In the olden days, circa 2008, I used to use a WYSIWYG editor to create client e-news. (WYSIWYG, pronounced “wizzy-wig”, stands for ‘what you see is what you get’.) After a while, I’d accumulated experience in every major email marketing software out there, since most clients came to me with this already set up.
But it didn’t make much sense to be using 10 tools when I could be using one, and making profit out of it too. So I purchased a piece of email marketing software for approximately $1000. Problem was, I had to host it myself, set up email authentification, and all kinds of other techy stuff that was beyond my paygrade and abilities.
I love recalling the olden days of digital marketing because it makes me feel happy and grateful to be entering 2022 with the small business technology we have access to today.
And, this experience serves as a reminder that technology won’t save you, and that more sophisticated or expensive technology isn’t necessarily best.
Technology can have a huge effect on your small business. It can be the difference between making or losing a sale, whether you sell online through your website, or you’re presenting quotations to clients. And, it can have a massive effect on your enjoyment of your business and the time you spend at the desk, or jumping in the ocean.
Essential tech skills
Assuming that you know basic tech, such as sending emails, and updating social media, the two most important tech skills that I believe every business owner should have are:
- Being able to update your own website quickly and easily
- Being able to create and disseminate mass e-news quickly and easily.
Adding a new page, publishing a blog post, or updating some essential information on your website shouldn’t take all day and it shouldn’t need to involve your web designer. Taking control of your website and keeping in contact with your community is your bare minimum.
Upgrading your tech
When I’m considering a significant expense in my business, I run it through the lens of:
- Will it make me money?
- Will it significantly improve my clients’ experience?
- Will it automate a recurring task?
I prioritise client-facing and forward-facing parts of my business over investing in the backend of my business.
Every 2-4 years, your website likely needs upgrading. Yes, you may be able to “get by” with your website, but why would you? Your website is your first impression for many people, it ages quickly, and it can cost you a lot to be continually overlooked. Paying for ads that send new people to a website that’s slow, has errors, is ugly, or difficult to use is a waste of money. Instead, invest in a new upgrade every 2-4 years. See my website recommendations.
My favourite software of 2021-2022
My favourite software that I’ve been using and loving last year, and am taking into this year are:
- Acuity Scheduling: seriously, life’s too short for back-and-forth emails. I’m in Acuity every day.
- HelloAudio: on-the-go audio straight to your podcast app! I’m in the process of converting most of my courses and training into this, for students to access anytime, anywhere.
- Bonjoro: I use this to send Bonjoro clients and others quick-and-easy personal videos from my phone, though it can also be done from your desktop.
- VideoAsk: I use this to request feedback and video testimonials from clients, as well as to collect information from people, via video, text or audio.
- Asana: I use this project management software every day with my remote team, to keep on top of projects and tasks.
- Thrivecart: I moved my e-commerce to this last year from SendOwl, and have loved all the extra functionality, including the online learning platform! All mini trainings are now hosted there.
Technology I’m admiring
Making it easy for people to give us money is crucial for small business owners and online business owners. Tools such as Stripe and Square will handle your credit card transactions (whether via your website or face-to-face), but what about bookkeeping, record keeping and paying your tax?
Australian software company Rounded is especially for soloists, freelancers and small business owners who don’t need all the bells and whistles of inventory and payroll, etc. but want to manage their books and send invoices. You can use my coupon code BrookMcRounded20 on any annual plan for Aus and NZ customers to nab 20% off your plan for the first 12 months.
New Zealand company Hnry is an all-in-one accounting service for those who don’t want to have anything to do with tax and bookkeeping, without being bitten on the arse when their tax liabilities are due. It automates your financial admin, with all deposits into your Hnry account being automatically deducted for your tax, before being moved into your business traditing account. As a special offer for the Hustle & Heart community, you can sign up to Hnry using the promo code HUSTLE&HEART to get $2500 worth of invoices processed for free to try out.
How I judge a piece of software
Life’s too short to read user manuals. I even resent those automated walkthrough pop-ups, if they go on too long. Seriously, in 2022, if we need to read about how to use the software, it’s not good software. I want to signup, jump in, and start clicking my way around. Too complicated and Imma out of there.
Can I immediately see how it’s relevant to my business? There are 7,679 programs that are ‘nice to haves’, but irrelevant. I want to immediately grasp how software will enhance or help what I’m already doing or want to be doing – that is, want to be doing now, not in a year’s time.
Does it add more, or subtract? I don’t want additional things in my life and business, I want less: less tasks, less software, less complications. If the software is an ‘add on’ to the shortcomings of existing software, then I’d rather find another piece of software. The more software you have talking to each other, the higher likelihood of something breaking.
Having said that, is it a significant ongoing expense, and will I pay more for selling more? Personally, I resent having to pay a lot every month for software, especially when I’m penalised for additional sales/clients. I don’t want to have to pay processing fees on top of already existing processing fees for sales (I use Stripe for e-commerce). Which is one of the reasons why I like Thrivecart, because I paid once only to use it forever.
Do your reps
My personal trainer says “I can’t do your reps for you”, and the same applies to technology. If you feel resentful, pour your frustration into “doing your reps” – spending time actually using the technology, so that you get quicker and better at it. Having said that, I happily pay experts to give me training, insights and shortcuts on certain technology. I’d far rather pay someone than spend hour after hour on bad YouTube videos, trying to muddle through alone.
Having said that, plenty of software is easy to use, but you’re making a giant deal out of it by avoiding doing your reps. Start with your website updates and your regular e-news. Like most things in life, we learn by doing. Make 2022 the year that you use technology rather than letting it use you.
(Full disclosure: a few of the links in this page are affiliate links, meaning I may make a small commission if you click on that link and become a customer. It’s enough to keep me in coffee (so long as I don’t go overboard), plus you’re not paying any more for using my link rather than a link through Google. And, I hope you know already, that I’m not here to make a quick (coffee) buck. I’d never recommend a dud tool or resource if I hadn’t personally tried it and liked it.)