Last year I got really frustrated with the tech that my business runs on. There were so many moving pieces, my systems felt clunky, and I was tired of spending so much time on admin. I conducted an informal systems audit, which I wrote about here. As a result of that little inquiry, I made the big decision to update almost all of the tools I use behind the scenes.
Today I’m sharing those big changes and the tools I trust to run my business. I’m also including my recommendations for new businesses, because some of the things I’m using now would not have been suitable for my brand new business, and may not work for yours.
The Tools I Trust to Run My Business
I switched to Squarespace after using Wordpress for 4 years. My WP site had gone from DIY to DIWTF on the back-end with countless plugins and janky code modifications. Squarespace gets my highest recommendation for ease of use, affordability, and design capabilities. Squarespace also means no separate hosting account, security needs, or plugins. Praise be! And did I mention that the design is automatically responsive?
My rec for new businesses: Squarespace, all the way. There’s a great free trial, and the tutorials are up to date and extremely helpful.
Simplero is my all-in-one solution for newsletters, membership sites, accepting client applications, affiliate programs, private video hosting, file hosting, and digital product delivery. It is a robust system, has a learning curve, and is a bit of an investment. That said, I adore it. I do almost all of my own admin work, and Simplero means I spend less time on those tasks. It has everything in one place so I don’t have to duct tape multiple systems together. Bonus points because I get texts every time I make a sale, which means I obsess less and stay away from my computer more during launches.
My rec for new businesses: MailChimp for newsletters, E-Junkie for digital product delivery and affiliate programs, Satori for invoicing, Dropbox for file storage, YouTube for video hosting, and Squarespace or Satori for client applications/questionnaires.
An easy to use, well-designed online scheduler. I’m on the Emerging Entrepreneur plan.
My rec for new businesses: The Freebie level of Acuity, or the built-in scheduler if using Satori.
I accept payments through Stripe as opposed to PayPal because for my courses with recurring payments, Stripe allows auto-charges to credit and debit cards without sending an invoice. This was another thing I wanted to automate so I could spend less time doing things like sending invoices.
My rec for new businesses: Stripe or PayPal. Both are reliable and cost about the same.
I was definitely a late adopter on this one. I used Mac Mail for about a decade before switching to Gmail. I started getting spam that Mail did not filter and moved to Gmail for primarily that reason. Now that I’m there, I love Gmail! There are so many great automations and features available that Mail doesn’t offer. When I emailed 84 female entrepreneurs asking them to be part of this post, I was very grateful for the Canned Responses feature.
My rec for new businesses: Gmail for the win. Forward your custom domain email address to your Gmail account.
I work with one assistant (my sister!) who does about 8-10 hours of work per month for me. We did a lot of emailing back and forth to coordinate our efforts, and deadlines and ideas kept getting buried in email chains. I asked her to research an alternative for us, and we decided to move our communications over to Asana. Anything she does or I do that directly affects her work goes into Asana. Now instead of emailing her, I create a task in Asana where I can leave notes and give it a due date. She can see when I’ve completed my deliverables and vice versa.
My rec for new businesses: Asana! It’s a great project management system even if you’re working solo, and it’s free. If you’re looking for a barebones digital to-do list, check out TeuxDeux.
So those were the major systems changes I made. To see the complete list of tools I trust to run my business, including my favorite paper planner, my productivity secret weapon, and the 3 (!) platforms I use to manage social media, sign up below for the Solopreneur Cheat Sheet.