December is one of my favorite months of the year as a business owner.
And it’s not because of the holiday shopping or smells of pine and cinnamon or waking up to the first snowfall.
We’re getting to that time of year when many of us stop to reflect on how we’re running our businesses, our goals for the new year, and what we can do to make operations more efficient.
While I’ll definitely spend December doing that, this month is also an opportunity to appreciate what’s already working well — including the tools that made things run smoother than years past.
Those top 5 tools are what I want to share with you today:
There is no better friend to an entrepreneur than a to-do list. Nope, not even your accountant. I’ve been using Asana since 2013 and it is the peanut butter to my jelly – I really don’t know what I would do without it.
If you don’t have some sort of organized checklist of top priority tasks assigned to due dates, then please get Asana in your life. It’s accessible from both your desktop and phone and it’s super intuitive and easy to use.
I’ve written about Planoly before when I shared my best Instagram hacks — this is definitely one of them.
For $9/month, Planoly is an app that allows you to create an editorial calendar for your Instagram posts. You can move images around to see how they’ll appear in grid format, write your captions ahead of time, and set a reminder on your phone that notifies you when to post.
If you’re starting or running a fashion brand in this day and age, then you must have a thoughtful visual representation on Instagram. And Planoly makes it easier to do that.
Edgar is a bit on the pricey side but honestly, it’s worth every penny.
If you already use a social media scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer, you know how it works. You schedule your social media posts for Facebook or Twitter and then it posts for you.
The problem is, once that blog post, guest post or media feature is published, you have to schedule it again. And if there’s anything we know about social media these days, it’s that it’s not enough to simply publish something once.
Edgar is the social media scheduling tool that manages itself. Instead of publishing your post once, it saves it and recycles it at a later date. It is the social media gift that keeps on giving and makes those frustrating Facebook algorithms that much easier to deal with.
I’ve been using it since it launched in 2014 and will never go back.
If you sell anything online, Shopify is the e-commerce platform that I recommend above all others.
Comparing it to anything else is like comparing brass to gold — nothing against brass, but other e-commerce sites lack the lustre and shine that Shopify can offer an online store.
Beyond the benefit of how easy it is to build your site, my favorite thing about Shopify is the app library that you can use for free or at a very low cost. If there’s anything you need to customize or implement that your template doesn’t already offer, then they probably have an app for it.
I also love the personal support you can get from the “Shopify Experts” if you’re really not tech savvy. And then there’s the ease of managing the back-end of your shipping and fulfillment…
I could clearly go on, but I won’t… Shopify. Use it.
5.) UPWORK / A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I *really* don’t know what I would do without my assistant, Erika of VAology, and I hired her through Upwork.
It took me a while (like two years) to hire someone that I could trust with the tasks I needed to outsource and she was worth the wait. If there’s something Erika doesn’t know how to do, then she figures it out — and that’s exactly what you want out of someone you hire.
When you get to the point of having some disposable business income, make a list of all of the tasks that take time out of your day but someone else could easily do. For me, that meant first hiring Erika to put my blog posts up on WordPress and format and schedule my email campaigns.
As our working relationship grew, I gave her new tasks that freed up my time to create, plan and spend more time focused on my entrepreneurs in Factory45.
A jack-of-all-trades assistant is the first hire I recommend making and you can easily research, vet and interview prospective candidates through Upwork.
(Also, Erika’s team is currently taking on new clients. They’re based in the U.S. and speak English as a first language. You can fill out their intake form here.)
And last but not least, here are the runners up to my top five: Google Drive and LastPass.
Happy planning, scheduling and outsourcing,