5 Of the Best Business Tools for Entrepreneurs
I want to help other entrepreneurs. Growing into the mindset of being an entrepreneur is about stages. The First most important thing is mindset. Listen or read the blog from my last episode about mindset.
Now once you start to shape your brain to have the mentality of an entrepreneur you’re at another stage. You have to pick what industry you want to go into, what you want to sell. But regardless of that decision, you need to start being obsessed over efficiency, productivity, and streamlining the process. Basically making things easier for yourself. That's what I am talking about here. 5 of my favorite business tools that I couldn’t live without.
Tools are just that, tools. If you have a socket wrench which is a great tool (I guess it is, I am not the most handy person) but you try to play baseball with it, you will think that tool sucks. Tools on their own are useless, but if you combine the entrepreneur mentality with these tools, it will help amplify your success.
1) Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Sheets
I'm sure everyone has heard of these, and you may be thinking these apps are not that profound. Well they ARE! I’ve noticed many people don't understand the power of google docs, google drive and especially google sheets.
Google Docs is great for the simplest reasons. It's your notes that, compared to a piece of paper, can never be lost, always be easily accessible and updated, be shared with others, and easily SEARCHED!
I share a to do doc with all of my top employees about tasks and thoughts. I have a meeting with my operations manager every Monday at 9:30 am, and I meet with the sales team every Tuesday at 1:30pm. When I have thoughts about these things (in the car, the shower, etc.), I go to my doc and simply update it. Then when the meeting comes I have a note of everything I wanted to mention. The brain forgets good ideas.
You need to write down all your ideas- Just quick scratch notes. Then later you can SEARCH all of your google docs. Basically it's silly to ever write anything down again. Share thoughts, store thoughts, and SEARCH your thoughts using google docs.
Many people think google drive is just a way to email big files, but it is also great for storing marketing materials. Dating back to two years ago, every photo we have taken for united monograms plus select customer photos is organized in a shared folder. If we decide we want to do a sweatshirt promotion, I can instally go to google drive with all our photos over the years. We have a culture of adding all great photos into the drive.
Google Sheets is by far the greatest out of all of these. Yes it has the sharing & search capabilities like the others but I use it much more seriously. Every morning the first thing I look at is my personal cash flow money doc that I have had for probably about 10 years now.
I update it with my money in the bank, and then I have all of my expenses (credit cards, loans, accounts payable, etc) in a column underneath. If I have money coming into the bank in a couple days from sales, I put that in another section which is attached to the bank number. It's in another section because it's not there yet, but it will be soon. Another section I have on the doc is my investments- stocks, bitcoin, etc. I put how many shares I own, and then I use a formula (=GOOGLEFINANCE("CURRENCY:BTCUSD")) so that the next cell automatically updates with the price of the stock in REAL TIME! I have a simple cell that shows me my lifetime investment profits to an exact decimal place including transaction costs
This sheet has been so powerful to me over the years because it is a mistake to have money in the bank, and think that’s how much money you have.
You need to know the REAL number for short term and long term decision making. If I need to make any financial decisions the FIRST place I go is my google sheet, and it's in my pocket 24/7. Also, On the first of every month I record a cell that has my exact cash flow number. Then over time I can see how it has gone up or down? Where was I in August of last year? I can look right away at the snapshot. Another beautiful thing is that I have alot of supplier Net 30’s, credit cards and sometimes loans in my ‘need to be paid’ section. How much I owe these places is constantly updating and changing daily. I keep a little hyperlink right next to each expense so I can click on it and open up the exact page that shows me my balance and allows me to make a payment.
I also use google sheets for operations of my business. Every single day for YEARS everyone of my employees puts in their daily number into a company shared google sheet. We have a tab for each department (Printing, Embroidery, Shipping, Staging, etc.) I'll explain the power of this feature in the next section.
The best thing about all of these google business apps is that they are FREE!
I have been using grow for years and I look at it every single day to make business decisions. I’m sure it has some competitors, and it does cost money, it is an investment. Essentially the power of it is that it pulls in data from different sources to give you real time data. If you have an e-commerce shopfy store, and you need to know yesterday's sales, you don't need grow. If you want to see how much you spent on facebook ads and google ads yesterday, you can go to both of those platforms and see that info, you don't need Grow.
But what about if you need a quick glance and your percentage of ad spend compared to sales, and you need that number all the time? Years ago, after a struggle period where I was losing money, I learned that I need to keep advertising spend under 25-30% of sales to be profitable. Every business will have different metrics, but this was a very important metric for me. Many times a day I would open up my calculator, go to facebook & google ads to add up my daily spend, and then divide it by the daily sales at that moment to see where I was at. This became an incredibly tedious task to do all the time. After getting this platform, I now just need to look at one spot any time of the day to see ‘ad spend %’ from today, yesterday, week to date, month to date, last month, and year to date. It’s been huge for me to have this all in one place.
Grow brings in data from all social media platforms, all e-commerce platforms like Shopify, ad platforms, google analytics and so much more. It also brings in google sheets, which is probably the most powerful in my opinion.
Running my operations we track all of our employees hourly averages. This allows me to calculate how long it will take us to get out our current open orders, track each employee's performance and more. Remember I mentioned every employee puts in their daily number? They are also tracking on their clock in app (Replicon, another great tool) how many hours they are in each activity. If they spend 7 hours printing, and print 300 shirts, their hourly average would be 42.86 per hour. Grow pulls in all the data from google sheets to track every employee's average! If our employees hit their goals, they get a bonus every month. If I see an employee has a low average this month, I can ask them what's going on? Do you need to be retrained? It's the way I hold every person accountable for their work, and I get to see it automatically everyday by looking at Grow.
I use this platform to track my ad spend, employees performance, average fulfillment time, social media & email list growth, and more. It's a powerful tool. If you’re just starting and you dont really know your metrics, you can just use Grow to make a chart for all time monthly sales, social media growth month by month- simple things like that! Just having these metrics on a dashboard can get you thinking like an analytical business person early on. When you have a decision to make in the future, you’ll think “Damn I wish I had some data on this because I feel like I’m just guessing!” Then you can sit down and figure out how to create a dashboard to start tracking the metrics you need. They have great support to help you build complicated metrics.
You can't run your business on just your instincts forever, it's irresponsible- I’ve done it before! Figure out a way to use GROW (No-Code, Full-Stack Business Intelligence (BI) Software) or another similar company to track your important metrics.
3) Bench Bookeeping
I hate taxes. Yes I hate paying them but whatever, that's part of the deal with running a business. Mostly I hate thinking about my finances in a tax sense. It's annoying. “If you buy a car that can be a tax write off” COOL! It’s still money. I hate when people say “Its a tax write off,” in my opinion that's an amatuer thing for an entrepreneur to say. Of course I understand as a business grows and becomes big there are many financial things that can be done for tax savings, but that's not for the CEO to worry about. I make financial decisions as I explained in part one, on the cash that's available- the REAL number. If the overall number is negative that can be okay, you may have a long term loan that you dont need to pay off for a long time, but you still need to factor it in.
For Taxes, I have a bookkeeper and an accountant. They are very different. The bookkeeper needs to make the financial report in a digestible form for the accountant. I work with the bookkeeper once a month, and then the accountant gets those books, and files the tax return once a year. The more prepared and buttoned up the books are, the less hassle for you dealing with the accountant at the end of the year.
My first bookeeper was a local person, and it was a nightmare. I would send him PDFs every month of EVERY SINGLE credit card and statement. If he put something in the wrong expense category, I would have to let him know, and he would have to send over an entire new report. At one point I actually was thinking I would use the monthly profit & loss statement to make business decisions. The problem is a bookkeeper won't get you back the statement for 15-20 days after the month ends. It’s too long. I needed another solution this was so archaic it was driving me crazy, so I found Bench.
Bench is 100% online and links up with all your banks, credit cards, Paypal, EVERYTHING. 100% digitally. You never have to download and email PDFs. All of the transactions are available and they can be changed instantly. There are notes on each transaction if needed. Basically I need to do nothing but run my business. At the end of each month I digitally answer a few questions about categorizing transactions, and look over everything to make sure it's all good. I get my ‘tax ready’ profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and income statement summary in REAL time. As long as I am on top of it throughout the year, tax time is so easy because all I have to do is send over the end of the year financial statements to the accountant. I’m sure eventually as my business grows, there will be a point where I want to bring bookkeeping and maybe accounting in house. This could be a CFO job who also helps make business decisions based on the data. But for now, Bench Bookeeping has been a heaven-send to me over the past few years for handling the important & annoying element of business- TAXES.
4) Paypal Working Capital
If you need cash for your business, there is no better funding source than paypal working capital. This option may not be available to everyone, but if you have online sales, and you allow customers to check out with paypal, this could be an option for you. I’ve gotten a loan from a bank for equipment before. It sucks. Banks suck so bad. The paperwork, the payback process, the fees, the shitty websites, the credit checks, it's a nightmare.
Let me explain paypal working capital loans. You have a shopify site. If people check out with their credit card, it's processed with shopify payments. Shopify payments sends that money to your bank account in one lump sum every weekday. You also allow customers to checkout with paypal, if the customer chooses that option the money is sent immediately to your paypal account, and you can transfer it to your bank whenever you want. In my experience I'd say about 30-40% of customers checkout with paypal, so alot of money goes through the paypal account. Over time, once paypal sees that you are bringing in cash, you will get a notification when you login that you can apply for this working capital loan. You fill out the form in minutes, and find out if you’re approved right away. I’ve been offered loans up to $10,000, and more recently cash loans up to $150,000. You accept and that $150,000 is immediately in your paypal account to do whatever you please.
You can choose how much you want to pay back of each sale. Here’s the details of one of the last loans I was offered:
You are approved for up to $150,000
$150,000- $4,041 (2.69%) Fee- Repay with 30%
$147,000- $3,884 (2.59%) Fee- Repay with 30%
$100,000- $1,737 (1.74%)Fee- Repay with 30%
I accepted the $100,000 offer. The total cost of the loan is $1,737. This is an incredible offer! One, less than 2% for cash is incredibly good. Two, you only pay back the loan based on your sales coming into Paypal!! I am repaying 30%. If a customer places an $100 order and checks out using Paypal, $100 will come into the Paypal account, and $30 will go to pay off the loan. I can keep the $70 for cash flow. Here's the most amazing thing, no matter how long it takes to pay off the loan. It will always only cost $1,737. If sales are low less money will go into the account, and then less money will be taken out. Remember 60% of customers are checking out with a credit card, and you get to keep ALL of that money. Only 30% of your Paypal sales, which are about 40% of your overall checkouts on your e-commerce store, are taken to pay back the loan. Now matter how long it takes to pay off the $100,000 (usually a couple of months), there is no additional fee or expense. There is no credit check, no person you need to talk to, no processing or waiting time, it's just an incredible way to get a cash infusion to buy new equipment or do whatever you need to do to grow your business. They don't need any collateral or anything from you because they already know how much cash you are bringing into your Paypal account on average. I don't think I would be where I am without this incredible financial tool.
My first four tools were really in the weeds talking about digital organization, data decision making, financial reporting, funding- this one is more fun! I just got an oculus and it's pretty cool! I don't know why I bought this. It has some fun games like boxing, bowling... I saw there's some lightsaber games I havent played. They actually have ZERO basketball games which is kind of annoying! You can browse the internet, go visit places you’ve never been, watch youtube or Netflix- it’s actually pretty sweet. However since this is about business, the best thing I use it for is meditation. Over the past 4-5 years mediation has become incredibly popular.
Ive done 3 months where I’ve meditated every single day. I pay for the calm app on my phone, put in headphones, closed my eyes and just listened & breath deeply for 10-15 minutes. I now meditate 2-3 times a week and I do think it has some positive impact on the brain. The Oculus has this app called trip, and it takes mediation to the next level. It has these little stars that come into your mouth when you breathe in, and then leave your mouth when you exhale. The settings are incredible, the other day I meditated by this creek near an old castle in Ireland for 15 minutes and it was so real. It’s a really cool toy to have, and that's my 5th and final business tool I recommend!
Organization: Google Docs, Drive, Sheets
Data Decision Making: Grow
Taxes & Financial Records: Bench
Funding: Paypal Working Capital
I really hope these tools are helpful for entrepreneurs at any early stage in your business career. Let me know your thoughts, or share in the youtube comments any other business tools that have helped you! Thanks for reading!