Here is a list of the various tools, systems and folks that I use and recommend… ones that I can’t live without, enjoy!
* In the spirit of full disclosure there are affiliate links within this post, as indicated by a lovely little * beside the link.
Top 10 Tools Tina Couldn’t Live Without!
1) TimeTrade (formerly TimeDriver) – Calendar & Scheduling Management
The day I started using TimeTrade to help schedule appointments was one of the best days of my business life. Instead of having to do that annoying “back and forth dance via email” to find a time to schedule meetings, I connect TimeTrade to my calendar and send folks a link with open times. They simply pick a time that works for them and voila! You are set… it’s dreamy, you must sign up for this, I insist. And at $29.95/year you can’t say no.
2) EchoSign* – Electronic Signature Service
Yes folks, there is a way for people to sign documents without having to fax or scan them in – woo hoo! We discovered this one just a few months back and were jumping up and down in glee. Instead of asking people to “fax back their agreements” for our courses and programs we send them a copy online and they do a virtual signature – it’s all legit and is SOOO much easier all around.
3) Dropbox* – File Sharing and Backup
I don’t know about you but I struggled to find a good backup service for years – I would either forget to use the service (if it wasn’t automatic) or it would hang up my system each time it was doing a backup. Enter Dropbox, which does a seamless “sync” of your files to their online servers – not only is it a backup, it also becomes a way to access your files from anywhere you like. You can also share folders with other people on your team (vs. always trying to send stuff via email). Love love love this tool, I would sing it from the mountain tops.
4) Instant Teleseminar* – Bridgeline Service
I will admit, I was a free bridgeline user for years. I had of course heard of Instant Teleseminar but was too cheap to fork out the $97/month… until I started using it and became hooked. I love how you can see who is online during the calls, you can mute/unmute individual folks easily and record calls with a click of the button. There is a webcast option that people love and even a way to share powerpoint presentations during a call. Plus it’s a paid service, so if you have trouble with your bridgeline you can call someone and say “help!” – which you can’t do with the freebie lines. Believe me, it is well worth the investment.
5) Central Desktop* – Project Management & Virtual Office
Ah the world of project management systems – there is a plethora of choices out there and I feel like I’ve tried them all. I started using Central Desktop a couple of years ago and it remains one of my favs. We use it for project management (keeping track of who is doing what) and also for all of our company files & information (how to do stuff aka SOP guide). It’s a pretty comprehensive system all around and functions very much as a virtual office space – plus they are great at tweaking/improving the system based on user feedback. I give this one two thumbs up.
6) Infusionsoft* – Ecommerce, Broadcasting and CRM
This tool is truly the hub of our business these days (it really should be #1 on the list) – it’s ecommerce, email marketing, automated follow-up and CRM all rolled into one. If you aren’t familiar yet with Infusionsoft you need to get this on your radar… and a warning, as awesome as it is, Infusionsoft is not very “user-friendly” to learn. Don’t try to figure it out yourself or you might go batty, get help from someone who is trained in the system.
7) WishList Member* – Membership Management
This is a powerful WordPress plugin that allows you to create a private “members-only” site for any of your programs – trainings, memberships, associations, you name it. I’ve used WishList for years now for all of my sites – it’s simple to learn, simple to use and makes a lovely protected member site in a snap. (Because it’s a WordPress plugin, you need to have a WordPress based site to use it, but of course.)
8 ) AudioAcrobat* – Recording & Hosting
An oldie but a goodie (if you consider 7 years old, hehe) – I know there are loads of different ways to host and record audios these days but I still always come back to AudioAcrobat. I love that I can record any call, anywhere, anytime simply by dialing into the AA recording system by 3-way calling. And I ESPECIALLY love that AA hosts all the recordings and gives you lots of lovely options for sharing your recordings – cool play buttons, download links and the like. Easy to use, customizable and affordable.
9) VirtualPBX – Virtual Toll-free Number
I know there are lots of great toll-free and virtual phone services out there, this is the one I’ve used for years now. We don’t get a lot of phone calls, but I do like giving people a toll-free number to use if they want to call. You can set up calls to be directed to whomever you like, and also get copies of voicemail messages sent to you via email (which I LOVE). Plus it’s inexpensive, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $15/month.
10) Amazon S3 – Big File Hosting
This is a super dreamy tool if you have large files to host – like videos for example. I remember back in the day when I started in this biz, you used to have to pay ooodles of money to be able to host video. Amazon S3 does the trick and literally costs just dollars a month. We host all of our training videos here for all of our programs – also great to host audio files, PDF files and anything that you don’t want to put on your own servers.
And some ‘bonus’ tools that I love:
11) Vervante - Production & Fulfillment
Once upon a time we used to have to print a bunch of my products (ie: books) in bulk, find a place to store them and then find someone to ship each order as it came in. Not only was it expensive there was lots of room for errors/missing orders and such… tres annoying. Enter Vervante, on demand publishing and distribution – aka they produce orders as they come in and ship them direct. Meaning no upfront costs, no storage fees and a streamlined process. Not to mention that they can pretty much create any product under the sun – from print books to multimedia kits to journals, cards, you name it… we have yet to throw a project at them that they couldn’t do.
12) LIFT Foundation System* – business foundation
LIFT stands for Legal, Insurance, Financial & Tax – the things that we all know we need in our business, but that many of us avoid! Let’s face it, this “official business stuff” can be scary… and yet the risk of not getting these proper structures in place could be much scarier in the long run. Alexis has created an amazing resource here to help you get that solid foundation in place once and for all – it’s brilliant, this is a must for any serious biz owner.
13) People I work with
OK – these guys aren’t “tools” per se but they are people that i’ve worked with over the years and that I highly recommend:
- Graphic Design - Sarah Barrie is a rock star, worked with her for years on many projects (including the fishy stuff you see around here, hehe) and Delaine Ulmer is also awesome. Both will do anything you throw at them – banners, book covers, graphics, etc.
- WordPress/Website/Techy Stuff – Marki Talley is someone that i’ve known for years and she is awesome at tackling all the techy stuff that goes into doing biz online. Everything from WordPress/Website setup to membership sites and other assorted projects. I’ve thrown a few wierd things at her over the years and she’s always been able to figure it out.
- Video Recording & Production – Tanya Watson records and produces all of the videos we create for our various training programs. She takes care of it all from A to Z, we keep her hopping and she’s always able to keep up, love that.
Need help putting any of these resources to work? Book a ‘Pick My Brain’ session with yours truly to map out a plan and get you everything you need to start expanding your business capacity and automating your growth today.