We know running your own business can be demanding sometimes. If you’re feeling the pressure and want some inspiration on how to work smarter, read on for our favourite tools and apps to keep your business running like clockwork and make the most of your precious time!
1. For time management:Toggl. Tried and tested in-house by our marketing team and freelance marketing consultant Emma, Toggl works across the board. It lets you track and assign projects and individual tasks down to the second, to keep you focused and efficient. You can even attribute a cost to your time so you can break down the hours by clients or projects to see where you’re making the most (or least) money. We love it!
2. For quick and easy website reporting:Google Analytics is such a comprehensive platform for analysing your digital data, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming; Megalytic is an online tool that takes your Google analytics data and formats it into easy-to-digest and professional looking reports. It’s great if you’re a business owner or looking after multiple client accounts and want to provide impressive reports at the drop of a hat. You can create templates for your favourite reports and insights, and even add a theme to match your brand palette.
3. For managing your finances:FreeAgent. We know that staying on top of your finances can be hard work. That’s why we don’t just recommend using FreeAgent accounting software, we include it in all our accountancy plans for free! It’s an award-winning online tool that gives you instant real-time access to your business finances wherever you are. Simply download the mobile app or log in from your computer to get going, see how easy it is here. All your finances will be in one place and you can even link your business bank account so you can check transactions and profits at any time. Plus, earn brownie points with your accountant and HMRC by going digital with your tax early.
4. For being right all the time:Everyone makes mistakes, especially if you’re busy running a business or if writing isn’t your forte! A favourite of ours for keeping our text in check, is Grammarly. It can be installed as an add-on to your browser of choice to keep typos at bay across the web and on social media, so you’re always on top of your game. The free version checks your spelling and grammar and lets you correct any mistakes in just a couple of clicks.
5. For communication and correspondence:Keep your clients, customers and connections in the loop with beautifully designed and personalised emails on MailChimp. An email is a great way to stay in touch and remind people of how great you are; with MailChimp’s “forever free” plan* you’ll be able to do that 12,000 times to 2000 subscribers, every month for absolutely nothing. Their ready-made layouts and themes are a great place to begin, as you can choose the best format based on what you want to achieve, from selling products or services to making announcements or sharing special offers.
6. For being social:The benefits of promoting your business on social media are aplenty; it boosts website traffic, increases brand awareness, builds trust, and improves SEO, to name just a few. Hootsuite is a social media management platform that makes all this even more achievable by giving you one single dashboard to manage all your accounts from. You can schedule, post and report on your content to see what works best for you and your business, and again, get the most out of your time.
7. For flexible working:Being self-employed means you’re in control. You can work when and where you want to suit your needs. Co-working spaces like Society1 in Preston, offer flexible memberships without a contract tying you in. You can use it as your office for an inspiring change from your usual workspace, or a meeting room to invite clients to a professional setting – plus, there’s tea and coffee on tap! Get a day pass here and give it a go for free.
8. For growing your client base:Freelancer and Upwork are a couple of sites that we recommend signing up to. They epitomise what working for your self means. You bid for the work you’re interested in, or you can advertise your skillset to those you want to work with, putting you truly in control of the projects you take on. You can filter the jobs that take your fancy by size, location, skills, expertise and schedule, and you’ll get alerted when new opportunities are added that fit your profile.
9. For managing your projects:Smartsheet’s key message is “Less Talk, More Action”. It’s a project-planning, team-organising, work management platform that helps you get your ideas into action quicker than you can say “a little less conversation”. We’re pretty confident you can do just about anything on Smartsheet, but our favourites include “SmartCards” for tracking individual tasks and “SmartProjects” for keeping the bigger stuff running smoothly. You can even share sheets with your clients so they’ve got visibility of your progress. Try it for free for 30 days, and make sure to have a go of all the features and templates to see if they work for you.
10. For staying informed:Staying up to date as a small business owner is so important. Keeping on top of current or upcoming legislation and tax rules can help you run your business smoothly, without any surprises. Through staying informed about your industry – by looking at relevant forums, websites and attending networking events – you can make sure the services you offer are comparative and competitive. GOV.UK has a wealth of information on tax and being self-employed in the UK, and there are plenty of free guides to download in the resources section of our website offering guidance on running your business.
*prices correct at time of writing, please check supplier websites for most up to date costs
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