Entrepreneurship can get pretty expensive if you’re always going with the top-of-the-line business apps. Sure, we all want what’s best for our business but who says expensive is better? Not me, that’s who.
Why Use Business Apps?
You are more than welcome to continue using excel spreadsheets for your CRM database, clip art for your marketing materials, and a good ol’ fashioned pen and paper to record your time. But business apps make your business life way better.
Manage Your Time With Toggl
Toggl is a great time management app. In fact, it’s my favorite. Granted, that’s mostly because it’s free but it also has exceptional functionality for what I need. Toggl allows you to input both clients and projects so you can break your work down by client and project when it comes to reporting.
With the Toggl’s free version you can have up to five team members in your workspace, add unlimited projects and produce reports (which is a great function if you include time details with your invoice). If you need more functionality than that, their lowest price tier starts at $9/month so it’s generally affordable if you have more team members or need advanced reporting. Even if you’re like me and you don’t do a lot of hourly work, it still helps to track your time. I track everything, even non-client work. I find that it helps me understand where I’m spending all of my time and what areas I could use an improvement in.
Manage Your Documents With Google Drive
I’m going to make a wild assumption that you probably already know what Google Drive is. But perhaps you don’t use it to its full functionality or you know what it is but you prefer to use other cloud storage.
My absolute favorite thing about Google Drive is that it allows you to really collaborate. Anytime I’m working on a project with a client I use Google Drive because it allows us to both work in a document at the same time, regardless of whether it’s a presentation, spreadsheet, or document. Plus, you get 15 GB of free space with Google Drive which is significantly better than other free Cloud Storage apps. The catch is that the free space also includes your Gmail, so you have to keep it clean!
Manage Your Projects With Trello
Trello is probably my most visited app next to Google Drive. I use it to organize everything. With Trello you can set up different boards for basically anything under the moon. I have one for personal projects, one for my podcast, one for my client projects, one that keeps track of my published articles … the list is really endless.
Trello allows you to create cards and move them around the board from list to list as you complete your tasks to different stages. You can create checklists within different cards, and every Trello board can have a power-up added to it for free, so if you need a calendar integrated or another function that doesn’t come built-in you can add it. I personally connect my Trello boards to my Google Drive with power-ups so I can get to my documents from right within the board.
Manage Everything Else With Airtable
Airtable is an amazing program. I would describe it as the unicorn of spreadsheet creation. With Airtable you set up workspaces, and you can set up as many free workspaces as you need if you have different projects or functions you like to work in separately. Every workspace has documents called “bases” which is where you do your actual work. Your bases can hold everything from documents to text, they can calculate totals, group items together and connect to other base tabs.
Airtable can do pretty much anything you need it to do, but it does take a little learning to get going on it. Airtable has some already-built base templates for you to use. Some of my favorites include Lightweight CRM (if you’re not ready to use an email-based CRM program like MailChimp), Blog Editorial Calendar, Social Media Calendar, Small Business Budget, and Business Road Map.
Manage Your Newsletters With MailChimp
I know a lot of business owners that don’t like using MailChimp and I personally can’t figure out why. I absolutely love it. It’s easy-to-use, the emails you create are fantastic and there’s very little you need to do to get the job done. But alas, to each their own! MailChimp, if you’ve never used it, is an email marketing program that collects and holds contacts and can distribute emails, along with a few other functions (such as create landing pages … this isn’t something I’ve tried yet). I like MailChimp because you can integrate it into your website and collect those emails with little to no work. It’s also free to use until you bump over their threshold which I think is something around 2,000 emails in 24 hours. And I did work with one company who sent more than that, they just used multiple accounts!
Step Up Your Marketing Game With Spark
Unlike the other business apps on this list, Adobe Spark isn’t a productivity or organizational tool, it’s a marketing and design tool. And while yes, I know many people use Cavana or other apps, if you have zero design skills whatsoever this is the app I’d recommend. As a graphic designer, I will tell you my only complaint is the fact that Spark doesn’t always give you the most control. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-use tool to create yourself an Instagram post, blog header or quick video, Spark is that tool.
Are there business apps that you use that I haven’t included? Throw them in the comments below!
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