Known as the Suitcase Entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson focuses on creating location independent businesses. I chat with her her new e-book The Ultimate Toolkit for Evolutionary Entrepreneurs and about how to use the best online tools to streamline your business and save time and money, something that she finds critical as she travels, lives and works from exotic locations throughout the globe.
CR: How do you define freedom in business and why did you write this book?
NS: Freedom in business is being able to work from anywhere, at any time, and across borders, and still run a successful and profitable business. It’s about having the right systems and tools in place to allow you to work on your business more than you work in it.
The great thing is there are some amazing tools out there that allow you to be truly virtual, making your business smarter and faster and letting you do more for less. The trouble is that people get overwhelmed with all the options available or waste hundreds of dollars signing up to new services only to never use them again.
I designed the Ultimate Toolkit to be a small business bible that you can refer to time and time again, when you need it and it features the best of the best tools for streamlining your business and saving you time and money.
The concept of the book is simple: Choose from one FREE (or as good as) and one paid tool for each critical area of business. The book demystifies the technical jargon and gives you the info you need – what the tool does, how that helps and who it’s best for.
CR: Why do you think people aren’t putting these tools to better use in their personal and business lives?
NS: Because the way in which these tools are presented is just not useful to the entrepreneur. Who has the time to read blog posts like `The 50 Best Financial Tools to Save You Money’ and then go ahead and research or try out each of these tools? I think it’s causing complete overwhelm as to what tools are actually available, why they’re useful to you, and more importantly how this fits into the bigger picture.
Too many people operate in a silo, they pick one or two tools and abandon them because they don’t understand how these tools work with other ones to make you more effective. These days the right tools are building plugins to work with other complementary tools to provide a more robust offering.
Take for example Mailchimp, an email client manager, who’ve built several plugins to work with EventBrite and Freshbooks. Now you can seamlessly invoice your Freshbooks clients directly via an email merge and showcase your events in your email without duplicating data or effort.
CR: What are some of the results you’ve seen entrepreneurs have by using the right tools?
NS: In the book I highlight several case studies of real entrepreneurs who’ve used these featured tools to see a 50% conversion rate using a sales landing page tool, or saved $500 on design work using a crowdsourced service. To me there’s nothing better than hearing direct from someone who’s witnessed the benefits first hand.
Personally, there is no way I could run my business, as a Suitcase Entrepreneur, without using these tools. I store all my important documents and files securely in the cloud thanks to services like Dropbox, and I manage my virtual team members, spread out across the world, using project management tools they can access and update real-time like Team.ly. I believe they’ve saved me hundreds of hours and dollars over the years by making me more effective at how I use my time and resources.
CR: What about the people who think they’re technically challenged and are afraid to use these tools
NS: If I can be so bold, I just don’t think that’s a valid concern any more. If anything it’s an excuse. For a start the online tools available these days are just getting easier and easier to set up and use in minutes. There’s countless ways to learn how to use them better, especially short and informative video training modules and pop-up help guides. If my parents can master using Skype and PayPal then anyone can.
In addition, you just need to outsource the stuff you can’t handle, or don’t feel is your strength to those that can manage it better for you. Like customizing your WordPress blog or website, designing your logos or marketing materials, setting up your email auto-responders and newsletter templates. I cover the power of outsourcing and some key sites to use in the toolkit for this very reason.
CR: You focus on ten business areas in the toolkit and the most relevant tools. How does this help?
NS: If you’re in need of a financial solution right now then you don’t need to dig through all the other great tools I’ve recommended to find the one you’re looking for. Likewise if you just need to manage multiple social media accounts and are looking for a free and paid option, then you’ll find that under the Social Media Management chapter. Basically I’ve made this toolkit as handy as possible with an easy reference guide at the back to jump to any of the tools based on function and use. So if you need a tool to manage your tax receipts you can jump straight to it.
CR: You’ve designed a Premium Site too. Tell us your reasoning for that?
Technology evolves at a pace that can be hard to keep up with. While many of the 85 tried and tested tools in the toolkit are evergreen, there will undoubtedly be updates to the features and pricing of several of these tools over the months. I designed a Premium site whereby people could get any key updates as they happen, plus where I feature one new tool every two weeks as an added bonus.
Plus I’ve been busy negotiating special deals with these businesses to pass on to my Premium members. Basically this one off investment includes the book and a whole year of updates and specials.
CR: How do you think technology and tools is changing the way we do business?
NS: It’s amazing actually. Technology is increasingly permeating our everyday lives, making it essential to adopt new strategies in order to connect with global markets and enable economic growth. I don’t think there have ever been more opportunities to rapidly evolve to fit and fill the specialized niches that larger firms are neglecting.
Finding the right people at the right time, at the right place and in the right context, that’s definitely now key to our marketing success. Our employees and team members will expect more flexibility in terms of scheduling and workplace, however, they will also be more capable of meeting demand, increasing efficiency and lending expertise.
Natalie is giving CarolRoth.com readers 20% off the Toolkit and Premium site if you use the discount code featuredtool when you make your purchase before May 12th. Learn more here.