6 Top Tools for Small Business Owners

Being a creative entrepreneur in today’s time is hard. There is a wealth of information out there on how to run your business and literally an App for everything.  I have tried out many new apps and programs to see what helped me best first as a wedding photographer and now as a photo editor and I have come up with my favorite 6 tools I absolutely couldn’t do business without. 

Some of these do contain affiliate links but rest assured that I would only recommend products I use day in and day out in my own business. And the best thing is you don’t have to be a photographer or photo editor to use these. Almost all creative entrepreneurs or small business owners could benefit from any of these amazing resources.

 

 
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1. Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan (Lightroom & Photoshop)

It goes without saying that as an editor and photographer I use Adobe products. More specifically I work in Lightroom and occasionally I need to do a headswap in Photoshop for the family portrait. A few years ago, you used to had to pay hundreds of dollars for the stand alone version of each of these software programs. But now Adobe has made them a monthly subscription service so that everyone can enjoy these awesome programs! I highly recommend these to anyone pursuing a photography business or even as hobbyist. If you are a business owner who takes pictures of your product you can greatly benefit from this program too! It will take your pictures to the next level! And as Adobe updates these programs you automatically get the update as well. So you always have the latest version out there!

2. HONEYBOOK

I know a lot of you have heard about this one through the Rising Tide community or elsewhere but in this digital day it’s vital to have your pricing packages and contract and invoicing done online. As a military spouse, I keep paper copies down to a minimum since we move around a lot. (It’s also why I have a kindle instead of carrying all my books from station to station but that’s another story) Honeybook is a client management software system. No more tracking paper copies around. The way they layout their program and the ease of which clients can submit questionnaires, pick their packages, sign their contract and pay their invoice at the click of the button without all the back and forth of emails is well worth the monthly costs.

Clients want easy. And this gives that to them in your beautifully branded experience all in one portal. Before I was using this system my conversion rate was low with clients. Since using it my conversion rate has increased dramatically. It makes your brand more professional and stand out from other businesses.

 

3. QUICKBOOKS SELF-EMPLOYED

You guys! I love my Quickbooks Self Employed App! Before I had this I was tracking everything via Excel and every time my quarterly sales tax came around I was so stressed out! And don’t even get me started about my yearly income taxes! It is the easiest program to use once you set it up and it really makes me conscious of my expenses and profits right on the mobile home screen within the app. For small business owners, the other reason I went with the Self Employed version is also because of the mileage tracker! If you aren’t tracking your mileage, start today! Seriously! I have saved thousandsof dollars by tracking my mileage each year because of this. 

I have outsourced my accounting through this App and also through hiring an accountant for filing my personal and business income taxes. And the beauty of having this app is that at the end of the year I print two reports from within the App and hand those over to my accountant and I am done! I love it! This one is probably my favorite program and one I will never do business without.

 

4. CLICK UP & TOGGL

Okay, so I recently discovered this thanks to a fellow photo editor. I use it separately from Honeybook for all of my to do lists and time tracking for each of the projects I do. Click Up is a project management software system and Toggl is their integrated time tracking app. Similar to Asana or Trello but I found Click Up easier to use. And Toggle integrates seamlessly so it is a breeze to use. So for instance, while writing this blog I am tracking my time spent typing this up. Or for my editing clients, I track my time editing their gallery. It also motivates me to stay focused on a task. When I see the timer tracking my progress I want to know that I put in quality time doing that task, instead of getting side tracked by social media or browsing the web.

 

5. SQUARE

I recently began using this for my photo editing clients and also for an occasional mini session for photography clients out here in Okinawa. I can send simple invoices online or even take payment in person. One of the reasons I prefer it is because I don’t have to go in and transfer my money every time I am paid. Square does that automatically for me and that is my favorite part. It is seriously the little things you guys. 

 

6. DROPBOX

I’m sure you have all heard about Dropbox. It does have some cons but it is what I use for file transferring between clients. I also use it for a cloud space for my personal files when working between my laptop (which I’m on now with tv as background noise) and my desktop in my office. I will say that you do need fast, reliable internet to really make the most of it and the paid version since 2GB goes really quickly. Since upgrading my plan and hard wiring my desktop into the internet I have been extremely pleased with my Dropbox experience. 

 

 
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I hope this helps some of you out there. I know when I first started my business it was so frustrating dealing with free and paid trials of programs only to learn that they didn't work for my specific business. Also, if you have any great programs that you use that I haven't mentioned comment below! I'd love to hear what other creative entrepreneurs are using to make their work lives easier.