21 tools to use to run your small business

21 tools to use to run your small business

When you run any kind of business – whether it’s a boutique, or a direct sales company, or you’re a freelancer or a consultant – there are a lot of tasks you have to do on your own that you never would’ve considered. 

Inventory management? Managing social media? Making graphics? Editing photos?

Are you for real? You mean I don’t just take money from my customers and give them my product or service in return?

Lol. I know.

But really, the amount of THINGS that need to be done on a daily basis can be absolutely insane. I am a huge proponent of tools and of saving time whenever possible, so I am going to run through the list of everything I use in my business – whether I pay money for it or not.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links in this post and may make a small commission when you click on them or make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend things I truly love!

Graphics

If there’s a graphics or photo editing site or app out there, I’ve probably tried it. Just note: If you have to pay to use a graphics app to get rid of the watermark… please do it. I hate seeing watermarks from graphics apps on business owners’ graphics! Come on. Spend the extra $5.

My favorites are:

  • PicMonkey. I have the PicMonkey Premium subscription, which I got at a great discount WITH a free 30-day trial from my Suite SassyPants membership. (See below!) At first I rolled my eyes about PicMonkey, but you can do so much with it. Despite the memories I have of it from my younger years, it is much sleeker and powerful than it used to be. Plus, if you are a Branding Geek, you can upload your own fonts easy peasy.
  • WordSwag. This is my favorite app for graphics on the go. The font options and backgrounds are fun, and it’s quick and easy to make adorable graphics that don’t have to look like everyone else’s. I think it’s like $5 on the app store, and it’s worth it.
  • Canva. I always pull up Canva when I have a lot of text for a graphic (PicMonkey can be tedious when it comes to a lot of text) and I currently use the free version.
  • Adobe Spark. This is a great tool for people who aren’t great with design but want their graphics to look like they are. It’s free to use without an Adobe subscription, which is a perk, and you can access a lot of their stock photos.

Photo Editing

I try to avoid using filters on my feed at all, but I like to adjust the white balance and brighten up my photos unless the natural light was absolutely perfect that day. Which is rare. I use two apps almost exclusively:

  • Snapseed. This is Google’s photo editing tool, and it is free but powerful. Man, I love this thing. It will also save your edits as “a look” so you can easily edit multiple photos taken in the same place to look the same.
  • ColorStory. This is a pretty mainstream app when it comes to photo editing for Instagram influencers, and I love both their editing features and their filters. I bought the Blush pack and think it’s totally worth it when I want a filter (I don’t usually, especially if it’s a picture of my face / my makeup).

Video Editing

I don’t do a lot of videos other than LIVE videos, but there are a few video tools out there that I lean on when I want to mix things up.

  • Boomerang. I love these videos.
  • InShot. This is great for turning a vertical video into a square, but you can edit your videos as well as add music, turn photos into a video, etc. It was also free! I don’t use it often enough to pay for it and have had no issues removing the watermark when I do use it.
  • CutStory. I learned about this one from a SeneSister and was so excited – it cuts your filmed videos into perfect Instagram Story portions! So instead of filming a video on IG Stories and having to press the button and hold and stop when you run out of time, just to start again, your video is automatically cut down into IG-appropriate chunks.

Point-of-Sale

  • Square. I invoice exclusively through Square. I’ve always loved Square’s interface, and although I don’t do events often, I love the ease of charging someone on my phone or iPad, too.

Note: I do not use PayPal, because it tends to side with the consumer, not the business owner, more often than not when there is a dispute. I am all about protecting consumers, but as a small business owner, that can be risky!

Bookkeeping

  • All of my accounting is done in Google Sheets. I use Google Sheets to track my sales, my commission, my expenses, my orders from SeneGence, my giveaway items, my P&L, etc. It’s all in Google Sheets.

Inventory Management

  • Same as above, I exclusively use Google Sheets to manage my inventory. I am so picky so being able to easily create my own system that I can access anywhere is necessary, and I hate using inventory management apps because I move so much faster on my computer than I do on my phone.

Social Media Scheduling

  • For my social media planning, I use… Google Sheets. I know, I know. This is a trend. Using the same spreadsheet, I plan out all of my Facebook group, Facebook page, Instagram and blog posts. I like my systems.
  • I schedule Facebook Group and Facebook Page posts through the native schedulers on Facebook. Cinchshare has great reviews, but it’s easier for me to use the native schedulers at this point.
  • I use Planoly and Later (for different Instagram accounts) to manage my Instagrams. Planoly is the BEST. Later is pretty good too, but Planoly is No. 1 in my book. I would manage both of my accounts with Planoly but it’s pretty expensive and at this time, not an expense I can justify. One day, one day.
  • I use Tailwind to manage my Pinterest, and my Pinterest has exploded since I signed up for Tailwind and took the Socialite Suite’s Pinterest course.

Following Up & CRMs

  • My follow up system/CRM is housed in… wait for it… Google Sheets. I use Data Validation to turn a customer’s name red when it’s time for a follow up, and I manually send follow ups 1-2 times a week to those red names. Is that a little tedious? Yes, but I’ve tried a few CRMs out there, and they were either too much or not enough.
  • If you mainly just want to track your customers, I recommend Hubspot. It’s a great place to keep track of contact information, etc.
  • I also use Square Marketing which is $15 a month to manage a few automated CRM campaigns, such as my birthday club, following up with people who haven’t made a purchase in a long time and following up with new customers to show them my funnels.

Task Management

As y’all know, I am huge on to do list management! There are a few tools out there that I have used (and one I use right now) but I have tried so many apps and tools for task management out there, so you don’t have to.

  • I use my Erin Condren and dot grid Artist’s Loft notebooks from Michael’s for my on-paper task management. The notebooks are $5, and the planner is a bit of an investment, but I like my paper system.
  • ToDoist. This is the best to do list management app I have ever used, hands down. I have used a few others that were nice, but I got sick of them. ToDoist has a fun points system where you can earn months of ToDoist Premium by completing tasks and the way it allows you to add tasks is so intuitive, especially once you learn the lingo of ToDoist. 
  • Asana. We use this in my day job and it’s great when you have multiple team members or a lot of different projects/clients. It would be too much for just me personally, but to really get a bird’s eye view of your projects, this is a great, useful tool.
  • Trello. I have opined on my Trello system in the past, I know, but this is another good tool for people who like to see all of their tasks at once and for people who have a lot of junk going on. A lot of people also use Trello to manage their followups! That’s a little bit much for me, but hey.

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Do you have a favorite tool or tools to run your business?

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