Running a business can be a difficult task. From marketing to accounting, this quite often lands on one person. This is particularly true for photographers, realtors, freelancers, and other similar professions.
In order to take a little stress off you and let you focus on actually running your business, I have compiled a list of eight, free online tools that I love and will make your job a whole lot easier.
Wave is by far one of the most complete, full-featured accounting tools out there for small business owners. It has all of the features of the heavy hitters like Quickbooks, but with a price that can’t be beat: FREE.
You can connect your bank account to easily keep track of transactions as well as expenses. Invoicing for your products or services is quite easy too and the software even allows you to set up recurring invoices with automatic payments. I’ve used Wave for years and this is by far one of my favorite features!
With bill reminders, customizable invoices, and more, Wave is sure to help alleviate your migraines from billing and accounting.
Ripl is a user-friendly video creation tool for social media. There is an online website as well as an app that makes the process pretty simple. You just upload your images, add text, customize fonts and colors, and then add your logo.
Canva is very similar to Ripl but for photos! The customization options make designing social media posts very straightforward. Different layouts and templates allow you to design everything from social media posts & cover photos to Snapchat geofilters, and beyond.
Its powerful tools allow you to add an artistic blur, speech bubbles, vignettes, and more to images. There is also an icon library and photo frame options available as well. If you’re just getting started, Canva is a great tool for keeping your branding cohesive until a professional advertising agency can manage it for you.
Bonus: Canva also has a great graph maker feature for spicing up your blog posts or showcasing information in a visually pleasing way!
We’re all aware that the key to closing deals with clients is following up. But, that can become quite difficult after you’ve starting reach out to several contacts. When was the last time I contacted that person? Have I sent them a proposal yet? This is where a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system comes into play.
A CRM can help you keep track of all the people you have reached out to and those who have a relationship with your business. Hubspot is one of my favorite CRMs. You can get started with all of the basic features for free.
It provides contact management, Gmail/Outlook integration so you can track your messaging without leaving Hubspot, email templates, live chat and form connections for your website, and more.
Trello is a great productivity tool that is flexible enough for almost any business. You can create unlimited boards with an unlimited amount of cards on the free plan, along with one power-up per board. Power-ups allow extra functionalities such as custom fields or 3rd party integrations.
Boards are great for creating a funnel for your projects. Mine look something similar to “to be started,” “in progress,” “waiting on approval,” and “done.” I use cards as projects. Cards allow you to upload files, leave comments, and more. Trello allows for a ton of customization that means you can use the platform for almost anything!
Planoly is a tool that allows you to schedule and visually plan your business’ Instagram account. You must be using an Instagram business profile to get the full benefits of using this service.
The platform’s grid layout allows you to view what your uploaded photos will look like on your profile before they even appear on your Instagram account. You can move photos around or delete ones that don’t quite fit the aesthetic of your account, which is very important on Instagram.
Planoly is also an official Instagram partner which means you can schedule your images to auto-post on your Instagram account. You may have signed up for a similar service in the past, but then had to download an app that would send you a notification when it was time to post and you’d have to still manually post it to your account yourself. That is now a thing of the past! As an official Instagram partner, Planoly can now auto-post your images on your behalf.
The site has a ton of other features such as splitting one image into multiple smaller images (a popular method of creating a cool effect on your Instagram profile). Planoly also makes it super easy to find user generated content.
Keeping your business organized from the beginning is something you will really thank yourself for later! Dropbox is just the tool.
It’s great for keeping up with tax documents, backups of client projects, or other important documents. Quite often, it’s important to keep track of these items for years to come and Dropbox’s easy-to-use folder system will help you do it.
There are also great collaboration tools that allow you to share a link and receive feedback on projects or other documents, all within Dropbox. It’s also very easy to add new users should you grow in the future and need to scale.
Google has a powerful arsenal of tools available for small business owners that rival those of Microsoft and are completely free. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides could all be a replacement for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, respectively.
Google’s powerful suite of apps are built for collaboration with others and function similar to Microsoft’s suite, making them very intuitive for those who are already familiar with them.
You can comment on documents and chat with others about changes in real time. It works with all popular file types, including the ability to upload, edit, and save Microsoft file formats. There is also a suite of apps for your mobile device that
BONUS: Social Media
While it’s true, to take full advantage of platforms like Facebook or Instagram you must do some paid advertising, joining the platforms and having a presence on them is completely free. Even just having a solid presence and understanding of how the platform works can help increase traffic to your website and produce sales.
Now, I’m not saying you should be on every platform available. Do what makes sense to your target audience and
Social media is not going anywhere! Neither is its ability to help businesses grow or produce sales in such a unique way. The targeting capabilities of social media are unparalleled to any other advertising medium!
Did we leave off one of your favorite, free tools for small business owners? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the ones we’ve listed above as well.