Each week we name a software or service as our Tech Smart Boss Cool Tech of the Week in our newsletter. Not because they pay us or to put in an affiliate link, but because I actually either use it or have used it in my actual businesses or the businesses we support!
Some of these are established companies you already know, some are cutting edge. Two on the list are already in the product graveyard since we recommended them (and I really liked them too, hint: Issue 13 and 6).
Here at Tech Smart Boss, we like software that meets 3 core characteristics:
- It’s affordable for small business
- It’s easier enough for an entrepreneur to set up and use themselves
- It helps increase your business brand or scale your business
Below is a list of the last 75 weeks, including a link to the newsletter we featured the software on, the reason we added them to the list, and a link to the software. We’ll add to this list each week as we name new Cool Tech of the Week software, so bookmark and come back often and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get this plus the best business growth articles for the week, hand picked by me.
Also be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel where we create videos on many of these applications to show you how to use them and subscribe to our podcast where we talk about linking business process with technology such as these to grow your existing small business or create your first startup.
Here’s the list of the Cool Pieces of Technology All Tech Smart Bosses Should Have in Their Business Tech Stack!
We’ve talked about Cloudflare a couple of times on our YouTube channel (here’s our video on setting up SSL for free using Cloudflare). This week they came out with another great free resource to help speed up your Internet browsing with their speedy DNS resolver 22.214.171.124 (learn more about that here)
They do more than SSL and DNS. From helping prevent denial of service attacks (DDoS) to speeding up your page loads via their Content Distribution Network (CDN) and a lot more. I’ve only used their free services in the past (which have been plenty) but they offer a variety of paid plans with enhanced features as well.
If you have a website that you want to keep safe and performing fast (and I know you do) then check out Cloudflare.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and when it comes to the Internet, you don’t know what people are out there saying about your brand. So you need a good monitoring tool to search the web for you and bring you back the results.
This week’s cool tech of the week is Awario, They let you set up keywords for what interests you and then they search social media and the web to bring you back new and historical mentions.
This is useful for brand monitoring, competitor monitoring, searching for sales opportunities, etc. But one of the main reasons I like Awario is they give you tools to fine tune the results by blacklisting domains/mentions that are not relevant to your brand so you get better results in the future.
Check it out and start to know what people are saying about you.
Dropbox made news this past week by announcing they are going to have an IPO (and it’s going to be a big success, at least on day 1). I’m a big fan of Dropbox, specifically Dropbox Business, but I always get concerned when I see companies going public or getting acquired. I like to have a scrappy up and coming competitor to check out.
In this case, it’s our Cool Tech of the Week, pCloud. I did a video review of pCloud a few months ago (check it out here), and since then I have started to migrate more of my personal files from Dropbox to pCloud. Guess what, it works great.
I’m liking it more everyday, and I really like their lifetime pricing model (I sure hope it’s sustainable for them). Check them out and see if they might be useful to you or your business.
When you’re hiring someone you have to do your due diligence to make sure the person is on the up and up. Back in the old days (when I was hiring new employees last century, waaay back in 1999), this was primarily a paper based process that took a long time to get any results (and costly). Luckily these days it’s a lot easier and a lot more affordable.
I recently started using GoodHire for background checks and it does a good job for a good price. It’s web-based, electronic submittals, and fast results. Plus if you need to do a more extensive background check, they make ala cart options easy to add. And one feature that I thought was a good idea was their ability to do on-going checks if you needed so if anything popped on their radar after a person was hired, they would let you know.
So the Cool Tech of the Week is GoodHire. If you are hiring one or many, check them out.
In Episode 51 of the podcast, I talked about how running webinars can help your biz and what to look for in webinar software. This week, we decided to make Demio our Cool Tech of the Week.
There’s a lot of webinar software on the market, some have been around for years (and look like it), some are expensive, some are cheap, some are very good and some very bad. I’m just about used products that fit into all those categories.
Demio is a newer solution that is affordable and checks all the boxes in terms of the important features needed. And they just recently revamped their platform and they did a great job, their software works well.
If you’re not doing webinars today or using a platform you just feel blah about, take a look at Demio, it might be the cool tech you’ve been looking for.
If you take an inbound marketing strategy (which we recommend for almost all businesses), you need to make sure you’re hitting all the right signals to make sure Google loves your content and you want to focus on the right keywords to drive traffic.
Now at the end of the day, quality content wins, but it’s the small details that get you the win. And WebTextTool is something I have been using recently to hit the target, so it’s our Cool Tech of the Week.
WebTextTool will take your text (or even import your blog article), help you pick the best keywords with a focus on traffic and competition, and then give you suggestions on how to improve that content to make Google like it better.
Then they help you track that pages ranking in Google and each week send you a report of what’s moving up and down the search rankings. If you are serious about content marketing, give this tool a look.
Not everything a Tech Smart Boss uses is in the cloud, something you need to deploy an actual server to run and manage yourselves. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, but many small and medium sized businesses have use cases where you need to deploy your own server stack and what I recommend is not getting into the hardware and datacenter business, but leveraging an Infrastructure and Platform as a Service (IaaS & PaaS) like Azure.
Azure makes it simple to deploy a server (of any type) for a quick test or a production deployment. And you can increase size, storage, and features to support your need and decrease, delete, or even turn off the server when it’s not needed. Plus they have databases, storage, and lots of other things you can connect and quickly deploy a solution. I picked Azure over AWS for my company needs, but you’ll have to try both and see what works best for you.
Take a look at Azure as our Cool Tech of the Week, and it could be a cost saver for you for your internal needs but also for projects or contracts where you many need to host something for your customers.
I just hired a new employee in a different state (benefit of being enabled for remote staff). I could spend the time trying to track down all the foreign company filing, worrying about a registered agent, and it would probably come out costing less. But for me, time is money. On things like this, I would rather just hit the easy button and pay someone else who will do it for me.
That’s why I use Bizfilings and have used them for years. In an ideal world it should be easier to do business and figure out state, local, and federal regulations, in the meanwhile, take a look at what Bizfilings can do to help you save time.
Sometimes a very simple tool can reap great benefits. One of the most important things you can do on your website to make Google happy is to speed it up. Slow websites hurt your rankings. Now there are a lot of factors to a fast website, but one of the easiest things to do (and often overlooked) is optimizing images to save loading times.
Shortpixel does this and it’s just dead simple. If you are using WordPress, install the plug-in, buy your credits, and compress to your heart’s desire.
If you have a WordPress site and you haven’t optimized your images, take a look at Shortpixel today.
I’ve used a lot of screen sharing tools over the years and at the core, they are all about the same. You want to find something easy, affordable, and reliable. Join.me fits that qualification and I’ve been using them for my sales demo and support calls the past couple of years.
What I do like about Join.me that some of the others don’t have, is you can have your own dedicated name as part of your link (ie. join.me/yourbrandname) and also you can add in your own logos and branding as the “on hold” screen. They offer session recording, integrated computer mic and speakers, and you can make others in the session the presenter to show their screen or control their mouse and keyboard easily.
Overall, if you are looking for a screen share and remote support tool, Join.me is not a bad fit and is in line with pricing in this very competitive space. Check it out this week.
I talk a lot about using freelance staff as a Tech Smart Boss. Since 2009, as of this issue, I’ve spent over $40k, and hired over 80 people on UpWork (that doesn’t count the other sites I have used).
Why? Because it works. If you know how to hire a freelancer and provide proper requirements and management, you can really accelerate your growth and save a lot of money in your business.
I am planning a training workshop on this topic soon, so sign up at techsmartboss.com to be notified of that. In the meanwhile, explore UpWork and imagine what you could do with some freelance talent.
I gave some ❤ to G-Suite in Issue 49 and this week we’re going to spread the love to Office 365.
Now as with all Microsoft products, they make it way too confusing with all their home, personal, business, and multiple tiers in each. But let’s keep it simple. Even though I run my business on G-Suite, I still use MS Office tools every day, and the Office 365 Business makes that easy to afford for home and work.
If you’re an Outlook and MS Exchange type of person, Office 365 Premium and above give you a close equivalent to G-Suite (some would say better, I wouldn’t).
Ultimately, we recommend you run either G-Suite or Office 365 as the hub of your business communication and collaboration, and even though I’m on G-Suite, I still prefer the good ole MS Office tools than the Google Docs, Sheets, etc. If you haven’t, try to check out the Office 365 offerings.
I’m going to get a little old school with this week’s Cool Tech of the Week. There’s nothing really cool about VMware these days, but their technology is still very useful to entrepreneurs.
I use my VMware Workstation on my Mac a few times a week to quickly launch complete dev and test environments. I can run a complete lab of Windows and SQL server right from my laptop and that’s why I want to highlight it as something anyone who does a lot of application testing should check it out.
The biggest value for me, deploy a server instance, take a snapshot, and then just do whatever you want to it and when you’re ready to put it back in perfect, initial state, restore the snapshot. It’s just that easy.
Not something that everyone needs, but if you need it, VMware has been rock solid in my experience. My Windows servers run better on my Mac than they ever ran when I used PCs.
If you are doing email marketing and drip campaigns there are a lot of solutions on the market. The ones with the best features can get quite expensive. Mailhake is a great option for businesses looking for an affordable solution.
Mailshake hooks up to your own Google Apps (or Gmail) domain and sends the email via that (which I love) so it’s not meant for mass mailing as Google is going to limit you to 400-500 emails a day. But for the price, Mailshake gives you a lot of automation power via their built features and integration with Zapier.
Sales, marketing, on-boarding, internal notifications, operations, there are numerous use cases to use a tool like this to be able to automate with the personal touch (revisit podcast episode 48). Check it out!
Being a Tech Smart Boss means always looking to learn something new. That generally involves reading a lot, but who has time to read all the time?
That’s where Pocket comes in. When I see something that looks interesting and I want to check it out later, I can add it to Pocket and tag it. But that doesn’t sound very cool, there’s this thing created back in the 90s called bookmarks, right?
What is cool about Pocket is all the integrations. When I “pocket” something, I can reference it in this newsletter for example, via GetRevue. I can access it in social media posting products like ContentStudio. I can run an automation on it with Zapier. It’s just a well designed and pervasive piece of tech that you can use on your mobile, on your browser, and integrated with your other reading and social media tools.
Check it out and start gathering your ideas in one place. Then when you find yourself stuck before a meeting, pull out Pocket and learn something new.
We demonstrated one of the use cases that we have for Fieldbook on our YouTube channel a while back (check it out) and this week we selected it as our Cool Tech of the Week.
If Google Sheets and a database had a baby, it would be Fieldbook. With Fieldbook you’re able to quickly build powerful spreadsheets that you can share and collaborate with your internal or external team but then you can build relationships between those spreadsheets to add superpowers to your data.
Plus it integrates with Zapier and a whole lot of other tools to power data-driven integrations. Check out some of the examples and ideas they have on their website and see if there’s anything Fieldbook can help with, in your Tech Smart Boss business.
We talk a lot about using your website to generate leads (listen to Episode 36 of the podcast for example). One of the methods we recommend is doing smart prompts based on user actions on the website to offer them lead magnets, newsletter signups, and other visual prompts to lead them through the journey you want them to take.
GetSiteControl makes that super easy and they have extremely professional looking pop-ups and widgets that you can configure to match your brand. Plus they have a robust set of integrations to tie the submissions into your marketing automation tools.
I added a simple exit pop-up to invite people to follow us on our social media networks when people bounce from our blog and I’ve seen my number of followers on LinkedIn almost double in less than 45 days. It works! Take a look to see if GetSiteControl could help your lead generation.
Since we focus so much on providing amazing customer support and service (check out Episode 18 of the podcast for why) having a simple and affordable, yet powerful, support tool is key to making sure no customer issues fall through the cracks.
One such tool is HelpScout. HelpScout is very easy to get started with, has lots of great integrations with other Tech Smart Boss tools, and includes a great set of features from Knowledge Docs, Automation, Chat, and more.
Want to get a peek at it, check out our YouTube video on the integration of HelpScout and HubSpot CRM.
I’ve talked about PandaDoc a few times on the podcast
and this week, we’re going to name it to the Cool Tech of the Week.
PandaDoc is about speed, agility, and removing friction from your business processes. Having the ability to get documents e-signed to remove the print, scan, fax cycle helps you conduct business faster.
And don’t consider an e-signature tool like PandaDoc as just for sales. I use it for employee hiring, NDAs, partner agreements, and for sales. Lots of features, a fair price for a small business, and easy enough to do without help; it’s what we call Tech Smart Boss software.
We’ve talked about WP Engine on our podcast a few times (see here) and the reason is because we recommend WordPress as the backbone of your website (Content Management System for you techies) and if you’re using WordPress you need it to be extremely fast, secure, and easy to backup and restore.
That’s where WP Engine comes in. Honestly, they cost more than a lot of WordPress hosting companies, but as they say, you get what you pay for. In WP Engine’s case, you get amazing customer support, high-quality hosting, and fewer headaches. So you can pay now or you can pay later when it comes to WordPress hosting. Take a look and they even have an easy way to migrate your existing site.
It’s critical to have SSL enabled on all of your web properties these days (for the reasons, check out Episode 44 of the podcast) and when free options like Let’s Encrypt there’s no reason why you can’t.
As an API based solution, Let’s Encrypt is primarily going to be used by your software vendors to allow SSL on custom domains, but if you are hosting your own servers then I highly recommend you also use Let’s Encrypt. Check out this is a video I put together on how to get free certificates from Let’s Encrypt for your Windows Servers.
Learn more about Let’s Encrypt today, it can save your business a lot of money and make your websites more secure.
Finding the right person for the right job is harder than finding a needle in the haystack these days. And with all the job boards out there and software products advertising that they will post your job to a zillion boards don’t actually help, they make it harder.
I found JobScore a few years ago and they are the Cool Tech of the Week for a few reasons. First, they make it super simple to post a job to a whole bunch of free (and paid) boards instantly. Second, more than just a place to view resumes, they have are a fully fledged applicant tracking system with the ability to collaborate and move an applicant through your entire hiring process. Third, they are affordable and even have an FREE tier for 1 active job posting.
I recommend all Tech Smart Bosses take a look.
This week our cool tech of the week is Leadpages. On our podcast, we’ve talked about the importance of having lead magnets (Ep. 14) and also about what technology you need to create a lead generating website (Ep. 36). Leadpages is one of those pieces.
There are a million and one ways to create landing pages, including code your own, but what I like most about Leadpages is 1) they have well-designed templates and drag and drop components (ie, it doesn’t look homemade, their templates make you look professional) 2) they have a great set of integrations available in their lowest tier price plan 3) LeadBoxes, I love LeadBoxes, and 4) it’s affordable, for $297 per year you can get all that most small businesses will need.
Oh, and they offer a ton of training material to help grow your business for free. Definitely worth taking a look.
We’ve recommended HubSpot CRM in the past (and even put a course together on it), in this week’s issue, HubSpot Sales is our Cool Tech of the Week.
It’s a great addition to the CRM and adds in email tracking, templates, sequences, calendar booking, live website chat, and more. It’s the more that is triggering the inclusion this week.
They just included workflow and some other really cool features to HubSpot Sales Pro. But there is a catch, it currently costs $50 per month per user and starting Nov 1st it goes up to a minimum of 5 users at $80 per month (yup, $400 a month yall). But you can grandfather your price now if you jump on at least 1 user.
$600 a year is nothing to sneeze at, but if you are using HubSpot CRM or considering a switch, I recommend you grab HubSpot Sales (ASAP).
As a Tech Smart Boss you should be trying out lots of different tools and methods on your website to generate more leads (some call this “growth hacking”, I call it “smart marketing”). You don’t want to have to get a web developer involved every time you want to test a new tool on your website and if you have issues, you definitely don’t want to wait until a dev can remove it.
So use Google Tag Manager. We put together a video here to show you how to set it up (it’s really easy) and with this enabled on your websites you can quickly deploy new tools to test.
One example, try different chat widgets and features on your website. I just recently switched from Drift to Kayako Messenger with 1 press of a button using Google Tag Manager. Also, I’ve been testing out GetSiteControl on a few pages of my website, all possible with Google Tag Manager.
I had another Tech Smart Boss refer me to this software and I love it. You can import a blog or copy/paste some text and in less than 30 minutes turn it into a very professional and engaging video.
Video marketing is the way to go these days to try to crack through all the social media noise. You can’t find an easier or most cost affordable way to do it than Lumen5. Check out what I was able to do in less than 30 minutes.
Take a look and hopefully, this can jumpstart your video marketing efforts.
OK, kinda crazy that we went 49 issues before we provided our Cool Tech of the Week title to G Suite (formerly Google Apps). I don’t know if it was a slip of the mind or it just seemed obvious and we were trying to share tech you may not be familiar with.
G Suite is part of our Tech Smart Boss Blueprint (more coming on that later) and it’s the hub, foundation, platform, whatever buzzword you want to use at the core of any business. If you use nothing but the business email features that is enough, but you’ll find the Marketplace, Google Sheets, Docs, Drive, and all the other components well worth the per user, per month cost of G Suite. The ONLY product we would recommend for a business other than G Suite is Office 365, but if you’re using anything other than one of those….. switch (and we recommend G Suite).
Sometimes you need to throw up a really simple web page without any hassle or fuss that just work. I found that with Carrd last year when I was looking to put up a simple landing page and I’ve seen it grow and mature. You can do a lot for free but for just $19 per year, you unlock custom domain support and a lot of additional web features.
Definitely worth a look for a simple, static one-page website or a quick and easy landing page.
I switched to Dashlane Premium last year and it’s definitely helped me keep my passwords more secure and also helped me make my passwords more accessible from mobile, laptop, etc. When you dig into many of the major security failures recently in the news, in many cases it comes down to an employee having a weak password that triggered the whole thing.
A recent Equifax leak came from a web portal having a default password or admin for the admin user. Having your team use a group sharing password tool like Dashlane for Business can really keep your company data safe, which keeps your customers and your employees safer too. Check it out and they offer a free trial.
Screenshots and Videos are a great way to communicate and something that your sales, marketing, and support teams should be empowered with when working with customers. CloudApp has a team plan that allows everyone to have a separate account to share files with internal and external people with ease. Make videos, animated gifs, screenshots with annotations all automatically uploaded to the cloud with a link for sharing. Plus you can drag and drop directly into Microsoft Word and other apps. I’ve been using it now for about a month and as a long-term SnagIt users, I’m really happy with CloudApp. Check it out.
In episode 39 of the podcast, I talked about retargeting and why you should consider doing it. But even if you don’t want to run ads, you should setup a LinkedIn ads account. Just putting the LinkedIn pixel on your site gives you a great website demographic visualization to see what types of people are hitting your site by the demographics stored in LinkedIn. And you can setup audiences by page to compare demographics on specific parts of your site. Why would you do this? Amazing insights to help either learn who your personas or target audiences are or confirm you’re attracting who you think you are.Check it out as this week’s Cool Tech.
We recommend (and use) a lot of SaaS software and it’s always a challenge to stay on top of subscriptions and renewal dates, etc. Sure you can track in Google Sheets/Excel but who does that? I found this little product and decided to give it a try. I was a little cautious but turns out I think it’s great. Unlike other products I’ve tried like TrueBill which hook into your credit cards/banks and tries to detect recurring bills, with this one you have to manually enter it all. I thought that was a big negative, but after setting it up, I really like it. You can set up folders for subscriptions (so I have one for personal, Tech Smart Boss stuff, 5000fish stuff, my wife’s business stuff, etc) and you can set up custom alerts so if you want to take a hard look at something prior to renewing it, you can get a heads up alert.
If you are in need of something like this, check out TrackMySubs.
The cool tech this week is Skype. It’s free and it works very well for internet-based called (even Wifi). In the past I have used this as my companies primary phone system, you can get external numbers and all the features of voicemail and other business features. I’ve since moved to Dialpad for my primary business phone. But I still use Skype as a solution when I have international leads that want to talk via Skype and internally we use it for screen shares and quick phone calls. Skype is definitely should be something your business should consider.
If you’re taking money from customers, then you need to give customers a way to give you their money easier and faster, and taking credit card payments one way to do that. Stripe makes it easy to process credit cards and integrates almost universally with most products out there capable of security taking credit card info. The fees are industry standard and unless you have large volume, I think they are your best option. Fast and easy to set up and unless you’re doing business activities that result in a lot of chargebacks, these guys are rock solid. I put them in my portfolio of Tech Smart Boss apps.
I’ve used quite a few payroll processors over the past 18 years. I don’t mind saying what my least favorite was, ADP, and I don’t mind saying what my current favorite is: Gusto. Payroll setup and processing is extremely simple and they are adding more HR features as they look to expand their platform. My only caution with Gusto, their pricing is getting a little out of alignment and as a long-term customer, they don’t grandfather you, they raised my prices along with everyone else’s. But if payroll is taking you more than 5 minutes every 2 weeks, you should take a look at Gusto.
Stay on top of when your web properties go down. I’ve been using the free plan over at StatusCake and integrating it with Slack and love it. If you need faster monitoring, location specific, and more protocol testing, they have all that as well for a good price. You can even get a branded status page. Check them out, nice product for a Tech Smart Boss.
If you’re doing Facebook Ads then you may want to take a look at LeadsBridge. I’ve started to dabble with Facebook Ads for retargeting and for direct ads, and LeadsBridge has made the process of setting up the Facebook Pixel and auto-syncing with my custom audiences from my CRM and email marketing lists a lot easier. Definitely worth taking a look for if you are using or considering Facebook Ads.
You’re losing opportunities if you’re not doing retargeting of visitors of your website with ads. We’re going to do a podcast episode soon to explain what it is, the benefits, and how to do this properly, but retargeting can be one of the best ROI opportunities you have with your marketing budget. I’m currently using Perfect Audience due to its cost, ease of use, and features. Check it out as our Cool Tech of the Week.
Zapier is a Tech Smart Boss’ best friend. We always say the keys to being part of the Tech Smart Boss Tech Stack is the software has to be easier enough to D-I-Y, it has to be affordable, and it has to elevate the brand/growth of your company. The 4th item which goes without saying, it has to be able to integrate with the rest of your tech stack. Zapier is the glue that lets you integrate your tech stack. With over 750+ integrations, I heavily use Zapier to make my business run smoothly and seamlessly. I have “zaps” or integrations between Drip, Hubspot CRM, Helpscout, my own internal software, Google Sheets, Chargebee, Xero, Slack, Dropbox, and more. Check out Zapier and see if it can make your process a little more automated.
If you take recurring payments and need a super easy and an affordable way to do it, take a look at Chargebee. They provide both a customer portal to securely take subscription payments and also a robust API for deep integration with a software product. What I like most about them compared to their competition, they don’t charge you an additional transaction fee on your subscriptions.
I’ve used a lot of marketing automation tools in the past. Most recently I was using Hubspot and was grandfathered into their Enterprise account, so I had workflow and all their features. I just switched over to Drip because of the ease of use and robustness of the platform. Between their integrations, tags, workflow, rules, and campaign management it has everything that you should need for marketing automation, at a decent price. The only caveat, you have to be a little tech savvy to use the power of the workflows and to leverage your own email templates, but they do have a good support community that can help. Check it out, to switch you need to do a lot of due diligence, but if you are looking for something new or to get started, Drip is a must try.
We talked about Content Recycling in Episode 17 of the podcast, and the best way to maximize your website content is to continue to post it on your social media channels. MeetEdgar is a tool that can help automate that task for you and they have a special pricing promotion right now ($49/month). Definitely worth taking a look.
We talk a lot about having a culture of Customer Service and in Episode 22 of the podcast, I said one of the tools you needed in your stack was an easy way to record videos. If a picture is worth 1000 words, imagine how great video is for showing a customer how to do something. Wistia just released this new Chrome plug-in to make that even easier, plus you get to add a personal touch of showing the customer your smile as well. It’s free but will be interesting to see what types of limits they place on it how they move it to a paid version. Check it out!
Sure Google Analytics is free, but there’s a reason so many consultants are making a living doing Google Analytics. I’ve been using a paid account at Clicky for a few years and I check my account every day for a few seconds or minutes just to keep track of what’s hot and not on my websites. My opinion is something paying a little to make a task super easy is better than using a free product and spending more time than it’s worth. You can still use GA on your sites like I do for the more advanced things like retargeting, e-commerce, etc, and keep Clicky for the day to day review.
You have to have an easy to modify and manage website if you want to be a Tech Smart Boss. If designed properly, WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) that makes it easy for you to add functionality (via plug-ins), and also add and manage pages, articles, and blog posts to implement the inbound strategy that we talk about all the time.
I’ve talked about the benefits of Mailbox Zero in the past (check out Ep 10 of the podcast) and the best mail app of all time for Mailbox Zero, in my opinion, was Mailbox App, until Dropbox acquired them and shut them down. The second best, Spark, and I’m sorry Android readers, this app is not for you, but if you are an iPhone, iPad, Mac user, definitely give Spark a try as your main email program. New version 1.8 out this week with lots of improvements, well worth the try.
I’ve been using Backblaze on my family computers for a while, they also have a business plan. Very easy continuous backup that works on all platforms (even servers) and unlimited data for $50 per year per machine. The restore process is the most important piece of backup and Backblaze makes that a snap. Give it a look.
We’ve been using Drift since it was first released and the team over there is coming out with feature after feature to take website chat to the next level. Chatbots, integrated support, scheduling, routing, and so much more. Check out our YouTube video on Drift here. Take a look for yourself and see how you can power up your live website support with Drift.
I mentioned the BriteVerify API above in the Video of the Week section, so I’m going to have it be our Cool Tech of the Week this newsletter. I integrated their API into my website forms but you can also take any list of emails that you have and run it through their interface to make sure they are valid. Why would you want to do that? If you’re doing any marketing to your e-mail list, especially an older list, it’ll help you prevent a lot of bouncebacks and improve your deliverability with your ESP (email service provider). Check them out.
I’ve talked a lot about Slack in the podcasts, and my company tries to have all internal communication and integrations run through slack. It has really helped me stay on top of things and stay connected with my team (without the limitations of email). It’s our Cool Tech of the Week and stay tuned for a podcast on how you can best use it in your business.
With new regulations in place to allow your ISP to sell your search traffic, (what edge providers like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc have been doing forever), I’ve been looking at VPN software so that you can hide your search and traffic patterns from prying eyes. Guess what? The new Opera browser has a free VPN included, all you have to do is turn it on. I suspect other browsers will follow suit soon, but if you are interested in a higher level of internet browsing security, download Opera. It works great and the only thing that I miss are the Chrome Extensions (so I can’t really use it for everything yet).
As a Tech Smart Boss, we have a lot of Cloud technology and online credit card purchases. If you’re anything like me, you’re often leery of putting your credit card all over the internet. That’s why you want to use Privacy.com. Hook it up to your bank account like a debit card and create unique and limited credit cards for all your online purchases. I’ve been using it over a year and love it. With the Chrome Extension, anytime I buy something I just make a unique credit card for that account, I can manage it, stop it, limit it on monthly and annual spend, I can even buy something anonymously. Give it a try!
If you run a lean operation (meaning you’re wearing a whole bunch of hats as the owner), something that takes way too much time is paying bills. Paying them late often incurs late fees, which eat at your precious cash flow. I find the cost associated with Bill.com is worth it to save me the time of printing checks and finding stamps. When you’re bigger, the workflow and approvals and integrate with accounting systems makes it even more worth it. Check it out, and streamline your AP and AR process.
I’ve been using Dialpad for my primary business the past year plus (it was originally called Switch) and it is a full featured phone system with an affordable price (I’m on $15 per user plan). I have brought in all my numbers (800 and local), fax, and the setup to create departments, routing rules, adding employees and downloading desktop and mobile apps couldn’t be easier. In the past I used Grasshopper, On.sip, Skype Business, and many others, Dialpad is by far the best.
We talked about this tool in Episode 15 of the podcast (listen here). If you’re looking for an easy (and free) way to curate quality content in the topics of your picking to your social networks, definitely give Quuu a try.
My team at 5000fish uses Asana to keep track of our tasks. Asana can do a lot more than what we use it for, but the key to using technology is to focus it on solving one pain point versus trying to change all your internal processes to make use of the software. Especially when it’s free like Asana is for teams less than 15 people. Take a look at Asana and see if you have a specific problem it could solve in your business.
Owler is a great way to stay on top of your competition (and it’s free). Sign up for an account, configure all the companies that you want to watch and get a newsfeed of data on those competitors and recommendations for similar ones in your industry. The data is crowdsourced, so you can also contribute your opinion to make the information better for everyone.
When you’re a Tech Smart Boss you are constantly trying things, hopefully, subscription-based things that are easy to stop if they don’t fit or you need to switch to something else. Truebill helps you stay on top of those recurring payments so you don’t continue to pay for something you’re not using. I attach my business and personal accounts to it (separate accounts) as this is handy for detecting increases on home bills too. Give it a try, its free.
I’ve personally used Xero for multiple businesses and it can’t get much easier. It’s not perfect for every business, I still have one services business where I have to do account based costing so I still use QuickBooks there, but unless you have a very specific requirement, for the cost, integration, and ease of use, Xero is our go-to accounting tool in our Tech Smart Boss Tech Stack.
We talked about Spark in Episode #10 of the Tech Smart Boss podcast, and while we don’t normally like to select App or Mac only apps for Cool App of the Week, we’re going to make an exception this week. Great mail app, great integrations, and can really help you get organized and reach Mailbox Zero status. If you are using an iPhone or Mac, definitely give it a try, Spark is the best email app option since Dropbox put a tombstone on Mailbox.
There are a lot of password managers on the market, I used to use LastPass and tried 1Password but switched to Dashlane about a year ago and have like it the most so far. It helps to keep your passwords unique and secure but also you can secure notes, credit cards and more and have access on your mobile and desktop. Check it out!
As a Hubspot Enterprise customer, I had a chance to use Hubspot CRM when it was a beta product. I liked it then, I like it even more now. But the best thing is you don’t have to be a Hubspot Marketing customer to use CRM, CRM is free and perfect for small business. I have a video coming out soon on the setup, stay tuned and in the meanwhile check out Hubspot CRM.
Listen (In the Graveyard)
I’ve been using this app for over a month now and I really like it, so thought I would share this week. Do you ever wish you had a 2nd number you could use to sign up on forms, give to people who you don’t want to know your real number, but you do need to get their message? Then this app is something you want to try. It’s free and it does a lot more than what I described above. Check it out!
Do a lot of conference calls with customers? Take a look at UberConference as a great solution to bring everyone together over the phone or via computer mic/speakers. Screen sharing, call recording and more included in their free plan, but for just $10 a month, you can get a lot more. Check it out, I use it and have been very happy with the service (plus they have cool on-hold music).
Having a great content recycler is a critical piece of your content management strategy. To put your evergreen content on auto-pilot and continue to get clicks and eyeballs is a critical step for driving traffic to your website. But like everything we recommend, you shouldn’t pay more than it’s worth. We use Recurpost and it’s one of the more affordable and feature-rich content recycling platforms around. You can see it in action on our very first Facebook Live video here. The platform is continuing to improve so take a look and grab it while it’s affordable.
A picture is worth a thousand words so I find one of the most effective ways to provide support or communicate with your team is via a screenshot or recording. Show it, don’t say it. There are a lot of screen capture software on the market, some free, some chrome plug-ins. One that I continue to go to, year after year, is SnagIT from TechSmith. Easy to use, easy to edit, export, and you can take screenshots of long web pages (with scroll) and even record video with it. It does cost $49.95 which is a lot compared to free, but I’ve found it worth it, take a look!
Have you ever heard about DMARC? It stands for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance” and it’s a key ingredient for email authentication. Why is this important? It helps you monitor potential fraud of your email domain and helps you to not end up in your recipients’ spam folder. Postmark has a free service which will send you a digest report each week so that you know if your emails (and the 3rd party services you use) are putting their best foot forward when it comes to authentication. It’s free and if you’re responsible your companies email (which as a Tech Smart Boss you are), sign up for this service and learn more about DMARC here.
I pretty much live by this app. It helps me correct the grammar and spelling everywhere I type. I currently use the free version and its perfect for me, but they provide even more grammar and spelling support on their paid version. Even if you are an excellent writer, you have to check this app out.
I talked about this in a few of our recent podcasts (yes there is a Tech Smart Boss podcast, check it out on SoundCloud) and this is the one app that I use every day. It helps you track all your incoming and outgoing transactions from your bank accounts and credit cards to help prevent fraud and know where your money is going. I really miss this app, read my obituary here.
Our cool app of the week is GetStencil! We’ve been using it for many of our social media graphics. They make it super easy to create engaging graphics that you can quickly download in all the right sizes for social media posts, ads, headers, blogs, and more. They have a free option and the next step up is only $9/month so this fits our qualifications for a Tech Smart Boss software, easy, affordable, and will improve your brand. Give it a try!
Doing screen recordings can really improve the communication in your business, both internally and with customers. Showing someone how to do something is 1000x better than telling them. This is a great free tool for creating screen video, and that makes it our COOL APP OF THE WEEK. Congrats GoVideo!
Any Tech Smart Boss has to pay very close attention to security, especially when we’re using so much cloud software. LastPass made a big announcement this week, they open up multi-device password syncing between devices for free. So you can have access to your passwords on desktop and mobile. This is key to having separate and secure passwords so they are our COOL TECH OF THE WEEK this week. Congrats!
We shared an article about Paper above, here’s how you can sign up. Stay tuned for a video review on Paper but in the meanwhile sign up and experience the ease of capturing ideas, notes, brainstorming with team members, and more.
We have a series of videos coming out (they are now here) on Buffer and how you can leverage their free service to start leveraging social media posts without requiring a lot of time and bother. Stay tuned and in the meanwhile check them out as our Cool App of the Week.
It’s only fitting the first week of the Tech Smart Boss email digest we give a shout out to the software we’re using. Check out our video on how to get started and use Renue.