Operations Toolbox

Optimize Your Operations: Discover My Top 5 Business Power Tools!

February 22, 2024 Tonya D. Episode 16
Optimize Your Operations: Discover My Top 5 Business Power Tools!
Operations Toolbox
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Operations Toolbox
Optimize Your Operations: Discover My Top 5 Business Power Tools!
Feb 22, 2024 Episode 16
Tonya D.

Have you ever felt like you're drowning in a sea of tools and software, supposed to make your entrepreneurial journey smoother, but they just add to the chaos?

It may not be you, it could be that you’ve selected the wrong technology/tools for your business.

Many times business owners implement a specific software because someone told them how great it was or they completely shy away from technology altogether.

In this episode, I’ll share:

  • The secrets to choosing the right tools that truly resonate with YOUR business's pulse
  • The 5 tools (+bonus tool), I use to power my business operations 
  • Why I selected these 5 tools and how I use them 

If you're ready to strip away the excess and hone in on the tools that will skyrocket your efficiency and transform your business operations, then this episode is your blueprint. Join us and equip yourself with the practical knowledge to refine your business success.

Do you have a CEO Headquarters within your business? If you would like to learn how to create project management software to organize your business and create your own CEO HQ, sign up for the free course below.

Organize Your Business & Create Your CEO HQ

If you enjoyed this episode, leave us a five-star rating and a review. I'd love to know how this show inspired you to take action in your business.

You can also follow me on LinkedIn @tonyadharrison and Instagram @cignalpartners for quick tips to implement systems & structure that will propel your business forward and allow you more time freedom.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever felt like you're drowning in a sea of tools and software, supposed to make your entrepreneurial journey smoother, but they just add to the chaos?

It may not be you, it could be that you’ve selected the wrong technology/tools for your business.

Many times business owners implement a specific software because someone told them how great it was or they completely shy away from technology altogether.

In this episode, I’ll share:

  • The secrets to choosing the right tools that truly resonate with YOUR business's pulse
  • The 5 tools (+bonus tool), I use to power my business operations 
  • Why I selected these 5 tools and how I use them 

If you're ready to strip away the excess and hone in on the tools that will skyrocket your efficiency and transform your business operations, then this episode is your blueprint. Join us and equip yourself with the practical knowledge to refine your business success.

Do you have a CEO Headquarters within your business? If you would like to learn how to create project management software to organize your business and create your own CEO HQ, sign up for the free course below.

Organize Your Business & Create Your CEO HQ

If you enjoyed this episode, leave us a five-star rating and a review. I'd love to know how this show inspired you to take action in your business.

You can also follow me on LinkedIn @tonyadharrison and Instagram @cignalpartners for quick tips to implement systems & structure that will propel your business forward and allow you more time freedom.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Running the day-to-day business operations of your business can be exhausting, but it doesn't have to be, and it doesn't require a bunch of expensive tools that you won't use and it doesn't require all of your time. In today's episode, I am going to share with you the tools that I use and love and how you can implement them into your business to start running your business with more ease. Welcome to the Operations Toolbox Podcast. I'm your host, Tonya D Harrison. Let's create version 2.0 of your business, and this is the version that is called Growth Without Burnout. So let's talk about these tools.

Tonya D. Harrison:

When I first started out in my business, I thought that I had to have every software under the sun. I was listening to all of these system gurus telling me that I needed all of these different systems in order to run my business. Well, after wasting time trying a bunch of different platforms and realizing that I wasn't really saving time and I wasn't getting what I needed and I was still feeling like a hamster on a wheel I realized that something has to change. I just cannot continue to waste all of this valuable time and energy that I could not get back, and, besides that, I love technology. So for me, it created even a bigger issue because I would go down these rabbit holes with all of these different platforms and just trying them out and learning them because, again, I love technology. The truth of the matter is they were not helping me in my business. It was just me doing something that I like to do that did not contribute to the growth of my business, which is a problem. So finally, I was like I'm spending my wills, I'm wasting all of this time. Go back to the basics. I basically went back to the beginning basics and I apply some of the things that I learned from my corporate life in my business because, for some reason, I thought they were extremely different in the beginning and I realized it's like no. So you'll realize that a lot of the techniques I use, I have modified them from corporate, and this is one of them. So if you are trying different tools or you have tools in your business that you are not using because I know this is true I've had people that have reached out to me and say I have, you know, a honey boats or dubsodo or whatever this tool is and I'm really not using it in my business. If that is you, or you have shied away from technology within your business because you just don't want to go down that rabbit hole, but you know you need some things. Then I want you to keep listening as I share with you some of the technology that I use in my business and why I use it within my business.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Let's go ahead and get started. First things first. We need to take a step back and we need to do a quick assessment, and I'm not talking about the long drawn out assessment. I really want you, as the CEO of your business, to think about a couple of things. The first thing I want you to ask yourself is what do you need to know in order to make decisions?

Tonya D. Harrison:

Remember, our biggest responsibility as CEO of our business is to make decisions, to grow or to take our business to the next level. What is it that you need to know? Because, once you understand what it is that you need to know, that is going to help you determine what tools you need to run your day to day operations. So think about it. What do you need to know in order to make decisions? An example could be and there's many things you need to know, but an example could be you may need to know how many visitors come to your website. You may need to know how many convert. You may need to know where your team is with a process or with a project. Think about it. What do you need to know in order to make the best decisions within your business? If we're talking about goals, you need to know where you are in relation to that goal, so you know if you're on track or not. If you have a strategy in place, how do you know if that strategy is working? So I just want you to take a step back, think about your business and think about what are the things that you need to know in order to make decisions.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The second thing I want you to do is think about what your team needs. If you have a team, if you don't have a team yet, keep listening, because you still want to know this at some point. So what does your team need from a day to day perspective? If you have a marketing assistant, I'm not talking about the actual tools that they need to post on social media and things like that. I'm talking about day to day operational tools. They need to be able to communicate. They need to be able to indicate where they are on a project. So those are some of the things that they're going to need to know, regardless of the position they're in. The third thing is think about what can make your business flow easier. You look across your business and there may be some things that you're like, oh my gosh, this really grinds me. It causes an issue every time or I feel that this could be better.

Tonya D. Harrison:

I'll give you an example of something that I used to do and I'm like things have got to change. I really like planners. At the first of the year, I'm buying all of these planners. Anytime I go to Marshalls or TJ Maxx or anything, and you know, at the front they have all of these little cute planners and things like that. I would always buy them. So I had a bunch of planners and what I would do is I would write my ideas and my to-do list and everything in a planner, but there was no rhyme or reason to it. It wasn't like I had the planner labeled and this is for ideas and this is for to-do lists and all of that. Basically, what would happen is whatever planner was next to me was the one that I would start writing it. So what that means is I had a bunch of planners with a bunch of information. There was no centralized place with all of my stuff, which presented a problem because I lost track of ideas. I didn't keep up with what it was that I was supposed to do. All of these things caused a problem. So I knew that if I had a centralized place to house all of this, then my business would flow easier.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Those are the kind of things that I want you to think about, and it doesn't have to be your planner. It could be anything within your business, within your day-to-day operations. It could be something as simple as you know what. I realized that I don't know what's coming in my business and what's going out. I realized that things are coming out of my account and I'm not tracking it. I realized I got receipts all over the place. It can be all of these different things that you really think about and you're like there has to be an easier way. You may not know what that way is in the beginning, but you know enough to know that there has to be a better way. That is going to start you on your journey of looking for the right tools within your business.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Now I want to share with you some of my tools that I use within my day-to-day operations, and I also want to share with you why I pick this specific type of tool. Not the actual tool itself, not the actual name of it. Don't get stuck on the actual vendor that I use or the name of the tool. I want you to really think about the type of tool that I use and the reason I use it, the reason why I implemented this specific tool in my business, and that is going to help you to be able to see how you can implement a tool within your business, even if you need to implement this tool in your business to help you run your day-to-day.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The very first tool I had was a project management software. Now, at the time I implemented a project management software, I did not have an assistant. It was me. I still knew I needed it. Remember the example that I gave you, where I had all of these planners with all of these to-do lists and all of these ideas and all of this stuff all over the place. This is one of the reasons why I knew I had to have a project management software. Now I have a place, a centralized place, where I have my to-do lists, I have my ideas, I have my strategy for my content. My virtual assistant and I communicate back and forth. I know where she is on a project without having to pick up the phone or send her an email, because I can go right in the project management software and see that. So I use it for all of these things. I also use it to manage my client projects. There are some projects that I have that are longer term engagements and I use it to manage that. I also use it to share with them where I am within a project, so it's like a project update. It's a part of my report. These are just some of the ways that I use my project management software, but it started because I needed to be able to keep track of my to-do list. I needed to be able to keep track of my ideas that I hadn't implemented yet. That's where it started. Today, the tool that I use, the name is ClickUp. I have used Trello, asana, basecamp, I've used a couple and I landed on ClickUp because it best soups my needs.

Tonya D. Harrison:

So, as I'm telling you these different platforms, one of the things that I want you to really think about before you decide, beyond the fact that you want a project management software, but now which one I want? You definitely want to do a needs assessment. What are the things that you need and what features do you need it to have? And you'll see that there's a lot of similarities, but there are some differences that could potentially make a difference in what you decide. Alright, so do your needs assessment. Why do you need it? Is it just for you? Is it for you and the team? Do you want to be able to share things with your client? Just kind of let the juices flow and go out and compare different tools and look at what some of the features are. Are you going to realistically use some of the features? Do you need some of them? I caution you from getting in a tool that's too robust, because it could be confusing and you may not use it, and these tools only work if you work them. Okay. So that's number one.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The very first one is a project management software. The second one is an accounting software, and I'm saying software because that's what I have, but it could be an Excel spreadsheet. The main thing is do you know what's coming into your business in terms of revenue? Do you know what's going out in terms of expenses. I like the accounting software because now I can also run reports. That is the biggest benefit to me and it makes my life easier because it makes my accountant's life easier. So anytime her life is easier, my life is easier. Okay so, but I use Wave accounting and this is an accounting software. It allows you to, like I said, you can track your revenue, you can track your expenses, you can categorize your revenue and your expenses. You can do your basic reports. You know your cash flow reports, your profit and loss statements. You can do you know a lot of that stuff in there. So it's a really basic accounting software.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Think about what it is that you need. Think about if you need some integrations. Mine integrates with Stripe. So if somebody makes a Stripe payment, that information comes over. It integrates with my bank account. Think about those type of things. But the main thing is I got this platform initially because I needed to know where my money was at all times, what was coming in, what was going out. The added features, like I said, is the reporting, the fact that I can communicate with my accountant easily via the platform. So kind of think about those things. But at the core, in order for me a CEO to run my business. I didn't know where the money was Right, so it's kind of like show me the money. I need to know what's going on.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The next one this is mainly because I am a service based business, not saying that product based businesses don't use this platform, because some of them do, especially when they sell more expensive products. But it is a CRM Customer Relationship Management software and initially I was using initially I use my project management software to track this information. So initially I was using Trello and I would track my potential clients Right. So this is one of the things that this does. So let's talk about what a CRM does and how it impacts service based businesses. It allows me to keep track of my potential clients, inbound or outbound, but it allows me to keep track of my clients. I know when we first initiated contact what we talked about. I understand the value of each deal. It helps me when I am doing goal setting and planning.

Tonya D. Harrison:

But having a CRM the reason why I went from a project management software to a CRM is because it has additional. I can do invoicing out of there. I can send them an invoice, they can pay and it comes into the software. I can do proposals in there, I can do estimates in there. I can also do if I can set up workflows. So maybe I have this outbound process where I initiate contact on day one and then, based on the response or lack of response, I mean want to have another email go out, you know, in a couple of days. These are things that I can kind of set up. Even if I'm manually doing it, I can set up templates that automatically go out. The other thing that I like is that it tracks if someone opens a message. So if they opened it and read it, I'll know if it was opened or not, because I may have a different flow for people that opened versus people that did not open. So customer relationship management it helps you manage the customers relationship, even for the people that are current clients, right, I am able to manage that, that relationship as well. So it's not just potential clients but it's current clients as well.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The one that I use is client joy and it has all of the features that I talked about and it also has a client portal, which I found to be extremely helpful. A lot of the engagements that I do, like my 90 day ops experience where I'm working directly with CEOs for a couple of months. There are times that they need to upload information and I need to upload and share information with them. I can do this via the client portal. They can go in, they can upload information, they can upload documents. They can have their assistant upload documents. I can upload documents to share with them. It shows them their proposal, their invoices, all of the documents that we've shared. So I don't have to depend on Google Drive Not that that's a problem, because that's where I started, but I just like the client portal better, and it doesn't mean that I don't save things in Google Drive because I do, which we'll get to that. So that is the CRM and that is why I use it.

Tonya D. Harrison:

You may have, you know, gained some ideas about if you need one and how you can use it within your business. I really love templates. Anybody that is in the savvy operations society my membership can tell you. I love templates because I don't like reinventing the wheel and for me, a big part of operations is being efficient. We have templates that we could use and you can set up within your CRM. That is awesome.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The next tool that I use is my metrics tracker. Now my metric tracker is a Google spreadsheet, so everything is in this big platform right. It's a Google spreadsheet that I set up and what I do is there are metrics and KPIs that I track on a weekly basis. I go in there and I track them. All of this I'm thinking about from a CEO perspective and what makes my business flow better. When I'm talking about my metrics tracker, it's kind of like a dashboard if I'm on target, if I'm not on target, if I'm behind, it shows the red, yellow and Green. I know if there are some things I'm like, oh, we really need to pick that up or I'm doing extremely well in a specific area. That's one of the things that the tracker tells, but I can actually see when I am in relation to my goal, where I am in relation to some of the metrics that I decided that I wanted to track within my business. So it's a metrics tracker, is something that I created, is in Google sheets and that's what we use it for, and on a weekly basis, I go in, I review my numbers and it helps me to make decisions for the next week and it helps me to make overall decisions is my strategy working or not, and how things are going All right. So that is another one that I use.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Last tool that I want to talk about is Google Drive, and when we're talking about from a day-to-day operations perspective. A lot of times we are housing information and we want to make sure that we are doing it in an organized way. We want it to be organized because if you're always hunting for documents, where did I store this, where did I put this? That's a waste of time and that's a waste of energy. I have my Google Drive and it is organized in a way that I can understand it and thankfully, my sister understands it too. But it is organized like, for instance, I have an operations folder and then, within the operations folder, I have a subfolder for my standard operating procedures Right, so all of that is in there. I have a folding for all of my planning. So every year when I go through my planning and even my weekly metrics, all of that is in my planning folder For the year for 2024, my SWAT analysis everything is stored in a folder.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Having a Google Drive, dropbox, some type of place that you store all of your information, you definitely want to make sure it is secure. You want to make sure that you are able to limit access. So if you do have a team, everyone doesn't need access to everything is underneath the no basis. You can kind of share information as you need it. But for me, I use Google Drive. It is something that I use in my day-to-day because I'm always in there looking for something. I house my, my contracts in there. You know a folder for that. All, all of the stuff, all of the stuff. But you want to make sure that it is like I said, it is organized, and I have that on the list because, as the CEO, that's something that I use, that's something that your team would use, that's something that helps my business flow easier, and I want to give you one bonus tool. So those are the five tools that I wanted to share with you, but I want to give one bonus tool with you, and this is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool and, if you set it up right, it is a wealth of information. Not only can you see who's coming to your website or hitting different landing pages or how a specific campaign is working because you can do all of that but you can set up goals Conversion goals so you can track conversion of certain things. If you have a freebie that you're using, you could set up a goal and every time somebody signs up for that freebie, you can count it as a conversion, so you can see how you know it is converting. So there are different things that you could do with Google Analytics and for you, my CEOs, that is definitely something that you probably want to look into.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Okay, so, before we wrap up today's episode, I'm gonna take a moment to share those five tools, plus the bonus, with you again. The first one is project management software. I Use click up, but, like I said, there are many. Asana Trello Basecamp, Kanban there are several. Accounting software is number two, so you can use tools like Wave QuickBooks, Xero. Number three is a CRM. This is a customer relationship management software. I use client joy. I have used others like the side-o and honey boats as well. A Metrics tracker is number four.

Tonya D. Harrison:

So making sure that you have a way to track what's going on in your business, to track the performance, and if you want to learn more about that, you can listen to our last episode where I talked about Performance management from the business perspective. But you're gonna have, you need to have something to track and there there are platforms, there is software out there that you can go and you can use as well. I find it easy to use a Google document as my metrics tracker. Number five is Google Drive, so my workspace. That is where I house all of my documents, where I share documents with people. I have folders. There's a system to how I stored things and it works. It saves time and again, it saves energy.

Tonya D. Harrison:

The bonus tool I mentioned is Google Analytics, again a free tool. There are others out there that you could use. I Recommend you get started with this one. But If you want a way to be able to track your traffic, to track to see if your campaigns are working, to track some of your conversions, google Analytics is a great place to get started. So those are the tools that I use in my business to run my day-to-day Operations.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Now do I have other platforms and software in my business? Absolutely. I have some tools that I use to help me post on social media and things like that. And, of course, like, I have the Canva and Like how do you not? I have Canva that is one of the ones that I use, but it's not one of the ones that I use to run my day-to-day business operations. It does help me when it comes to my marketing when I'm creating posts and things like that, but definitely, a big one that I use a lot within my business. So that concludes another episode of the operations toolbox. I'm Tonya D Harrison, your host, reminding you that with the right tools and the right mindset, you can build Version 2.0 of your business. Until next time, keep building and growing.

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