My Top Ten Tools for Business
This is a post that I have been wanting to write for a while, and after being in business for eight years I have accumulated quite a list of tools. Today, I am going to give you just a few of the tools that I have found most helpful in my business. I am super-organized by nature (I even have a degree in Project Management) so I have tried so many ways to keep my business running smoothly, whether it is branding, web design or wedding invitations.
First, no matter what type of business you are in, your website is your #1 tool. I will be writing a separate blog post just about this subject, but your site is where almost all of your potential clients will visit before they even reach out to you. I work on two platforms for my clients' website design - Squarespace and Showit.
Squarespace is what this website is built on, and my preferred platform. They offer the best value for your money, great SEO, and a super easy to use backend system for my clients. They also have a wonderful ecommerce system, which is important if you offer products for your business.
Showit is also a great platform, which allows you to build a custom site with just a few limitations. While they only have a basic ecommerce solution through Shopify, if you are a service-based business or sell digital products it is a wonderful platform. The design options are almost limitless, and fairly easy to make simple changes.
Cost: varies by platform and domain registration fees; free trial available for both platforms
Postbox is an inexpensive email software program that makes it very easy to manage your inbox. It is easy to drag and drop emails into folders, create templates for commonly used emails and it keeps me organized. I am in this program most of my day, and it really helps to have a platform that keeps everything together!
Cost: One-time fee of $40; trial available
As a graphic designer, of course the necessary software is needed! I use the Adobe Creative Cloud, primarily Illustrator, to complete all of my design work for both branding and wedding clients. It is a very robust program, and use it for all of my small business graphics as well.
It took me a while to get used to this program, but now it's one I just can't live without. I use it for so many things, I have to actually make a list!
- Web design: I keep commonly used CSS coding organized, as well as other technical notes.
- Hashtags: I keep my main category tags for Instagram in Evernote, so I can easily copy/paste from my phone when posting.
- Processes - while I do use a project management system for actual tasks, I keep notes on my process, email templates, files sizes, etc. together in one place.
- recipes: ok, so this one is more personal, but it's such a great place to store all of my recipes so I don't forget any ingredients at the grocery store. :)
I love, love, love this program. It saves so much time with back and forth emails with my clients. It is a scheduling program, so my clients can schedule a time that is convenient for them for consultations. It syncs with your Google Calendar, so you can block and manage time as needed so appointments don't overlap.
This is one of my newer tools, but has become an important one. Asana is a project management tool, and great for service-based businesses. It allows me to keep myself organized throughout my branding and website process, and allows me to set reminders when needed so I don't forget anything.
For product-based businesses, it can be used for inventory management. For my wedding clients, it allows me to ensure that I have the paper and envelopes needed to produce their order, and keeps my vendor orders organized as well.
SignNow is a digital signing service that I use for my contracts. I have been using them for years, and they are wonderful. I have tried a few, and for the cost it is truly the best. It allows legal digital signatures for all of my contracts, and it keeps templates and offers so many easy functions for my business.
Cost: roughly $120/year; free trial available
BusyCal is an amazing program that combines all of your calendars into one. It offers an easy-to-read format, and keeps my schedule organized and gives me reminders throughout the day. I use it constantly and it is incredibly helpful and easy to use!
Cost: one-time fee of $50; free trial available
.09 Google Voice
This may have been one of the best decisions I made for my business. I have my business number through Google Voice, which allows me to have a separate number on my cell phone for work. Through the Google Voice app, you can control when you receive calls and texts, and I use this primarily as my business number. This protects my cell phone for personal use only, so I am not receiving calls and texts on weekends and vacations when my studio is closed. When I do have consultations, I dial straight from the app so my Google Voice number is listed instead.
.10 faux business address
As a business owner that works from home, I don't want to provide my home address on packages and other client collateral that I am shipping out for security reasons. Also, it gives you a professional address and not a P.O. Box. I use The UPS Store, and they will also receive packages for you from any carrier. Definitely worth it to not ever have to provide your home address, whether it is on packages, your email blasts, etc.
Cost: varies by location; roughly $10-$15/month
Please note that the costs shown are approximately - please visit the respective website for further details.
Of course, as a business owner there are more tools that I use, however these are my primary ones needed to run my business. What other tools do you find useful in your business?