3 Tools I Can't Live Without

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How I run my business without losing my mind

By now you've probably realized I'm a bit of systems nut, which is fantastic for you because you get a first hand look at how I use it and if it could be a good fit for your business. In addition to loving systems and programs, I love sharing what I use with others because I know how hard it was when I was first starting out trying to figure out which ones would work for me and even more, how they could work together so I could work less. 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I'll earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. But I only promote programs I've actually used and believe would be useful or beneficial to you.

Acuity

Over the last 5 months, I’ve had over 60 phone calls, meetings, and coffee chats. The only way that was possible was because of Acuity. For me, it’s a set it and forget it system. When someone wants to learn more about my services I send them a link to my schedule via Acuity so that they can pick the day and time that works best for them; granted I already know it’s going to work for me because I’ve set my availability to a certain day/time depending on the appointment type and any time I have something come up (doctor’s appointment, vacation, sick, etc.) all I have to do is block that time out and no one can schedule during that time. Even better is that I can tell Acuity that I only want say 2 calls per day so when those are taken, they’re taken.

Part of the way I’ve set Acuity up to work for me is that I’ve narrowed down how I’ll take calls. I used to say I’m available via phone, Skype, Google Hangout, Facetime, or Zoom, but now it’s either via phone call or Zoom. To make that work for me I’ve created appointment types for both phone calls and Zoom (separately) so that the client can choose which one and they’ll receive the appropriate email reminders based on that choice.

Personally, I prefer video chats as I do a lot better talking to people when I can see them. I like being able to see their face and hand movements (since I’m a frequent hand-flailer) and get a better feeling of who they are and how well we’d work together. But more on Zoom in a second.

Another thing I love about Acuity is the reminder emails. Oh my word how many times those have saved me from forgetting a meeting. I currently have it set so that I receive just the notice that someone has scheduled a meeting since I’ve set up my inbox so that I can see all upcoming meetings directly in my inbox (I’ll have to tell you more about organizing your inbox in another post because it’s ah-maaazzzzing). So now when I go to my inbox I can see all of my upcoming meetings in a glance and have access to the questions they answered when scheduling.

The hands-down best thing about Acuity though? I get it for free. I used to pay for the monthly Acuity account because I wanted certain features that I couldn’t get on the free account. Then I found out that as a Squarespace website owner I get a free upgraded Acuity account. Um, what. The plan is valued at $15/month which for a small business owner can be huge. If you have a paid plan on Squarespace you need to go and get that Acuity upgrade!

Zoom

Over half of those scheduled calls I mentioned above were done through Zoom. It’s one of my favorite programs to use for video calls with clients. I’ve even been using them for group calls with my mastermind in the Launch Brand Grow Community. It’s wicked easy to use, and since they’ve got an app, you can even use your iPhone to hop on a call! Personally, I started using it because I needed to record client calls so that when we’re doing training I can send the recording to them to watch at a later time.

For a while, I was trying to use Google Hangouts and Skype but trying to record them or schedule calls with clients using them was kind of a pain. And as someone who just doesn’t have time for that kind of shenanigans I couldn’t do it anymore. Not everyone has a Gmail or Skype account so I had to find an alternative that didn’t require people to create an account. Sure with Zoom, you need to download the app, but there is a way around that if you really don’t want to download it. As a client of mine though it’s kind of a necessity since we’re hopping on calls every week or so.

Another fun thing about Zoom? With my long-term virtual assistant and website clients I know that we’re going to be hopping on a Zoom call multiple times over our time together, so rather than creating a new meeting each time I hop on a call with them, I can set them to be recurring. This way I have set up our meeting once and we now only have one link we have to use rather than a new one for each meeting!

LastPass

Finally, if you’re like me you really hate passwords. Like seriously, I wish I could have one password for everything and it be totally fine. But I know that’s so not okay, which is why I’ve been loving LastPass! I’ve been eyeing if for a while and haven’t made the jump over, but since I’m a virtual assistant I deal with a lot of that information and rather than make my clients hand over those precious details, I just tell them to LastPass it.

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Sure, you need to have an account with LastPass, but once you get it you’re probably not going to want to leave it. I now just need to remember one super-secure password to login to LastPass and from there it does the rest (once you’ve saved your logins into LastPass that is).

I love that with LastPass you can also organize those logins by folder, which means that I can create a folder for each of my clients and not worry about mixing them up. I also think that being able to have that login information without actually being able to see the password helps clients who are more invested in their security feel safe knowing that I can do my job without needing to know their actual passwords.

Plus if you’re like me, coming up with a secure password that fits that websites requirements is the worst. Which is why I’m grateful that LastPass has a password generator that generates a password using those ridiculously insane requirements.

Wrapping it up

So those are 3 of my favorite tools that currently are helping keep me sane. I even have them in my bookmark bar because of how often each day I’m popping into them. I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve used any of those or if you’ve got a favorite tool that you can’t live without in your business!

 
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Liz Strong

Lux + Vita, Texas

Hey, I'm Liz. I help small businesses and non-profits create solid brands by designing logos, websites, and graphics to enhance their online and social media presence.

I have worked in the non-profit sector as a designer for over 5 years. Over the past 5 years, I have worked as a freelance designer, a graphic designer for a regional church denomination office, and until 2016, I worked as the Communications Director for a multi-site church in New Hampshire. I currently co-own and design for Lux + Vita, a full service graphic design company