There are affiliate links listed in the post, which means if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission, which comes at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products I use, love, and have experience with and have found helpful in running my business.
Does anyone else loving taking a peek at what tools other small business owners use to run their business? I know I do. When I first started, I thought everyone did everything on their own and I wondered how the heck people actually got work done while doing all of those pesky business tasks.
Then I realized they aren’t doing everything on their own! Duh Brittney!
Below are the ten tools I use to keep my small business booming. Some are free, some are paid, all are awesome!
I’ve talked about FreshBooks before but it is seriously at the top of my tools I use list that I would recommend to other small business owners, especially those that do invoicing.
FreshBooks was designed for small businesses and it makes your accounting tasks a breeze. You may even look forward to invoicing your clients because it is just so easy.
Currently, I primarily use FreshBooks for invoicing clients twice a month as well as tracking my time for client project work. You can also track your expenses, but I currently don’t have a ton of overhead expenses.
I also look forward to tax time where I can easily pull reports for my tax guy making taxes a breeze!
Try FreshBooks for free for 30 days now (affiliate link)
Oh, Asana. Asana is basically my BFF. Though our relationship was rocky to start (totally my fault) it’s now my best friend fo’ life.
Asana is a project management tool that you can use as an individual or as a team. I use it for both purposes. I have several clients that I work with that we manage various projects in Asana together. In Asana, we can both make comments to projects, send and receive Google documents, view project tasks in a calendar view and more. This cuts down on my emails significantly, which is the main reason I started using Asana.
I also use it for my own business planning, detailing out content calendars and projects for my own business.Get your project work organized by using Asana
Trello is another project/task management tool I use. You can organize your projects onto boards, where you can see what’s been worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.
If you have a team that you work with, Trello might be a good option for you to try.
Since it’s just me, I don’t need to see details of who’s working on what, so I use it in a slightly different way.
I organize my Trello boards by categories of topics. For instance, I have a board called “Ways To Make Passive Income.” This serves as a reminder of when I’m ready to start pursuing passive income strategies for my blog, I already have a list of ideas to start with.
The ones that have the paragraph lines below also include a description of ideas for that particular topic.
You can also add links, create a checklist, assign a due date, and attach documents. Trello can get pretty in depth, which is great for complicated projects. I’m sure I will dive in more once I’m ready.
Organize your projects and task work by using Trello for free
I’ve been using Hootsuite for years. In fact, I started using it at my first job right out of college in 2010. How crazy is it that was 6 years ago!?
Before I spend too long going down nostalgia lane, Hootsuite is super useful for small businesses. One of the main reasons I like Hootsuite is that there is no limit to what you can schedule on the free version. Many other social scheduling programs don’t have that option.
How I make the most out of Hootsuite is that I have a spreadsheet of all of my blog posts with 5 different tweets per post. You can see a screenshot below.
When I’m ready to schedule, all I do is copy and paste these into Hootsuite and schedule. You can upload an excel document if you are using the paid version but I currently use the free so this is how I make the most of my time.
I also have the Hootlet extension installed on my Google chrome browser, so if I’m reading an interesting article I can quickly schedule it into Hootsuite.
Start scheduling your social media for free using Hootsuite
Buffer! Bless you Buffer, you make my life so much easier. I just signed up for the premium version (as in, literally yesterday) and it’s already rockin’ my world.
Buffer is another social media scheduler option you can use. The layout is much different than Hootsuite, which some people like and some don’t. I think it comes down to personal preference.
You can pick the ideal times that you want content to go out, and then any time you are scheduling a piece of content, it schedules the piece at the next available time slot.
There are two main reasons I started using Buffer: 1) You can re-buffer items, which is essentially a one click way to re-schedule a tweet you’ve already sent out. 2) They have a “content inbox” section where you can input up to 15 of your favorite blogs where it will pull in their blog feed so you can easily re-share their content. The content inbox is only available for the paid versions, which is why I ultimately decided to sign up for the Awesome plan.
Schedule your social media with BufferSneak a peek at the 10 tools @BrittneyLLynn uses to keep her #smallbiz booming Click To Tweet
MailChimp is great for the beginner small business owner that wants to start using email marketing to promote their business. Are there other programs out there that can do a lot more? Of course. But not everyone is ready to take on complicated systems.
I currently use the $10/month version of MailChimp. This allows me to have an automated sequence for my free email course. If you won’t be doing any automation for your emails, you can use MailChimp for free if you have under 2,000 subscribers.
Start email marketing and sign up for MailChimp now
Google, man. It rules the world, doesn’t it? It definitely rules my business world, that’s for sure! I, like millions of others, use Google for multiple reasons.
Currently, I use Gmail, Google docs, Google sheets, Google calendar, Google slides.
I do a lot of writing for various clients, whether it’s email newsletters or blog posts, and Google docs is the easiest program to use to share these. We can make comments back and forth, you can track changes, and it hooks up directly to my BFF Asana.
Spreadsheets. Some people hate ’em, but I love them. So much so that my husband and I manually tracked our expenses for almost 3 years using a spreadsheet. Another story for another time.
Anyways! For business purposes, I have my tweet spreadsheet, monthly Instagram spreadsheet, and my business finances. Yep, even though I have FreshBooks I also like having a spreadsheet I can manually edit too. Girls gotta keep an eye on her moolah, am I right?
I sporadically have client projects I use spreadsheets for as well.
Aka where my entire life lives. No seriously, you could probably figure out everything I’ve done in the last 5 years (including what I ate for dinner) by looking at my Google calendar.
I schedule in everything (I go into more detail about my calendars in this post) personal and business related. I like having a digital calendar so I can move things around (especially because I always underestimate how long tasks will take me, anyone else?!).
You can read an entire post about how to use BoardBooster for your business (there’s also a video included!) but here’s a brief description: BoardBooster is a program that helps schedule out your Pinterest pins. Yes, there are other social media schedulers out there that can schedule Pinterest but I have found BoardBooster to be the best.
If you’ve ever been wondering how bloggers and online business owners find the time to pin all day every day, they are probably using a paid program and it is probably BoardBooster that they are using.
It’s been suggested that pinning throughout the day is better than pinning all at one time, but who has the time to pin all day?! Not me.
One feature that makes BoardBooster stand out is the looping feature. This essentially loops older pins into your feed so that new people that have recently followed you will see your older pins.
It’s a great way to boost your website traffic and I highly recommend it. You can start for as little as $5 a month (I currently use the $10/month plan).
Grow your Pinterest account by using BoardBooster (affiliate link)
The Godsend for those of us that are graphically challenged. If I had to create graphics in Photoshop or Illustrator on my own, my graphics would resemble something that a 3 year old could do. I just don’t have the graphic design talent which is unfortunate, but that’s when Canva comes in to save the day.
See the graphic at the top of this post? Made with .
But blog graphics aren’t the only designs you can make! They have pre-designed templates for social media posts, flyers, presentations and more. It’s such an amazingly useful free resource to use and I use it almost every day.
You can also buy stock photos through Canva for starting at just a $1!
Improve your blog and social media graphics with Canva
When Google reader ceased to exist (RIP) I panicked. How am I supposed to keep up with my favorite blogs?! There’s no way I will go to their website every day!
Thankfully Feedly came along and I haven’t even given Google reader a second thought.
Feedly one of my favorite tools I use and is a way to organize all of the blogs and articles you read online in one place. Instead of going to 50 different websites each day to read the latest news, I go into Feedly and all of the blog feeds are right there waiting for me to read.
I have categories of content that I segment the blogs I read, one being other small business owners blogs.
Another bonus to using Feedly is that it can connect with your Buffer account, so you can share content directly from Feedly!
Keep up with the blogs you read by using Feedly
As I mentioned above, I’m obsessed with my Google calendar, but I do still have a paper planner that I use every day.
Mine is nothing fancy, just a simple planner from Target that I bought on a whim. One feature that I require from a paper planner is that I can write at length for each day. I can’t fit everything into a tiny calendar box.
I keep mine pretty simple, listing any personal to-dos on the left side, and business/work related to-dos on the right. It works for me so I’ll keep it simple for now!
I hope you enjoyed seeing the tools I use to keep my small business running! Tweet at me and let me know if you start using any of the ones I mentioned!
Free checklists, ebooks, workbooks, and more!
Note: By entering your name and email address you will be signing up for my email newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.
September 15th, 2016 at 9:03 pm
Awesome post, really useful! Have you heard about Rawpixel? You’ve probably seen our images all over the place.
We’re the leading stock photo contributor in the world. We’ve just launched our website where we give away the best free design resources out there. Check us out onwww.rawpixel.com. Looking forward to you joining our community of creatives.
BE INSPIRED. BE RAW.
February 28th, 2017 at 10:14 am
Thanks Brittney, I was just thinking I needed something like Trello to keep me better organized than my paper planner. I can type faster than I can write… LOL
I appreciate the boost you just gave me with all of your options.
March 1st, 2017 at 11:27 am
Awesome, hope something works for you!