The old saying goes: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. These days we can add another line: those who can, but want to make more money, consult. The market for business consultants has skyrocketed in the last five years creating jobs for many entrepreneurs and high-level employees who want to tell other people how to do things and not do them themselves.
While the preceding paragraph might make consultancy sound like an easy job, it is anything but. In fact, it takes a superior set of organizational skills for a consultant to succeed. Thankfully, there are web tools aplenty to help any budding consultant get the business off the ground. Here are five that can help any consultant stay on the up-and-up.
Task management is an important part of any field, but it is especially so for consultants. In the age of Getting Things Done, task management is about more than simple to-do lists. It’s about tackling projects and breaking them down into small, feasible steps. It’s about setting aside time for high-priority tasks. While there are many programs that can help accomplish these ends, perhaps none is as flexible as Toodledo.
The beauty of Toodledo is the ability to customize your task management however works best for you. You can take advantage of features like starring, prioritization, start dates, due dates, contexts, and tags to organize tasks in a way that will allow you to get the most out of your time. There are also upgrade features that allow you to share and collaborate with others, which can be crucial for consultants.
You can check out Toodledo’s task management software here.
Invoicing and billing. Those are two tasks that any consultant should get used to quickly. Add taxes on top of that, and a consultant almost needs a full-time accountant. That’s unfeasible, of course, and a third-party accountant can cost more than she’s worth. The solution: online software. QuickBooks, a long-standing name in the accounting field, has options tailored just for consultants.
Their web tools work in tiers, so you need to pay only for the features you need. This means you can send invoices, bills, and keep track of routine accounting measures without having to consult someone else. While you still might need an accountant around tax season, it’s better than needing one year-round.
Check out small business accounting software from QuickBooks.
While QuickBooks handles the big accounting issues, there are still little matters to consider. Day-to-day cash flow is an important consideration for any business, and consultancies are no different. Recording these transactions manually can be a pain. Thankfully, there is automated software that will take care of all that for you.
Mint.com has made a name for itself as personal finance software, but it can also work just as well for single-person businesses. Just connect your business bank and credit card accounts, just as you would your personal accounts. Keep up with it every day and you’ll get an exact picture of your cash flow.
Check out personal finance tools from Mint.com.
Legal documents are the bane of many consultants’ existences. Not only is contract law a difficult field itself, but it varies from state-to-state. Consultants working in different states will have much difficulty drawing up contracts — and keeping the books, though they should have QuickBooks for that. Without software like MyAttorney, life would be a bigger headache.
While you might need an actual lawyer to draw up certain forms, MyAttorney can take care of many by itself. It uses built-in legal knowledge and language, so all you need to do is follow the wizard and enter the specific needed information. At $39.95, any consultant can afford it.
Check out MyAttorney home and business legal software.
Today face-to-face meetings are not a given. We’re all busy, and we’re working with people who are far away from us. That has led to a surge of virtual meeting program. While there are plenty, including the free Skype, other software specializes in meetings. That’s the kind of software you can use to get ahead.
Meetings.io not only puts you in connection with another person, but it adds other features you might need in a meeting. Sharing screens is essential, and it’s built-in with the software. You can take notes, share files and documents, and even stream video through the user interface. Group calls make big meetings easier. It even has a meeting planner helping you stay organized (but Toodledo is already doing that, right?).
Check out Meeting.io meeting software.
Have you used any of these tools before? If so, please share post a comment.