Spending more time making your business work rather than working on your business? Get yourself some tools.
As a small business owner, I manage multiple areas of my business at once, from accounting to social media. Here’s a list of free and paid tools I’ve tried in my business to increase productivity and keep things running smoothly, meaning I can spend less time running the business and more time doing what I love.
Manage Your Social Media
The tools below allow you to visually plan your content, schedule your posts and track analytics. I’d recommend setting aside one day per month to plan your content so you don’t neglect your social profiles if other tasks take priority.
• Preview – Preview is a nimble tool for planning posts solely for Instagram. It’s so simple and easy to use and allows you to plan the look of your feed, schedule posts and create hashtag libraries. With the paid plan, you can instantly apply filters to your posts to curate a beautifully edited feed.
Paid plans start at $7.99
• Later – My favourite feature within Later is the auto–schedule drag and drop. It allows you to set post times for each day of the week so you can quickly batch schedule your content. This tool is great if you want to manage multiple platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.
Paid plans start at $9/month
If you offer appointments in your business, a booking system can help fill up your diary whilst storing customer details.
• Acuity Scheduling – Clients will love the interface of Acuity purely because it’s so easy to use. It offers real–time availability, appointment reminders, and payments – perfect for boosting productivity, saving you hours arranging meetings or appointments manually.
Paid plans start at $15/month
Whether you’re looking for a tool for your team or clients, a project management tool can help keep everyone in the loop and increase productivity by organising files, timelines, feedback and more.
• Ora 2 – A mix of Trello and Asana. The user interface is great to work in and it offers an extensive range of features on its free plan. It works as both a client–facing tool as well as an internal tool for teams. You can also use it to create workflow templates so you can quickly start new projects.
Paid plans start at $4.33/month (early–bird pricing)
• Asana – I would recommend Asana for teams as it’s geared for internal collaboration. Its interface is clean and easy to navigate and offers a range of project views – perfect for the visual people on your team.
Paid plans start at $10.99/month
• Trello – Trello is a great solution for small businesses and freelancers. It’s ideal for smaller, ad–hoc tasks from clients so you can see what’s ‘active’, ‘in review’ and ‘complete’ for quick management and turnaround.
Paid plans start at $9.99/month
If you struggle with maintaining your brand consistency, try using a photo–editing tool so you can bulk edit, save and share.
• VSCO – I often use VSCO for editing my images. You can quickly duplicate filters, create your own and apply them to multiple photos at a time.
• Lightroom – LR is my latest tool for photo editing. Since I’ve started taking photos on a camera rather than my iPhone, I find being able to sync my photos across my MacBook and phone a great way of accessing my media. You can buy and import presets, or create your own.
There are multiple tools you can use to make bookkeeping as simple as possible so the numbers don’t get on top of you as you run your business.
• FreeAgent – As a designer, the user interface is high up as a requirement for me. FreeAgent’s interface isn’t as intuitive as other tools, however, the features included make it worth it. You can create recurring invoices, send reminders and estimates, as well as track time, and offer your clients a link to make payments. Plus, FreeAgent’s customer support is second-to-none.
Paid plans start at £9.50/month + VAT
• Quickbooks – A simple favourite for many small businesses. Quickbooks is so easy to use, making admin day quick and painless. The bank feed automatically pulls through your transactions so you can categorise your income and expenses.
Paid Plans start at £6/month
Other Must–Have Tools
Some other key tools I use that help boost my productivity at work.
• Evernote – As a pen and paper advocate, I was hesitant to use a note–taking tool as I find it easier to scribble and jot in a chunky notebook (usually a softcover). I was pleasantly surprised with Evernote and now use it for my content ideas, goal–setting, and meeting notes. I can create checklists, tables, and set reminders.
Paid plans start at £4.99/month
• Mailbutler – The Mailbutler plugin turns an overwhelming inbox into a machine for productivity. It allows you to track email opens and link clicks as well as set follow–up reminders to keep you top of mind, schedule emails to be sent later, and create email templates for the ones you’re always sending.
Paid plans start at $9.54/month
What tools do you use to run your business? I can help you set any of the above up for your business, so get in touch if you want to streamline your processes and spend more time doing what you love!