The Top 7 Business Tools That I Use Every Single Day

There are a TON (and I mean a ton) of free or nearly free apps out there to help you run your small business. But, are they all created equal? No. Here are the top 7 business tools that I use every single day and that make my life easy-peasy.

Last year, we wrote a blog about 11 Amazing Free Business Tools to Run Your Business the Easy Way. Quite a few of the below business tools are listed there, but some are new!

  1. Nutcache

LOVE this app! While it isn’t completely free, it’s well worth every penny spent.

Nutcache is:

Time Tracker + Invoice & Expense + Project Management

ALL-IN-ONE!

Nutcache Project Management Screenshot

Seriously, all-in-one. It’s pretty amazing and I use it all the time. I use it as a Customer Relationship Management system also, but it’s not quite as robust on that front as other options like Insightly.

  1. Grammarly

I can’t even explain how much of a life-saver Grammarly is as a business tool. For a writer, it is my saving grace and helps me maintain my sanity on a daily basis.

Grammarly is a web-based grammar, spelling, and basic sentence structure checker. I typically write all of my content in Google Docs and then paste it into Grammarly for review. This includes client content projects.

  1. Google Drive | Google Docs

There isn’t much that needs to be said about Google Drive & Google Docs. My business lives on the cloud within this web-based tool. Literally, lives there.

If you’re not utilizing the wonders of Google Drive as one of your daily business tools, you’re doing it wrong.

  1. Canva

I’ve written love letters to Canva before, and my feelings have not changed.

This web-based graphic design app is literally heaven on screen. I use it for everything from social media imagery to postcards and website graphics. Plus, they have a huge library of design tutorials to help you learn and get started!

Canva Tutorial Screenshot

I personally use the free version currently, but will be updating to the Canva For Work paid version very soon. Stay tuned for a blog detailing the difference between the two!

Interested in Canva? Read our blog: What Does Canva Mean to a Small Business.

  1. Pinterest

Primo inspiration, baby!

Pinterest is a GOLD MINE for all kinds of inspiration. I personally use it to stash content ideas and continued learning opportunities. Honestly, with such a deep well of content on Pinterest, you’ll be hard-pressed to actually consume everything that you pin. But, here’s to trying, right?!

Feel free to follow Ink.e Digital on Pinterest OR Follow me to share my inspiration.

  1. Pixabay

This website is an amazing partner for Canva. Although Canva offers a ton of really great free photos with their free app, sometimes you just need a more professional looking option.Pixabay Screenshot

Pixabay is a royalty free photography site that happens to offer some really high-quality stock photos. Although I’m a compulsive graphic asset hoarder, I still use Pixabay just about every single day for my own brand or for a client.

  1. Day Planner

Everyone has their own preferred method of organization. Me? I’m a COMPULSIVE list-maker. Seriously, I make lists of lists on paper, whiteboard and in my day planner.

Instead of using a disposable day planner, I use the M by Staples ARC system planner. It’s a scalable planner that offers a variety of different insertable pages and page dividers. They come in lots of pretty colors and have page refills and expander ring for just about everything.

The initial investment is a little on the higher end for a day planner, but after the first year, it’s only a few bucks to replace your pages.

Well, there you have it! These are my top 7 business tools that I use every single day to keep my business strong and healthy.

Do you have a really great tool that helps you run your business?

11 Amazing Free Business Tools to Run Your Business the Easy Way

11 Amazing Free Business Tools to Run Your Business the Easy Way

Running a business or being an entrepreneur  is hard, there’s no denying it. But, there are ways to make it easier on you and believe it or not, several of them are free. Yes, FREE! While there are a plethora of freebies out there for businesses just starting out, they’re not all worth the time and effort. Even though they’re free. Here are our favorite free business tools to run your business.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is huge for all businesses, not just those that are brand new. But, how do you efficiently manage your social media accounts? How do you know what to post? No matter what social media platform you have chosen to go with for your business, there are a couple of really awesome free apps/websites that help make things easy.

Perch App

The Perch app is a strictly mobile app that tracks you and your competition and lets you know what is being posted. This is great because it lets you keep tabs on your competition and even newsjack them.

Buffer or Hootsuite

What I Use: Buffer

Buffer and Hootsuite are both great social media scheduling platforms. They’re very similar and very easy to use, and very close to the same price for a paid account. They both offer a limited free account, which in most cases is all that a business will need. But, if you manage more than 2-3 social media accounts for your business, you’ll want a paid account.

The main difference that I have noticed is that Buffer offers posting to Pinterest as part of their base $10/month package. While Hootsuite only offers it through a secondary app called Tailwind. In order to post on Pinterest through Hootsuite, you must not only pay their base monthly price of $9.99/month + the Tailwind monthly fee of $9.99/month.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective and most inexpensive ways to reach your prospective customer base. But, how do you even begin to design or run an email campaign? There are a couple of simple options that offer free base options, up to a certain amount of email addresses.

MailChimp

MailChimp is one of my favorites. I’m not going to lie. MailChimp offers an account option that is free up to 2,000 subscribers.Granted, there are some things that are not available to you without an upgrade (autoresponders, etc) but the free account is typically a great starting point for most businesses. You will enjoy full email template customization, analytics, and unique options. You have to suffer through the MailChimp logo at the bottom of your emails, but honestly, that’s a small price to pay for convenience.

MailPoet

The MailPoet plugin is a great newsletter and email marketing option for businesses that utilize the WordPress platform for their website or blog. As a free plugin, it offers simple autoresponder options, which MailChimp does not. But, the customization capabilities are not near as robust as they are with MailChimp.

SEO & SEM Marketing

Search engine optimization is often a foreign concept for most existing business owners and managers and is still a bit foggy for those that are just starting out. But, there are a few great options that help you monitor and manage your SEO value and how it performs.

Google Analytics

This is a big DUH for most people. But, Google Analytics is totally free and super, SUPER easy to implement. A properly implemented Analytics account can help you determine what pages and keywords are working best to drive quality traffic, and allows you to implement set goals to track this.

Keyword Planner Tool

As a part of Google AdWords, this tool is sometimes a pain to get to and properly utilize, but it is an invaluable tool. You can easily figure out what broad keyword phrase and long-tail keyword phrases are best for both on-page SEO and paid advertising.

Copyscape

This is an easy way to tell if you have inadvertently copied, or someone else has copied your work anywhere on the internet. Simple input a URL or copy/paste your text to see if there’s duplicate content living out there on the web.

Content Creation

The creation of your branded content isn’t always as cut and dry as some of the other aspects of business. So, we have compiled a list of my favorite free content creation tools and apps.

Grammarly

This is a browser extension that works similar to auto-spellcheck in Word. But it also offers the option to evaluate the grammatical structure of your entire document through a dedicated site through an account login. The basics are free, but if you want to figure out and update any complex grammatical or structural errors, you’ll need to invest in the paid version.

Hemingway App

This is an awesome web-based app that allows you to either copy/paste or write directly inside the app. It will help you determine the readability of your piece through color-coded sections. A great rule of thumb is to stick to grade 12 or lower for most of your content, depending on which industry you’re in.

Copyscape

Again, Copyscape helps you determine whether or not your content is being duplicated elsewhere or you inadvertently copied someone else’s’ work. It happens. No one is judging.

Graphic Design

You don’t need an in-house graphic designer to make stunning imagery for your website or social media accounts. However, I do suggest that for anything in-depth or technical, you do hire an expert. You’ll thank us later.

Canva

This is an amazing tool that offers a huge variety of different templates and pre-made options for any kind of graphic that you could ever need. I use Canva every single day, several times a day and LOVE IT. Seriously, it’s a favorite of mine. Many beautiful graphical elements are completely free of charge, and the more exclusive options are only $1 to use per design. Compared to stock photography and graphic element website memberships…this is a freaking steal.

Organization

Evernote

Just Evernote. I  recently wrote a blog article on my favorite free organizational tools out there today, and Evernote was on the top of the list. It is a great option for any business, and offers several unique add-ons to make it easier to consolidate your notes and business tools.

There are tons of other free business tools out there that are worth checking out, but these are the ones I use or have used in the past. If you have an awesome free tool that you use, let us know in the comments below. I’ll check it out!