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Running your own business is a time consuming commitment. Not only do you have to find, stock and manage your product portfolio but you have to market that product, run your website, blog about it, email your customers, manage appointments, do your accounts and the list goes on…

Many entrepreneurs lose so much of their personal lives whilst setting up a business, working nights and weekends to get things off the ground. Well this handy list should help in lightening the load.

There are a plethora of websites and apps that can help you to save hours of work by automating your business including our very own software 3EX.net. Here’s some online tools that will help your business to flow smoothly…

  • Mailchimp for email-marketing

    Mailchimp is our email provider of choice. With templated, responsive emails you can segment lists and schedule when you want to send them. If you upgrade to a paid account you can use their automated service send birthday emails, welcome emails and numerous follow up emails based on customer purchases and more. For example, say you have a customer who bought a lawn mower, why not send them a mailer a week later mentioning the great discount you have on strimmers.


  • WordPress for blogging

    We all know that content is king online and one of the most popular ways to get keywords onto your website, whilst keeping the content focused on the customer, is through a blog. WordPress is the platform for blogging. It can be integrated into your site and multiple editors can contribute it to. It is also fully customisable, meaning it can look identical to your website for a seamless transition for your users. It also has the added benefit of scheduled posts and social integration just by adding the jetpack plugin, leaving you free to get on with your 1001 item to do list.


  • Hootsuite for social media

    With so many social networks around, manually uploading your content to each one can be a time consuming task. Hootsuite solves this problem by becoming your social hub. You can simply write your content and assign it to which networks you want to publish on and when. Genius!


  • Shoeboxed for receipts

    Data entry has to be the biggest drain on time for a business. If you feel your business needs it you could use Shoeboxed a company who scan in receipts, invoices and documents, extracts the data and send it back to you, all securely. It also integrates with a whole host of other applications, doing all the work for you. No more typing up data and more long lunches!


  • Google drive for documents

    Ever got to the office only to find the document you need to work on is on your home computer? Well those days are over. With Google drive you can work on your files from anywhere with the benefits of cloud based software. With apps for tablets and phone and easy access on desktops your documents are never far away and can be anything from text documents to spreadsheets to PDFs. No more calling up the other half to email that file over to the office!


  • Typeform for data capture

    Ever needed a quick survey? Or, for that matter, any type of information from your customers? With Typeform you can create a beautiful, responsive form within minutes, fully customised and linked to services like Zendesk, Mailchimp and Google Drive. So for example you could create a questionnaire about how the customer rated your service (sent to them from Mailchimp after they made a booking), have them fill out the form which then sends all of the data to a Google Drive spread sheet for you to look through and assess at your leisure. No more reading through individual responses.


  • Chimpandeedoo for out-and-about data capture

    Made by Mailchimp. This clever app provides a simple sign up form for the iPad. This is perfect for exhibitions as Mailchimp collates all of your data for you and adds it to the mailing list you choose, meaning you don’t have to manually enter all your submissions. It is customisable too so no-one will know it’s a third party app.


  • Zapier for everything

    You may have noticed this mentioned above but Zapier is the automation website to end them all. It basically connects compatible sites to one another for example: You can link your Google calendar to Trello making you a new job card or add a Basecamp event into your Google calendar or add a Gravity form submission into your Google calendar. By connecting any of these applications together you save hours of input and referencing!


  • Youcanbook.me for booking appointments

    Save yourself multiple emails and missed calls trying to arrange a meeting time with Youcanbook.me.This free website syncs your calendar to the website offering the recipient a selection of available times slots, so you can schedule meetings or services without lifting a finger. (Think of the phone bill savings too).


  • Timely for advanced booking appointments

    More for the businesses that provide a service e.g. Beauty therapy, Driving instructor etc. Timely is a step up from youcanbook.me as it runs your whole calendar, keeping track of contacts, appointments, revenue and even sends out text and email reminders to minimise no-shows and double bookings. Lots of time saved chasing customers and organising free time slots with a ‘book now’ button, Facebook integration and website embedding options.


  • Basecamp for Scheduling

    Basecamp is a project management tool online that can help you schedule projects as well as tracking progress in a much clearer way than sifting through emails. Assign jobs, add deadlines and upload documents so that all your projects files are kept in one place and accessible anywhere with an internet connection.


  • Exact Abacus for your entire sales process

    Here at Exact Abacus we pride ourselves on saving you hours every day by automating your back office processes and syncing them with your website, wider channels and warehouse. This way you have one piece of software in which you can manage and oversee all these critical business function. 3EX.NET saves you time by eliminating overselling and cross platform errors which then have to be dealt with by your staff. For more information on what we do take a look around the site.


  • You Need a Budget for, well, budgeting

    Every business owner needs a budget and You Need a Budget helps you visual your goals and manage your money whilst saving you from lots of maths, yuck!!


  • Find My Shift for staff management

    Schedule your employees is a breeze with this website. With easy drag and drop options, shift reminders and timesheet data that can be synced into your payroll systems it’s never been so easy to your employees.


  • RSS Feeds for inspiration

    There’s a rich stratosphere of content out there that can help you to run your business more effectively. Blogs alone are such a rich resources of advice and inspiration from your peers that it can take hours trawling sites to see what the competition is doing. recommend setting up RSS feeds and email notifications to your favourite blogs meaning the content comes straight into your inbox without a daily web search. Not only does it save you time but can also provide you with inspiration regularly, which you may have missed out on if it was down to you to hunt it down.


Hopefully a few of these suggestions could help you to free up your precious hours and help you grow your company by focusing on ideas and the next step towards success instead of menial management tasks. When was the last time you had a night off? They say time and tide wait for no man so use it wisely!

by Jennifer McMillen on 03/09/2014

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