Running a business is a lot of work, whether you are a small business owner running an eCommerce store, a creative entrepreneur working to briefs, or a freelancer working directly with clients... Whatever your business model, having apps and tools in place to help you streamline your working processes makes all the difference.
As an entrepreneur, you are consistently juggling tasks on a daily basis. Responding to emails, setting up meetings, creating your marketing campaigns, staying on top of your accounts, and so much more. When you have the right business tools in place to assist you with all of this, it minimizes the time you spend on them as well as makes it super easy to stay on top of your workload.
There are SO many apps and tools out there for business owners and entrepreneurs to use to manage their businesses online. They're designed to save you time and money by automating your processes and streamlining your workflows. But, because there are so many options out there, it can be difficult to know which is the right tool for you.
I've put together a list of my absolute favourite (tried and tested) tools and apps for small business owners and creative entrepreneurs to help you and your biz thrive!
My Favourite for Project Management - Asana
I honestly don't know how I would manage my day-to-day without Asana. It is the ultimate project management tool to help you manage your workload efficiently and effectively. It can be used in so many different ways, and I use it for the majority of my thoughts, notes, tasks and plans. It is a brilliant and visual way to set up tasks, strategically plan your time management, plan out your goals, create weekly or monthly plans, share things with your team, create to-do lists, set up templates or organize projects. Life stays so much more organized when you have it all on Asana.
It's also an amazing tool to work collaboratively across. If you are part of a small team or work cooperatively with another person, it is a great way of setting up a shared workspace. You can easily assign tasks to others, delegate the workload clearly, share comments on other people's actions and stay on top of how things are progressing easily.
My Favourite for Communication - Zoom
Working remotely with clients all over the world has never been easier using Zoom. It is a valuable and simple tool for hosting and recording video calls. As well as being able to host one-to-one calls, it has multiple functions such as hosting group calls, presenting webinars, sharing presentations, brainstorming sessions with the whiteboard and easily sharing documents.
It's a reliable, easy to use and an effective way to communicate with people all around the world. You can also easily set up your Zoom account to sync with your online calendar so that you can create, schedule and move calls directly in your calendar.
My Favourite for Social Media Scheduling - Planoly
When it comes to using a social media scheduling tool, there are heaps of options out there and it can be super overwhelming trying to work out the difference between them all and what works best for you. If you work best planning things out in a visual, aesthetic way, then Planoly is the one for you.
I have used a lot of other social media schedulers, both for myself in the past and for clients who use specific ones, and I have to say that Planoly is definitely my favourite. I use it to schedule my Instagram posts, which also automatically post to Facebook. I find it the best to use in comparison to the others because of its visual gallery layout, so it's easy to plan your grid in the way it will be seen on Instagram. They provide "best time to post" time slots, a section where you can store your hashtags by category, story scheduling, analytics and an "add first comment" option.
My Favourite for Scheduling - Calendly
Calendly is an automated calendar scheduling platform. You set up your availability on the calendar, and then create events or calls to share with others so they can connect with you. You can link Zoom or any other conferencing platform with Calendly so that it will automatically create a call link for the event. See, for example, my disco call link here! It is just SO easy to share and for anyone to book a call with me.
It totally eliminates the need for all of those back-and-forth emails, manually finding a time that works for all parties. It's just a simple way of scheduling meetings and events, and sharing your availability with others. Also, it links directly with your Google Calendar so that everything stays synced and you can never double-book yourself again!
My Favourite for Creative & Design - Canva
When I was studying Fashion Design at Uni, hours of my life were spent on Adobe Illustrator and it drained the life out of me. Don't get me wrong, I'm super grateful now that I'm skilled in Illustrator and sometimes it's absolutely essential for me to use it for design work. But, Canva has revolutionized graphics and design online.
It is the easiest-to-use graphic design platform and offers so many great benefits to it. You can use it to create social media posts, presentations, business cards, logos, posters, videos, and just about anything you want. They provide some great templates to use if you're not super creative or just want to create something quickly and easily. But it's also really easy to create custom and unique designs exactly as you want them. On the paid plan you have access to their entire library of stock photos, graphic design elements, fonts, videos and all other design elements.
My Favourite for CRM - Dubsado
It took me a long time to find a CRM platform that really worked for me. I had so many tasks and requirements that I really wanted to automate or simplify, and while there are some other great options out there a lot of them didn't provide the workflows that I was looking for.
Dubsado has them all! I found it a bit clunky to use at first, but I took a great Dubsado course which really helped me to set it up in the best way that worked for me, and it has helped SO much in my client management. I now use it for client contracts, forms, proposals, invoicing, packages, accounts, and general client management. It's great for my clients as well because they have an online portal area they can log in to with all of their forms and details in.
(HoneyBook is another great option for Virtual Assistants and Service Providers but it's currently only available in Canada, so unfortunately I'm not able to use it!)
My Favourite for Cloud Storage & Collaboration - Google Workspace
Google Workspace is the one when it comes to organizing files and sharing work collaboratively. I have a shared Google Drive folder with every single one of my clients, and it's a shared space where we can both store all the files that we need, collaboratively edit documents and files in real-time, and share documents with each other.
The Google suite gives you access to documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, forms and more, so you are able to run pretty much every aspect of your biz on there. It's also great that you can access all of your files on any device, so you are always able to get to your important documents no matter where you are.
I really hope this list helps you when it comes to picking the best tools and apps for your business! If you have any more questions I'm always happy to help and advise, you can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more biz tips and advice, check out the rest of my journal posts!
Creative Virtual Assistant at Kelp Collective