Running a successful productized business requires an organized, detail-oriented, and process loving kind of person.
That being said, if ‘detail-oriented’ and ‘organized’ aren’t exactly the adjectives you would use to describe yourself doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail in running a productized business. There are loads of software applications out there that will help keep you organized and your productized software business humming.
In this article, we’ll cover 12 applications you will need to get your productized service business up and running.
12 Tools You Need to Start Your Own Productized Service Business
I’m going to walk you through the 12 top tools that will help you take your first step towards having your very own business. I’ll give you a brief overview of what the software does, why you need to be using it, and how much it’ll cost you to start.
1. Google G Suite Basic
This is perhaps the most powerful software package you can buy for the price you pay per user. Google G Suite offers a series of apps that power productivity and collaboration between your coworkers and colleagues. These apps include:
- Drive: A cloud-based file storage tool to store all of your files -whether they’re in a Google format or other format
- Docs: Word processing tool where multiple people can collaborate and share files
- Sheets: Spreadsheet tool where multiple people can collaborate and share files
- Slides: Presentation tool where multiple people can collaborate and share files
- Forms: Survey creation software that can be used to survey your customers, employees, or anyone else
- Sites: Wiki- and web page-creation tool to create a team-oriented site where multiple people can collaborate and share files
- Google+: Google’s social media platform which can be used to connect with others
One of the best things about GSuite is that your work is automatically saved to the cloud after every update and files are compatible with other applications you’re probably used to working with — like Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. And unlike Microsoft Word, where if you forget to save your document, it’s lost forever.
With cloud storage, all of your documents are accessible whenever and wherever you have Internet access. You can also store them locally with the desktop version of Google Drive – or just keep some massive behemoths of files in the cloud instead of on your machine.
Google G Suite Basic costs $5/user per month.
Slack is the number one cloud-based messaging app for teams. Think instant messenger, but 20 years in the future and used primarily for business and team-related messaging.
Slack is extra important if you have a remote team. It is easier and quicker than email, plus your Slack channels won’t be flooded with marketing messaging, cold email attempts, or any other emails that clutter your inbox.
You can directly message any members of your team or create groups for specific teams — heck, you can even create channels that are dedicated to ridiculous memes you find on the internet — it is up to you.
Slack also integrates with several other third-party platforms so you can be updated on important happenings via Slack. For example, a Twitter <–> Slack integration will notify you anytime someone mentions your productized service business or brand on twitter.
Slack is completely free to start.
Toggl is a dead simple time tracker. It is likely you’ll start hiring contractors or freelancers who are paid by the hour. With a single click, Toggl will help them track the hours they’re billing you and note what they’re working on as they go.
Toggl also has a desktop monitoring feature that will track apps used on a computer in easy-to-consume 15-minute chunks. Even if you’re not tracking hours, Toggl’s Chrome extension can track your time spent on a specific website.
You knew your Facebook habit was bad – but Toggl will quantify just how bad it really is. You’ll get back a neat report which will show you where you are wasting the most time so you can be more aware of your shiny object syndrome.
When taken seriously, Toggl is a simple tool that can help you better understand where you and your employee’s time is really going.
Toggl is completely free to start.
NordVPN is essential for any business. The last thing anyone wants to have to worry about when starting their new productized service business is getting hacked and losing all of their assets.
A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between a computer and a server to dramatically decrease the risk your business faces from nefarious activity online.
Our favorite is NordVPN, and it’s one of the cheapest options.
NordVPN costs $11.95 per month, or $5.75 per month, paid annually.
Scoro is a budget management tool every serious entrepreneur needs. Scoro comes with budget planning, financial reports and analysis, and unlimited project budgets.
It will also help you keep track of and stay updated with pesky paperwork while keeping you organized and within your budget.
Scoro’s unlimited project budgets are useful as you grow and start hiring a marketing team. You can set a realistic budgets for each marketing endeavor and track your ROI.
Using a budget management tool from the very beginning will keep you ahead of your peers. Often, new entrepreneurs neglect budget management tools because they put all of their focus into customer acquisition. But it comes to bite them in the you know where as they begin getting customers and growing.
Incorporate Scoro into your workflow from the beginning and you’ll save future you the stress and headaches of reconciling books, budgets, and promises.
Scoro is $22 per month and comes with a 14-day free trial.
SweetProcess automatically documents your standard operating procedures (SOPs). In a productized service business processes are everything. Processes help you hire new employees, processes help you onboard them, and most importantly processes show them exactly how to do the work according to your standards. Without processes, your employees will waste valuable time and resources just guessing how they’re supposed to accomplish their work.
We’re not going to tell you building a productized business is a walk in the park. However documented processes make everything easier.
With SweetProcess, there is no reasons why you shouldn’t start documenting your SOPs right from the gate. All of your SOPs will have a visual workflow detailing each step your new employee needs to take. You can add images, videos, and extra notes to each step in this process too.
You can watch the process of building a SOP in SweetProcess here.
By doing this from the get-go, you substantially decrease the risk of your new hires making mistakes.
SweetProcess is $39 for 8 members, then an extra $5 for each additional member.
Another tool that will help you reduce the friction of hiring new employees is Trainual — especially if you have or plan to hire remote workers.
Trainual is an online employee training tool that lets you create and monitor training classes for new hires. Each class generally consists of several lessons that you have complete control over creating.
You can add videos, audio clips (such as a sales call), external articles, or text to each lesson. You’ll be able to see when your new employees have completed an individual lesson or an entire class.
Even if you decide not to use it for training it is still a great way to introduce your company’s vision, mission statement, and values to all the employees you hire.
Trainual starts at $29 for 3 users, then bumps up to $49 for 10 users.
Okay okay, enough of the boring stuff! You wanted to create a business so you could put your unique imprint on the internet in the form of a website. But you’ll want to build out a prototype before you officially go live with your website.
InVision is a tool that lets you build a complete mock-up prototype for your website complete with interactive, clickable buttons, animations, and graphics. Once your prototype is built, you can reach out to your team, potential customers, or others in your network to share it and get feedback.
Bonus: You can also build prototypes for iOS and Android devices.
Your first prototype with InVision is completely free.
Now that your prototypes are built out, and your website has gone live, you will need a tool that can handle your ticket requests, so you can stay organized and deliver your productized service on time. That tool is Jar!
Jar is a ticket management tool that currently supports graphic design requests for Design Pickle. And it’s perhaps the most important ingredient to starting your productized service business.
You could try to handle all of your requests via email, and it will probably work well at the beginning. As you grow, it will become exponentially harder to monitor your email and handle requests in a sufficient amount of time.
Since you only have one chance to make a first impression, it’s best not to risk the email method. The last thing you want is for an email request to accidentally fall through the cracks in your inbox. Not only will you have one very unhappy client, but they’ll likely tell their friends and family about your failure too. Which is not the type of attention you want your brand new business to get!
Instead, you should start with Jar from the start. Your clients will simply login to Jar and submit requests there. This will keep the clutter out of your inbox and ensure you’re handling all your requests in a timely manner.
Jar is completely free for one user.
Now that you have your site and Jar up and running, it’s time to get Bitrix24 – a CRM (customer relationship management) tool that can help you manage all of your clients.
As your business expands, your email inbox will be constantly being bombarded by questions from your clients and leads. These aren’t requests for your productized service. They’re general questions about your business, FAQ’s, and etc.
Bitrix24 will help you to rapidly respond to these questions in a timely manner.
As you expand, you can use Bitrix24 for social media monitoring, sales calls, email marketing funnels, and much more. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves now. You can check out these additional features when the time comes. But for now, just worry about answering all those questions!
Bitrix24 is completely free to start, up to 12 users.
As you hire more and more employees, you realize that you need to do a better job of managing tasks for each of your team members. This is where dapulse comes into play.
Dapulse helps you and your team visualize the tasks that need to be completed in a given day or week so it’s easier to organize and prioritize the tasks in a way that makes sense for your employees and your business.
Dapulse will help your whole team stay on the same page, even if there are many states and time zones in between you.
Dapulse is $25 for 5 users and comes with a free trial.
The last tool on the list (for now!). Zapier is an awesome tool because it lets you create connections between third-party software tools. For example, if you wanted to automatically add new leads to a Google spreadsheet, Zapier will do that for you.
Zapier saves you from the perils of repetitive tasks. Instead of manually adding each form submission to your spreadsheet, let Zapier handle that. It integrates with over 750 third-party tools, so the possibilities and connections are endless.
Zapier is completely free to start, up to 5 connections.
If you follow the advice laid out in this guide, you will be that much further ahead than any other entrepreneurs starting their own productized service business.
And the cost of all these tools together is only $107 per month to start!
Did we miss anything? Have you created your own productized service business? Just like this article?Enter your email in the box below to stay tuned to the latest blog posts.