A Business Toolkit Just For You!
I put together this hand-picked list of my personal favourite business tools for you, that includes both free and paid (aka budget friendly) options, that your bank manager will love!
This is by far the most adaptable calendar I have ever used (and I have tried ALL of them!). You can create multiple calendars for varying time zones, have a team member manage your calendar for you, send your clients a link to book an appointment in your calendar, saving you both the back ‘n forth on email (aint nobody got time for that!).
Acuity does ALL the work for you – sending reminders via email and SMS, and even an automated post-meeting feedback form requests. It integrates with many platforms, and you are also able to embed it into your emails or website.
Start with the FREE version (I used it for a good while), and upgrade for more time-saving automation and fancy features!
Now there’s a few Instagram schedulers out there – and yes, some are even free (check out Later.com), but Planoly won me over because : A) it’s just so damn gorgeous to look at! and B) Unlike Later.com, you get have 2 insta profiles for less than Later’s paid option which only allows you 1…AND you get unlimited posts…WTW!
Aside from these obviously cool (and cost effective features), Planoly also saves me time with allowing me to upload Hashtag groups to add to my instagram posts literally within 3 taps of the screen – no more copy paste and spending hours on trying to source your hashtags!
You can upload directly to post in your feed or stories and the BEST feature of all? You can upload your posts and get a visual preview of your gorgeous insta feed before you post. I’m truly just in love with this app and it SO affordable!
Social Media Scheduling
To me, social media needs to be something you ENJOY! Not a task that becomes overwhelming, stress inducing, and something that brings you to the brink of hating Social Media altogether (trust me…I’ve been there!).
It’s meant to be social…so let the scheduler do all the work FOR you while you can get on with having meaningful conversations with your audience and building community around your brand.
Most schedulers require you to input content regularly in order to keep the feed continuous. Smarterqueue on the other hand believes in the importance of repurposing and reposting content (amen!) and so have created the ability for you to schedule once…..and they’ll take care of the rest!
All you need to do is create your content categories and add new content as and when you are able, it will keep shuffling through your content so that what you have on autopost, is never posting the same thing on all your channels at the same time.
Buffer & Hootsuite both offer free plans for scheduling social media, however they do not have this reposting feature and the paid options come very close to what you’d pay on Smarterqueue, so this option just makes sense.
A scheduler that you gives you back your time….WIN!
Planning & Project Management
Trello feeds my addiction to list making, but it also makes sure I am getting shit done! It’s a great way for me to manage my daily, weekly, monthly tasks in a visually appealing platform; as well as also track projects and work that has been delegated to my Team.
You can also use Trello to create a space for you and a client to communicate or collaborate on projects where tasks are assigned and you are able to give them due dates where Trello reminds you what needs to be done. Imagine an inbox with fewer emails back and forth between you and your client or team….YES please!
Its also been so useful in being able to create workflows that are easy to duplicate in just two clicks, as well as integrating with various other applications like Dropbox or my Calendar. Trello has been a productivity game changer for me for sure!
I do a vast amount of online coaching and workshops/training, and nothing beats Zoom! You can have up to 100 participants on the free version and thepaid version allows you to host a meeting over 45 mins. LOVE how you can screenshare, and record your meetings. Just so versatile!
Email Marketing & Newsletters
Now there are a LOT of email marketing platforms out there, and I’ll get to the more common (and free) ones in just a minute – first though…let’s talk about why I use Convertkit.
It’s not the cheapest option out, nor is it the prettiest or easiest to use in terms of the design of your emails (in other words unlike Mailchimp and friends, its not a drag n drop application). That being said, Convertkit is my email marketing application of choice because of how uber easy it is to organise my list! With the use of tags, my life became a WHOLE lot easier. It also doesn’t bill me for duplicate sign ups…so I am not paying for 2 sign ups with the same email address. Not forgetting also that it integrates with many of the other tools I have mentioned in this toolkit as well and since email marketing is pivotal in online marketing, I needed that versatility.
It’s also a platform that suits my writing and communication style – conversational. If I’m in your inbox, it’s to share value, meaning and is purposeful…like an email from a buddy. Not something that suits every brand of course, but that’s why I use it. Their support is AMAZING and the founders always working to make Convertkit better, compliant and smarter.
Other options you might ask?
For newcomers to the email marketing space, I recommend starting with a free platform like Mailchimp or Mailer Lite to cut those proverbial teeth – when your email list grows to the point of needing to then pay for it, reassess where you are at at that stage. It’s VERY easy to move from one platform to another, so don’t let that hold you back.
Digital Storage Space
We all need somewhere to store files for quick and easy access, and also in a space where its easy to share documents and files with our clients or teamby merely sending them a link. Dropbox allows for 2G of storage on their free plan, and you can get 1TB (thats a TON of space) from as little as $8 (and some change) a month.
And another option is Google Drive (same sharing features as Dropbox) which starts you on 15GB free and then some paid options from there that are quite affordable and comparative with Dropbox.
You could also look into iCloud if you’re an Apple user needing to store your work in the cloud (and not on your computer), however this option only allows you to share with family or other apple devices and you cannot send someone a link to an iCloud document or file. Not the best option if you’re looking to collaborate with your team or clients.
Of course, you could invest in an external hard drive and back up everything on there (which I do every month, and recommend you do too). However this option is better purely for backup purposes, since the above options allow you to share a link to your saved files with anyone and this option does not.
Wave is 100% Free, SUPER easy to use, and creates the most GORGEOUS invoices and financial documents too! Certainly the best place to start for new businesses looking to DIY their accounts. Generate quotes, invoices and receipts, scan your store receipts, and even manage your expenses!
Looking for something with a little more reporting or payroll options? Sage, Pastel and Quickbooks are the hot favourites.
Surveys & Forms
One of my very favourite resources and I am still using the free version of this quite comfortably too. Using Typeform, you can create all sorts of surveys, client onboarding forms, quizzes….the variables are endless!
Alternate options would be something like Google Forms or Survey Monkey, but I personally love Typeform because of the clean, simple look and feel, and easy-to-use drag an drop features when building out your forms.
Why Vimeo if You Tube is free you ask? I wanted something simple to use, that looked beautiful, easy to brand, has excellent privacy levels and that kept people on my website and not clicking away to You Tube. I can also create content there that’s password protected for a unique audience, and the best thing….no adverts!
You can totally use You Tube, and this is an expensive option for those who are trying to keep things within budget, but I wouldn’t change it.
DIY Design Software
If there is one thing you DO invest in as far as applications go, it would need to be Canva! I use this tool EVERY DAY in creating graphics for my website and social media. The free version is GREAT and you could get by with using it for a good while, however as your business scales, it makes sense to pay for this option – trust me! It will save you loads on time in the long run (which is our most precious commodity).
How does it save you time? On the paid version of Canva, you can pre-populate your brand colours, and also upload your unique brand fonts. You can create numerous folders that help you sort your creative designs. You can create templates that you and your team can use over and over, resize your image to custom dimensions, download designs with a transparent background (SO USEFUL!)…..AND you can create GIFs that are unique to you and on brand! Have I convinced you yet?
Alternate options to Canva include PicMonkey (not free) or Pixlr (which I found needs some time to wrap your head around if you are relatively new design).
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Hello! I'm Ashley
Just your average glitter loving, solar powered, sushi craving, boho dreaming, bullet journalling, mamma-to-Pea, with an insatiable love for people connecting, planning, business mentorship, & helping you grow your audience, income & business online!
(Oh, and pretty much coffee obsessed!)
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