Find the Right Platforms and Software for Your Business
Teachable vs. Podia. Asana vs. Trello. Calendly vs. Acuity. When it comes to running a business, there is a plethora of tools and systems to choose from. But which are the best for you and your business? In this post, I’m reviewing the most popular tools in entrepreneurship to help you determine which makes the most sense for you.
For Beginners: Mailchimp vs. Mailer Lite
For years, I’ve been recommending Mailchimp for our clients who were just starting their email list. It was free for fewer than 2,000 subscribers and had most of the functionality and capabilities of the advanced email marketing platforms. But recently, Mailchimp made a number of changes to their free accounts, such as limiting design capabilities and removing the ability to schedule campaigns ahead of time, and they’ve begun including inactive or unsubscribed members in the total subscriber count. Basically, they’ve made their free account nearly impossible to use.
Thankfully, MailerLite offers an alternative. Though it’s only free for fewer than 1,000 subscribers, it has all the design and scheduling capabilities Mailchimp used to offer. MailerLite also supports landing pages and custom unsubscribe pages (when someone unsubscribes from your list, they’re taken to a page that you create) to help you grow and maintain your list.
Verdict: If you have fewer than 1,000 subscribers, opt for MailerLite. When your list grows beyond MailerLite’s free plan, it’s time to move up to something more advanced. Such as…
For intermediate and advanced marketers: ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit
I made the change from Mailchimp to ActiveCampaign in 2017, mainly because it had the most functionality for the best price. Since then, ConvertKit has added more tagging and automation abilities, while keeping the price about the same. Both ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit support email automations, subscriber tagging, and API integrations. I find the dashboard of ActiveCampaign to be much more robust and easier to use than ConvertKit, but it’s not SO different that it would impact my decision. There are only two differences that I can discern:
- ConvertKit is slightly cheaper than ActiveCampaign. When paying monthly, you’ll save $5-$10 per month, less if you pay annually.
- ActiveCampaign offers free migration from your previous platform, which to me, is worth the extra few bucks.
Verdict: Either platform would get the job done, but if you’re migrating a bigger list from a previous email provider, you’ll be better off with ActiveCampaign*.
Online courses have given makers and service providers a way to scale their offerings without trading time for dollars. With the rise of online course creators, more and more companies have launched platforms to host the content, facilitate sales, and offer customer support.
Teachable is one of the heavy hitters and is used by most of the top-selling course creators, so that’s what I used when I first began creating online courses. But I quickly saw its shortcomings and was relieved to find a newer, scrappier platform: Podia.
I outline the key differences and why I made the switch in this video:
Verdict: To keep more of your earnings, have an easier time setting up your online school, and for better customer support, choose Podia!*
Project Management Tools
Organization is the key to success, which means entrepreneurs are only as good as their project management systems. To-do lists written on post-it notes and white boards just isn’t going to cut it; you need digital tools to help keep you on track and on task. But which ones?
Asana and Trello are two of the most popular project management systems among entrepreneurs. Both are visually pleasing, easy to use, and most importantly, free! Both tools support collaboration, allowing you to assign tasks to different team members and share workspaces with clients or contractors. They both have apps, so you can stay organized on the go.
The key difference between the two platforms is the system for organizing information. Trello is a more visual tool, using a Kanban layout to display tasks and to-dos. Asana is list-based, with projects, tasks, and sub-tasks.
Verdict: If you’re more visual, Trello is the right tool for you, but I recommend making a small investment in this e-course to help you set your systems up most efficiently. If you’re more responsive to words and lists, then Asana is the best tool for you.
Calendars and Appointment Booking
When I began offering consultations and coaching calls, I found it cumbersome to go back and forth with people via email, trying to figure out a date and time that worked for us. Plus, it was a headache to send individual invoices for one-time consultations. That’s when I started looking for an appointment booking tool that would sync with my calendar and allow clients to seamlessly book their appointment and pay, without my involvement.
The two major players are Calendly and Acuity. Both are very similar and have lots of the same capabilities. They let you set your availability and sync with your Google calendar or iCal so you never double book. They both offer free plans if you only have one calendar and don’t need to take payments when the appointment is scheduled. If you want different appointment types, different calendars, or the abililty to include payments as a component of the booking process, you’ll need a paid plan.
For me, the decision came down to price and functionality. In order to accept payments, Calendly requires a Pro plan, which, at the time, was more expensive than Acuity. They recently changed their pricing, so the $15/mo level, which is the same price as Acuity and has much of the same functionality.
Verdict: If you don’t need to accept payments but have a complex group of offerings and/or are synching multiple calendars, Calendly is slightly cheaper. But if you do want to require payment at the time of booking, the two platforms are essentially the same, so go with the one that is more appealing to you.
What software and services do you prefer? Are there other tools you’d like to see reviewed? Share your thoughts in the comments!