I am very transparent about the fact that my background is not in business. However, I read and do my research and I’d like to say that I’m pretty good at what I do. So far, I’ve come to know a lot of different resources and to be honest, initially, it was very overwhelming trying to decide what I needed exactly. What resources would be a good fit for my business? Should I use the free trials or should I pay? As I have experimented and gotten more comfortable, I’ve been able to narrow down my favorites. I’ve compiled a list of 10 resources that I have found super helpful in running my own business as well as some that I have helped my clients to use. This is not a comparison list, but my own personal thoughts on each of these resources so let’s jump right in!
1. Google Drive
Number 1 on my list is Google Drive because it can be used for so much and it is so simple to use. It’s one of the most simple ways to collaborate with multiple people in one place. You can create and store documents there, and it is very easy to navigate. I personally use Google Drive for my “Dashboard.” I have my spreadsheets, blog posts, and my “Jane Brain” all housed in my Google Drive. I can go to one place and access everything that I need as it pertains to my business. I will say that I do not use it to collaborate with clients only because I am not super sure of how secure it is when we’re sharing sensitive items. Plus, I use another tool for client management which we’ll talk about later. The best part about Google Drive is that it’s FREE! I don’t know about you but I love free stuff so that’s always a plus in my book.
2. Mail Chimp
Mail Chimp is an oldie but a goodie. It has been around for a long time, but for new business owners, I think that it’s a great starting place for email marketing. It’s simple, straightforward and it integrates nicely with alot of other tools and website hosting platforms. I personally use both Mail Chimp and Wix email marketing functions and I find them very easy to navigate. As with alot of these, there are other comparable tools, but I’m not comparing, I’m just giving my personal experience. I also like that you can get started with Mail Chimp for nothing!
Next on my list is Wix. There are a few website building platforms out there that are pretty popular. I don’t want to dive into comparison, but I have used Wix quite a bit and I find it to be very user friendly. If you’ve checked out my Business Start-Up Toolkit, then you know that I am an advocate for having a website early on and Wix makes it easy to build a simple one by yourself. It is free to build your site, but to add your own domain and remove ads, it is going to cost you a little. I also like that you can add additional features and you really can do almost everything that you need initially through Wix. From setting up an online shop, to blogging, to email marketing, to booking appointments, you can do it all through Wix. One of my favorite features is their “Workflow.” I’m all about automation, so I love the fact that you can set that up and it works very well. I did pay to have access to a lot of their features, but in the grand scheme of things, it was pretty affordable and very worth it to me.
I have Canva listed as number 3, but in all honesty, I could not do anything without Canva. If you’re a business owner and you don’t know about Canva what are you actually doing? For a monthly cost of $12 and some change, you can create and edit graphics for just about anything. I create social media content, website graphics, printables, flyers, you name it, all through Canva. There are thousands of templates that you can browse through and use for just about anything that you would need a graphic for and you don’t have to have graphic design skills to use it. I absolutely love Canva and would recommend it to anyone that is in business no matter your niche.
5. Linked In
Up next is Linked In. If you don’t already know, Linked In is a social media platform for professionals, but it is honestly pretty slept on. Most people do not go there to find clients or market their business and I was one of you. But the more that I’ve done my research, the more that I have found just how great Linked In can be. When you’re on Instagram or Facebook, you might be looking up things, but you’re typically on those platforms for fun. You’re looking at reels and comments and listening to trending sounds. If someone sends you something about business, you’re typically not going to take it too seriously unless you are a business owner yourself. Linked In is basically the opposite. You go on Linked In to talk business and network. You are there looking for opportunities and so is everyone else. So if you come to someone with a business opportunity, chances are you are going to find a more engaged person than you would on Instagram. I have found quite a few leads on Linked In and I plan to continue to learn the platform even better so that I can build on that success. Long story short- don’t sleep on Linked In.
This one probably goes without saying because it is so popular post-pandemic, but Zoom definitely made the list. This free resource is how I set up calls and appointments with clients and contractors. As a virtual service provider, Zoom allows everyone to be together while being in completely different places and I love it. It also integrates well with the other tools that I use. There is a free and a paid option, but so far, the free version suits my needs just fine.
Another resource that is free 99 but packed with knowledge are your podcast apps. Whether you use Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, or any other podcast streaming platform, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the content that you can find. I have learned so much from listening to podcasts and it is now a regular part of my daily routine. When I want to learn something new, the first place that I go is to my podcast app. Podcasts sometimes get a bad wrap because you see alot of clips of people giving out this toxic relationship advice. While you can find all of that there, I am listening to business podcasts, marketing podcasts, finance podcasts, all kinds of podcasts that are teaching me something. If you didn’t know, now you do, and the best part … FREE!
Earlier I talked about client management tools. That is exactly what Dubsado is. It is a Customer Relationship Management platform. There are a couple different options out there, but I have been most impressed with Dubsade so far. I can send appointment links, contracts, invoices, and messages directly to my clients all in one place rather than using a bunch of different apps and websites. It’s easier for me and easier for my clients. What really impressed me with Dubsado was their client portal. Although other platforms do have client portal features, I like how personalized I can make them. It’s a one stop shop for everything that I need to know about my clients, and what’s even better is that using the portal, my client can have access to everything as well. Collaboratively, we can upload documents, send emails back and forth, update to do lists, and share photos and graphics all in one place. While it will cost you, it is 100% worth the money for me. I really do love Dubsado for my clients and I can’t tell you how many of them love that I use it.
Quickbooks is another popular tool that doesn’t need much explanation. As a business owner, you HAVE to have your finances in order. You have to track what’s going in and what’s coming out and Quickbooks does just that. As a small business, you may not need to hire on a full time bookkeeper just yet, but Quickbooks gives you piece of mind that you’re keeping everything in one place and if you do decide to have a professional come in, they can look at your Quickbooks and it makes their job a whole lot easier. This is not a free resource, but as with the other paid resources on my list, so worth it!
iPostal is last on my list, but that is not to say that it shouldn’t be here. iPostal is a virtual address hosting platform. Because I run my business from my home, I don’t have a physical address. However I don’t want to send things out with my home address on them. iPostal gives me a virtual address where I can accept mail, post publicly, and use it to represent my business without having to give out my actual address. It is another paid resource, but it is pretty cost effective, and if you need a physical address, it is definitely worth it!
That’s it! That’s my top 10 favorite tools and they are all tools that I use in my own day to day business. Try them out and let me know what you think. If you have another tool that you think is better, let me know. I love learning and trying new things.