7 Small business tools I can’t live without.
Being an entrepreneur is tough. You must wear so many different hats and your success or failure rests entirely on your shoulders.
There’s a steep learning curve in the beginning as you devise your systems and discover what to use for all of the varied tasks involved in day-to-day operations.
Since officially launching Bravebird Studio a few months ago, I’ve come to depend heavily on several vital tools that I use daily.
Here are seven tools that I literally couldn’t do business without.
1. G Suite
I would bet that you already know what G Suite is, but if you don’t, it’s Google’s suite of applications for business. The suite includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, & Slides, Google Hangouts, Google+, Google Drive, and more.
I use Gmail and Google Calendar MANY times a day, as I’m sure many of you do too.
Google Docs and Google Drive is a safe, convenient way for my clients and I to share files with each other. And the auto-save feature is a life saver!
I can create presentations and webinars in Google Slides and use Google Hangouts for client meetings.
So many amazing capabilities in one place!
Many of the apps are free to use, but if you want a custom email address with your domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) and cloud storage, you’ll have to choose a plan, starting at $5/month.
Have you ever had a never-ending email exchange with a client while trying to schedule an appointment? It’s very inefficient!
Acuity Scheduling solves that dilemma. It’s like a virtual, online scheduling assistant.
Some of Acuity’s fabulous features worth mentioning include:
Accept payments and deposits through PayPal, Square, Stripe, Braintree, and more
Sync with iCloud and Google Calendar
Email provider integration (MailChimp, Convertkit, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc.)
QuickBooks, Freshbooks, and Xero integrations for invoicing and accounting
Embed the scheduler into your website (you can view mine here)
Integration with 500+ other apps through Zapier
Free and paid plans available
I really love this tool! Wanna know the best part?
Acuity Scheduling and Squarespace have partnered to offer members a free Emerging Entrepreneur Plan ($15/month value) forever! So if you have a Squarespace website, you can use Acuity’s Emerging Entrepreneur Plan for free. Business operation costs can add up so I love FREE!
Another valuable tool that I use constantly is Asana. It is a project management system that I use with clients to keep all communications about their project in one place.
When I add a client to a project in Asana, I can assign tasks with due dates to them or myself so that we are clear about who’s doing what and when.
Clients and I can add files to tasks right from our computer or from Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and other cloud storage.
Best of all, all of our communication is in one organized place. No searching through email trying to keep track of every comment and question.
Asana is free if your team has 15 people or less.
Obviously Squarespace had to be on this list right? You’re reading this on a Squarespace blog after all.
I’ve gushed about Squarespace plenty in previous posts, but I’ll run down a few of the reasons it's so great here.
Squarespace is one of the easiest ways to make a beautiful, modern, functional website. Whether you DIY it or hire a website designer, a Squarespace website will be a major asset to your business.
With Squarespace, you have the ability to have a blog and e-commerce store on your website, and they offer free, unlimited hosting, top-of-the-line security, and around-the-clock support.
As I’ve said before, I’ve tried many website platforms and Squarespace always seems to come out on top for affordability, ease-of-use and functionality.
If you run an online business, you need a dependable way to accept payments on your website.
Since I have a Squarespace commerce website, I can offer my clients an easy payment option right on my site using both Stripe and PayPal.
With Stripe, my clients can make payments using their debit or credit card, or even their Apple Pay account.
I added PayPal as a payment option too because with this option, clients can have the money come right out of their bank account if they’d like.
You can read all about adding a payment processor to your Squarespace website here.
Email marketing is one of the most (if not THE most) powerful ways you can connect with your audience and develop leads in your business.
If you are in business and want to make money, I highly encourage you to start growing your email list.
One of the smartest and most intuitive email marketing providers is ConvertKit. It’s built by bloggers for bloggers and they specialize in “keeping the human element in something as personal as email”.
One of their best features is automation. It lets you easily create content that is targeted to the right audience at the right time so you can start sending emails that people will be excited to open and read.
ConvertKit doesn’t integrate directly with Squarespace (fingers crossed that this will happen in the near future), but it was really easy to connect it to my Squarespace website. You can use a code block to insert a form on a page or use Zapier if you want to link to it using the button block, as taught in this informative post by Megan Minns.
The prices for ConvertKit start at $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers so it’s a little on the pricey side. But I know the value of my email list as one of my strongest avenues for marketing so it’s an investment I make in my business in order to produce the kind of growth I’m looking for long term.
Besides Squarespace, Adobe Creative Cloud is the most indispensable tool I use as a designer.
The Adobe application that I use the most is Illustrator. I use it to create logos in vector format, brand style guides, collateral items like business cards, letterhead, and social media graphics, and all of my blog post images.
Other Adobe applications I use frequently are Lightroom (for organizing and editing photos), Photoshop (for more complex photo editing and animations/gifs), and InDesign (for creating workbooks and e-books).
Adobe Creative Cloud plans start at $9.99/month, but you can get access to all of the apps for $49.99/month.
If you are a designer, Adobe apps are a necessity and well worth the investment.
While Adobe Creative Cloud is a tool specific to designers, most of the tools on this list are useful for virtually all types of businesses. Whether you are just starting out or are ready to grow and expand an established business, consider how these tools can help you in your daily routine as a business owner.
Do you use any of these tools in your business? What other tools do you love? Please share your faves in the comments.