Running a business is hard but these tools have made my life as an entrepreneur a hell of a lot easier. From helping me free up time to work on my business to streamlining processes and managing my cashflow, these tools have supported the growth of my business without having to spend thousands of dollars on designers, accountants and staff.
Forget Microsoft Outlook, it’s all about Gmail now. With amazing search functionality (it’s powered by Google after all) and an email system that integrates with Google Drive you can seamlessly create, share and edit documents. I’ve found it super useful when I’m sharing documents with other team members or want to work collaboratively on presentations and make changes in real-time.
I used to waste time and money trying to organise face-to-face meetings with multiple people who all had busy schedules, now I just use Zoom. The global video conferencing platform allows me to set up group chats, webinars and calls so I’ve stopped wasting my most valuable asset travelling to and from endless meetings and use Zoom to set the agenda over video calls instead. Highly-recommended!
When I started my company back in 2014 I couldn’t afford a fancy design and branding agency to design my logo and business cards so I used 99 Designs. Simply submit your design brief, which can be done by ticking boxes of colours and logos you like, then hundreds of talented designers will review your needs and submit unique logo ideas. You provide feedback, select your favourites and pick a winner. Easy peasy.
Answer the public
This free tool will show you what questions your customers are searching for in Google relating to your business. For example type in ‘influencers’ and it will generate a visual mind-map on everything people have searched for relating to that term such as ‘how much do influencers get paid’, ‘why influencers work’, and ‘how to become an influencer’. I use it when I’m stuck for content ideas and want to write something that’s relevant to what our audience wants to know.
Do you find your to-do list is a constant work in progress? I know I do so I use Trello, a project management platform to keep track of priorities in a visual, fun and flexible way. We use it for all our influencer campaigns, projects and day-to-day workflow - it’s a simple process which has definitely made me more productive.
I used to be a massive Squarespace advocate but switched to ShowIt for creating our company websites because they have better design functionality. The elegant drag-and-drop builder gives me the creative freedom to create a unique and engaging customer experience without writing a line of code so it’s ideal for non tech-savvy people. Simply start with one of their beautifully designed website templates, populate with content and hit live! All their designs are responsive across mobile, tablet and desktop too.
I used to hate managing my business accounts but Xero has helped me get to grips with cashflow and money in/money out - it’s the most important part of running a business after all. After trying a number of online accounting systems including Freshbook and Quickbooks I found Xero’s easy to use system was the best. I use it to create invoices, handle expenses, pay employees, set up recurring payments and even chase late payments. I’d recommend their 30 day free trial to see if it’s for you.
Design has never been my strong point so I was grateful to discover a graphic design tool for people who can’t design. The incredible app (now Australia’s latest tech ‘Unicorn’) will turn you into a graphic artist with templates, imagery and a drag and drop function so you can make logos, social media images and posters to promote your business in a visually stunning way. It’s free to use, super fun to play with and will unleash your inner creative genius. Boom.
Surrounding myself with inspiring and experienced people has been an essential part of growing my business. LinkedIn has helped me build this professional network and foster my connections. I started by reaching out to ex colleagues, managers and people I’ve worked with, connecting with them and asking them to write me a personal recommendations or endorsement for my skills - offer to return the favour and write one for them too. Use it to build your personal brand and share your expertise via blog posts, insights and videos or simply follow entrepreneurs you admire (Richard Branson shares some great insights), and find potential sales leads too.
I never seem to have access to a printer or scanner when I need it so DocuSign is a lifesaver. When I need to sign off an influencer agreement or get brands in the UK to sign contracts for a last minute marketing campaign I can do everything digitally. Read, sign, send back. It’s a lot faster than printing, signing and scanning documents plus you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too.
I swear by email marketing to communicate with our customers. Unlike Facebook and Instagram where your latest post is at the whim of their next algorithm update, an active email database is something you can control. Sending regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly newsletters can offer a huge amount of value to your community and prime them to buy from you too. There are lots of automation systems on the market but I’ve found Mailchimp is a great starting point for sending simple newsletters, managing email lists and tracking open rates and click throughs so you can monitor how well your content is performing too.
Chosen your business name? Then hurry up and claim your domain name. I use Netregistry as they provide hosting services to help you sync your email plus do SEO health checks for your website so you have all the tools and support you need to succeed. If you can’t get your businessname.com or .com.au try .co or choose alternatives related to your business.
Ah, the joy of podcasts. I’m obsessed with listening to business podcasts whilst doing menial tasks like commuting to work. I love educating myself in all aspects of running a business and learning from people who’ve done it before. I’ve even started one myself where we interview influencers and influential business leaders about what it takes to succeed. It’s a fun and engaging way to learn on the go and develop knowledge too. Aside from the Upsiders one (had to give that a plug), I’d recommend Girlboss, Ctrl Alt Delete, How I Built This, Ted Radio Hour and Masters of Scale to name a few.
Hosting events has been a great way for us to educate and connect with our community. Organising an event from start to finish is a time-consuming process and Eventbrite has made it a lot easier. Set up your event, promote it, manage ticket sales and create guest lists too. So whether it’s a pop-up dinner, photography class, coaching workshop or full day convention, set the date and get ready to make some money and establish a more meaningful connection with your audience.
Need a blog post written? Want a marketing expert? Someone to do your social media? Get immediate help for your latest project or ongoing support at a fraction of what it would pay to employ someone with Upwork. We use it to hire freelancers when we have a big project on the go and it’s helped me to scale my business up and down when required. Their review and reference system ensures you can vet people before hiring them for the job too.
I hope some of these tools are useful in your business, saving you time and money along the way.