There’s one ability that becomes invaluable in a recession: resourcefulness.
Resourcefulness is the ability to do more with less.
I see so many businesses right now that are saying, “The economy is doing terribly, so we’re going to stop spending money on advertising until things get back to normal.” This is like saying there’s not enough oxygen so you’re going to hold your breath…
The fact is, you need to advertise more during a recession. And in fact, all of the things business normally do become more important:
- You have to try new ideas more than ever
- You have to take care of your customers more than ever
- You need to provide value more than ever
- You need to reach out to prospects more than ever
The problem is, you also need to do all of these things smarter than ever. You can’t afford to waste money by throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.
That’s why in this article I’m going to share 14 tools that you can use to skyrocket your efficiency. These tools will let you get more done in less time, all while spending less money.
No matter what your business is, you need to have a website. So one of the very first steps you need to take is setting up your hosting. And this might surprise you, but choosing the right hosting company is one of the most important decisions you can make.
Is the right hosting going to make your business more money? Probably not.
But if you make the wrong decision, changing hosting providers down the road can be a monumental pain.
We recommend Flywheel. If you build your site on WordPress (which I can’t suggest strongly enough) Flywheel is specifically designed to work for you. Not to mention their customer service is world class. So if you’re not a “tech person,” their support will be incredibly valuable.
After hosting is set up, the next step that a lot of my clients take is to write a few blog posts.
Now you might be thinking, “But I’m a consultant/service provider/agency/etc. I have no interest in being a blogger!”
The thing is, it’s not about committing to blogging. It’s about letting your potential customers learn about you. People want to know who they’re doing business with. So if you send a cold email or run a Facebook ad, you want to have a way for clients to look you up and see what you’re all about.
People tell me all the time, “That makes sense, but I don’t feel like I’m a strong writer, and I can’t afford to outsource it.”
If this is you, try Hemingwayapp.com.
Just copy and paste your writing into Hemingway and it will give your writing a score: 5th grade level, 6th grade level, etc.
The key to good writing is to write at a low grade level. A lot of people think that’s insulting. “Are you saying my readers are only as smart as 4th graders?!”
That’s not the point at all. The point is most people are going to scan your writing, so it needs to be simple and easy to understand. The more complex the sentences are, the slower people need to read to digest what you’re saying.
Hemingway will give you tips about what sentences you can change, what words you can cut out, and other tweaks you can make. Start using it and you’ll quickly see your writing improve.
Canva (graphic design)
Another way you’re going to want to carve out your digital presence is by creating social media content. Blog articles are great, but people hang out in their Facebook and Instagram feeds all day. So you want to put posts in the places where they’re already spending time.
We create a ton of content in my business. A lot of people assume we have a team of professional graphic designers to do all of this work. But here’s a little secret:
We use Canva.com. It’s a simple yet powerful online editor that lets you create stunning images in the blink of an eye, even if you’re not artistic.
And the best part is that it’s not only for social media posts. We use it to create marketing materials for our clients, we sell image packs to our agency customers, we make logos for the businesses we consult with, and much more.
When you look at how much revenue we’re able to generate from a low-priced monthly subscription, it’s astounding how much value Canva provides.
Headliner.app (content marketing)
While we’re on the subject of creating content, another one of my keys to success is repurposing. If I create one piece of content, I want to squeeze all the juice out of it I can. That means filming a single video and turning it into Facebook videos, Instagram posts, blog articles, retweetable quotes, and anything else I can think of.
We’ve built a pretty robust system for automating all of this work. A lot of people look at our process and assume they don’t have the team or the budget to do it for themselves.
That’s where Headliner.app comes in. Headliner allows you to replicate most of what my “content machine” does, but all by yourself and for a tiny cost each month.
If you want to harness the power of repurposing so you can “be everywhere,” definitely check out Headliner.app.
Post Planner (post scheduling)
We’ve been talking a lot about social media, but it’s a double-edged sword. You need to do it to market your business, but it can quickly become a hamster wheel that takes you away from the revenue generating activities that actually build your business.
Have you ever looked back on the workday and thought, “Wow, I spent the whole day creating one social media post. How did it take that long?!” I hate to admit it but I have too. It’s surprisingly easy when you create posts one at a time.
That’s why I learned long ago to batch the work. I carve out one or two days to do as many podcasts as I can. Or to create as many Facebook posts as I can. By doing this I can often create an entire month worth of content in a single day.
Then I use Post Planner to schedule all of the posts. This frees up the entire rest of the month to focus on other, more important things. If you want to batch and automate your social media, I can’t recommend Post Planner highly enough.
Ahrefs (keyword research)
As you create content, it’s important to know what messages are resonating with your audience. You need to double down on what works and cut out what doesn’t.
And even more importantly, you need to spot new trends and identify new opportunities. This will help you talk about the subjects your audience is hungry for, and create products and services where there are holes in the marketplace.
That’s where Ahrefs comes in. It’s an incredibly powerful keyword research tool:
- Do you need to find the most important keywords in your niche?
- Want to see what’s driving the most traffic for your competitors?
- Want to find out what topics have the least competition in your industry and have the best opportunity for you to dominate?
- Curious what topics you should start talking about? Or stop talking about.
Ahrefs lets you do all of this and more.
ClickFunnels (sales funnel)
As you start building your own content machine, you need to have a way to capture email addresses. So many people focus solely on building an audience. They look at “vanity metrics” like followers and subscribers. They see the numbers go up and they get excited, but it doesn’t translate into revenue.
On the other hand, I know many businesses that have tiny followings but make 6- and 7-figures per year.
That’s why it’s critical from the very beginning that you have a way to send people to landing pages where you can get their email address. There are many ways to do this, but one of my favorites is ClickFunnels.
With ClickFunnels you can build landing pages in a matter of minutes. And unlike other solutions, literally everything you need to build the page, collect the address, send a lead magnet, automate follow-ups, and integrate the domain are all wrapped into one.
In fact, ClickFunnels does much more than that. You can build your entire sales funnel, design your website, and even create webinar pages and membership sites.
Active Campaign (emails)
After you collect an email address you need to keep the conversation going. An address by itself is worthless unless it represents an actual relationship with a potential customer. That means…
You need to welcome new leads into your business. You need to “indoctrinate” your subscribers into your philosophy. You need to promote your products and services.
Emailing your list regularly is absolutely critical so you don’t let your list go cold.
If you’re not careful though, you can easily spend a whole afternoon writing an email. You pat yourself on the back for getting an important to-do list item done. But tomorrow you have to write another one. And another the day after that.
The solution is Active Campaign. Just like with content creation, I block off time to write weeks of emails in a single sitting. Not only does it free up the rest of the month to focus on other tasks, but usually the quality of the emails goes up too. That’s because I can make sure that all of the emails flow from one into the next, and support my larger business goals.
SamCart (sales page)
A lot of people are scared to sell right now. I hear from folks every day who think somehow it’s insensitive to charge money.
Here’s the thing: it’s just an excuse. The people who are scared to sell right now weren’t making sales three months ago. And the real entrepreneurs who were killing it three months ago… their businesses are doing better than ever.
Consumers need help right now. They need to grow their businesses. They need guidance and advice. They need teaching and reassurance. And if your products offer those things, you have an obligation to make sales.
We use SamCart. Not only does SamCart make it super simple to process payments, but it also makes it super easy for us to build checkout pages.
That allows us to test new ideas lightning fast. We can spot a need our clients have, create a product or service that will help them, then write an email series in Active Campaign that leads to a SamCart checkout page and just like that we can test a new idea.
If you’d like to spend less time planning sales and more time actually processing payments, I can’t recommend SamCart enough.
Kajabi (membership site/product)
That brings us to the next step, which is one of the most important of the entire process: creating products.
One of the most common questions I get is what tools we use to create our courses. People want to know what our “tech stack” looks like.
There are so many tools out there for building membership sites, and people fall into this trap of focusing on the medium, not the message. They think if they can just figure out the right combination of WordPress plugin and content management system and this other magical thingamajig… then their course is basically made.
The reality is that yes… membership sites can become incredibly complicated really fast.
But no… it doesn’t matter. The perfect tech stack doesn’t make an awesome course. Great content does.
That’s why we use Kajabi.
Kajabi is everything you need to bring your course to life, all wrapped into one product. So just sign up for Kajabi, focus on creating valuable content, and you’ll be farther along than 99% of aspiring course creators.
Trello (project management)
Have you ever heard the term, “Circle the wagons”?
In the Old West, at night wagon trains would place their wagons in a circle to defend against attacks from any direction.
Right now we need to “circle the wagons” in our businesses. We need to get everyone on the same page. We need to be united towards a single goal.
In our business we use Trello. It’s a project management tool that helps us visually see what we’re working on, who is responsible for what, and wherein the process we are. It ensures that nothing ever falls through the cracks, and it lets us work efficiently as a team, even though we all live in different places.
I talk to business owners all the time who feel unorganized. Their to-do list lives in their head and they struggle to remember what needs to get done. Their processes live in cluttered Dropbox folders. Well that needs to end right now.
We’re under attack and it’s time to circle your wagons. Trello can help you do that.
Google Drive or Dropbox (organization)
Speaking of Dropbox… another important tool is some form of cloud storage.
If all of your important documents live on your hard drive, I have bad news for you: you’re a slave to your business. Or you’re a freelancer.
You need to move everything to a cloud storage system where you’re no longer the bottleneck. If you can share a folder with someone and suddenly allow them to take over tasks and responsibilities… suddenly you liberate yourself from your business. You go from being a glorified freelancer to an actual business owner.
Personally I prefer Drive. Dropbox is great for storage, but Drive is better for collaboration. Chances are you already use it, but set aside an hour to declutter everything and set up a smart folder organization system. You want to be able to give access to a freelancer and have them be able to quickly understand where everything is.
Everyone is always looking for hacks and secrets. “Follow this one strategy to 10x your results!”
I’m going to give you the only secret you need. And just to warn you: you’re going to be underwhelmed, but this is absolutely the most important thing you can be doing.
I can’t tell you how many of our customers focus on cold email and outbound marketing, but they don’t have a system in place for automating their followup. They spend enormous amounts of time identifying prospects and reaching out, but when the person doesn’t respond, conversation dies.
We use Pipedrive. It’s CRM software, or customer relationship management. This allows us to track everyone that comes into our business.
- Did we just reach out to them?
- How many times have we followed up?
- Are they interested?
- Do we need to answer more questions?
- Is it time to close the sale?
- Is the invoice unpaid?
If you’re relying on your gmail inbox and your memory to track all of your leads and sales, it’s time to graduate to Pipedrive. It’s one of the easiest ways to grow your business.
We use all of the tools on this list and many more. So you can imagine how many passwords we have to remember!
That’s why we use LastPass. Install the plugin in Chrome and on your phone, log in, then it will automatically fill in the username and password on any other site or app you launch. The amount of time, brainpower and frustration this tool saves you is staggering.
It does a lot more than just remember your passwords though. You can also give team members access to accounts without actually giving them passwords. So if you want someone to be able to log into a piece of software but you don’t want them to know what the password is, it’s as simple as clicking a few buttons.
It’s enormously valuable for any distributed team.
Start using these!
These are all tools. By themselves, they won’t magically grow your business. But if you dedicate yourself to working efficiently and intelligently, you can leverage all of these tools to get more done in less time.
Remember, like I said: resourcefulness.
So if things are tight right now and you’re trying to grow your business while saving money, think about how you can use these things to automate low-value tasks. Then free up your time to focus on more high-value activities where you can generate more revenue.
What did we forget? What tools have helped grow your business? Leave a comment below and let’s help each maximize our output.