Being an entrepreneur gets a lot of hype. Being self employed is romanticized. But, those of us who live this life know it’s no walk in the park. It takes time, determination and a whole lot of work to stay afloat.
Thankfully, I don’t have to do it all and neither should you! There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all the work that needs to get done, which is why I rely heavily on tools & resources to simplify daily tasks.
I do set some criteria for the tools I use as I need to actually see real benefits from them. If I’m spending time using a tool that’s slowing me down, I need to find something different. All of the tools I use for business:
- Functional. Each tool has a purpose and helps simplify my life. In simplifying, I’m able to save time doing mundane work and put that energy into something that counts.
- Look good. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s completely okay to judge a book by its cover. An attractive interface shows that a lot of thought went into the product, which is why I place a priority on looks. If it looks good, it usually works good.
- Easy to use. While some tools may be pretty & function well, they’re confusing. I choose to work with products that are simple to navigate and have little to no hidden layers. I don’t want to spend an hour learning how to do something, I want it to be self explanatory.
So, now that we’ve covered what I look for in tools and resources for business, let’s talk about which ones I use.
Invoicing, Contract, Proposal, Expense Tracking, Time Tracking and Task Management Software for Freelancers – Visit Website
I recently discovered this app after working with a client that caused me a little bit of extra stress. It was the wake up call I needed to do things right, like sending contracts & organizing my invoices. Things I should have been doing from the start.
While it’s mainly geared towards and freelancers, And Co is a free service that makes sending proposals, contracts and invoices a breeze. It has also cut out my need to use other programs because it allows you to organize client projects, add tasks and track work time.
If you’re a freelancer and haven’t started using a client manager, you need to try And Co. It has been a total game changer.
Pricing: Completely Free!
QUICKBOOKS SELF EMPLOYED
Income and expense tracking for small businesses – Visit Website
Full transparency: finances aren’t my forte, just ask my tax lady (A.K.A., mom). Keeping track of what’s coming in & going out isn’t my idea of fun. As long as my account has money, I’m good with it!
However, with money coming from so many different places, it’s so important to stay organized and keep track. Quickbooks can sync with your bank account (or let’s you upload bank statements) and makes sorting your finances a breeze. It also allows you to invoice, track mileage and gives you an estimated quarterly tax payment so you don’t forget to pay the IRS.
Using Quickbooks has helped me a ton, but it’s still something I need to do a better job at staying on top of. It’s affordable and user friendly, something I would highly recommend for every business to utilize! If you sign up with this link, you can save 50%, making it even more affordable!
Email marketing platform – Visit Website
Email marketing, the thing we all love to hate. It’s crucial for every business to curate and connect with customers, but finding a good platform that’s easy to use can be a real pain. I’ve worked with several platforms, but MailerLite has been my favorite by far.
First, it’s free. That typically means there are limitations to what it can do, but that’s not the case. MailerLite is free up to a certain number of subscribers, so there are no premium features. You can create groups and segments to organize customers, then set up automations to easily reach them. It’s easy to use and effective at doing its job.
After trying complex email systems, I’m happy to have finally found one that is simple to use, yet has most of the premium features most other platforms offer… at absolutely no cost! If you do grow your list to the point where you need to pay or find yourself in need of their premium features, then you’re doing your job well. In that case, use this link for a $20 credit when you have to upgrade your account.
Pricing: Free (up to 1000 subscribers, 12,000 emails), Paid plans start at $10/month
Cloud Storage for Apple Users – Visit Website
If you’re not an Apple user, this won’t help you. But, for someone with 4 Apple devices that get used for work, it has changed my life. I typically work off of two computers and moving files back and forth can get tricky. Sure there are other ways to host storage online, but they always bog down my computer or take time to upload/download.
With iCloud Drive, I’m able to sync my desktop to the drive and access it from either computer, my iPad or my phone. I use it so often when working on client designs as it makes sending proofs so simple and easy to do on the go (I prefer to communicate from my phone). The cost is a fraction compared to other backup hosts, I joke that it’s the best $3 I spend every month. But, it’s really not even a joke because it is!
Pricing: 5GB Free, Paid plans starting at $0.99/month
Cloud Storage and File Sharing – Visit Website
Now that I’ve professed my love for one file backup service, I’ll tell you why I can’t live without two! Dropbox can be used really similarly to how I use iCloud, but hosting a large number of files gets pricey and slows down my computer.
So, why do I use it? Dropbox is the best way I’ve found to send files to customers. Sure, I could use iCloud, but simple and user-friendliness is key. With Dropbox, I can create a folder for each client and send them a link to download the folder. It’s also handy when working on websites. I can create a folder, invite them and let them to upload their files. This cuts out sending unnecessary emails or trying to get together in person to swap jump drives.
Pricing: Basic Plan (2GB) Free, Paid plans start at $8.25/month
So tell me, what are the tools that you can’t live without?
*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you sign up using my link. This is at no additional charge to you, in fact you’ll also receive a discount for signing up!