Your time is invaluable and it is truly the only non-renewable resource. Once that minute, that hour, or that day is over, it’s gone forever. In this way, the objective isn’t really about finding more time to do the things that need to be done. Rather, it’s about figuring out how best to utilize your time and work in the most effective and most efficient way possible. When you save time, you boost your productivity.
Thanks to the power of the internet and continual improvements to technology in business and in our everyday lives, there are a number of remarkable online tools that can help to fuel the success of your business, empowering you to work smarter, not harder. With every blog, brand, or business utilizing the internet to create content, grow their following and generate more business online, it would be tough to imagine any of that growth and success without many of the tools and methods featured below.
1. Better management of contracts and e-signatures
Unless you’re already a legal expert yourself (and even if you are), contracts can be a very complicated and burdensome area for any business. You certainly want to keep up with your due diligence, but you don’t want to spend hours on end digging up the right contracts, ensuring they are worded correctly, and getting the right people to sign off on them in the fastest, most convenient, and still a completely binding way.
With the finances of your business being one of the most important metrics to measure, having the right platform in place for all of these incoming and outgoing contracts, invoices, and payments is ideal.
Striving to reinvent contract management is ContractZen, an all-in-one solution from meta-data structured easy contract and document storage to organized meeting notes with relevant documents (unlike google drive or Dropbox, that are not “smart”).
This turnkey cloud service is enterprise-grade, making it far easier than ever before to handle all sorts of contracts. They’re stored securely and you can collect e-signatures with ease. Stored contracts are sorted by metadata into dynamic folders and you can assign visual hashtags for even more organization. There’s a complete audit trail, as well as a native iOS app, document linking, saved searches, and high-end encryption.
Beyond contracts, ContractZen is also great for organizing your meetings and making sure all of your important files and information are accessible from anywhere. You can put together agendas, schedule meetings, collect meeting notes, share materials, automate invites and more. Pricing starts at $9.50 per user per month.
2. Generators for finding that perfect name
Having a hard time coming up with an available domain name for your company? Or maybe you’re looking for ideas for your business name (and need a domain name to go with it)? A great source of inspiration for this purpose can come from the numerous domain name generators that you find online.
A great example of this is Domain Puzzler, which presents itself in a few different modes. With the default “easy” mode, you simply enter a comma or space-separated list of keywords (along with your preferred TLDs) and the tool will return a list of available (and unavailable) domain names underneath. If you use the “advanced” mode, you can combine keywords to produce more unique domains. And finally, “magic” mode takes your preferred keywords and adds additional suggested words to come up with even more unique domain names.
Using domain generator tools like this can be far more efficient and effective than simply going through a process of trial and error, hoping to stumble across an available domain name that hits your preferred keywords.
3. Creating a better logo for your brand
Branding is incredibly important for companies of all sizes, but not every business has the time, resources or wherewithal to develop a great brand logo. And while hiring a professional designer may sound desirable, it may not necessarily be the most cost-effective and it may not be the fastest way to go about it either.
If you’re looking for a professional logo, don’t want to spend a lot of money, and don’t want to wait around for design proposals, the Tailor Brands might be just the solution for you. This tool leverages the power of artificial intelligence to make a great-looking logo for your computer in a matter of minutes.
You simply provide the tool with some basic inspiration by deciding on colours and styles that you like. Based on your tastes and input, the tool will then generate a number of custom logos that are catered to your business. Pick the one that you like (or get the tool to generate more possibilities) and optionally customize it further by changing the font size, spacing, iconography and so forth. Once you’re ready to go, you can make payment and download the files. It’s that easy.
Pricing starts as low as $2.99.
4. Explainer videos save time and get to the point
How many times have you been to a website that offers a service, and simply have no idea what it is, or how it could provide value to you?
This happens all too often, and it really is a wonder why more brands and businesses aren’t using online explainer videos on their sites. Not only does this save time for visitors to the site, but also for the brand in explaining to their audience what it is they offer.
This is especially true when you consider the different online tools and advancements in technology lately. For example, in the past, if you wanted to create an online explainer video with a full voice over, this could potentially cost thousands. You would need to hire a graphic designer, a video production team, and someone to do the voiceover work as well.
An alternative (both in cost and time savings), is a video creation tool like mysimpleshow. Through this explainer video creation tool, anyone can create videos of their own, while choosing clipart, adding text and even voiceovers with the click of a button. The option is also there to upload custom artwork and audio as well. Users can create videos for free and upgrade to a premium plan for more features and branding options.
5. Improve team communication and project management
Working in a team environment? As great as the search function in Gmail and other email utilities might be, getting buried in endless email conversation strings is hardly the best way for team members to communicate and collaborate with one another. What if you want to share files or check in on the progress of certain projects?
There is a reason why Basecamp continues to be one of the leading names in online project management. All of your work can be gathered together in one place, so everyone can see exactly what is going on within each project, as well as who is working on what (and how far along they are). This minimizes the need for actual meetings, boosting productivity all around as everyone can keep doing the actual work that matters.
Basecamp is great for increasing accountability too, as it makes it easy to keep tabs on tasks and deadlines. Conversations can be organized by project, notifications are rolled into one place, and everyone can chat around a “campfire” digital environment. For $99 per month, you get unlimited users, unlimited projects, and 500GB of cloud storage.
Another great option you might consider for team communications and project management is Trello. Some professionals swear by the board, list and card organization style within Trello, which borrow much of their inspiration from Kanban boards. Tasks are arranged as cards, which can then be color-coded, assigned to team members, and expanded with sub-task lists and more.
A basic Trello account is free or you can upgrade to “business class” for $9.99 per user per month when paid annually. That unlocks a number of premium features like unlimited power-ups, larger file attachments, and restricted membership invitations.
6. Inbox zero and sending faster email responses
The notion of “inbox zero” is a unicorn myth that will only ever be achieved by a very select few. The truth is that the vast majority of professionals waste far too much time reading and responding to email, and not nearly enough time actually working on the tasks that matter. Get out of the bottomless pit of email much more quickly by using canned responses in Gmail.
Do you find that you end up giving the same kinds of replies over and over again? Maybe you need to acknowledge receipt of a guest post submission for your blog. Perhaps you get invitations to speak at certain events or conferences, but that’s not the kind of thing that interests you at all (or maybe you always end up asking for more information anyhow). With canned responses in Gmail, you can set up multiple email templates instead of having to copy and paste the same response over and over again.
It’s actually really easy to set up in Gmail. The function must first be enabled in Gmail Labs, and then you can compose a new email and save it as a template. The next time you want to use one of your canned responses, simply bring it up in the usual “compose” window in the “insert” section and send. It’s that easy.
7. Web hosting that works with and for you
When starting a business or brand online, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is the initial setup of their hosting, connecting domains, and installing WordPress. Sure, after you’ve done this a few times, the process is quite easy – but the first time around, it can be a complete headache! A better option is to choose a web hosting platform that not only makes the sign-up and integration process easy but also eliminates the need for any technical or coding skills as well.
Going with a solution like Bluehost will eliminate most of these frustrations, as they are not only hosting millions of websites and domains, they also have push-button solutions for installing WordPress and many other site applications. Another great reason to rely on Bluehost for saving time and increasing productivity is that they’ve mastered the art of providing customers with the necessary chat support and online tutorials for both new site owners and advanced brands and marketers.
Start using these tools today, to grow your business tomorrow
As mentioned earlier, it would be quite a task to grow any type of online business or brand without using online tools and technology. With so many different options for creating content, improving your brand image, connecting with others, and actually building a team around your brand – each of these tools and growth hacks can instantly improve the day to day operations of your business instantly.
Be sure to run through the list again and see which of these tools might be useful in not only saving time and increasing productivity but to also help propel your brand past the competition in the process!
Guest author: Zac Johnson is a world-renowned blogger and entrepreneur