Let’s face it. Being a one person show and running all the parts of your business is tough and pretty overwhelming. If you’re just starting out you may not have the budget for hiring help, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need it. Below is my list of 10 free, that’s right completely gratis, online tools to help you run the production that is your business smoothly just like a baby’s bottom:
Hootsuite is a social media dashboard meant to manage and measure your social networks. Link your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts, schedule posts, and review analytics all in one place. I’ve been using it for a couple years now, it has completely streamlined my social media posting. Who needs a social media team when you have Hootsuite! Click this link and get 30 day trial of the pro version for free!
If you have multiple projects and team members that work remotely, Basecamp is your new BFF. Use it as a communication tool that will save your in-box, organize files all in one spot, create to-do lists for yourself and your team (to insure that no one is doing the same thing twice), and utilize their calendar to plan out the trajectory of your ideas. I’ve used both the free and paid version of this project management software and found it invaluable for keeping all the moving pieces of my business organized.
This one is just a no brainer. Google is a startups most useful tool. They’ll hook you up with the ability to create documents, save them in a storage drive, whip up spreadsheets, chat via video on their hangouts, save you the cost of a research assistant with the their search engine, chat it up with G-chat, wrangle your schedule with their calendar, and of course- Gmail. This whole enchilada could cost you hundreds of dollars. Google’s giving it away free, don’t miss out.
As if basic Google services weren’t enough, Appointlet, an online appointment-scheduling app, takes your Google calendar to the next level. Clients can confirm, decline, cancel, or reschedule their sessions all on their own. You can even add it to your website to make it easier for them to find and schedule with you. The free version is good, but for $10 more a month you can use it with PayPall to collect payment as well. Hello more free time and less scheduling missteps plus a waaay more cost-effective option than the beast that is MindBody when you’re starting out.
There’s nothing worse than sitting down to work in a crowded coffee shop only to have to sit through someone’s grotesque story of how they ate a bad oyster and was up puking all night. Yuck! Suddenly you’ve completely lost the stomach for getting anything done. Turn on Spotify, plug in your headphones, and tune out the world. I also use the paid version to float some chill tunes in the studio sans commercials. I prefer Spotify to Pandora because you can make your own playlists, download whole albums, and listen even when you’re offline (with the paid version).
You might be wondering why LinkedIn is on this list? Well, while Facebook, Twitter, and the Insta are great for building relationships with potential clients, what about the relationships you need with your peers? LinkedIn is a fantastic free resource for Pilates teachers or business owners that need advice on anything from how to deal with a difficult client to how to find the best insurance rate for your needs.
Ever try to send an email with an attachment or a picture only to tear your hair out when it keeps getting returned over and over again? Or maybe you’ve wanted to share a extra large file or keep all your docs in one place for you and your team to view. Dropbox is perfect for all of that. Get 2 GB for free which is probably more than you’ll ever need.
SCORE is a nonprofit association, supported by the Small Business Administration, dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Visit their office or find a volunteer mentor right on their site for answers to your questions, or take advantage of their free templates and tools. They have everything from business plan forms, to financial templates, and more.
Square, a payment processing application for iPhones or iPads, offers a wallet app for mobile transactions and a register app for a virtual cash register. With Square you can track sales, tax, top purchasing clients, and more. You only pay when you sell and there’s no fee to sign up. Bring your business into the 21st century and start taking credit cards for those big packages. In my experience once I started taking cards my sales went up almost 50%.
For all of you who are feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with your social media feeds help is on the way! NutshellMail, owned by Constant Contact, sends you email snapshots of your chosen social networking accounts. Get free updates from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, MySpace, YouTube, Foursquare, and Citysearch as often as you wish. Easy breezy.