Your tools might be too big. Turns out, bigger tools might cause bigger problems. You don’t use a sledge hammer when a tack hammer will do.
We tend to want the biggest tools and apps with robust capabilities. The “Get a Bigger Hammer” philosophy doesn’t always apply. Sometimes we are choosing programs and apps that have more than we will ever need and we never able to keep up with them.
For instance, customer relations management (CRM) software comes in every size. Though it shows a great deal of optimism to choose one that you’ll use when you are juggling thousands of customers, it is probably largely unnecessary and it may very well be too confusing for a small start-up.
You might be able to do wonders with an Excel spreadsheet as you start to build your business. There are several apps that integrate with Outlook, the system you are probably already using for your email and calendar. Here’s a blogpost from Hubspot with ten apps that can superpower your Outlook.
SmartSheet is a great project management program. The demo enthralled me! I subscribed to it and subsequently rarely used. It was a seemingly perfect solution while on a team with many members and multiple efforts that needed to be tracked on a constant and ongoing basis. I was loosely the project manager and thought this would be a great app that all team members could easily update on their own time. The problem was that the rest of the team wasn’t interested and didn’t have time to update their parts of the project on a regular basis.
One of the features I love is a Gantt Chart. It shows the amount of time each task is expected to take. I love the stacks of progress and it allows to add attachments right in the chart. How cool! Alas, the rest of the team wasn’t logging in and I found myself having to download the beautiful Gantt Chart into a one-page format and printing it for them. Shrunk to one-page, the type was too tiny. No one could read the list of tasks, it looked like I had simply copied neatly aligned pick-up sticks.
Again, you might rely on Excel to create a spreadsheet and even a Gantt chart. Excel can grow with you.
The same is true with design programs and photo editing. If you aren’t ready for the Adobe Suite, you might find everything you need in Canva. Canva is the world of design for every amateur. There is a free version and a reasonably priced subscription that gives you access to many more images you can use commercially. You can develop your own branded templates and create myriad designs with a few clicks.
Before diving in with the most advanced systems, be mindful of what you need, what your learning curve is, and if you have time for the necessary education to use the tools adequately.
Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on Amazon.