If you’re a small entrepreneur, you know the pain, and joy, of constantly searching for something that could improve your performance and the performance of your business. As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve spent countless hours thinking about small details and the tools for my business. What if I lower the price of my services by 10%, will it make me more competitive? What if I use that tool to automate my advertisements to all my potential clients; will it be more effective than a specialist? What if I start accepting all kinds of payments, including cryptocurrencies? Will it give me access to a new audience? A lot of questions. Luckily, a lot of questions are already solved, at least for me, and here I’m going to share with you the tools I use everyday, which can be divided into four categories:
- Tools that help us set and control tasks
- Tools that help us write and edit documents
- Marketing tools
- Financial tools
First of all, every business has to set both short and long-term goals. Also if you don’t work alone, if you have employees, then you need to manage them. That’s what a task management tool is for. I can name three of them that I’ve used personally:
The market leader right now is Asana, but it all comes down to your preference, because all modern task management tools are nearly identical, except for the interface. I prefer Trello because it’s genuinely intuitive, you just do things while you work instead of reading user FAQs.
Trello allows users to create various working tables, various columns for different tasks, you can add tasks, set a deadline for them, and assign someone to them. It’s a complex to-do list with a personnel management system combined, and using it or a similar service will definitely help you with your business, as it will make it easier for you to connect with your team and keep track of everything that needs to be done.
In your business, you’ll sometimes need to work with sheets, do presentations, and simply write advertising copy. For all these tasks you can use Apache OpenOffice. It’s totally free and it supports all the necessary file formats that you would ever need. It can even open Microsoft Word-compatible files, so you won’t need to buy the Microsoft Office pack.
In addition, you can also use Evernote. It’s a popular note app for creating small memos with attachments to yourself. As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of things on your mind, but this helps to ease your stress by offloading some of that information into a note. The more you optimize such things, the more you can achieve.
Marketing is another important area for your business. You have to always keep yourself in touch with the best practices of the market, and you have to be creative with your marketing campaigns in order to attract a large audience. There’s too much marketing tools to be described in one article, so we’ll mention only the most useful and important ones.
If you want to get new customers, the essential service you have to use is Google Adwords. Nowadays, every entrepreneur should understand how it works, because it’s the largest ad service right now - in 2018, its total revenue amounted to $116.3 billion. Google Adwords is a fairly complex tool, but there is a ton of educational info about it on the Internet, so if you want to set up and run your campaigns by yourself, you can do it without any additional specialists. Google Adwords also allows you to run ads by targeting people who are interested in certain topics or type certain phrases in Google Search. These people are your potential clients, so you can target them.
Another essential tool is the mail marketing platform MailChimp. By using it, you can build your subscriber base and remind them about yourself by sending mailing lists on a weekly or monthly basis, or you can make additional sales to those who previously purchased from you. You can customize your address lists by dividing all clients to different groups based on their interactions with your letters. MailChimp or GetResponse are the powerful mailers used by the most successful companies in the world, such as Microsoft and IKEA, and it’s available to you as well.
And the third one to talk about is SemRush. It’s a tool for the detailed analysis of your website, showing your position in the Google rankings. Your rankings are very important, because the higher you are, the more potential customers you can get from organic searches. Also, it has several modules for checking the performance of your paid-per-click ads, content marketing, and social media promotion. SemRush costs anywhere from $99 to $199, but it’s totally worth it if you want to tune up your marketing performance.
One of the final steps when interacting with your clients is them paying for your services. Someone might think that it’s not that important to leave a good impression at this step, but remember, it’s not over until the client’s money is in your bank account and your client gets what he/she needs. So it is, in fact, incredibly important to make everything seem great at this point.
Which is exactly why you need to have reliable invoicing tools. There are many of them on the market today for you to choose from. Some of the best are:
That’s not even the whole list! All of them are great tools for creating and sending invoices to your clients and managing them. For instance, QuickBooks, one of the most popular financial programs on the market, combines invoicing and accounting for a small business in one online platform. You can even connect it to your bank account. KashFlow is great if you have to deal with UK-based customers, since it was developed in the UK. And Invoicely is a fairly simple, yet reliable tool that comes with an affordable price tag - only $5.99.
But my favorite one, the one that I personally use, is Invoice Simple, a tool for sending small business invoices that has all the functionality I need for my business. It can instantly form invoices on demand and can be used anywhere: at home, at the office or on the road. I can add whatever I want to the payment details, and save items and clients to re-use them. It also doesn’t print its watermarks all over the place, it allows you to have your own design for invoices.
If you need free invoice generator with all features like add logo, discount, taxes, you can use Invoicy. After creating invoice you can send it by email or link directly from generator. Also there are 10 different PDF templates, color customization. This free tool is simple and do his work.
Or Like QuickBooks, it’s also connects to the payment processing platform Stripe, and it builds statistics of your clients and monthly income. Overall, it’s another good tool for a small entrepreneur, and I use it all the time.
Every entrepreneur has a unique business requiring a unique approach. But it’s important to remember that the most basic tools can be more than useful for any small business, because they work well in any situation. Marketing, tasking, payroll, everything you might need in your daily operations is better of being optimized with small, simple tools. The sooner you find them, the better you’ll perform. Building a business is hard work, requiring dedication and tenacity, but hopefully this list will have made your job a little easier.
The author is not associated with any of the projects mentioned.