Today, I share the secrets of being a successful consultant with 11 Apps Every Consultant Needs. In earlier posts, I helped readers estimate their readiness in Will You Succeed As A Retail Consultant and 5 Steps in One Week To Transition to Independent Consultant/Freelancing. So if you are ready to take the plunge, here are the 11 applications that will make your life as an independent consultant a breeze. (I am not being compensated for any recommendations and all opinions are solely my own)
Quick Books Online – (QBO by Intuit) combined with ManagePayroll.com
Not the desktop application but the online version which is critical since both you and your accountant/bookkeeper can access your records at the same time. QBO allows you to create invoices and receive payments in minutes. The Payroll add on is the greatest since it tracks payroll taxes and creates a “To Do” list with emailed reminders to automatically submit state and federal tax forms and make instant tax payments when you enroll your business entity online. Clearly the greatest time saver I use!
Connect your calendar to Calendly – a free online scheduling service that allows your customers, prospects and others to book time on your calendar themselves. See what that looks like here. Creates instant appointments on your calendar and frees you from playing the “how does your schedule look next week?” game. Also, makes your communications look polished to tell people they can go to your personalized calendly site to book time on your schedule.
3. A WordPress Blog
Just like this one! Honestly, if you have a website (you must have a website, right?) then having a blog that you can manage with WordPress is just about the easiest way to communicate. You can write your ideas from anywhere with a connection and post or schedule your posts at your convenience. To be honest, I cringe whenever someone tells me they use a different platform for their blog because I know how much more difficult they are making their lives.
4. Survey Monkey
One of a few applications that I subscribe to with a monthly/annual fee. I use Survey Monkey constantly for my clients. Whether they need a quick pre-/post-evaluation, to gather information from customers or to get feedback from one of my keynotes, Survey Monkey is easy to use. I regularly use the piping logic to create more complex surveys that channel respondents to the correct set of questions. It also has lots of helpful survey templates that are useful if you don’t know where to begin.
5. Mail Chimp/Robly
Listen, my hands down favorite email campaign manager is Robly.com It is easy to use, allows users to have unlimited images and has all the functionality as the other stand-alone email tools. But my website developer really needed me to move to Mail Chimp. OK. I am learning it. And as long as you have an email manager, I think you are fine. But beware: The big guy out there is Constant Contact and as a legacy CC user, I can tell you it is the most expensive option and I found that it is not any easier or better than Mail Chimp or Robly.
Wrangle your social media and schedule a month of posts in an hour. That’s the easiest way to stay engaged with your audience, keep your content fresh while still running to meetings at your client’s site. With Buffer, you’ll look like you have a marketing team curating your content when you really manage a month of posts while drinking a beer. Cheers.
7. Delta/American/Your Airline of Choice
If you’re flying a lot, chances are you have a lot of loyalty miles built up. For those of us in Minneapolis, that means Delta. The app has real-time status on my bag location, gate changes and miles show up while I am exiting the jet bridge. I can’t imagine traveling without it.
Once I’ve landed, it’s straight to the Lyft line for me. Sure, Uber is on my phone as well. But I’m all about the underdog. I connected my Lyft account to my Delta Account so now I get miles for every Lyft ride — double miles if the ride starts or ends at an airport. Lyft has the same arrangement with Hilton as well.
The app that changed my cell phone life. Robokiller does just that: it kills/declines about 98% of all the robocalls I once received. I can take a call if I want or block numbers if I accidentally pick one up. Best of all? I can select among hundreds of ways Robokiller can answer my phone if a real person is on the other end and records their interaction with my selection. I love having Donald Trump threaten them for calling the White House or when Sergeant Hooper asks them to stay on the line to answer questions about how they “knew the deceased.” Effective and entertaining.
Facetime may be where it is at to video grandma, but skype is the universal video conference choice of business. True, some of my clients rely on Viber or Whatsapp or Chime. But to begin, use Skype. It establishes credibility. Its international. Add it to your business card and email signature.
When you need to host several people or people from different companies, FreeConferenceCall.com is a great solution. Sure, people can see you are using a free service in the URL, but explain that you are saving them overhead fees. You can share documents, record the call and schedule a series of calls (not just one at a time.) If you have a client that insists on a Cisco or BlueJeans connection, write it into their contract. Otherwise, FreeConferenceCall.com is a great solution.
Those are the 11 Apps Every Consultant Needs. So what do you think? Is there an app you use every week that you think I overlooked? Let me know in the comments.