One of the main parts of my job is making everyone else’s job easier. 😌 That’s why I’m constantly on the lookout for tools that will make our business run more smoothly and give our whole team a break.
There are so many tools out there, but it can be tough to know which options are worth your time and money and which ones are going to let you down. Because I know how tough it can be to get a good recommendation, I keep a running list of what we use so I can share that information with others.
Here are the tools that make it all the way to the top of my favorites list:
There are many password managers out there, but I love 1Password. Not only is it really easy to use, but it also has a better security record than alternatives like LastPass. 🏆 If your company is growing and you need to be able to easily onboard and offboard contractors, employees, and teams, 1Password is the right choice. I’ve trained a lot of folks, and I find 1Password to be really easy to set up and teach.
For marketing emails, newsletters, and email sequences, I recommend Active Campaign. This tool can do a lot, but the user interface isn’t confusing or tough to navigate. There are also a lot of customization options and automation capabilities that make it the obvious choice over competitors like MailChimp. If you are concerned about the price differentials, this shrinks considerably once your list grows beyond 1,000 subscribers, something you should aim to achieve for the sake of your business. You can also use Active Campaign as a CRM, so it’s a worthwhile investment.
We use Loom as an option that falls somewhere between live conferencing and email. 🙋 Sometimes the team is just too busy for a live meeting with a client, but someone can usually sneak in enough time to record their screen along with a quick explanation or walkthrough. Recipients can view the video in their own time, making coordinating schedules less of an issue. Loom also works great for creating training documentation or resources, so you’ll come across a lot of our Loom videos in The Greenhouse. If you’ve ever gotten tired of trying to write out a long email explanation or struggled with finding a time that’s free for all parties, give Loom a try.
Everyone knows the power of the whiteboard in a brainstorming session, but in our increasingly remote work world, it has gotten harder and harder to share ideas in this way. Luckily, Miro is a great digital alternative. While you can’t collaborate on a physical board, Miro recreates this functionality, allowing you to collaborate with folks all around the world. Whether you’re trying to do a quick brain dump or strategize about streamlining a process, you’ll find options in Miro that make it easy. There are even perks to using this digital alternative: while wiping a whiteboard leaves no history, digital tools allow you to look back at changes and past versions.
Missive is our go-to email client because it allows for collaborative inbox management, something that is important for our team. Because Missive allows different users to see and respond to emails, our clients don’t have to wait for their message to be forwarded to the right person. Instead, our team is able to respond to support requests and questions quickly, and no one has to be in charge of forwarding emails. These kinds of collaborative tools are crucial to a small team like ours that is dedicated to excellent customer service.
If you need to automate a repeatable task using multiple systems, Zapier is a must. For example, you could leverage this tool to take data from your website forms and move it to your CRM. It’s also great for workflows because you can set up event triggers that will carry out other actions, taking your to-do list down without you having to lift a finger. Zapier works with over 4,000 apps, making it incredibly flexible and ready to handle almost anything you throw at it. 😍
Great for your standard PDF contracts and agreements, PandaDoc makes it easy to get documents created, sent, signed, and returned. We’ve found PandaDoc to be better at creating documents and more flexible than its competitor DocuSign.You can also create templates and save sections so that it’s easy to save items that you use a lot. Bonus recommendation: you can use Zapier to integrate PandaDoc with your CRM and payment processing system!
We use Qwilr for our sales proposals because the end product feels a lot more like a website. This can make the user experience better for our clients since they’ll instinctively know how to navigate the proposal. It also allows for a simpler layout, something folks tend to appreciate when they’re wading through a lot of information at once. 😮💨 It’s also very easy to design a document using Qwilr, something that speeds up our own process when it comes to making a proposal template.
QuickBooks, Chargeover, and Harvest
A lot of folks use this combo to manage their bookkeeping, billing, and time tracking. QuickBooks has basic invoicing and bill-tracking functionality, but it also allows you to run reports that can help illuminate how your business is doing. There are also options to automate, which is always a win. If you add ChargeOver to the equation, even particularly complex billing processes get simpler. You can easily set up payment schedules, retainers, or subscriptions. And if you’re looking for a great time-tracking app, we highly recommend Harvest; it’s what our team uses to track time.
If you’ve ever faced a mountain of mail on your desk and worried that you might miss something important in all the junk, Traveling Mailbox might be the solution you’re looking for. Instead of having all that snail mail come to you, you’ll get a business mailing address you can use for traditional mail. Traveling Mailbox will email you scanned images of all the incoming items, and you’ll be able to choose what you want sent to you. 📬 You can also have Traveling Mailbox open an item and scan its contents for your viewing, or you can ask to have a piece of mail shredded. This can be especially useful for businesses that are entirely remote: you won’t have to manage a PO box or give your home address for business mail.
Other CRMs and Project Management Tools
It’s always difficult to give a recommendation for a CRM or project management software because every business is unique and has different needs. I’ll be honest: we’ve also tried a lot of different platforms and left some just because they didn’t do the specific things we needed them to do. That doesn’t make them a bad tool, it just means they weren’t the right fit for our team.
However, if you’ve just started looking around and need a place to start, we’ve seen a lot of folks successfully use ClickUp, Asana, and Teamwork for project management. Giving any one of these tools a try might help you zero in on what features and functionalities are most important to your team. For CRMs, we’d suggest taking a look at Dubsado, Pipedrive, Attio, or Airtable.
The search for the right app or tool can be frustrating. It takes a lot of energy to research and choose a tool, and then it’s a bummer when you’ve spent time and money on something only to find that it doesn’t solve your problem. But don’t get discouraged! The right tool can do a lot for your business and your team.
Sometimes, all you need is a bit of advice about how to best leverage a tool. If you’re looking for more recommendations or insight on apps, software, and programs, you may want to check out The Greenhouse. Our network is full of great advice as well as helpful tips and tricks.