I’ve heard people argue that being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. Although I’m not a parent myself, I would tend to agree with that statement.
And I’d add, that being self-employed has got to be in the number 2 slot! Being self employed is also one of the hardest jobs on the planet.
You know what they say, “Entrepreneurs: people who will work 80 hours for themselves to avoid working 40 for someone else.”
A business is just a different kind of baby.
Even though it is not a human infant, it still likes to wake you up in the middle of the night screaming for attention.
You still worry about whether or not it’ll survive until it’s teen years.
And you wonder constantly if you’re making the right decisions.
Thankfully, technology. Amen.
You see, not that long ago, we couldn’t, literally could NOT, be self-employed like we are today because the technology and tools didn’t exist. Period. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
If we wanted something done, we needed manpower and manpower required money that most modern day, bootstrapping entrepreneurs don’t have.
The job that I have today and the businesses that I run today literally did not exist when I graduated from University in 2001.
And so although it is still unbelievably challenging (and also very rewarding, I might add) to be self-employed and run your own business, it has also never been easier and more affordable than it is today thanks to the tools and technology that is available to regular old boot-strappers like myself.
And I’d like to highlight a few that I believe are indispensable to today’s self employed entrepreneurs.
13 Must- Have Business Tools for the Self Employed
- Evernote: The 3 things I love most about Evernote are a. It doesn’t take up space on my devices like DropBox which means I can easily access it remotely on the go b. the storage space is unlimited AND free and c. It is the most cost effective CRM Tool I’ve found to manage my clients. Check out this YouTube Tutorial here showing you how.
- Unroll.me: Is how I manage my email inbox. You see, I am subscribed to lots of newsletters so that I can stay on top of my industry and competition. I have no doubt that you may be similar. Unroll.me helps keep it out of my inbox and delivers it to me daily in a nice little subscription.
- iMovie: I’m a dyed in the wool Apple girl and I run all my businesses on Apple products. Come to think of it, maybe I should have listed Apple as #3? Instead, I’ll recommend the iMovie tool which comes as standard software on most apple products these days like the iPhone, iPad, and Macs. I really like iMovie because it can do some really top notch stuff on a very small budget and the UI is very user friendly. Here’s a video I made using iMovie.
- Screencast-o-matic: Is a great free screen recording software that allows you to record up to 15 minutes! That is 10 minutes longer than its free competitor, Jing. I find this screen recording software to be indispensable to teams working remotely! Imagine that one of my team members has a complicated question, instead of using precious time to type out a perfect email that communicates exceptionally clear, I can just create a little movie of me and shoot it over to their inbox. Voila! You can check out this example here.
- Google Drive: If you work remotely and collaborate with other team members, Google Drive is a must-have! It allows everyone to work on the same documents in real time and not have to worry about conflicting changes. A huge bonus for me is that the GDrive is stored in the cloud so your data doesn’t take up space on your devices. Also, unlimited free storage. Google also has a really great suite of apps: calendar, chat, gmail and so on. If you’re running a mid-large size company it might make sense for you to look into Google Apps for Work.
- Asana is a project management tool that helps me communicate with my team on tasks tied to a deadline. It also stores and organizes files, photos, and communication threads. I use it to communicate with my property management team for the house we rent on Airbnb.
- RainMaker Platform: The Rainmaker Platform is what I’ve built my website and my business on. I used to work with WP but it was just too much! Too many updates, too many plug ins, too many learning curves, too much junk! That is all eliminated with the all-in-one solution of the Rainmaker Platform. Rainmaker is to WP what Mac is to PC and I HIGHLY recommend it. Especially if you’re a phone based business building an online presence for distribution. My site here is built using the Rainmaker platform.
- Doc Scan: is a scanner that allows you to take a photo of a picture or document using your smartphone and turn it into an email-able (Did I just make up a new word?) PDF. This is an amazing tool for digitizing old photos and/or sending back a signed doc without all the hassle of fax machines and other clunky stuff.
- FaxZero.com: Unbelivably there are still people out there sending faxes. Occasionally I run into them and always wonder about their mental state. Fax Zero is a free online faxing service that allows you to send up to 3 pages to a traditional fax machine and it is delivered “just like the old days”. Bookmark it for the rare occasion that you need to send a fax without losing your mind or wasting your time driving to find a traditional machine.
- WordSwag: is a killer free app that allows me to create very good looking graphics for Instagram and Facebook.
- Canva: is another free graphic design tool that even a monkey can use to create good looking graphics and images! You can even create posters, e-book covers, magazines, desktop wallpaper, and more!
- MeetEdgar: is a paid tool for social media automation. I just started using this tool a few months back and I love it so much, I just might marry it. It is one of the most justifiable expenses in my business! It is like having a virtual assistant without the drama.
- MC Snap: is a new app that Mail Chimp recently came out with. It basically allows you to Instagram your email list. Which is heavenly for a person who frequently forgets her email list and constantly procrastinates list building. Once a week I select my best insta and send it out to my email list – from my phone!! – along with a short note. Turns out my people like it better than the newsletter I was sending out previously.
And there you have it, friends! A full list of my lucky 13 tools that make my business and life easier. And because you’re so great, below are a few “honorable mentions”.
Trello.com: also good for project management with remote team collaboration
Acuity: a tool to make scheduling appointments much easier
PIXLR.com: for creating transparent graphics quickly, easily, and free
Unsplash.com: Great free photo site
Ripl.com: A fun free app that animates your social media
What tools make your business and life easier? Share your feedback in the comments below.