12 Essential Business Tools You Need This Year

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With so many ways to automate, streamline, and outsource the process of building and growing your business, how do you know which business tools to use? With over 20 years of experience in the online selling space, I’ve used multiple software and business tools. In this article, I share the Top 12 business tools you need this year to run your business more efficiently.

Why Entrepreneurs use Business Tools

Let me just start this episode by telling you EVERY entrepreneur on this planet has multiple software and business tools in their expenses list. Business tools not only keep you organized but also run your business more efficiently…. Whether you’re a solopreneur of one or have a small team of humans helping you.

Online business tools allow you to accomplish tasks and projects in minutes instead of hours or days without them.

Over the last 20 years, there are countless tools I’ve used for free or paid for. Every year without a doubt, I switch up some tool I’m using and try a new one.

I’m always searching for the right tools to help me run my business with ease and, most importantly, on automation. So inside this episode, I’m dumping my toolbox on the table to share with you the Top 12 business tools you need this year to run your business more efficiently.

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12 Essential Business Tools You Need This Year
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Common Types of Business Tools

To start, here are the six most common types of small business tools that I use:

  1. Communication tools – Honeybook, Zoom, Calendly
  2. Email marketing tools – Active Campaign
  3. Project and task management tools – Trello, Honeybook, Google Drive
  4. Accounting tools – Quickbooks
  5. Social media marketing tools – SKED, Canva, Tailwind
  6. Business Office Tools – Dashlane, Google Analytics

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Top 12 Business Tools You Need

So besides your blog and social media accounts, here are the Top 12 business tools you need this year to run your business more efficiently.

1 – Communication tools 

These tools are used for the internal and external communication between clients and teammates to collaborate and increase productivity.

HONEYBOOK

Honeybook is a client and workflow management system that allows you to organize and track every potential, current, and past client from the inquiry phase to the last invoice paid.

Inside our CORE Group, we use it to receive client applications, send proposals, sign contracts, accept service payments, and run all client communication in text form. It’s become a seamless way to share important documents and messages that don’t involve anything getting lost in an unsecured email chain.

Honeybook starts at $9 a month, but you can get started with a free trial to test the waters and then get 20% for one year using this LINK.

Favorite Features:

  • Customize online contracts that look professional
  • Create invoices that get you paid fast
  • Easy booking with an invoice, agreement, and payment all together
  • Automating your tasks with auto-send emails
  • Online meeting scheduler 

ZOOM

Whether you want to conduct an online meeting with your team, create a video webinar, share screens with your clients, or conduct virtual training sessions, Zoom is the online live video tool for you. 

A free plan is available, but we use the Pro version to have meetings longer than 40 minutes with more than two people at a time. Click HERE to start for free and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Easy to use video webinar recording
  • Connect with clients and teammates through a password protected room
  • HD video and audio recording

CALENDLY

Calendly is an app for scheduling appointments, meetings, and events. It is a simple, easy-to-use, yet powerful scheduling software, which aims to save time, accelerate sales and improve service quality. It eliminates the old-school way of using email and phone tags for scheduling appointments, calls, and interviews.

A free plan is available, but we use the Premium version to have custom branding and automatic email notifications. Click HERE to start for free and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Set your availability and choose the type of meeting you want to have, then Calendly coordinates everything with your invitees – before and after the face-to-face.
  • Integrates seamlessly with Zoom
  • It connects to all your calendars, so you’re never double-booked.
  • Controls your availability by setting your preferences.
  • Share availability anywhere you can share a link.

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2 – Email marketing tools

These tools help you craft stunning emails, create automated campaigns, and deliver personalized messages that improve your relationship with customers.

ACTIVE CAMPAIGN

Despite the growth and prominence of mobile messengers and chat apps, e-mail is an integral part of daily online life. In 2020, the number of global e-mail users amounted to four billion and is set to grow to 4.6 billion users in 2025. 

There are many excellent email marketing tools out there, but Active Campaign is one of our favorites. My business thrives using email marketing, and AC has the best visual automation map of any CRM email I’ve seen.

There are so many integrations, and actions that Active Campaign can perform that will keep your email marketing in full force. It’s why you can automate your lead generation and sales conversions.

We use the Plus version to have custom branding, SMS Marketing, Unlimited sending, and CRM with Sales Automation. Click HERE to start with a free trial and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Create visual emails with drag-and-drop builders: Add GIFS, images, buttons, text, and more. Includes over 125 built-in email templates.
  • Design automated email campaigns based on triggers, like abandoned e-commerce carts, signing up for your email list, or after placing an order.
  • Access advanced analytics with open rates, revenue reports, website activity, and more.
  • Add signup forms to your website offering lead magnets, coupon codes, or other incentives.
  • Create landing pages without the need for a website. Includes over 50 templates.
  • Add SMS Text marketing into your sequence funnels for a most personalized campaign.
  • Create Facebook Custom Audiences based on subscribers in a list or automation.

3 – Project and task management tools

These tools are used by an individual or team to help complete projects more efficiently and organized.

GOOGLE DRIVE

Google Drive is Google’s cloud-based file storage system, and it integrates seamlessly with the file-sharing & collaboration tools inside Google Docs. We use Google Docs and Google Drive interchangeably to manage our files and collaborate with clients and team members.  

For example, we might work with a client on their Lead Magnet PDF. Inside a shared Google Doc, we make edits to the text, run Grammarly, and add in comments so we can edit in real-time.  

We also use Drive folders to store logo files, share project notes and ideas with our team, and store analytics data. 

Drive is free for up to 15 GB of storage, but we pay for the 2 Terabyte storage. Click here to start your free account.

Favorite Features:

  • Export docs, spreadsheets, etc., into its Microsoft equivalent forms (Word, Excel, etc.)
  • Create text documents (Docs), spreadsheets (Sheets), or keynotes (Slides).
  • Share access to specific files or folders with clients, employees, and other parties.
  • Store images, documents, ZIP files, audio, video, and more.
  • Visual, drag-and-drop folders.
  • Access your Drive on the go with easy-to-use apps.
  • Attach gigantic files to your Gmail messages automatically using Drive.
  • Create and send forms to clients or customers.
  • View entire revision history to identify changes made to documents.
  • Access your documents from anywhere!
  • Automatically save documents to avoid losing your content.
  • Use voice features to talk instead of type.
  • Syncs online files to your desktop
  • Tag people in comments to ask questions or make notes.

TRELLO

Communication, collaboration, and organization is the key to success in every business. For a project management tool to share ideas, brainstorm, and create a visual plan, we love using Trello.  Plus, for most of the features, it’s completely free!

So, for example, you could create a board for current projects, then develop cards within that board for each client or customer. Then, for each project, you can add tasks, assign those tasks to various team members, and set due dates so that you know when everything is done.

If you are a visual learner, as I am, Trello is definitely for you!

A free plan is available, but we use the Business Class version to have unlimited team boards, unlimited power-ups, and more views. Click HERE to start for free and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Create boards and cards organized by topic, project, or category.
  • Within each card, add checklists, share files, add comments, or assign tasks.
  • Add due dates to tasks and assign those to specific team members.
  • Label each card for more organization (i.e., by client name or priority).
  • Integrate with Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., to pull in or link to files.
  • Easily add calendar views to see what’s coming up next.
  • Filter cards by the due date, team member, or label.
  • Send or forward emails that you receive to a board.

4 – Accounting tools

These resources help you organize, prepare, review and audit your business finances.

QUICKBOOKS

The quickest way to fail in your business is not knowing the money going out versus the money coming in. When using a small business accounting software like Quickbooks, you can manage income and expenses and keep track of the financial health of your business.

Favorite Features:

  • Reports are very easy to generate and customize. 
  • Make filling in your tax return very hassle-free
  • Organizes all your expenses seamlessly into categories
  • Easy to use the mobile app to snap receipts on the go – no more storing paper receipts.
  • Integrates with your bank, payment processor, and credit cards to record all expenses and income automatically
  • Very affordable

We use the Self-Employment version to have separate business and personal expenses, track mileage, calculate quarterly estimates, and maximize Schedule C deductions. Click HERE to get half off for the first 6 months.

5 – Social media marketing tools

These are tools to help you in creating, monitoring, and publishing social media content.

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SKED

If there’s a type of business tool I’ve tried dozens of- it would be social media schedulers. But after finding Sked Social in 2020, it has quickly become my favorite social media management platform for Instagram, Facebook, Groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more! It’s got everything you need to visually plan, create, analyze and schedule your posts and stories.

The best part about SKED is it doesn’t use an API system to make scheduled posts – they have phones lined up on their walls where they log in to the IG app and make a post just how you or I would. So if you’ve heard that scheduled posts get fewer views, this isn’t the case with SKED. All your posts go out just as if you posted it yourself.

We use the Professional version to have more Instagram accounts, competitor tracking, and product tags. Click HERE to start for free and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Schedule your social media posts for the perfect time for each platform based on analytics.
  • Customize your posts to match the format of each different platform.
  • Stored library of commonly used captions and hashtags.
  • Analytics allow you to see your most successful posts across each platform and saves engagement, shares, etc.
  • Create custom post schedules for each platform and even each day!
  • View your content months ahead with the social media calendar view.
  • Schedule IG Stories to auto-post – no push notifications here – set and forget!

CANVA

Canva is the personal design tool most online business owners are using today.  We recommend it to our clients for creating social media graphics, reels, IG stories, email headers, and more.

It has a simple, drag-and-drop interface PLUS lots of unique templates for anything you can think of – cover photos, social media images, eBook covers, highlight albums, presentations, and more.  You can add pictures, text, icons, graphics, backgrounds, lines, shapes, etc., and then export in several different formats, including gif, mp4, and png.

A free plan is available, but we use the Pro version to have more storage, premium stock photos and graphics, brand kits, extra tools, and saved templates. Click HERE to start for free and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Automatically crop your photos for the exact sizes that you need.
  • Includes templates, layouts, and designs for every situation.
  • The pro subscription gives you access to a library of images, icons, graphics, and more.
  • Create galleries and grids of images.
  • Add text to photos with a variety of fonts, effects, and styles.
  • Add photo effects, textures, transparency backgrounds, and more.

TAILWIND

Personally, Pinterest is my biggest lead generator, and that doesn’t happen without using the Tailwind app for automated pinning. As an automatic Pinterest scheduler, Tailwind does more than pin your personal pins at the best times – it also helps you find communities with similar niche content you want to pin in your boards for more significant traffic. 

In short, Tailwind lets you spread your pinning throughout the entire day. That way, you are constantly pinning new traffic-generating images without having to live on Pinterest 24/7.

A free plan is available, but we use the Pinterest Plus Plan with the Unlimited PowerUp Bundle to use unlimited communities, smart loops, and memberships. Click HERE to start for free -no credit card required.

Favorite Features:

  • Smart Scheduling. Post when your audience is engaged to stay top-of-mind and save hours in the process.
  • Actionable Analytics.
  • Content Management. Manage branded content and recommendations from the visual web all in one place.

6 – Business Office Tools

These office tools allow you to work more productive and efficiently.

DASHLANE

As a marketing company, we have to manage many passwords for our accounts and clients’ accounts.  And storing those in a document is both a hassle and insecure.  Enter, Dashlane!

When you use Dashlane as your password manager, you will radically simplify your whole life online. There’s nothing worse than wasting time searching for passwords.

A free plan is available, but we use the Premium version to manage passwords on unlimited devices with advanced security. Click HERE to start for free and view the latest offers.

Favorite Features:

  • Use a browser extension for all major browsers that makes filling in passwords easy.
  • Save passwords as you log into websites OR manually add them to your password vault.
  • Use the secure password generator to create secure passwords every time.
  • Update your passwords automatically when you change them on a website.
  • Share passwords securely with clients, family, or employees.
  • Save multiple usernames/accounts for the same platform (multiple Facebook accounts, multiple email accounts, etc.)
  • Extremely high-security standards
  • Easily log in and sync account to all your accounts on every device you use
  • Protect yourself against data breaches and hacks

GOOGLE ANALYTICS

A big part of successful marketing is knowing what works and what needs improvement. Google Analytics helps you do just that by providing your website analytics in an easy-to-use dashboard. Track website visitors, products, marketing goals, and conversions easily. Over 55% of all websites use Google analytics, so yes, you must set up this free tool for your sites.

Click here to start your free account.

To view a beginners tutorial click here.

Favorite Features:

  • Reports the traffic your site is getting each day
  • See what keywords people used to find you
  • See what third party websites sent you traffic
  • Set up conversion tracking

To Recap

I know these seem like a lot to set up at once. So if you don’t have any of them, I suggest looking at the types and determining which ones make the most sense to implement first. 

But I know that the sooner you transition into a workflow and learn how to use collaboration software and business tools, you allow for the best possible productivity. 

You will find that these online business tools are imperative for growing your business faster. 

With so many ways to automate, streamline, and outsource the process of building and growing your business, I truly hope this list of tools will help you take your business to the next level.

And if you are looking to outsource your lead generation funnels or sales conversion campaigns, visit COREbrandmarketing.com to set up a complimentary discovery call with our team.

FOR A FULL LIST OF ALL MY FAVORITE TOOLS CLICK HERE!

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Since I share awe-inspiring resources and must-have products for business builders like you who want to streamline their business – my content may contain affiliate links for products I use and love. If you take action (i.e. subscribe, make a purchase) after clicking one of these links, I’ll earn margarita-money which I promise to drink responsibly after creating more helpful content like this. All kidding aside, it’s my responsibility to let you know that an income (however small or large it may be) is made from recommending products I love, use and share with other awesome people like yourself. With your support, I’m able to commit time to this blog and to each of you on your journey!

by Kristin Korn

Ep 87: 12 Essential Business Tools You Need This Year

BUSINESS AUTOMATION, CONTENT MARKETING, SALES STRATEGY, WEBSITE SET-UP

I help you go from feeling stuck and stagnant to being in total control of building a confident, brand-focused, and automated online business.

I believe your life experiences and layers of pivots help define what you stand for and lead you to a life with purpose.

Using my signature Business Building Roadmap, I help you generate high-quality leads and increase sales conversions by applying an automated sales process through consulting, courses, done-for-you solutions, and a membership library.

GIRL MOM, COACH'S WIFE, MARGARITA LOVER

I'm kristin korn.
Your new Brand Marketing & Sales Strategy Coach.

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