27 Apr Top Business Tools to Save You Time and Money
Pay attention, new business owners. Our guest today has something that I needed to know ten years ago, and it can fast track you as an entrepreneur. Even if you’re a seasoned business owner, you might learn something new today. Our guest, Sylvia Inks, is a finance expert, and we are talking about the five tools that every business owner needs. These tools are so helpful, and they lead to increased productivity and sanity of mind, so I know that you’ll get so many good nuggets today!
As all of you small business owners know, there’s a lot to invest in when you are first starting out. Sometimes, you don’t have the funds to get it all. Out of Sylvia’s five basic tools, there is one that she suggests investing in first: a scheduling tool. Scheduling tools will arrange your appointments for you and will save you from time-consuming emails as you try to schedule appointments. Sylvia’s preference is booklikeaboss because it offers multiple appointment types. Whatever tool you use, it will definitely have a positive impact on both you and your clients.
Once you have the first tool, there are 4 other tools you should get as you’re starting your business. You will want a contract signing tool because it helps you get things signed faster, and that increases your productivity so that you can start working instead of waiting for something to get signed. Sylvia also suggests getting freshbooks to keep track of invoices and payments. This next one is so important: get a cloud system. You’ll never have the pain of losing important documents if you have them in a cloud. Sylvia suggests using Microsoft 365 because you are the undisputed owner of all documents you upload. Finally, make sure you have at least one business bank account. You can have multiple business accounts that serve different functions, but make sure that your business accounts are completely separate from your personal accounts. These five tools that we talk about are essential for every new and seasoned business owner.
I absolutely love Sylvia’s five tools because they will increase your productivity, something that I am passionate about. Many of these tools simplify your processes so that you can make more money and have more time doing the things that you love. If you want more details on these tools so that you can increase your productivity, I invite you to listen to the podcast!
#1 tool business owners need to invest in
5 tools business owners should start out with
People don’t realize that if you don’t have a scheduling tool, and it takes 3-5 emails to get an appointment time with you or a consultation call with a prospect, you could potentially lose a sale.
If a prospect is excited and wants to work with you, get them committed. Once they sign the contract, they’re even more committed.
Sylvia Inks is a coach, speaker, and financial wizard. After spending 10 years in corporate America, Sylvia asked for feedback from people she knew on what she was best at. They all said finance, and Sylvia knew that that was the road she should pursue. She uses her skills to help small business owners grow and thrive. She is the author of #1 Amazon best-selling book, “Small Business Finance for the Busy Entrepreneur: Blueprint for Building a Solid, Profitable Business.”
- Check out Top 5 Tools to Save You Time & Money in Your Small Business HERE
Hi, y'all, it's Angela. I'm back for another episode of business unveiled. And I am so excited to interview Our guest today, because she has something that I needed to know like 10 years ago. And so if you're a new business owner, pay attention because this can fast track you as an entrepreneur. And if you are a seasoned business owner, you might learn some new tools and tips from this because she is like a finance expert and speaker who teaches small business owners how to grow profitable businesses by focusing on systems cash flow, and building multiple income streams.Continue Reading
Sylvia is the author of the number one Amazon best selling book, small business finance for the busy entrepreneur. That's you blueprint for building a solid, profitable business. Silvia has been a guest on podcasts such as side hustle nation, influencers, radio, his and her money, the military money show, pay checks and balances, and couple money. And today she's here on business unveiled. So Sylvia, welcome to the show today. Thank you, Angela. I'm so excited to be here. Yay. So before we jump in and talk all about, like, how did you become a business coach and a finance expert, and you're a speaker, and you work with small business owners? And before before he started to do that, tell us about your journey. How have you gotten to where you are today? Yeah, I spent 10 years in IT consulting. So I was in corporate America for 10 years, you know, didn't didn't own my own schedule, how to get on an airplane whenever the company told me which was Monday through Thursday, most of the time. So after 10 years of that I got out of corporate America, I knew that I always wanted to start my own business. But I didn't know what I wanted to do. Like I always had all these ideas, but never implemented one. So I ended up focusing on the thing that I knew best. Like I actually interviewed a couple of my friends and past clients, past managers and said, you know, hey, what do you think I'm great at like, what would you come? What do you naturally come to me for? And everybody specifically said, finance and research, like, what am I but it was also, one of my girlfriends told me, she's like, I know when I come to you, if you give me a recommendation on whatever it is, like a tool, or you know, at the time, it was baby stuff. She's like, I know that you've done all the research, like she's like, you know, you would have done research on five to 10 other items. So by the time I come to you and you give a recommendation, she's like, I know that I could move forward because you've already done the research for me. So kind of combined both of those skills, right? Like I combined my love for finances, and my research, being able to sift through just tons of information. There's so much information on the internet these days, like it's you kind of sometimes get lost and figure out like what to go with that they're true. Yes. And I found that with like starting my own business. And I realized that there were so many smart business owners that were not good with finances, or their they were at risk of losing their business because they hadn't had the time to do the research. Like they're so busy working in the business, they didn't have that time to set up systems or tools or set up their business properly. So I just had a lot of great business owners that were at risk of shutting down. And that's what I realized, like, this is what I want to be doing. I want to help business owners stay in business, make more money and you know, be able to have a life outside of their business. Fortunately, I came my father was a he had a job. He was a pharmacist by day but he owned a restaurant business at night with some partners so I got to see the boat, the best sides of having a stable income and paycheck and entrepreneur life. And I know that a lot of people don't have that luxury. They have the roller coaster of entrepreneur life and pay
In sales and money coming in, so I really wanted to help small business owners. That's awesome. And you have an amazing book, your number one Amazon best selling book, what drove you to go ahead and write that book for small businesses? Same thing I kept, I was telling people the same thing over and over and over again. And I realized not everybody could afford to work with me one on one coaching, you know, I was doing my, my business on the side. So really, I decided I wanted to pour all my knowledge into a book share all the lesson learns, share some of the kind of real life case stories, like I just keep kept hearing over and over again, Oh, my gosh, I wish I'd seen you know, I wish I had your knowledge. 10 years ago, it would have saved me from, you know, spending so much money or losing XYZ. And so I decided I was just going to pour all that research all the, you know, lessons learned or case stories that I've heard from my clients or my colleagues imported into this book, it was like, Here's 21 things that every small business owner has told me whether their new experience, whether or not, they're making six figures, have told me they've made one or more of these mistakes. And so I wanted this in a book format that was accessible to, you know, all small business owners. That's awesome. And I'm sure so many people have reached out to you and said, like, Oh, my gosh, you saved my business, right? I do. It's great. I actually had a small business owner who was about to launch his business, read, found out about my book from a local bookstore, and decided to postpone his book, his business opening by a few months, because he realized he didn't have all his financial ducks in a row. And that's amazing. Like, you're, you're helping so many people. So like you, like you said earlier, there's so many tools that business owners, they don't think about, or they don't want to commit to something because there's so much noise out there. I mean, I remember when I'm first starting my first company, like I was at the library, like we didn't even have internet. And so nowadays, it's so overwhelming. And so there are tools that just overnight, it's like, Yes, I'll use that. Yes, I'll use that. Yes, I'll sign up for that, yes, I'll pay for the subscription. And then before we know it, we're not keeping it in a record or we're not budgeting for it. And so if someone that is listening, who hasn't really invested in this subscription software's of the services, what would you say is like your favorite, like the one tool that business owners, they're not thinking about it, or they're, they're not budgeting for it, that they really need to have? This is one of my favorite questions. I'm super passionate about this one. The number one tool that every small business owner needs to have and budget for is a scheduling tool. I've had so many times, you know, you know, have you ever had those times where you it's taken three to five emails to schedule a meeting with someone so annoying, you're like, ah, and people don't realize that, you know, if you don't have a scheduling tool, and it takes three to five emails to get to get appointment time with you, or get a consultation call with a prospect, you could potentially lose a sale. And that actually did happen to me, I but I did have my scheduling tool. So I did have my scheduling tool, but this person worked in a different time zone was working, you know, late hours. So I was trying to find exception times to work with her. And what I should have done was create a special appointment link for her because I really did want to work for her or work with her. She was a pretty warm lead. She reached out to me. But by the third fourth email she Angela, she wrote me and said, You know what, thank you for your time. But I already found somebody that I could meet with sooner. And I've already hired them. No, that was a 12 $100 sale that I just lost. Like just because it just took a she was annoyed. It took too long to figure out a date and time to work. And finally, she was like, You know what, I found somebody else that could I could meet with sooner, and I've already hired them. So yes, number one, absolutely must have get a scheduling tool. You can set it up different types of appointments for prospects versus clients versus colleagues. My favorite tool that does is I used to use calendly. But I don't love it. I switched over to a book like a boss. Okay. And it's almost like a micro website, like, especially if you're a new entrepreneur, you're like, Oh, I'm kind of starting off this business. But I don't know, I'm going to testing my feet, then definitely get this scheduling tool book like a boss. It looks like a micro website, where you can plug in, add some pictures, add some custom customer testimonials, but then add the different appointment types so that you can start having those conversations telling people what you do. That way you can hop on prospect calls. And you know, somebody says, Yeah, I want to hear more about your services. You can send them that Quick, quick link that so that they can easily book time on your calendar. And both of you guys get a meeting and buy on your calendars to block off that time and there's no trading of emails back and forth. Yeah, I love this. I mean, that's one of the biggest time sucks is email. So going back
forward, we use calendly. For a few things. We also use appointment core that's hooked to our Infusionsoft, we've got six different calendars mapped to a couple different options, depending on what people were coming in for, right. So you've got your leads coming in, you've got your clients, we've got our team meetings, and then you've, I even have a link to make sure that I have time for myself and to work on the business, not in the business. And I would say like, the most efficient thing is to get it out there, do you recommend putting that link in your email signature? I do, I think it's a great place for you to tell people, hey, if you're interested in hearing more about my services, click here to for a consultation. So I do have a link to that. And depending on how busy you are, you may not want people to be able to directly book on your calendar for consultations, some people might want to like prequalify their leads. So then an early step would be to do an intake form. So have them link out to a form that where you ask, you know the prospect to fill out basic information. And that way you can determine whether or not you want to invite that person to a to book a call. That is not because not everyone might not be a good fit, right? Especially if you I know some some of my colleagues where they won't take a client for under a certain amount, right. So you want to weed out some of those folks, you don't want to get on a call if your book you know, the clients budget is significantly lower than your starting package. So you can weed people out by having an intake form. Yeah, it's really interesting. I recently when the year 2020, when COVID hit, I actually hired a VA to help me with my social media, social media messaging. And because I was just kind of ignoring. And so we specifically made a link that she could put out there, that's a 15 minute link, and she would prequalify them to make sure that they were a good fit just exactly what you were saying. And it's crazy. And what we were finding with a lot of the people mainly on Instagram, were that they were new business owners, they were hustling. And it was funny because we would have people email or dm and say I clicked on your calendar link, but it's like two weeks away. So is that a mistake? Or do you have anything before that? And it's like, No, I've been in business zone two decades, like, we're effing busy. So and then the people on LinkedIn, you know, who are seasoned business owners, they are like, Oh, the next times two weeks, but I'm gonna book next month, because we're working on a launch. And so you can definitely tell the difference between which, you know, not all new brand new business owners is not a good fit for our consulting, I'd rather put them through an online course to we call it potty train your brain to be fun to put them through that to make sure they're ready by the time they get to us. And I know you've got something like that, too. So we'll put it in the show notes, which is awesome. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But what if a business owner is just starting out? And they don't have a budget for any of this stuff? Like I know, calendly is free. But in your first tool that people could utilize, you know, his calendar link, but what are the what are the five tools because that's really what I want to get into. And so that people can know, like, hey, these are the five tools that I need to be doing that are related to like finance and making money. And that's why we started our business is to have the quality of time. But then you get into and you're like, Oh my god, I'm working 24 seven, this isn't what I signed up for. But what are those tools that are going to help them streamline this? Yeah, so after the scheduling tool, the second one is making sure that you can get your contract signed sooner. I use DocuSign. But I've actually had
participants when I've given speaking events Tell me Oh, I didn't realize there is something like an E signature document. He's physically how to drive around to get people to sign papers. Yes. Oh, my God was like there is a tool. It's called DocuSign look it up. So yes, and that that can make a difference right like if you the sooner that if you're getting off of a prospect called prospects excited wants to work with you get them committed, once they sign the contract, they're, you know, they're even more committed, it's the now get them, get them to sign agree to, you know, whatever you guys talked about in terms of the packages or how you're working together and then send out your invoice. So that one again, that this is where I would not try to save money is the making sure that you have a way for clients to pay you. I've seen people tell me Oh, well, I created my invoice in a Word document and saved it as a PDF file. On the danger with that is that you there's no tracking system, you have no idea if the person opens your email, and then two, there's no easy way for somebody to pay you, especially through a credit card if you're giving them a PDF PDF file. So fresh books is a tool that I recommend most entrepreneurs
If your service based business owner, it's a lot more intuitive than QuickBooks and easy to set up. And you know, freshbooks takes care of all the invoicing reminders to that way. It's not it's not Angela is not Silvia chasing down the customer to pay it's freshbooks has an automated freshbooks is reminding the customer, hey, you're, you know, it's three days before the invoice is due. And the great thing about fresh books, it tells you it tells it will show you whether or not the customer open the invoice and shows you when you got paid. You can even set up so there's reminders and late fees that are automatically tacked on. So all of that's automated. That way you can always open up you can see how many, you know what invoices have been paid, and what invoices are outstanding. So that's definitely my third one.
I would definitely like if you're brand new, even, we have some businesses that we do productivity for and they've been in business for over 20 years. And they aren't using any tool. They have their accountant that's been doing it that way for 2030 years. And I'm just like, there's such a better way with automation. And they're like, but I don't trust it. I'm like, so let me get this straight. You trust a human with all the noise. But you don't trust automation. I'm like, let's just give it a try. Like, it's it's awesome. Like you were saying, there's the reminders, you know, when people are opening and it once you set it up and you get familiar with it, you become way more comfortable. So that's awesome. Yes. And you don't have to hire a bookkeeper. You don't have to I've had people tell me, oh, I've been spending 100 a 250 a month on a bookkeeper. I don't have time to you know, get your schedule, you know, set up a scheduling tool. I'm like, Well, why are you paying 200 to 250 a month on a bookkeeper? Like what? What are they doing for you? They're like, Oh, well, they're organizing my expenses. And like, you know, categorizing them. I'm like, Yeah, but freshbooks is a tool that you can pay, pay, and it automates it for you. And if they don't know what type of expense it is, you can just update it. And then then the following month, it will tell you, you know, who basically it will change it and make sure that the system remembers that for next time and says, oh, okay, well, you know, Angela, or Sylvia updated it, this type of vendor is this type of expense. Okay, I'll remember that for next time. So basically, you're setting up freshbooks to automate that for you as much as possible. And you're not paying a human to go line by line by line to try to go categorize your expenses. So that's just crazy. That's crazy to me. So what is the next tool, the next tool, Oh, my gosh, this is my other must have. So to make sure that you never lose a file with blue screens or broken laptop copy on your laptop, you have to have a cloud system absolutely must have, you have to be able to store all your critical files into the cloud. The tools that I like the most is Microsoft 365. Just because it's not just a cloud, it's comes with so many other things like we talked about the intake form to prequalify people that Microsoft 365 allows you to create forms. So you can do that as well. So basically saving all your so that if your laptop crashes, as long as you have access to the internet, on another laptop, you can access all your files, as well, as you talked about a VA so anybody that's working on your team, as long as you have you, if you have a cloud system like Microsoft 365, your your team can eat, you know, basically access files and not have to clog up emails and sending files back and forth. Absolutely. And do you think that Microsoft 365 is more of a PC base versus Apple
matters? I don't think it matters. So I it's funny, I have a Mac computer, laptop, but I run Windows systems on it. Mm hmm. So yeah, so it doesn't matter. But the reason why I like Microsoft 365 over the other types of cloud systems is that if you look at the terms and conditions for Microsoft, they are the only one of the only companies that in the terms and conditions tell you that you retain ownership of any content that you upload. Got it. So not the other companies specifically do not include that. So you just need to be careful if you're creating you know, if there's no basically trying to trade sensitive type stuff that you're creating that you don't want to say the Googles of the world to say that they retain ownership of you, you know, it pays to go with a company like Microsoft 365 specifically tell you in your terms and conditions, you are always the owner of whatever content you upload, and what is the next one. So my my next one, the fifth tool is business bank accounts have a Okay, I don't want more than one. So there's the mistake that a lot of new entrepreneurs make is that they have their personal business money commingled. So definitely, definitely make sure you at least have one business bank account for your operating expenses so that you're not commingling your personal money with your business money. Otherwise, the IRS will not be happy and you that triggers an audit. So a minimum of one but actually what I really recommend as business owners have at least three to four business
bank accounts. And what? Yeah, so I'll share why. Because the first one is going to be your operating expenses. So that's the, that's the main account that all the money should come into. And then it's the account that you pay bills out of. So that's the operating one. The second one would be for your taxes. So I've had so many business owners Tell me, Oh, my gosh, I'm so stressed at tax time big, because I accidentally spent the money I didn't realize and when it comes time to pay my, you know, monthly sales tax or quarterly taxes, there's no money left. So I always tell people that you have to have a savings, separate account for those taxes. And the basically sweep it out like basically, whether it's weekly, if that works for you, or monthly, making sure you're taking that money out of that first checking account and moving it into the separate text tax account.
The third account would be for your emergency fund. So everybody hears about, you know that you need to have three to six months of emergency funds for your personal finances. But a lot of people don't have it for their businesses. And especially with you know, just businesses and sales can fluctuate from month to month, you want to have that cushion there in case something, you know, under true emergency happens, and you don't want to, you know, you don't want to run the risk of having to fold up your business just because you know, you need your cash tight for a month. So definitely having a third account specifically for business emergencies. And then the fourth one, this is optional, but this fourth one, I really like this As for future like long term fund, so specifically for especially if you have higher yearly bills, so those bills so that, you know, if there's $1,000, you know, insurance bill, you don't you want to make sure you have money set aside for that. And so I automate all that. So I say, okay, calculate all your yearly bills. So the bills that you only pay one time a year, calculate what that total is divided by 12. And that's your monthly amount that you need to save and move from your first account your operating checking account to this fourth, optional yearly fund. And so that way, the minute that those yearly bills are due, you've already got all the cash saved up for it. So if you're orange, like me, and you're like, Oh, my God, this is so much it's overwhelming, then, would you this, these are things that like a bookkeeper and an accountant, like actually, they help with this. And it's probably one of the best investments that I ever made, because I was that person where I just had everything lumped together. And then I'll never forget the first quarter that I had to pay, like over $30,000 in taxes. And I'm like, what, I spent that money, what do you mean, to do what, which was, it was a very long time ago, but you live and you learn. And so having all those separate accounts is so important, you just set it up once. And then you know, like you said, you can automate everything. So it's super, super helpful, so helpful. If people want to get in touch with you, and just pick your brain. I know you do coaching, consulting, and if they wanted to do an intake call with you, what is the best way for people to get in touch with you? Yeah, so actually, I would suggest, you know, getting onto my there's a freebie that I'm offering to everybody on your listening here. So get in, get on that. So it's SME financial coaching comm for slash courses, Ford slash five tool. So that way, get on that you'll be you know, that way, you'll be on my email list, and then it'll provide it to the end, it'll tell you, you know, if you want to jump on a call, fill out this intake form. Awesome. And if you're listening and you're driving, don't pull over, we'll put it in the show notes with the direct link. And then we're also going to put LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram and all the stuff there. So if you want to connect with Silvia and I definitely recommend, depending on when you're listening to this, a lot of business owners get serious at the beginning of the year or at the end of the year. And I definitely definitely just from experience would recommend do it at the beginning of the year. Don't wait till the end of the year to get your finances together. So Sylvia, thank you so much for being here today. This was super helpful. Thank you, Angela, for having me. You're welcome. And everybody listening. Thank you so much for your time, get your finances together and continue to GSD Have a great day. Bye. What's up GST leaders thank you so much for tuning in. And I would love for you to text me your number one takeaway, any feedback that you have, and we're also starting a new series called The number one time suck how you can be more productive and GSD and everyday life so you can be present. So if you can help us out and let me know. just text me your number one time suck 615578755 Let's get shit done.