No matter what strategy you are focusing on implementing within your business, there are amazing tools that can save you time, money and headaches.
The trick is knowing the right ones to use at the right stage of your business so that you don’t end up with a stack of expensive, unused software that collects digital dust.
I talk to dozens of health professionals each month and during those conversations, they share their tech fears, doubts and worries. Over and over there is a common theme.
Coaches Crave Clarity – You want to know the right strategy, process and best tool for the job.
The second question I get asked most often is “Do I need to buy the full version or will the free version will work?”
Let’s face it when getting started your resources are limited and you want to be able to keep costs as lower as possible.
At ZigiMedia, we help Health Professionals launch and grow their practices online. We are so serious about helping health coaches that we hired one (or 2) to help us understand our clients even better.
When I interviewed Ana to work for ZigiMedia, one of the things that surprised me is how much she knew about all these different websites and tech platforms.
I recently sat down, to talk to her about her experiences with her tool choices inside her own business. The results of this conversation were so insightful that I thought it would be helpful to share Ana’s takeaways with you.
Of course, money was at the root of many decisions. Yet the lessons she has learned with regard to where to invest and where to save will benefit anyone that wants to continue reading.
What were some of your most prevailing fears regarding software and technology when you were starting your business?
I had several fears about my tech choices. And sure enough, all of them came true.
I was terrified that I would invest in tools and I would not be able to make my money back.
And because of that fear, I started out by trying to use all the free tools available and I quickly found out that I couldn’t accomplish the most basic funnels the “experts” were suggesting. I had to piece so many things together and I was never sure if they will end up working. When it became obvious that I had to invent something, my next thought was to look for the most cost-effective tools available.
I was on my first maternity leave when I started my business and that means a significant cut in pay and time. There was a period of time when I never had more than 15 minutes at a time to accomplish any task, let alone working on my biz. It was heartbreaking when I spent the little time I had trying to make the tech work instead of spending it doing those money-making tasks.
Did your investing family money create stress on your relationship with your partner?
I vividly remember driving on the highway for the third time in my life, so I was already terrified and buying my first big online course for $1000. It was a webinar and she did the whole “buy it in the next 15 minutes and also get these super awesome things”.
I was so nervous. Mainly because I’ve never spent that much before and second, I had no idea how to tell my husband that I spent so much. We’ve always discussed big purchases together and I felt like I was breaking some sort of unwritten code.
I knew I needed help to learn the online business model, and that’s was what sparked the “finance conversation”. Technically it wasn’t the only conversation, there were quite a few after that.
What was 1 of the biggest mistakes you made by trying to get something for free that you would have been better just spending the money in the 1st place?
When I was first getting started and was looking at Email Service Providers, most had a monthly cost associated with them. I remember my husband saying “why can’t you just use your Gmail account and keep track of everyone on excel”.
That’s when I realized that he was not too fond of allocating our family funds to my business so I had to spend the investment we agreed upon wisely.
My biggest mistake was trying to use a free version of an email software provider. The ability to send email is there, yet there are so many things you can’t do. In particular, I struggled with making the forms to actually collect emails on my website.
Can you describe a situation when you invested money in something that you regretted later on and why?
I’m a researcher at heart, and my biggest mistake at one point became to purchase programs about 1 year before I was actually ready to implement them. I had no real sense of how long it would take me to accomplish certain milestones.
One of those purchases was LeadPages Center. I bought it when they released it as an early adopter. It was so expensive but I thought I was investing in the right tech because it was supposed to connect many programs together. Turns out I never used it once!
What is one of the things you think caused the biggest setback in terms of time spent?
Oh gosh! Out of everything I wasted time on, my website takes the cake. When I first started playing around with creating one, I didn’t even finish the first semester in school, I was that excited.
I can’t tell you how much time I spent messing around with it. From making different logos to header images, to choosing colors that I realized looking good as backgrounds but were terrible as links on a website.
I obviously was nowhere thinking like a business owner and wanted to have the cheapest option possible.
- I checked out Blogspot
- Then looked at WordPress.com (that’s the free version)
- And finally went with WordPress.org and bought hosting.
- I switched themes more than I care to admit
- Used a BluChic theme
- Then went to Genesys with Restored 316 Designs Bloom
- Then change it 6 months later to Foodie Pro
- Then had it for 1 year on Restored 316 Designs Divine Theme
- And change it again to the New Foodie Pro 3 theme
My big takeaways were:
- Until you settle on your actual brand and direction for your business, you will go through perpetual “rebrands” as a result, so don’t waste too much time on your website until you are satisfied with your niche, tone, messaging and branding.
- Keep it simple and flexible. In technology things are constantly changing, you want your technology to be flexible to adapt and change with the times.
You jumped around your tech quite a bit. How did you finally decide to make a “tech commitment” and decide whether to save or to invest in software?
My gosh, I did!
I really had a fear of “commitment” to any one piece of tech.
The more I looked at different tools, I realized that I’m running them against the same criteria in my mind. And that’s how I came up with a set of three questions to ask myself about each tool I considering using.
1. Is it cost-effective when starting up (e.g. tiered pricing, low 1x payment option, do not need to buy another program to connect what you have together)
Depending on where you are in your business and what your budget is, you have to balance looking for tools that will do the job yet still give your business a professional look and allow you to actually be competitive in the online space.
What you want to look out for is if the tool can integrate with other tools nicely. There are plenty of tools out there that are cost-effective, but I found that’s generally the developer did not build is a “seamless automatic” integration with other tools. That takes time effort and energy for them to build a “front-end” editor” where you can click a few buttons or drag and drop. That’s considered a premium feature because it’s easy and time-saving. What will be available in a low-cost tool more often than not, is the ability to connect things manually or by doing your own “code“.
In terms of pricing, many tools are moving towards a monthly fee, yet many others will have a one-time payment. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you can take on a monthly commitment.
One trap I often see online business owners on a bootstrap budget is choosing a tool that is super affordable but needs to purchase another tool, that also appears to be affordable, to be able to make everything play nicely. Often times, piecing together these multiple tools cost more than what initially appears to be a more expensive option. I wish I could say I don’t speak from experience on this front.
- Can it scale with your business?
While your initial reaction is to be disappointed whenever you see tiered pricing, it’s actually a good thing.
What I learned to see is the possibility that:
- The developer took the time to build advanced, useful and time-saving features in the platform.
- That you shouldn’t have to know the code to made customization to the look, feel, and functionality of a tool. When you’re ready to invest more, that functionality is generally there or they made it super easy to do.
- And you won’t need to change tools when your business outgrows the current plan.
Obviously, each tool you are considering adding to your business you’ll have to evaluate, but that’s the gist of what you are looking for to see if a tool can grow with your business.
- Is the tool sticky?
The online marketing world moves fast. Consumers attention online is harder and harder to grab and get them to read our content. From what I see, much of the new software and updates to existing ones are focused on three things:
- How can you target the people that are most likely to want to hear what you have to say?
- How can you get those people to stop what they are doing and read your message?
- How can you make it easy for those people to buy your offers?
This means that the tweaks to your online flow are small and mighty. Barely noticeable.
A small example I can give you is the ability in ClickFunnels to have the buy button stay sticky at the top of the sales page as the reader scrolls down. It may seem insignificant, but now instead of your potential client having to scroll up and down trying to find the buy button, it’s right there. It might not seem like a big deal, but any improvements that make your buyer’s life easy is worth it for your bottom line.
The reality is that few tools will actually grow with your business in this way. And that’s ok. One of your criteria is to know that you can easily transition from a tool to the next when your business outgrows it.
If you were to go back in time and give yourself any advice, what would it be?
I wished someone else had told me that some tools will form the foundation of your business. There’s a clear separation between them and your auxiliary tools that are there to support your business, save you time or add those extras that will help your conversions.
These foundational tools are things like your website, autoresponder and page builder. Not so coincidentally, they are also hardest to switch. In some cases, it really feels like you would be starting over if you had to change them. I’ve had to do that it’s tough to accept all that time lost.
By bucketing tool in these two categories(foundational tools and auxiliary tools), I now know to invest in those foundational tools that form the infrastructure of my business and save money on with those auxiliary tools where I can. Like being on the free version of Canva, or using Asana for free as a project planner.
Can you share some tools that let you save money or you were able to use the free version?
For sure! In terms of low-cost tools, Google Suite was a great decision as it comes with your email and Google Drive too for $5/month. AmazonS3 is also free for the first year and a couple of dollars afterward
In terms of free tools, there’s actually quite a lot. Google Analytics, Asana, Linktree, Canva, Pixel Helper, Google Tag Assistant, Colour Picker, and Grammarly are some that I use every day.
For recording video, I found that you can use Zoom’s free plan and simply record a meeting with yourself. For helping to schedule meeting for collaborations, Calendar’s free plan makes it super easy.
Camtasia is also a great video editing tool. But look for deals! I got my copy for $20 as part of a bundle for Black Friday!
I love that Ana shared her experiences with us, and we both agreed that we don’t want you go through those same hurdles.
Someone once told me that you don’t have time to make all the mistakes in this life. Nowhere does it hold truer than in starting your business on the right foot.
Use the three questions to ask yourself before choosing your tech tool. They are a great way to help you make a decision. The challenge now is to go out there and get your tech organized.