As a small business owner, I thought it would be helpful to share the tools that I've found most useful as I set up my coaching practice from scratch, with very little additional funding.
I spent the bulk of my funding on getting high quality coaching training and qualifications. I thought my clients would appreciate that more than a fancy website; and it seems that decision was right.
Whichever tool I use, I aim to try it out first for ease of use; and to ensure it's fit for purpose. I don't want to waste my investment.
Some of the tools I use are free, some are free trials and some need investment. I'd love to hear which tools you use most frequently and how they help your business. I've included some alternatives which I've explored and might transfer across to in the future.
None of these are endorsements or recommendations. You need to make your own informed decision about the right tools for your business. I'm writing this to give you some ideas to get you going.
Here we go :)
1. Scheduling Apps
I use Calendly for clients who want to use an online scheduler. My regular clients tend to book their next session with me at the end of our coaching call so they don't use it! But it's helpful for potential clients to check out my availability for the initial call.
Visit: www.calendly.com and www.calendly.com/nickypeachment
An alternative which I've been trialling is 10to8 who are very similar but have some really cool options that would suit some of my clients much better than Calendly.
2. Image and Post Designs
My preferred option is Canva. I love it so much that I expect I'll be transferring to a paid plan in the new financial year. You can select options for flyers, social media posts and headers. It took me a while to get used to using it because I was a newbie, but it's actually pretty simple to get started and I can't believe how much they offer without you paying for anything.
3. Image and Photo Sites
My go-to site is Unsplash for high quality images which I then use in my blog posts, social media and occasionally on my website. Although it's copyright free and you don't pay anything, I do add the credit to the image as I feel the photographer should get something out of this lovely site. It's also very easy to use!
There are other options out there, and the paid sites like Shutterstock are very well respected for a reason. But when you're starting out with limited budgets, sites like Unsplash are a real find.
I've used a variety of platforms for websites such as Wix and Weebly. There are lots of options and most seem to give free access so you can try out a few first. Some will sell you a domain name, some will host your website, some will give you the design tools. It depends a lot on budget and how much time you want to put into it, as well as how technically savvy you are.
Another great option is to employ a website design company to do it for you. Remember to ask them to share examples of their work, and lots of questions about how they would work with you, before you commit to anything.
Visit: www.wix.com or www.weebly.com
5. Social Media Schedulers
Having selected your social media and decided on a strategy for each platform, a social media scheduler can be helpful in posting content automatically. Whilst I enjoy connecting on social media with likes and comments that I do myself, I find a scheduling app does take some of the pressure off.
You load up your content on there, and it posts based on a schedule that you have decided. Most have a free option, but of course there are limits; such as how many accounts or posts you can add.
My preference is Buffer although I have used others in the past and they have all been straightforward to use.
6. Online Calls
My business would not have grown so easily if I wasn't able to use online video and call software. Currently, my clients prefer Skype and Zoom. Although in the past I've also used FaceTime (for iPhone). Skype is also great for messaging - as is WhatsApp. Although I've got my main platforms, I generally will use whichever option my clients are happiest using!
Visit: www.skype.com or www.zoom.com
Aside from these tools, you might already be using Virtual Assistants or Freelancers to help you to grow your business without taking on full time staff. This is a great option for topping up skills without a full time commitment, especially during a busy period or for a particular project delivery.
I'd love to hear which tools you are using to build and grow your business.
I will keep updating this post if you find it useful, so please share your suggestions!