Like many solopreneurs, I’m crunched for time and doing it all on my own. Some of the greatest assets for business owners like me are free business tools. These tools help me grow my business without increasing my expenses.
Every day, I use these five FREE tools to run, grow, and support my small business.
Toggl is a simple time tracker that I use when I am doing anything business related. You cannot measure what you don’t track. This is especially important when you’re trading time for money. You must know, to the minute, how much time you’ve spent on something to accurately price your services.
I’ve known a few virtual assistants, who’ve run themselves out of business by not tracking their time and assuming that their client wasn’t using all of the hours they purchased. Most of the time you’re going to round down when estimating how long a task took to complete. Don’t leave it up to chance, run Toggl for everything and you’ll never be surprised by where your work day went.
PayPal is my preferred payment method of receiving and sending payments. PayPal has over 250 million accounts worldwide so it’s likely that your client has an account. You can invoice clients for free through the system and even schedule recurring invoices for clients who are billed monthly for a set package. For this convenience, PayPal charges 2.9% +$.30 on each transaction. There are other systems out there that charge slightly lower fees, but many of them require paid memberships.
Getting started is super easy, just go to www.paypal.com and set up a business account.
When you’re managing multiple clients with different deadlines, you need to have a way to stay organized so things don’t slip through the cracks. I have Wunderlist open in a tab on my browser at all times. I love Wunderlist because it’s extremely easy to use and has very few frills. Some other project management tools have so much going on that you end up spending more time setting up your to-do list than you do working on it.
Wunderlist is as easy to use as a pen and paper. You can organize your tasks into folders, share them with others, and set reminders for them (both one-time and recurring). It’s available on your phone or computer. Plus, your account syncs up automatically so you can add and check off tasks from anywhere. Wunderlist may not be around forever because it was acquired by Microsoft so its fate remains uncertain. Should it disappear, I would also recommend ToDoist and Asana as alternatives.
Some new computers come with Microsoft Office fully loaded, but often the cheaper laptops, Chromebooks, and Macs don’t. Microsoft Office can be every expensive and not very user-friendly. Don’t worry, you don’t need it! Google Products can easily replace the functionality that you expect from Microsoft Office products. In fact, Google products are much easier to use and, best of all, completely free.
Instead of Word, use Google Docs. You can easily share with clients, see edits in real-time, and access your documents online and off. If you need Excel for basic spreadsheets, Sheets will give you most of the same functionality. If you need to set up a quick survey, try Forms. All of Google’s products are easy to learn. Google also give you 15GB of free storage space on Drive with your account. Should you need more, you can upgrade to 100GB for $1.99 per month.
If you create social media graphics, promotional materials, or proposals for your business, you need Canva. There are hundreds of pre-made templates available on the site including perfectly sized social media graphics, flyers, menus, invitations, and more. There’s even a design school that walks you through exercises to get the most out of the resource.
There is a paid upgrade available, but personally I’ve used the free version for four years and have never seen the need to upgrade.
These tools are essential to running my business every day. What free tools do you recommend for yours?
If you like this article, you’ll love my free resource The Ultimate Guide of Free Resources for Freelancers. Click here to download it!