Whether you’ve just jumped into freelancing, or are in the very beginnings of a startup business, it can be tricky to know what tools are right for your business. There’s so much to consider, so much to learn, and – perhaps worst of all – so many options.
Everyone you know thinks differently, and everyone you know promises that their advice is the best. So, where do you start?
Here’s a helpful round-up of the tools we’ve tried and tested, and continue to use every day in our business.
Quickbooks is your ticket to hassle-free accounting. The user-friendly software allows you to keep a handle on invoices, expenses, cash flow, profit and loss – providing you with a visual overview of them all. It works in real-time, so there are no worries about a lost expense. Plus, it’s HMRC approved, so you’ll be prepared for the continuing rollout of Making Tax Digital. It’s fuss-free, affordable, and removes at least some of the stress that comes with balancing your books. Simple.
Cost: Plans start from a basic £5/mo, with the premium plan weighing in at only £20/mo.
Trello is a free, simple, virtual notice board.
Great for everything from planning your weekly task list to organising team projects. Create your own columns, and add tasks. Tasks can then move from column to column as they progress from idea to reality. It’s customisable, so you can stay on brand; and task cards can include text, pictures, or attachments – great for a variety of different working types. We love it for keeping on top of our to-do list, but the applications are endless. You could even create a board for individual clients, allowing them to see your work progressing.
If Quickbooks is your virtual accountant, Pipedrive is your virtual admin assistant. The software is great for organising anything sales-based, allowing you to keep on top of those important leads. Like Quickbooks, it presents everything in an accessible, visual format, and is clever enough to prioritise tasks, ensuring that no potential sales slip through the cracks. This visual-based interface means you can instantly see when and where you might need to ramp up your sales efforts. And, it includes handy features, such as editable email templates for all those important follow-ups.
Slack & Discord.
Both Slack and Discord work in a very similar way, essentially offering a professional alternative to social media messaging. They’re great for quick, instant conversations within your team, and the ability to create different channels means different ‘chats’ for different subjects or teams are quick and easy to find. We use these for regular clients too, meaning that everyone is always kept in the loop, and with fewer lengthy email chains.
Who doesn’t love a bit of music to get them going?
Music is proven to increase both mood and productivity, and it’s something we ourselves find really useful, especially on the days our Trello to-do list is as long as our arms. For ease, there are countless ready-made playlists, from productivity to chilled 80s throwbacks; and, if you prefer to go rogue, you can even make your own. Music also provides talking points and team opportunities.
Why not rotate the Friday playlist so each team member can show off the music they love?
Cost: £9.99 for premium, free if you don’t mind ads.
Zoom & Microsoft Teams.
The tools that have been life-saving amidst the pandemic, and they’re not just for quizzes. There are lots of services available for video-calling, but Zoom and Microsoft Teams come out on top for us. Easy to use, free and efficient – they’re perfect for remote meetings, catch-ups or even socially distant after-work beers, and Microsoft Teams even includes file sharing, shared storage, and co-authoring of files. For those with permanently remote workers, large teams, or international clients they could also prove to be useful long after Covid-19. We think they’ll stick around.
Cost: Free, but beware of the 40 min cap on Zoom group calls.
If you’re just starting out and have any questions about business, branding or web design, we’re here to help.