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5 Best Small Business Tools For Sustainable Growth

October 21, 2019

How many times have you wondered: how can I do it all?

It seems like you have a thousand and one things to do within your business, yet you feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels. There’s this feeling of lack and not knowing how long your business (or YOU) can sustain this… 

I’ve been there (and in full transparency, there are moments of growth that I can get back into the hamster wheel mindset) but how our business functions now compared to a few years back is a world apart. I remember wondering how all of the small business owners that I looked up to were getting so much work done without any more time in the day than I had. 

The secret? Systems and Automation. 

5 Best Small Business Tools For Sustainable Growth via @elanaloo + elanaloo.com

Technology replicating your processes, streamlining your systems, and working for you so that you can get back to doing what you love most. At first, I wondered if quality would lack. If our clients would be as happy. Turns out, WE set these systems up and have the opportunity to deliver the same quality if not offer a better experience with more intention and timeliness (especially with our travel schedule). Also turns out that clients/customers are happier when your process is easy to follow and your time is more free to serve them. 

After being an entrepreneur for just shy of a decade, I’m sharing the top five tools (and maybe a few bonuses at the bottom) that I use to simplify and automate our business operations, workflow, and online communication. When you’re in business for the long run, you want to establish systems and practices that are sustainable and viable, not habits that are going to lead straight to burn out or closing up shop. 

We can’t do it all – so let’s make sure the things we are doing are done well.

1. BLUEHOST

Your online business and presence is only as strong as your website is stable and secure, right? Utilizing a proven web host is vital to sustained business growth. The last thing you want is to have your website down for a period of time, or worse yet… to start from scratch with your website because the cheap web hosting company you chose went belly-up. 

We eliminated that worry from the start and have relied on Bluehost for years. They are trustworthy, easy to get on the phone if there ever is a problem and have a proven track record. Bluehost has been there for us as we’ve grown our business to multiple domains, helped keep our sites secure and always offer quick solutions when we need them. Bluehost is easy to work with, providing 24/7 around-the-clock help, an incredible benefit for those of us who aren’t tech-savvy.

2. CONVERTKIT

Email marketing is a magnificent tool for online businesses. The bigger you build your email community, the more likely you are to have clients and customers ready to purchase when they land on your page. With Convertkit you can grow your email marketing list through their easy-to-generate, custom forms embedded throughout your website. 

I’ve used other free tools that barely allow you to customize anything, look clunky and generic and don’t convert. After learning about Convertkit, I knew I had to make the switch and have been really pleased. Speaking into your community’s inboxes helps shift mild-interest visitors into captivated customers (or clients) who want to know more. 

Social media is impactful, important and needed for your brand but the truth is: when you build an audience on social media, you don’t actually own access to them. (Not saying that you ‘own’ someone when you have their email but you’ll always have access to them even if a certain social media platform ceases to exist.) Growing your email list is absolutely something you should spend your time doing and having a reliable, customizable, powerful software to build it with is key! 

3. DUBSADO

A business that has smooth onboarding, clear communication and a streamlined process is more likely to retain customers; who in turn will refer friends and colleagues, aiding in additional company growth. I’m grateful to have our business running on Dubsado — our calendar, contracts, invoices, and payments are all automated as a part of our workflow. 

For the first five years of my business, booking and corresponding with clients was a messy, tedious process involving more programs and hours than I’m willing to admit. Editing contracts in Microsoft word, exporting + emailing PDFs, tracking payment schedules and having to send awkward emails about late payments, forwarding emails to clients if they mistakenly deleted them … you get the point and probably know exactly what I’m talking about! 

This type of workflow is flawed and isn’t serving us as the business owners or our clients. Make your life easier by streamlining your process of providing quotes and proposals, sending out business agreements and contracts, as well as invoicing and payment options with Dubsado and their array of business tools for our behind-the-scenes. 

I used another CRM program in the earlier stages of our business and liked it but the big differentiator with Dubsado is the ability to customize the experience to your brand entirely and their integrated calendar that syncs with Gsuite. When we upleveled our business, this was the natural next step. Dubsado combines automation and integration of professional and quality business forms, ensuring the daily processing of business transactions are smooth sailing every time. This gives you more time to spend in your creative zone of genius and less time tracking down payments, sending invoices and contracts or scheduling calls. 

If you’re on the fence about investing in a client relationship platform for your business, let this be your encouragement to take the leap and get setup today. Time is our most precious resource – we can’t ever get it back! – and I don’t want you to spend hours doing the things that Dubsado can do for you.

Get 20% off of Dubsado with my friends + family discount!

5 Best Small Business Tools For Sustainable Growth via @elanaloo + elanaloo.com

4. GSUITE

The folks at Google have done it again, providing innovative tools to help us with our online workload. Gsuite offers the best in collaboration and productivity tools for you and your team to work together, and always stay on the same page. 

Before switching to Gsuite, my information, ideas and documents were all over the place and for the most part, I was the only one that had access to them. Now, they are readily available and shareable with my team, clients and any contractors we have working on a project with us. When working remotely, from home or while traveling, it’s essential you have something like Gsuite to secure your work and have it accessible from anywhere. Gsuite has brought so much organization into our business!

5. TAILWIND

As you might know, I fully believe social media is essential in the world of online marketing and sustainable business growth. And as I’ve experienced with our clients over the years, social media can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t have the right systems in place and tools. 

Oftentimes, automation isn’t the best way to go when you’re trying to deeply connect with ideal clients/customers and authentically expand your online community BUT for certain platforms, automation with a tool like Tailwind can save you energy and time so that you can focus elsewhere in your business. 

Tailwind is a LIFESAVER for growing your Pinterest and therefore your website traffic. It’s an easy to use, set-it-and-forget-it social media scheduler and marketing tool. With Tailwind, you can map out a few hours a month to pin content and not have to waste hours each week getting sucked into the rabbit hole of ‘pin-spiration’. You can schedule posts for other platforms if that’s within your social media strategy as well. What’s more, Tailwind provides you with vital data tracking to help you discover what is working and what isn’t working when it comes to driving more traffic to your website.

BONUS TOOLS:

For task management and team communication, we recommend ASANA (or TRELLO) and SLACK.

If you’re working with other team members remotely, my favorite tools for task management and communication are Asana and Slack. Other entrepreneurs I know use and love Trello instead of Asana.

Asana is essentially an interactive list that allows you to organize your tasks and projects with team members. You can color code tasks to correspond with various tags or projects and “assign” tasks to team members. Here’s where you can put checklists, due dates and manage the progress of projects remotely.

Slack is an ‘instant messenger’ for the modern world. Say sayoñara to a million email threads and goodbye to crossed boundaries with text messages. Slack is the way to go! And Asana integrates with Slack which is awesome.

For planning your Instagram feed, we recommend UNUM or PLANOLY, PLANN, OR LATER.

I absolutely recommend a visual Instagram planning tool that also provides analytics, and scheduling. This has helped me grow my online community to what it is and manage my account with ease.

I love the visual display which allows you to see what your feed is going to look like with a click and drag approach to rearranging potential images. This way you can find balance and play around with the future look of your feed. This is the easiest way to ensure your images flow in a way that is representative of your brand.


As you read through the list above, I hope you saw the pattern – longevity and legacy. Sustainable business growth is about optimizing your time, expanding your reach as a business owner and employing simple, efficient practices with the greatest ROI that will sustain the test of time. If you want to consistently grow year after year without the threat of burnout, save yourself with powerful efficient tools to do business better. 

Being effective and efficient in your online approach will open up your schedule for the more creative and passionate aspects you have for your business. Optimize these areas of your business so you can keep moving forward and create the business you’ve dreamt of – not one that sucks the life from you! Hope you found these tools helpful!

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I would love if you decided to use them. Affiliate links + referrals programs help educators like me to fund the free kick-ass content that we provide on our blogs.

Thanks for reading! I'm a photographer, writer & environmental advocate excited to be sharing regenerative solutions, ideas & concepts for our lives & businesses with you. 

I'M ELANA JADALLAH

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