Running your business is hard work. Between doing the work that we love, managing all of the finances and mundane task to making sure our clients are happy customers there’s always more work to do. We have to maximize our time efficiently and smoothly to make our dreams a reality. After many many years of research and prepping for this moment, I've tried and tested quite a few free programs for running my business. Many have had great initial appeal only to flounder at the first sign of trouble or sadly there's been programs that have gone away because the company folded. Here are the 8 Free Resources that I currently use and love for running my business.
This is by far my absolute favorite app for managing my time right now. This is a free Chrome extension available on the web, desktop but is also available as an app for iPhone. I think there's also an Android app. This app syncs with my Google Calendar where I am able to keep track of regular life events with my husband. But with Sunrise I can then merge all of my calendars such as my business schedule into one beautifully designed central place. This app lets me schedule my tasks for the day in a drag and drop manner that I love. I can set alerts for each task which is helping to train my brain to focus and stay on schedule. I talked more about this in my post Scheduling And Staying Productive When You Work From Home.
This is another free Google Chrome extension. It is a completely free finance management system. I am able to sync it to my business bank accounts, send estimates, invoices, and track expenses. There are lots of other apps that I've heard people rave about such as Freshbooks, Pancake and 17 Hats, but these programs have fees and for my business Wave's free system is a fantastic substitute.
This program is how I track my time to make sure that I'm using it efficiently for the projects that I have. For clients that are billed hourly this program is vital to make sure I'm staying on track with what I quoted them as well as making sure that I let them know if we need to bill for additional time. With the free version I'm able to export PDFs to send to my clients that break down my hours spent on the project. It's available online and as an app.
My website is set up through Squarespace. I am a business branding designer so my focus is not on web development, at least not yet. Using Squarespace makes my life a ton easier for managing my web presence. When I'm on the go Squarespace has beautiful phone apps for blogging and checking my metrics too.
Asana is a task management system. There's an app and a web platform for managing your tasks as well as the ability to assign items to employees if you have them. And hallelujah! Asana just redesigned their look. It's awesome for scheduling the big project tasks so that I have them in one single place and can check in on progress. And it syncs to Sunrise.
As an email subscription addict I've reached a point where it's tough to find the time to read through all of my emails or really sit through an hour of unsubscribing. It can be really frustrating to check your mail and see 5 new emails only to discover that they are all subscriptions from various stores that I shop at or be useful inspirational posts but it’s not the right time to read them. Unroll.me has saved so much time and my email. What it does is combines all of those daily emails into one email per day summarizing all of your subscriptions. This way you can check to see which ones you want to read or you can delete the whole email in one go. The actual individual emails are stashed in their own folder if you need them later. Unroll.me also has mass unsubscribe capabilities! Give it a try for a week and then let me know if it doesn’t make your email a million times better.
This is a free extension available within Google email. I love this program for being able to write emails when the motivation hits but can schedule them to actually be sent out during normal business hours. I understand that my clients might need to check their email at 10 p.m. and will respond immediately, but I prefer to train my clients to remember that while I am a freelancer I do still run my business as if it was a 9 to 5 and I'm not available at all hours of the day. This way if I find myself with a few free hours on a Saturday I can sit down and respond to all of the messages and schedule them to be sent out at 8 a.m. on Monday.
I still keep a paper journal for jotting down ideas on the go. I have my Wiselist app, the Squarespace blogging app, Evernote, and others I'm sure. But when I sit down to actually write out full blog posts I still love the convenience of Google Docs. This way they are accessible from anywhere and I don't have to worry about the hypothetical day my computer crashes and nothing is synced. #dramatic They've also just recently added a handy tool for typing with your voice. Yes that does mean you have to sit and talk at your computer and yes this post was written with Google Voice type tool.
I hope these tools are useful for your business. I'll be back with some resources I found very helpful for learning how to become and operate as a freelancer.
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This post 8 Free Tools to Run Your Business first appeared on Manami Design.