For someone who has a Bachelor of Information Technology and spent over 10 years implementing IT systems for large companies, you would think I would be in LOVE with technology! But I get just as frustrated and annoyed as the next person, especially when I KNOW that apps or programs I am using “should” be able to do things, but I just can’t make them happen!
These days, with a small business of my own, I’m on the other end of the implementation. It’s ME receiving the new apps or programs, and me learning how to use them in my day to day work, and ME who loses hours and days trying to work things out that theoretically should be simple.
So I thought this week I would share a few of my best finds when it comes to apps and programs for running my business, as well as some great apps that other people I know have used and speak highly of.
Unlike larger businesses who spend months and thousands of dollars implementing high end systems to manage finances, there is benefit in being a small business with flexiblity, faster turnaround times to make changes and the ability to just try things out and see how they go. So if you’re ready to step away from the spreadsheet, or you are just looking for an app that’s a bit more mobile and can help save you time and get paid faster, I have two which I would recommend giving a shot.
- Quickbooks – starts from $4.99 per month for the sole trader version which does the basics like track kilometres, invoices, expenses and BAS. The $7.50 version adds in things like quotes, payroll and multiple devices.
- Wave – is a FREE app and does all of that, including enabling credit card payments, linking into your bank accounts and scanning in receipts from your phone (even when you’re offline).
Neither of these have I used personally, as I, like many others, am still using an online system that was great when I first started using it 4 years ago, but I need to upgrade to something better! For those of you who are curious, I use Billcue, which is another Australian system, that does it all. Invoices, Quotes, Expenses, BAS, reporting, and everything you’d expect. But it doesn’t have a mobile app, and you can’t connect to your bank accounts and it doesn’t allow credit card payments. For $11 per month, it was great at the time, but these days we expect a lot more for less with our mobile apps!
- Asana – is my favourite project management tool. It’s FREE, and has a great app and desktop version. You can add people to your team, set up projects, assign tasks, keep notes and track due dates. You can opt in or out of notifications to your phone and email. And track your personal tasks as well. You can also choose whether to make your projects into lists of tasks or columns of tasks (similar to an agile method or Trello board if you’re familiar with those).
- Coffitivity – is a website I was put onto my a colleague years ago, and it is the BEST thing I have ever found to help me concentrate. You jump onto the site and select your preferred sound and volume, and next thing you know, your brain thinks you are sitting in a busy cafe by the beach, and you’ve just spent 2 and half hours working on the tasks you’ve been putting off all week! NB: sadly it does not babysit! So it doesn’t work if you have kids running around the house! But if you have a spare hour with no kids, and you turn this website on in the background, that hour will be GONE and you will have achieved EVERYTHING! It’s like magic.
- Doodle – my favourite Community Engagement Coordinator put me onto this one! How much time have you ever wasted going back and forth in emails & text messages with people trying to find a good time to meet? STOP RIGHT NOW! Another free desktop site / mobile app, you just go in, plug in the dates & times you are available, then send the link to your friends. They can then vote on the times / dates they are available, and it will spit out the best common time for you all to catch up. You can use it for meetings or coffee dates, it really doesn’t matter. But it takes the banter out and saves you time and sanity!
- Canva – I love canva just as much as the next person, but it does have it downfalls. When you download JPG or PNG, sometimes your text will be a bit blury. I don’t know why, and the canva people just keep telling me it must be ME. But I know it’s not, because other people have the same problem. It can also be a real pain when you create an image in a certain size, but then it doesn’t fit for your purpose, and you have to resize (you can only do this if you have a paid account). But if you are using canva a fair bit, sometimes the paid account is totally worth it! The free images, the extra options like “magic resize”, they are important and very handy. Magic Resize, just means you can create something like a Facebook Cover Picture, and then magically create a matching facebook profile, an instagram post and a postcard (or whatever sizes you choose) all in one click of a button. PS. For those who haven’t used Canva, it is a graphic website & now phone app that allows you to make all sorts of graphics, templates, documents, images etc with photos, text, icons etc all by drag and drop and very little graphic design knowledge required.
- PDF2JPG – So on the Canva issue, if you are having trouble downloading crisp, clear images with text, my workaround is to download the printable PDF instead, and convert to a JPG. It’s not brilliant, and the graphic designers would probably frown upon us, but this simple website makes it super easy and you usually get pretty good results (as long as you choose High Quality). It’s also handy if you have some other type of PDF that you’ve created and want to upload a picture of it to Facebook or Instagram. As far as I know, it only works on desktop.
- Pixabay – and if you’re looking for some free images to use in things like brochures or blog posts, head over to Pixabay. If you are googling for images to use, make sure you are using Advanced Settings and filter your results by usage rights. Otherwise you could get yourself in a pickle over using images that are not yours to use.
So now it’s your turn! I would LOVE to know what apps you are using, which ones you love, which ones you don’t. So please feel free to pop a comment below and share your insights with me and our other biz friends so we can all get maximising and minimising!