15 Tech Tools To Hack Your Productivity: Faves Of Million-Dollar Entrepreneurs
If you run a one-person business, you know how hard it is to get everything done, even if you’re super-efficient. To help you amp up your personal productivity, I asked owners of some of the million-dollar, one- and two-person businesses I’ve profiled in this blog to share some of the tools and hacks they use to automate their work and extend their reach. Here are some of their favorites:
Audience Owl: Sol Orwell, founder of Examine.com, a seven-figure, one-man business that sells reports on nutritional supplements, is an active user of this site, which analyze your email lists and Twitter followers to understand their demographics and identify whom to network with. If there are any influencers or people who seem interesting, you can say, ` I saw you signed up on our list’ and open a dialogue,” he explains.
Dashlane: This is one of many sites that help you keep track of your digital passwords. The app, which you can download on your phone or computer, is a browser extension for Safari, Chrome or Firefox. It retains user names, passwords and other information you want to keep safe, like credit card numbers. Allen Walton, founder of spy camera store SpyGuySecurity.com—which is on track to exceed $1 million in revenue in its first year—is a fan. “It automatically logs me into any website I go to,” he says.
Evernote: Kelly Lester, founder of Easylunchboxes—which brings in $1.7 million in annual revenue—says this site is where she keeps track of the many details of her business. It lets you take notes, gather articles you find online and create presentations quickly. “It saves my butt every single day!” she says.
Google Survey: Orwell likes this app, which enables him to get valuable feedback from his audience. “If you literally just ask your users, `What do you wish I offered, they will give you the very ideas you need,” he says. Another good alternative, he says, is SurveyMonkey.
Gusto: Formerly known as ZenPayroll, this is the site where Walton turned when he finally needed to hire his first employee. It offers services to help small employers set up payroll, pay contractors, obtain worker’s compensation and provide health benefits.
“All I have to do is pick the employee I have and how many hours he works this week,” says Walton. “I hit submit. It instantly does a direct deposit into his bank account. He can log in and see his paycheck stub. He has complete financial data. I could log in on a Friday and hit three buttons in 20 seconds and my payroll is done.” The base price is $29 a month, plus $6 per person.
HelloBond: Nadler is an avid user of this site. It lets you send letters written with a fine fountain pen by a robot, to people on whom you want to make a good impression—such as high-profile prospects. “This new form of snail mail is the most eloquent way to reach prominent personalities,” he says.
Join.me: Dan Mezheritzky likes to use this site, as founder and President of Fitness on the Go, an in-home personal training franchise based in Vancouver, Canada, that is on track to break $4 million in systemwide revenue this year with no employees other than Mezheritzky “It has given me the ability to show my business to potential franchisees without travel,” he says. He’s also a fan of Skype videoconferences.
Mention.net: If you’re looking to raise the profile of your website, this app, for which monthly fees start at $29, could be helpful. Orwell is a fan of this site. “It lets you track mentions of your website and your organization across the web,” he says.
RingCentral: Walton likes this VoIP provider for his phone service. When customers call and the line is busy, it automatically places them in the hold queue. He has found the sound quality to be up to par. “In a year of doing this, I’ve never had anyone ask me if I was on a cell phone,” he says.
ShippingEasy: If you sell merchandise, this site simplifies the process of printing labels, processing orders and automating tracking. Walton has synced it with his ecommerce store on Shopify. “Let’s say someone buys a GPS tracker from my website,” says Walton. “Shopify get that information. It sends it to ShippingEasy.” Walton has pre-programmed the size and weight of his products into ShippingEasy so the labels are accurate.
Slack: Even if you don’t have employees, you may have a team of contractors you chat with regularly. This free app makes it easy to communicate with whoever is on your team. “When I first heard about it I was like what the heck–that doesn’t sound useful at all,” says Walton. “It’s cut my emails way down. It’s basically a glorified chat room.” Walton, who now has a marketing contractor and one employee who does customer service, uses it to communicate with them. “We can IM between each other, real fast, and it remove the email clutter everyone has,” he says.
Snacktools: Lester said this is one of her faves. This site offers free apps to design your website, offering everything from slideshow technology to flipbooks. “It is a really, really, really great service,” she says. She used the flipbook app to make the Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Easy Lunchboxes.
Timetrade: Mezheritsky is a fan of this online scheduling software. “It helps me stay organized on my calls,” Mezheritsky says. “It sends confirmations to people that book a time with me along with a reminder to me, but most importantly I can control the hours of availability.”
Trello: Walton is an active user of this site, with integrates with Slack . It is a productivity tool where you can keep track of projects. “If my employee needs me to do something, he’ll create a task and put it on my Trello board,” says Walton. When you’re running an ultra-lean business, the more organized you are, the more you can get done.