Using the right tools is essential in my VA business. Without amazing tools, I would be so much less efficient, my job would be a lot harder, and I might be on my way to burning out.
The right tools can support all sorts of business owners and make or break one-person shows (solopreneurs).
So, I wrote this post for you, the virtual assistant who, like me, is likely a one-woman show doing this on a budget. All of these tools are simple as well as affordable or free. Hope this helps!
We’ll be covering tools to help you with:
- Client communication
- Business finances
- Managing your projects
- Managing your time
- Creating content
Everything mentioned in this post, I use regularly, and most daily, in my business.
Communication with clients and mastermind groups
If you’re not using it already, Slack is a lot like an old-school chat room (anybody remember AOL?), but you can set up “workspaces” that you will use for different companies, clients, team members, mastermind groups, etc. Within the workspace, you can then organize Slack with different channels to communicate and collaborate inside your team workspace and as well as send people direct messages.
I love this method of communication because I don’t have to check my email all the time, where other non-client-related interruptions may have landed. It also keeps my inbox tidier and feels so much easier to manage (and can help you keep clients’ inboxes easier to manage, if you offer that service, too).
I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to testing out financial software and I haven’t set this area up perfectly yet, I don’t think.
However, the tools I’m using right now all work pretty well together and I think they can work for you too.
I switched to Harvest late 2018 because it has great time-tracking reports and easily integrates with PayPal, Quickbooks, Asana, and Clickup (all of these tools will be discussed below!). With Harvest, I can send recurring invoices automatically as well as send manual invoices when needed.
Also, there’s a great feature that sends out automatic reminders for late invoices after a certain number of days. This is so helpful! I love having thought of a kind reminder ahead of time that I don’t need to revisit every single time.
This is what I use to accept payments and I have for years. There are others, such as Stripe, but Paypal does the job for me. 🙂
I love that I can accept payment so quickly and easily with PayPal and I love the reports feature, that tracks the fees they take out. Obviously, I don’t love the fees, but I think it is worth it to make payment as easy and simple as possible for the client.
Quickbooks Self-Employed Online
This is the most basic of the QuickBooks online for business owners. I like that it integrates with TurboTax and that it helps me predict my quarterly estimated tax bill.
Plus – if you use the self-employment version of TurboTax to file your taxes, QuickBooks Self-Employed comes with it.
This project management tool has been such a fantastic one for me and my clients.
As I mentioned, Asana integrates well with Harvest, so as a virtual assistant who is doing a large variety of different tasks each day, this tool helps to track how long a project takes me.
This is a great hub for your systems and workflows and you can even create a training library (for yourself or if you plan on bringing in team members or other subcontractors).
This is the perfect tool for quickly adding all the little things that pop up in a day, especially tasks that may not fit into a particular larger project and are one-time tasks, appointments that need to be made, etc.
I have mine integrated with Slack, as I mentioned, and when a client messages me a task like this, I “star” it and through the magic of Zapier it appears in my ToDoIst to-do list.
Also, I love ToDoIst’s browser extension. I can quickly see how many items are left on my list without leaving the tab I’m already in.
GSuite’s Google Calendar
I use Google Calendar to create a model week with blocks of time. Then, I look ahead and add in any appointments coming up and anything else I need to know, etc. From there, I reorganize my week every Sunday as part of my Sunday routine.
This really helps me make sure I’m making enough time for each of my clients based on the amount of hours we have together weekly and monthly, any projects coming up, etc. (I may do a longer post at some point on Google Calendar and time blocking because I love it so much!)
Calendly integrates with Google Calendar so I can quickly and easily set up calls with clients or when needed.
I’ve also got a quick questionnaire for folks setting up a call with me to fill out so I know exactly what’s on the agenda for our chat. This saves me lots of time and making our calls as beneficial as possible for both of us.
Google’s GSuite is such a wonderful collection of tools. I mentioned my adoration of Google Calendar earlier. I’m pretty passionate about Google Drive as well.
I use it to organize my content and keep on top of client’s content as well. The best thing about Drive is the ability to collaborate and communicate with clients. We can collaborate on blog posts, newsletters, podcast show notes, even course modules for course creators.
We can leave each other notes, suggestions for edits, and see if any changes were made before adding to the blog. It is just a simple, wonderful tool.
Canva is a very helpful free tool for creating blog and social media images. I use with some clients weekly.
I didn’t invest in Adobe’s CC for the first few years of my business, as I do like to keep things pretty lean. 🙂 But! I am so glad to have it now.
I am able to use any templates a client has from her graphic designer, create simple graphics myself, and even help with creating workbooks and worksheets for client programs.
Zapier is a fantastic tool for improving automation and can help all of the tools we discussed above in this post function better.
Basically, Zapier connects two of these tools together to create even more functions. You create your Zapier workflow once and then it mostly just works in the background. Yay!
For example, I have a “Zap” (as Zapier integrations are called) set to add an item to my to-do list whenever I “star” a message in Slack.
There are a million Zaps!
So that’s it! There you have it. These are the tools I’m currently using to manage my client projects, business bookkeeping, daily tasks, and more each day.
And most of them are free! I hope they help you as you’re setting up a new virtual assistance business or another new venture. 🙂
Leave a comment to tell me what your favorite tools are in business right now.
Cheers my dears,
*I sometimes link to books, tools, and other things that I adore and may receive a small commission for it, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.