The Simple Business App That Makes the Biggest Difference: GSuite
So we find ourselves on the 5th story of my 5 part series on my favorite business tools / apps. In this series, you're getting the insider look at the five programs I use all the time to make my business run smoothly.
And as you'll see at the bottom, I'm also highlighting other apps/tools I use consistently throughout my business and I've created this resources page where you can find everything going forward!
5th BUSINESS TOOL: GSUITE FOR BUSINESS
GSuite or Google Suite is the professional version of Gmail / Google for business users and it's what I use to have my firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Now I know it sounds like I'm about to tell you something super obvious and simple, but hang with me - switching from a personal Gmail to GSuite was game-changing for Greatest Story. I put it off forever and so glad I finally did it in December 2016.
Let's talk about why.
Switching from a personal Gmail account to a separate business one with GSuite dramatically improved my work/life balance.
I can't believe I put off the switch for nearly 3 years of business! I was always put off by the $5/ a month charge to have a GSuite account.
During "Batch December" last year, I switched over and it was like my mind was cleared! I'm not sure how I ever handled one master inbox of personal and professional. I was always feeling pulled at.
The simple act of having a separate account / separate window and inbox for my business emails was incredibly helpful to make mental boundaries between my life and my business. I was able to organize my business emails and start with a clean slate.
Knowing what I know now, I wish I'd done this from day one. It's worth $5 and then some just for this!
Important tip: If you only have a personal account and especially if you don't have a "email@example.com" account, you need to get one if you're a business owner. Having a professional email address is key to making sure you and your business are perceived professionally. Don't wait on this one or be frugal about it - it's a $5/a month investment in positioning yourself well!
* Interested in more balance? Check out this post on three ways to find more work/life balance as a small business owner.
I use many of the features of GSuite all the time with clients and collaborators.
GSuite is more than just a professional Gmail account, it also comes with a Google Calendar and Google Drive (to name a few).
Google Drive (similar to Dropbox) is a great means of sharing files with clients and partners on projects. I've used it for everything from hosting client work too large to be hosted by Squarespace on a client portal, to co-editing presentation outlines with co-presenters.
With Drive, there's also Google Sheets (like Excel), Google Docs (like Word), and Google Slides (like Powerpoint / Keynote) -- that you can access for free with your account and use to create documents (and share them or download them) for your business.
And bookkeeping!! I even use the Google Drive app on my phone to take pictures of all my receipts and sort them into Receipt Folders, ready to go as digital copies.
More Great Business Tools for Small Business Owners
I had a difficult time choosing which 5 tools I use to highlight, since there are so many great things I use to grow Greatest Story.
In this series, I chose to share with you the 5 most interesting and valuable tools that I think add value to any small business and your life as an entrepreneur.
To be shared more in future series or posts, here are some additional favorites to scope out that are relevant to most small businesses and small business owners:
- Toggl (www.toggl.com, Time-tracking App, Free): I began using Toggl to track all my time last summer and it's been increasingly helpful to understanding my business better and growing more strategically. Here's my post on better ways to time management, how I use Toggl, and how you can too.
- Google Voice (www.google.com/voice), Phone Forwarding App, Free): Though Google Voice is part of the GSuite family of services, it deserves it's own mention. I have my business phone number through Google voice and here's my post on 9 creative ways you can use this powerful free app to improve your business.
- Wave Apps (www.waveapps.com), Invoicing App, Free): Though I no longer use the Wave Receipts app, I love Wave for financial reporting, invoicing, and taking online payments. Easy to brand to your business (add your logo, etc.) and super simple to send invoices and estimates - Wave is a wonderful free resource. Here's my post on 4 ways to make your bookkeeping easier as a small business owner, including how I use Wave.
- MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com), Email Marketing Platform, Free Level): Though I no longer use MailChimp (because I outgrew its capabilities!) - MailChimp is a great platform for sending regular emails like newsletters to clients and customers. Skip to Action started on MailChimp and ran for a year and a half before I switched to ConvertKit.
- ConvertKit (www.convertkit.com), Email Marketing Platform, $30/a mo+): ConvertKit is what I use now for email marketing and so much more. ConvertKit allows me to tag readers like you with your interests, likes / dislikes so I can be very thoughtful and intentional about what emails you get from me. For example, I can easily make sure to only email NC Triangle residents about an in-person workshop. I love being able to only share what's relevant to you and send you more things you'd enjoy - ConvertKit makes it simple, even though there's definitely a behind the scenes learning curve I'm still navigating! CK also allows you to easily add content upgrades, opt-ins, email sequences, and more great things.
Key Tools Specific To My Business
I'll also mention briefly honorable mentions of two programs that are pivotal to Greatest Story, but not to every small business. Here there are and how I use them regularly.
- Adobe Illustrator (www.adobe.com, Vector Design Program, $22/a mo): I taught myself Adobe Illustrator to design our wedding invitations in 2012. It's a vector-based design program that's part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. I don't currently use any of the other Adobe programs regularly (like Photoshop) so I only subscribe to Illustrator. I open this program at least once a day and use it for all my client branding work plus things like social media graphics for events I host.
- SmartSheet (www.smartsheet.com, Project Scheduling Software, $10/a mo): I searched for a project scheduling software for what felt like forever. I found SmartSheet and it was a near perfect solution for me for scheduling my client projects. I need to be able to put in a start date and then have 30 or even 40 other dates generate automatically based on that! Before this, I used to do this work by hand. What took me an hour plus now takes me 60 seconds or less. I even built templates for every type of project I offer so I can easily set up a new client's schedule in no time flat! Not a need for every business, but if you have to schedule complex projects - take a look at this one.
NEW Resources Page
Per all these recommendations, I've created a new Resources for Small Business Owners page on Greatest Story's website. Visit it and share it with friends and family here: www.greateststorycreative.com/biz/small-business-resources
What's Coming Next Week?
I’ll be back next week with a brand new series inspired by my recent trip to DC. We'll be looking at Connecting With Your Customers! Together, we'll look at everything from the dangers of false advertising to how to meet your customers at their level.
What questions do you have about customer service and connecting well with clients and customers? Let me know and perhaps I can include a response in the series coming up.
Further Resources and Reading:
- "How to Setup Google Mail Across a Small Company" (AmericanExpress OPEN Forum)
- "How to Use Gmail for Business: Step by Step Guide" (Fit Small Business)