Podcast

Episode: 238 |
Will Bachman:
Recommended Tech Tools:
Episode
238

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Will Bachman

Recommended Tech Tools

Show Notes

If you are looking to stay productive while between projects, one area to invest time is setting up technology tools for your practice.

In this episode, I share 17 recommendations.

I mention some previous episodes of this show in my discussion, including:

Episode 172: David A Fields on setting up a CRM system

Episode 236: Evernote

Episode 237: MixMax

Episode 73: Calendly

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. When you have some downtime between projects and are looking for a way to way to use the time effectively, one area to consider is getting technology tools set up for your practice. This is one of those important tasks that allow us to be more productive, but that it’s easy to postpone when you’re busy with client work. So here are 17 suggestions of tools I recommend. Number one, get a backup computer, set up all your software and sync all your active client files on that backup computer. At some point, your primary computer will fail as a matter of when not if. And when that happens, you’ll have your backup computer ready to go without any interruptions. Number two, keep your passwords secure with a password manager. There are multiple tools out there, and I haven’t researched them all but I can recommend LastPass I imagine that most password managers work in a similar way. With LastPass, you get an app for your phone, and a Chrome extension on your Chrome browser. Anytime you create a new account on some website, you just right click, and LastPass will generate one of those secure passwords with 12 or more characters and upper and lowercase and symbols and numbers and will store it for you. When you log into the website, you get a prompt for last passed, enter your username and password. And you can also use it to store all your payment card numbers. And then when you need to enter your credit info on a website, you just click to enter. It does take a couple of hours to go through the whole setup process to set up LastPass. And once you set it up, you’ll probably want to go and kind of change a bunch of old passwords that were you know the same that we’re using on multiple websites with slight variations. So it takes a couple hours to get it all set up. But it will save you a lot of time and headache dealing with passwords in the future and make your accounts more secure. Number three, maintain a backup of all your files, you want to have some system for automatically backing up all your files. There are multiple options out there, many people use box.com or dropbox.com. But there are many more. If you don’t currently have some sort of automatic online backup, I would prioritize setting one up. And as a backup to that backup solution. You might also do a backup to an external hard drive. But I wouldn’t recommend using that as your main backup solution, it’s too easy to forget to do it. Number four, set up two step verification on your banking accounts and your email accounts and any other critical accounts. It is a bit of a hassle. But it makes you just one step harder to hack than the average person. And two step verification. Typically it’s if you’re logging in on a new device for the first time or it’s been over a month, you’ll usually get a text message, you know how to do this, you’ve you’ve done this by yourself on some sites. So set that up on your banking accounts to protect yourself from being hacked. Number five, set up branded email. Many consultants I’ve seen out there are still using a Gmail or Yahoo or an aol.com account. And that simply doesn’t come across as very professional. Purchase a URL for your firm and set up G Suite email, which looks just like Gmail, but you have your own custom URL, it costs something like $50 per user per year. So not that expensive, and it just comes across and gives a more professional appearance for your clients. Number six, set up your email signature. If you don’t have an email signature that includes your phone number, I’d be willing to bet that you have lost business, because some client wanted to call you but couldn’t find your number. I can’t prove it. But it’s you certainly the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. But I certainly have had the case where I’ve been trying to reach out to somebody for a project I couldn’t get through to them. I emailed them, but I couldn’t call them and I went to person number two on my list. And that probably has happened to you. So set up an email signature on your phone, as well as on your computer doesn’t need to be all fancy with a bunch of images. And in fact, that might just trigger some spam filters. So just your name, your title, your company name, your website, your email address, and importantly, your phone number. So someone who that you’ve emailed in the past can call you up. Number seven, set up a centralized way to manage all your contact info. And this is an area where I know that I need to invest some time myself. My own system is a bit of a hash. I use Outlook on my Windows computer to hold on my contact info and sync that with my iPhone. And then I have a Google Sheet for the mailing addresses for the holiday cards I send out and then I’ve got contacts in my email and I Got pipe drive for CRM system. So I need probably a way to sync all those together. If you’ve got a great solution for managing all of your contacts across multiple systems, I’d love to hear from you. Number eight, set up a CRM system, I recommend pipe drive. And I’ll point you to Episode 172 of the show, where David A. Fields shares his approach to setting up a CRM system for an individual practice or boutique firm. Number nine, setup DocuSign to electronically sign documents. If you’re still sending clients your contract as an attachment, and asking them to print sign scan and email it back to you, it’s time to get a DocuSign account. It’s a big time saver, and just makes it easier to get things through. Number 10. Set up MailChimp to send out newsletters. Sending out a newsletter is a great way to stay top of mind with your professional contacts. There are several reasons to use a tool such as MailChimp to send out your newsletter. Number one, it is easier to incorporate photos and other graphic elements. And number two, you get much better tracking on who is opening your emails. And number three system will allow you to send out a higher volume of email. with Gmail, if you send out more than 500 emails in a day, you’ll get your account suspended, they usually suspend you first for four hours and maybe then for 24 hours. And then for longer periods actually happened to me one time before I knew about that rule, I wasn’t able to check my email for four hours, which was a bit of a crisis. So don’t do that. You may want to hire someone to help set up a template in MailChimp. But once you’ve got that done, it’s actually pretty easy to create individual emails by yourself using your template number 11. Get expensify to track all your expenses. You can access expensify via their app or a web browser. And it makes it so much easier to create expense reports. Instead of saving receipts, you just snap a photo of a receipt with the app, and then you classify it throw the third receipt away. If you get email receipts from a hotel, or car rental or airline, you just forward those email receipts to your expensify account and they will get added including the images. So it makes it so much easier. At the end of the month, you just click a couple buttons and it creates an expense report with a cover sheet that includes an itemized list of all your expenses and then includes images of all your receipts. Number 12. Get an Evernote account to organize your external brain. I go into some detail on how I use Evernote in Episode 236. Get Ace number 13. Get a scanner app for your phone. I like scanner Pro, though I’m sure there are plenty of similar apps with scanner Pro, you take photos of multiple pages, and the apple create one multi page PDF that you can email to yourself or someone else. The Apple automatically crop to the edges of a document. And since you probably took a picture of the document on some angle, it uses some genius math to stretch the trapezoid back into a rectangle. I don’t own a real scanner in my home office. And this app comes in handy almost every day. Number 14. Get calendly for scheduling appointments. It eliminates all that back and forth. When you’re scheduling a call. Just send someone your link and ask them to grab a time that works for them. I discuss calendly and how I use it more in Episode 73. Number 15 get an account with a video conferencing tool. Most consultants I know prefer zoom number 16 set up Skype and WhatsApp to make international calls. Some of you will say that’s blindingly obvious, some people haven’t set them up yet. But if you are ever going to make an international call, it’s helpful to have both. What’s up to WhatsApp is great, but some people don’t have WhatsApp. So Skype is useful if you’re calling a landline. So I find it helpful to have both and 17 set up mix max to get your email superpowers and I discussed mix max in Episode 237. So this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have a technology tool recommendations, I’d love to hear them. You can email me at unleashed@umbrex.com. And maybe we’ll do a follow up episode Part Two with other technology tools that people that you can think about adding one other thing if you have some downtime, and I’ve been meaning to give this show a five star review on iTunes. Now would be a great time to knock that out as well. Thanks for listening

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