.
Shopify is an awesome ecommerce platform that you can plug into any website in minutes! Easy to build, setup and manage, perfect for anyone selling...anything! They've even got a great iPad app so you can sell to people in person.
Another favourite of mine! Udemy is a huge online marketplace where you can take courses in everything from programming to yoga to photography - and much, much more. They have over 40,000 courses available taught by an expert instructor and every course is available on-demand so you can learn at your own pace, on your own time, on any device. Convenient! They also have regular sales on, so you can get courses from as low as $10!
Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. They've got Q&A's on pretty much everything, and as well as asking your own questions you can follow topics you're interested in. You can also search for previously answered questions as it is quite likely someone has asked a similar one in the past, so instead of waiting for a response you can find one with a number of responses already.
A smarter you in 15 minutes. Blinkist has 1,000+ best-selling nonfiction books, transformed into powerful packs you can read in just 15 minutes. They even offer audio versions, so in a quick commute you've absorbed an entire book. As of this writing the code lucky30 is still functioning as a 30% off coupon, so you can get full access for a year for as little as $55 US. Win!
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So there you have it! These tools will save you money and a heaps of time. If you found this article helpful, please share on social media! You can also join the Exceptions community for free here to get content, tips, reviews and more. Enjoy!
(Twitter & Snapchat @mitchills)