When I first started my service based business, I really didn’t have a clue what tools or resources I would need.
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I knew I wanted to start working again as my children got older and I had a little more time on my hands. However it never quite made sense for me personally to go out and work.
This was in 2016, when digital nomads were on the rise. Working from home seemed like the best option, so I looked into what it would take to start as a virtual assistant.
Talk about info overload!
There are so many “must have” tools and resources out there. From Trello to Dubsado to Asana, the list goes on and on. And if you ask around, everyone seems to have a different opinion on which tools they think are must haves.
Lucky for me, I stumbled across a course called Become A Pinterest VA Today, which gave me a very good idea of what I would need in order to get started (DON’T WORRY! This post is not just for Pinterest VA’s, but for all VA’s in general. Or any service based business for that matter.♥)
Click here to learn more about how and why I became a Pinterest VA.
I’m going to share a few of the tools I learned from that course, as well as several more I’ve discovered on my own and love.
I’ll start with the very basics, the actual must haves. Then list more tools that to me have become essential, and make running my service based business easy and fun!
1. Computer with Internet
You literally can’t start an online service based business without these! And it may be a good idea to make sure your computer has good viral protection.
2. Website and Email
I am a proponent of having a website up and running. And believe me when I say it can be super basic and simple! My own website is probably the most simplistic one I’ve ever seen. I keep meaning to update it… it’s on my to do list, I just need to make it a priority. But this is definitely one of those times when done is better than perfect. You can always add to it or change it later. Just get one up and running so audience can see what you have to offer!
And obviously you need an email address in order for clients to be able to contact you. You can always get one with your website, which looks professional (and is probably recommended). But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I love Google. If getting an email address with your website is a little too overwhelming at first (it still kinda is for me tbh), then get a google account with your name or business name. It’ll still look processional and honestly, google is one of the best overall business tools there is anyway. More about that next!
If you have a google account, you have almost everything you need to start your business. You’ve got your email, Google Drive (creating, storing, and sharing all kinds of files), Calendar, Duo (for video calls), and you also have Docs, Sheets and Slides, which you can use to create and organize projects. Plus it’s all very easy to learn.
Or another scheduling platform. I like Calendly because it’s free and I can sign into it strait from google. I use this mainly for the purpose of potential clients to be able to schedule a discovery call with me. But you can customize Calendly for many different functions according to your business needs!
When you have your clients, you’ll obviously need to be able to invoice them somehow. I know a lot of people who just use pay pal, which is great! I personally really like Freshbooks because I can keep my clients and services very organized, and there’s also the option to pay with a credit card.
Those are, in my opinion, all of the basic non-negotiables when it comes to starting a service based business. Now let’s dive into other great business tools that you might want to implement to streamline your business once you get going.
6. Hello Sign
No service work should ever start until there’s a contract in place. Now, you can absolutely use google docs to do up a contract (it’s easy enough to send and share). But I like Hello Sign. It’s a very universal platform and super easy to use (and yes, you can upload documents strait from google drive!)
Loom is a nice and easy to use video recording software. I always do a monthly report for all of my clients, and Loom makes it super easy to desktop record my reports, which is very convenient for my clients as well. Another tool I can log into from google, and it’s free!
Like I mentioned earlier, you can use Duo to have video calls (or even Facebook Messenger!), but the nice thing about Zoom is that all of your calls can be recorded. Also free!
Perfect for clients to be able to share all of their log in and personal info with you, while making it safe and confidential for you both. And yes, there’s a free version!
10. Possibly A Time Tracking Program
I personally don’t use a time tracking tool, all of my services are packaged based. BUT if you charge hourly you’ll probably need a way to track your time. Tip: Freshbooks does have a time tracking feature!
I can’t not talk about social media when it comes to business tools. Unless you live under a rock, you know that social media in general is a powerful tool for marketing yourself and your business. Especially Pinterest! I could go on for days about Pinterest, but instead you can read more about Pinterest basics here and extra Pinterest tips here.
And if you’re interested in knowing how I use social media to find clients, click here!