Hey my friend,
Running a business is hard work, huh?! I’m thankful for the tools and resources that make it A. LOT. EASIER. I’ve used all of these tools in some capacity – whether it was in the beginning, for a client project, OR every single day. Here are some of the business tools I recommend!
Quickbooks – Ugh, I’m not a numbers/accounting person, but I listed this first because let’s face it… finances are one of the most important aspects of our business. This is where I manage my client invoices, sales, business expenses, organize my receipts, and so much more. I will fully admit that there is A LOT to this tool that I still need to explore… but I’m working on it. 🙂 I’m so thankful to have QuickBooks because I can literally send the info directly to my accountant during tax season and it makes things so much easier for both of us. If you want a nice little discount to get started, you can do so through my affiliate link HERE.
Proposify – This is what I used when I FIRST started crafting client proposals. This will be super helpful for you if you’re in a service-based business like graphic design, social media management, photography, or just about any “service”. It gives you templates for proposals and contracts… and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it in the beginning! Check it out HERE.
Some sort of social media scheduler – As a social media manager, I have used just about all of them! If you’re just managing your OWN accounts, I highly recommend checking out the free apps: Later, Buffer, and Planoly. A social media scheduler is essential to stay organized and active on your brand social media channels. I recommend planning your social media posts at least a few days in advance, but the further you can plan/schedule out, the better! The tools I mentioned above are all a little different, but essentially, they do MOSTLY the same things. Try each of them to see which one you prefer! Now, as a social media MANAGER, I highly recommend purchasing a paid plan if you’re going to be managing multiple accounts for multiple clients. In this case, I love Later (paid plan) and Sprout Social. I’ve used Sprout Social in both a corporate setting AND as an entrepreneur. It’s a pretty robust tool, so there’s a lot more to it than JUST social media scheduling/posting. It’s awesome for social listening, reporting, detailed analytics, and so much more. Because of this, it’s the most pricey tool I’ve ever used for social media.
Boomerang for Gmail – When I first started out, I was working my online business as a side gig. Therefore, I was sending invoices, contracts, and finishing projects on the nights and weekends ouside of my full-time 9-5 job. But let’s face it: I wanted to set my business up with some boundaries… I didn’t want my clients to expect me to ALWAYS be working at 6 a.m., 10 p.m., any day of the week (even though I was!). So, I discovered Boomerang which allows you to SCHEDULE emails. You may not care about this as much as I did, but I didn’t really want to set the expectation that I would ALWAYS be “available”. Therefore, even though I’d be writing an email at 10 p.m., I’d schedule it to send at 7 a.m. the next morning instead. Boomerang is also great for scheduling certain reminders, announcements, updates, etc. to go out on a specific date and time. I use this more than I ever thought I would!
Canva – a FREE graphic design app. There is a paid version of the app, but in my opinion, you don’t absolutely need it if you’re just getting started with small graphic design projects. There are so many templates for Pinterest graphics, Instagram Stories, Facebook posts, flyers, and more. Essentially, it’s a great “plug and play” app that you can use on both desktop and mobile. I personally use Adobe Creative Suite more often than Canva since I offer graphic design as a service in my business and I need something a little more robust most of the time. If you’re not offering graphic design as a service, I highly recommend Canva!
Mailchimp – I currently use the free version of Mailchimp to manage my email marketing. This is an aspect of my business I need to give wayyyy more focus and attention to. I’m trying to get more consistent with sending out valuable emails to my subscribers! Did you know that 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email?! (Source: HubSpot) Many online business owners say that email drives more sales than social media. So, if you’re serious about building an online platform and building relationships with your customers, I recommend getting started with Mailchimp!
Voxer and Slack are also fantastic communication tools if you want to cut down on the amount of emails you get. I use Voxer for short and sweet communications – it’s essentially a walkie-talkie app. And I use Slack for project management, sharing files, ideas, etc. Simply put, if you were to rank these tools by the “turnaround time” a response is needed, I’d say Voxer (fastest), Slack (middle-ground), and Email (slowest response needed). In my opinion, you only need Voxer and Slack for clients/teams that you’re EXTREMELY hands-on with.
Also, I use almost ALL the apps in the Google Suite, such as Gmail, Drive, Sheets, Docs, Calendar, etc. I don’t go a day without any of these.
Zoom – I use this for nearly every video meeting with clients!
OK, the next few business tools I recommend are going to be physical ITEMS:
- Tripod: You need one for Live videos and photos. I promise, it will make your life easier. You don’t need anything crazy expensive or fancy if you’re just getting started. But doing some sort of live video in your business can and WILL increase your reach and trust amongst customers. Grab my favorite tripod (under $30), which is linked HERE in my Amazon Shop. Bonus: It has a built-in ring light! It gets the job done.
- Also, to go along with the tripod, it makes a big difference to have a Bluetooth remote, so you can start and stop your video without reaching back over to the phone to press the “stop” button. It sounds silly, but it does look more professional when you can stop the video with the click of the button in your hand. This Bluetooth remote also comes in handy anytime you need to take a self-portrait or a group photo without an actual “photographer”! Trust me on this one. 🙂 Grab my favorite HERE.
- If you’re doing Live video or you’re using your phone super frequently for your business, I would highly recommend a wireless charger. This thing has saved me on multiple occasions while doing Live social media for a client, when I’m at an event, or if I’m just stuck somewhere without a phone charger. Check out my favorite wireless charger HERE.
- This isn’t an absolute must, but it’s just one of my favorite things right now: My Rokform case! It’s a magnetic phone case that comes with a magnetic car mount, which comes in super handy when you’re driving somewhere with your GPS on. Overall, it just helps you stay “hands-free” in the car, and I’ve found it handier than I ever would have imagined! Check out the link in my Amazon Shop HERE.
So, there ya have it! Obviously, there are LOTS of other tools you may find that you need, depending on your specific business. But these are the ones that I find the most value in day to day! They’ve helped me on many occasions, and I think they may help you too!
P.S. If you liked this blog post, check out my tips on how to get brand partnerships linked HERE!
Would you do me a favor and leave me a comment letting me know YOUR favorite business tool? Maybe you have a recommendation for me, too!
Also, you can use the graphic below if you want to pin this on Pinterest!