Top tools for small businesses.

From invoicing to project management tools, I've got you covered.

People love lists, so, a list I shall write.

There are a bunch of tools and apps that I use on a regular basis to help me run my business. Being the wonderfully kind person that I am, I’m going to share them with you lovely people.

Albert

What do I use it for?

Albert is an incredibly simple but incredibly effective invoicing app. The invoices look really pretty (obvs very important) and it’s super easy to use. A tinder-style-swipe satisfyingly marks invoices as done, leaving you with a list of outstanding invoices to chase. Albert even gives you a summary of revenue vs outstanding payments; you can see at a glance how super rich you should be (should be being the operative phrase here, maybe I didn’t need that last pair of shoes).

How to get started.

Head to the app store, or have a look at Albert’s website for more info.

Trello

What do I use it for?

Oh God, what do I not use it for? Anyone that knows me is aware of how much I love Trello. I was once asked if they’re giving me commission for sign ups. Seriously though, I have a Trello board for my pipeline, a board for my social media schedule, and a board for my to do list. Each board contains lists and each list contains cards. The beauty of Trello is that it’s easy to drag and drop a card from one list to another; it’s easy to move a prospect from ‘proposal sent’ to ‘business won’ (woo!). You can also do all sorts of fancy things like add labels, due dates, attachments, checklists, and so so so much more. Yeah. Use Trello.

How to get started.

Sign up for free on the Trello website. Also, download the phone and tablet apps so you can be super organised on the go.

Google Drive

What do I use it for?

Google Drive lets me store all my files in ~the cloud~ so that I can access them on my computer, on my phone, and on my iPad. It’s so easy to transfer files from Google Docs, to Microsoft Office, and back again. It makes collaboration and document sharing super easy (which is a massive part of my job — cheers Google).

How to get started.

Head to the Google Apps for Work website to sign up with your own domain. It costs a couple of quid a month but you get access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive (and some other stuff too). It’s totally worth it, I promise.

Canva

What do I use it for?

Canva is a super easy, drag and drop style graphic design tool. I use it to create everything: from my business cards, to social media headers, to marketing images. I’m a writer. I am not a graphic designer. Canva makes my stuff look pretty awesome — well I think so anyway.

How to get started.

Sign up for free on the Canva website. There’s also an app so you can get creative wherever you are.

Toggl

What do I use it for?

Toggl is a time tracking tool; as someone who charges on an hourly basis, it’s important for me to keep track of my time to make sure I’m charging my clients the right amount. Plus, I’m pretty forgetful. Ask me what I did yesterday and I’ll draw a blank. Ask me to retrospectively document how much time I spent on each project last week and I’ll be completely screwed. Toggl lets me start a timer when I start work on a project so that at the end of a week (or month) I can see an overview of how much time I spent on each client or project.

How to get started.

Head over to the Toggl website to sign up for free. The app is also really useful, you can start the timer from your phone so you don’t even have to make the effort of opening a new tab (lazy people, rejoice). The chrome add on is pretty awesome too, you can start the timer from within a particular email (Gmail only) or from within a document (Google Docs only).

There we have it. A list of five tools and apps that I couldn’t run my business without. Give them a try.

FYI — none of these companies have paid me to write this post. I genuinely use and love all of these tools and use them every single day to run my business.

Ellen Holcombe