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!

What Field Hockey Has Taught Me About Business  

 

I recently joined my local field hockey league to get in some much needed team time. I work solo for the most part – admittedly, it gets lonely. This was a great solution. We play one game a week for the summer. My favorite thing about it is the learning I get out of it (as well as the aggression!).

Full disclosure: I’m not a sports person! Please correct me on any misuse of sports jargon.

You have to adapt.

Imagine meeting your team of 15-or-so 15 minutes before the game. That’s a minute to get to know pretty well each person on your team. We used that time to practice, given we were all pretty rusty from last season. The last time I played was 14 months prior. (Also known as, ow!) However, we played really well and won with 2 goals! I was impressed. How did we manage to play so well in such little time? Adaptability: being thrown into some sort of large-scale change and pushing your way through it, with hockey stick in hand.

Small business owners are learning all the time. It’s important that we focus on learning new skills to build our businesses but these opportunities typically come out of left field.

Oh, and, get this: our team from week one was switched in week two so the adaptability continued.

Trust your instinct.

Another thing about meeting your team shortly before game one is that you don’t know who is going to play which position and who is going to play it well. We mapped out positions shortly before the game, but we didn’t know each other’s names well so we had to feel out our passes. My issue when I play sports is that I think too hard and miss major plays. Being thrown into a new team environment put pressure on trusting one’s instinct.

Business is a fast-paced environment. You make major decisions each and every day, like “should I take on that client” or “what task should I complete first?” Trust your instinct and everything will fall into place.

You can’t play every position.

Field hockey is played on a large field with 12 players per team, including the goalie. It’s hard to be everywhere on the field. You need to stay within the confines of your position. The confines will move around a bit, depending on where the ball is on the field, but for the most part, you need to be nearest to the positions beside your own and try not to leave your nook.

In business, I’ve learned that I’m horrible at taxes and I can’t read legal jargon, so it’s important for me to outsource these things. You can’t play every position and you can’t do everything in your business on your own, unless you want to muddle up the game … or the business.

Short corners can happen in business.

In field hockey, a short corner is a penalty given to the defending team in the penalty corner. It also poses as an opportunity for the opposing team, allowing them close range to the net to score. If you play it right, you can have 2 or 3 short corners in a row. It’s basically like watching time repeat itself – pretty cool. In business, you get short corners when mistakes are made or errors occur. Short corners allow businesses to pick up where they fell down and make things better.

What sports rules apply to your business routines and structures?

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