Basic Business Tools Keeping Me Afloat (& They’re Free!)

Small business can be extremely overwhelming. I like to think I’ve become somewhat good at keeping it together but I owe it in (huge) part to the little pieces that rope it all in.

Small business can be extremely overwhelming. I like to think I’ve become somewhat good at keeping it together but I owe it in (huge) part to the little pieces that rope it all in.

Google Calendar

This has become my gospel on the day-to-day. It seems a simple tool but it really can do quite a lot for those of us who are feeling bogged down. It works both through mobile and desktop, so you can input meetings, deadlines, allotted work time – and occasionally a social event or two – whether you are out and about or behind your desk.

For me, I do the same work on Mondays and Tuesdays – content writing! So, it only makes sense to copy and paste the same event into my Calendar every week. Not with Google Calendar! You can actually repeat the event for as many weeks as you want or ending on a certain date. Have a recurring meeting or commitment? Try this tool out.

Google Calendar allows you to input the little details, from colour coating your meetings to location/address, to a time right down to the minute. If you have to meet someone in a specific place, it will even send you notifications at a desired time of your choice to let you know when you should leave your office or another appointment to arrive on time. My favourite part of Google Calendar is that I can invite my business contacts to meetings via email, no matter their email provider. I do this immediately after having a conversation with someone I’m meeting with and they are usually impressed by the turnaround time.

The catch: you have to have a Gmail email account to access Google Calendar.

Calendly

As a supplement to Google Calendar, there is Calendly, which syncs with Google Cal and allows others to choose a meeting time based on your availability. No longer is the hassle of emailing back and forth to find a time. They can simply look through your available times and choose one based on their own schedule. Once booked, it will automatically populate as a new event in your Google Calendar.

With Calendly, you can create a number of different events. For me, I offer a 15 Minute Social Media Discovery Session and a 1 Hour Social Media Audit Consultation. You simply link your prospects or associates to the specific event and they can decide from there. It leaves people feeling good, making it work for themselves and saving a lot of time booking.

The catch: It’s only free for a handful of event types – so for me, two types of events works just fine.

Hiveage

Although there are many invoicing softwares out there, I chose Hiveage. It is a free software, but it allows you to email invoices to your client’s inboxes. I like Hiveage because it allows me to duplicate invoices and my business structure is on a month-to-month payment system. Have a client who isn’t good at paying on time? You can send reminders.

The catch: Like all listed above, it does cost more to add features. Some useful paid features include estimate and bill creation software as well as automation in sending your invoices.

And there are many more I’m likely taking for granted, so stay tuned!

WordPress.COM Versus WordPress.ORG?

When building your business’ website, it is important to assess your options. WordPress is a great platform to get you online. However, there are two options for WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. They each have their pros and cons. Let’s explore them. Continue reading “WordPress.COM Versus WordPress.ORG?”

Make Your Website Social with WordPress Widgets

For those of us on the redevelopment phase of their website looking to accommodate new trends and visual styles, it is hard to adapt because there are so many options to choose from. Start out by adding some crucial widgets to your website in order to drive traffic Continue reading “Make Your Website Social with WordPress Widgets”

10 Ways to Optimize Interaction on Your Facebook Business Page

A common question on many business owners’ minds is, “how do I get more likes on my Facebook business page?” These 10 things will help you to increase your followers, but more importantly, to engage your audience and build meaningful business relationships online. Continue reading “10 Ways to Optimize Interaction on Your Facebook Business Page”

6 Networking Tips I Learned During Global Entrepreneurship Week

As a social media advocate, I am all about connecting with people online. However, this absolutely needs to be on par with face-to-face connections that build up your personal brand and your business. I spent this whole week networking and I learned a lot along the way. Check it out:

  1. Don’t network for a whole week. Continue reading “6 Networking Tips I Learned During Global Entrepreneurship Week”

Networking in Ontario this November

November should really be coined “Networking Month”, at least for That’s the Idea and it’s one and only employee, Jill Kennedy. I feel like I have been tossed – lovingly – into a great series of events this month. I wanted to highlight the events and the benefits that come with them.

 

Generally Speaking

For those on the job hunt and new business owners who frequent the Greater Toronto Area, there are plenty of opportunities to be found through Meetups and Eventbrite. With a quick profile creation on each, you can search for networking events close to home. Not only will this save you money and travel time, but it will build you a network in your own community.

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Local Events for Durham Region Business Owners 

Hey Durham Region-ers! We have quite a lot going on around here. I gained access to multiple groups in my local area using tools like Meetups and Eventbrite and by meeting new people who introduced me to other groups. Here are a few I’ve taken interest in:

  • TheNetworker.Today: Durham Region Chapter – A monthly Meetup group focused in online marketing, but flexible in allowing small business owners to present their expertise. I attended my first meetup with this group on November 5th and we discussed the subconscious limits we set for ourselves and our accomplishments. It was a great session.
  • Durham Contact Business Exchange – A local group that meets for monthly networking breakfasts. There is an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business and get to know others around you. Each month, a guest speaker presents for a short period of the breakfast. It is a great group for meeting lasting contacts. The membership fee is $50 a year, but you can attend your first event for the individual event fee as a guest.
  • The BOSs’s Business Breakfast – A monthly breakfast event to network with local business owners from across Durham Region. There are networking activities, speakers of the month and prize draws each month. It is quite a fun and uplifting event where you can meet a variety of business owners. They also have a Lunch event now, too!
  • Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade – A group that meets multiple times each month. Like most boards of trades,  your name becomes a main contact for your area of expertise. The annual fee for a business owner with no employees is $215 and it goes up from there. The benefits of joining are that your event fee costs are lowered and costs of office supplies, gas, e-mail marketing, and some insurances are lowered too.

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  • Do It In Durham: Global Entrepreneurship Week – Between November 17-23, 40 events are cropping up all over the Durham Region – there is even one in Beaverton! A lot of the events are seminars on different topics around small business but some are more social and focused on networking. I am excited to take part in this week-long series and can’t wait to meet new entrepreneurs. Oh, and almost forgot: the majority of the events are free! “Free” is music to my entrepreneurial ears.

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Ontario Events

 

This month, I am attending two conferences!

November 22nd: Socialight 2014, Toronto – It is always a treat to attend an uplifting conference that enlightens one to get back out into the world and get the business rolling. This will be my first time attending this conference, so I am excited to learn more about it as the week goes on.

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November 26th: Startup Canada’s Day on the Hill, Ottawa – I am taking the train out to Ottawa in a couple weeks for the Day on the Hill conference! I can’t wait to meet all of the lovely entrepreneurs taking part and to hear all of the speakers. Oh, and bonus points: I am staying in the Ottawa Jail for the nights I’ll be there. I am an odd mix of excited and horrified but I know it will be an experience I’ll always remember.

Where do you find awesome events to attend? What conferences are you checking out in the next few months? I’d love to learn a little bit about your business, dear reader, and to hear some tricks for event-finding you’ve picked up in your business experiences.

The 4 Elements of a Great Facebook Status Update

Have you noticed that some Facebook posts do well and others do not? Unless they are your own status updates, you probably haven’t because the best, most interactive status updates are pushed up to the top of the News Feed. Do you want to see your business’ status updates as they rise to the top? Continue reading “The 4 Elements of a Great Facebook Status Update”

What the Starter Company Program has Done for That’s the Idea

In the midst of searching for jobs post-graduation this summer, I learned about Enterprise Toronto’s Starter Company Program. This is a six-month program for young entrepreneurs between 18-29 years of age, with a possibility of $5000 grant funding and many learning opportunities. Grants create a mass appeal, but the grant is not the most important part of this program. Continue reading “What the Starter Company Program has Done for That’s the Idea”

That’s the Idea Exhibits at The Small Business Forum 2014

On Thursday, October 23rd, That’s the Idea took part in its very first exhibition, the Small Business Forumhosted by Enterprise Toronto. That’s the Idea exhibited alongside a series of other small business owners, who are listed at the end of this post, thanks to Enterprise Toronto’s Starter Company Program. The program has been an amazing learning experience and given us access Continue reading “That’s the Idea Exhibits at The Small Business Forum 2014”

Pinterest Gives Your Business An Edge

In discussion with many entrepreneurs, That’s the Idea has found a low interest in creating Pinterest accounts for business. We’ve heard a lot of responses, which are misinformed, and we want to counter these with the truth.

“The profiles look too busy with images.”

Visuals are an essential element to successful online advertising, Continue reading “Pinterest Gives Your Business An Edge”