With this year rapidly coming to an end, I have been thinking a lot about the “little” things that have made running my business a whole lot easier this year. Each has, in their own way, made me more efficient, organized, and creative.
Since any given week you may find me in Pennsylvania, D.C., or traveling, the key has always been finding tools that allow me to easily run my business from anywhere.
Additionally, I have found that since increasing my social media presence, I also needed to find ways to streamline that process. It was crucial to free up the time necessary to do both my “regular work” and not drop the ball online.
This past year fulfilling those two needs has been my quest. Many of you already know I consider myself “technically challenged” so, no matter what, anything I considered had to be extremely easy to use and still make a big enough impact to get the results I desired.
While I am sure many of you would have your own (and probably better) list, this is what I have found to work for me:
- My MacBook Air ~ I honestly can’t take the credit for this “find”. It was a Christmas gift from my husband last year. And even though I protested the cost (I had previously used much lower priced laptops), I absolutely love it! The biggest advantage has been its light weight and long battery life. Both make it extremely easy for travel or working where there is not a readily available outlet (think sitting on a hotel balcony looking at the ocean!).
- Calendar & Notes ~ Both were already loaded onto my MacBook and each have really made an impact. With Calendar it is easy to keep track of upcoming appointments and deadlines. I love the reminder feature that pops up the day before and day of any event I have scheduled. I have found Notes to be a great organizational tool. When I find an article I want to either read later or share online, I simply copy the link into notes and am able to access it when I have time. I also use it to jot down quick blog ideas or “things to do”. I find myself adding to Notes many times during a work day.
- Hootsuite ~ Hootsuite is probably the single most effective tool I found this year. Prior to using it, I was going on each social media site individually to schedule posts. Now that has changed. I love the ability to easily pre-schedule posts to all my sites right in Hootsuite. It is also nice to be able to take a quick look at what is going on in each using the streams. While there are many other features available in Hootsuite, I have yet to use them....maybe next year. For right now, this is what works for me.
- Paper.li ~ Through the creation of my weekly online paper, “Access Profiles Weekly”, I have been able to reach more readers for my blog and for the articles I share from others. The best part is that it takes very little additional time for me to generate each edition. At the suggestion, and with the help, of Joe Soltis of Soltis Consulting, it was easy to set up my existing blog and tweets as the content feed for my paper. In this way, articles are published in my paper with no additional work from me. Perfect!
- Guest Writers on my Blog ~ While this is not a “tool”, sharing the blog posts of others has been wonderful. It not only allows me to post more often to my blog, it also gives me a chance to “pay it forward” to other bloggers. A surprising benefit has been the creative boost it has given my own writing. I find reading the interesting thoughts of my guest bloggers jump starts many of my best ideas.
Looking ahead to 2014, I have placed Mailchimp on deck. I have yet to learn a lot about it, but I like that it is an easy to use tool to ramp up email marketing. I have done very little to date to use email effectively, so this is definitely something I will look into.
I am also planning on using Pinterest in some more creative ways. While my business does not easily lend itself to such a “visual” medium, I will try and create images of my services and turn customer testimonials into pins.
As a bonus, I would also like to add that the help of my family, clients, and online friends has not gone unnoticed.
My family has always been supportive and understanding of my weird hours and oftentimes pre-occupation with work. Without them, I would not have the freedom to pursue my goals.
I have also enjoyed considerable encouragement and loyalty from my clients. This past year has brought new ones into the fold, and for that I am grateful. Each customer, new and old, renews my sense of purpose.
And finally, my Online Friends. They have acted as my cheerleaders, mentors, and sounding boards. Some have even lent me their skills. Most importantly, all have made it much easier, and definitely more fulfilling, to run my business.
I can’t wait to see what happens next year!
If you would like tips to help you jump start your business in 2014, subscribe to my blog and check out my website.
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