Finding 'smart' ways to do things is my jam.
One of the biggest challenges we face as solopreneurs/entrepreneurs are staying on top of everything. You have to respond to emails, make sure your website works perfectly, organize projects, keep in touch with your network, and avoid getting distracted by social media, cat videos, and tools that only make you less productive.
The internet, while a playground for procrastination, can also offer solutions to busy, multi-hatting entrepreneurs. There is no dearth of tools and services that help you organize your life and business, and many are designed for specific needs within a specific niche. Many solutions are in fact created by people like me and you, who saw a specific need and had the right solution for it.
Now, I realise that busy, multi-hatting entrepreneurs rarely have the time to trawl the internet for tools that are right for them, so I'm sharing my list of SaaS tools that have made my life simpler, in the hope that they will do the same for you!
Figma is a collaborative web application for interface design. My first reaction was Ok, they ripped off many things from the sketch. Then I thought, Oh, the interface is more intuitive. And then I realised, It doesn’t depend on a platform! I love this tool. It presents the CSS, allows prototyping, and it supports real-time collaboration, which means my teams and I don't waste time publishing changes over and over. What's more, it is super easy to learn.
I've been using this one for a while now, and the tool has continued to delight me. Call me loyal, but I really don't see myself moving away from this one anytime soon.
Notion is like an all-in-one workspace. Want a task list? A product roadmap? A design repository? They are now all in one place. I use Notion to take notes, track progress, create a mood board for art, organize project details, automate using API, track and manage content and manage projects. In Notion, you can even customize your own workspace from dozens of LEGO-style building blocks.
If you've used Evernote and Asana, think of Notion as a happy marriage between the two.
ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity cum project management tool. It lets me bring all my work in one place and it boasts a scalable architecture, attractive UI, and hundreds of fully customizable features. You can plan, track, and collaborate on any project, build the perfect workflow for you and your team, create marketing campaigns, manage development sprints, and more all in one platform. I use Notion primarily for me, and Clickup primarily for my team - both tools are great, but using them this way gives me a little separation, which I prefer.
ClickUp is also great with time blocking (which, I highly recommend if you want to up your time-management game). It also has great time tracking features and helps me and the team feel in more control of our workdays. It even gives us analytics about how we're using our time, which is invaluable.
I use Clarity to understand how people are using my website. Clarity is a free analytics tool which provides website usage statistics, session recording, and heatmaps. It takes roughly 5 minutes to set up and I can see how people are traversing my website, what clicks for them, and what isn't working well. It gives me information about my website, which I hadn't thought to ask for yet! It works very well with Google Analytics and has no limits on what is analyzed and how often. Also, it turns all of my analytics into visuals - which are SO much easier to consume!
I use Mixpanel to understand how people are using my product. Mixpanel focuses on product analytics, providing useful data that can be layered on top of other analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics, for a better understanding of user interactions. Mixpanel lets me track my SmartCue users to understand what they do at specific points in their user journey, which page or feature they drop off on, and which features perform better than others.
Slack is my go-to messaging app/communication tool! What I love about Slack is that it breaks down silos and speeds up communication by bringing everyone together in my digital HQ to get work done. I use it to connect with my team and my communities and I use it as a customer advisory board channel.
Its smooth design is by far the nicest you'll come across. Even though it's relatively new, it is already very popular. I’ve created several channels to discuss different topics with groups, and it lets me have private conversations. My team can see when I'm available, and jump into quick calls within Slack itself. It also lets us share files and its search function works wonderfully to find messages, notifications, files, links, etc even in the archive. Everything syncs across all our devices, and I can easily connect it to other apps, like WordPress or Skype.
Metabase is an open-source business intelligence tool. I’m a big fan because it lets me ask questions about my data, and displays answers in formats that make sense, whether that’s a bar chart or a detailed table. I can save my queries, and group them into handsome dashboards. Having that data together in one place has been a game-changer for it allows me and my team to make sense of those disparate datasets in a way that’s super simple and intuitive.
Intercom is a customer communications platform. It shows me who is using my product or website and makes it easy to personally communicate with them with targeted content, behavior-driven messages, and conversational support. It's the only platform that lets me connect with my customers at the best possible time - when they’re using it! It also gives me the edge by offering detailed records of customer interactions and sophisticated analytics.
We Solopreneurs/Entrepreneurs tend to take on superhuman workloads. It's just the way the cookie crumbles, I think. In reality, we have the same 24 hours everyone else has, and taking care of every little detail and carrying interminable task lists and reminders in our heads just isn't the most efficient way to get things done and stay sane at the same time.
How do we do it? We're SaaS people, so we know firsthand how much of an enabler technology can be. The products I've listed here were made with the same love and attention to detail and customer insight as the products and services you and I are designing. Use them right, and they give you back both time and headspace to focus on the real work at hand.
This list is just the start - it's what works for me. Reach out to your peers and mentors and ask them what is working for them. Just like each plant has its own needs for soil, water and sunlight, so do businesses and the people behind them! Take the time to build your own ecosystem that allows you to thrive. Your business and your team will thank you for it.