FIVE BUSINESS TOOLS WE LOVE
While most of what we share on Instagram is finished work and BTS shots, a lot of the day to day work is not quite as exciting. I spend a lot of days behind my computer sending invoices and contracts and all the other things that make the business run. None of these tasks are glamorous, but they are necessary to get to the fun parts of the job. Running your own business is a lot of work, so I have tested a lot of tools in an effort help streamline everything and stay organized. I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you, hopefully they help you as well. Let me know if you have any other suggestions, I love trying out new systems and ways of working.
One thing that we have learned by experience is to never ever work without a contract. Not even for a “free” or test shoot. Always make sure that everything is outlined clearly in writing, and get a lawyer to look over your contract if you can. Since getting everyone to sign a contract can be a hassle, we use Hello Sign to help make the process easier. You upload the contract and then insert your signature and send it out to everyone else involved once the document is all set up. It’s really easy to use, and you get daily reports of how many contracts are out for signature, which have been viewed, and which have been signed. You can send up to 3 documents a month for free, so you can test it out to see how you like it before committing.
In order to grow your business and attract new clients, you’ll want a portfolio that makes you stand out. We built our website using Squarespace, and love how easy it is to make a unique site that looks professional without any coding. It’s also really cost-effective. There are tons of templates to choose from, almost too many haha. It took us a while to settle on the one we liked best. Our tips for building your website are to think through the client experience and make sure that your work is front and center. Pick a template that is clean and simple and helps your work to shine. Make sure to test it on mobile to make sure that it scales well.
I’m sure you all know about Google suite, but if you aren’t using it in your business, you should start now. It’s been the easiest way for us to sync everything and communicate. We us G-mail for our business e-mail, and our contact form on our website flows right there so I can easily start e-mail communication with potential clients. We also use Google drive to store assets, and we use Google docs and sheets for documents that we need to keep updated like our social media schedule. This way we are always both on the same page. Google forms is a great way to quickly gather information from a potential client before sending a quote. Seriously, there are so many ways to use G-Suite, and I know we aren’t even using all the features that it has to offer. Definitely check it out.
Quick books has made my life so, so much easier. I hate dealing with finances, so I love how it has so many automated features. I also like the fact that I can send invoices directly from the site and duplicate past invoices. I can see who has viewed invoices, and who is overdue on payments. It’s such a great tool for making sure that you are getting paid on time, and that you are tracking all money in and out of your business. We use the web version so that our CPA can easily login and make adjustments and calculate our quarterly taxes. On that note, make sure that you have a business bank account so you can keep your personal finances completely separate from your business.
There are so many different task managers out there, and I haven’t found one that I completely love, but I do think that Asana is a good option. I mostly use it to manage potential clients. I have a huge list of companies I want to reach out to, and I set them up as tasks, using subtasks to track if they have been contacted and how many times. I also use it to store all their info so I can reference it in the future. I put leads in this list as well so I can make sure that I am following up. I want to eventually start using it for client workflow and other processes, but I haven’t had the chance to set it all up. Any task manager will only be as organized as it’s most organized user, so if you have multiple people who will be using it, come to an agreement on how it will be used so it’s consistent and effective.
These are just a few of the tools that we use on a daily basis, and we’re always looking for new ones to test out. Let us know what you have found to be helpful in running your business in the comments!
Is it the weekend yet?