Let’s just cut right to the chase. Streamlining your business, creative or otherwise, will pave the way to growth. You’ll have more brain space to strategize. You’ll have more time to take on more work or sell more things.
So let’s get the to-do lists out of your head, automate those everyday tasks, and work smarter not harder to keep track of everything going in your small business.
As of February 2017, this is my creative biz toolbox. Beg, borrow, and steal as much as you want… and if you’re having trouble figuring out HOW to systematize and organize let me know because I can help ya out!Ready to streamline your small business? Check out @dizzycaitlin's creative biz toolbox! Click To Tweet
Pixifi is a creative studio management system geared towards photographers, but general enough for anyone running a service-based business. It’s packed with powerful automation tools to convert leads into clients super quick. Pixifi features include appointment scheduling, digital contract signing, invoicing tools, and more. There are three different plans that range from $25-50 a month.
Tave offers much of the same features as Pixifi plus a much more attractive interface. Tave starts at $21.99 a month and goes up depending on the size of your business and your length of commitment.
Harvest + Streak CRM
Harvest allows you to easily track time, log expenses, and manage invoices on-the-go. Pair it with the Chrome extension Streak to track leads inside your Gmail inbox. Together these tools can do a lot of what Pixifi and Tave offer. Plans for Harvest start at $12 per month while Steak plans range from free to $119 a month.
LessAccounting is an accounting software package that provides simple basic accounting features for small businesses. They’re best for businesses with less than $5 million in revenue like coffee shops, photographers, and personal trainers. You can record business expenses, categorize expenses, send invoices, and more. I love the graphs that show where I’m making the most money too! Pricing starts at $20 a month for freelancers.
Freshbooks is another option to help make money easy. They pride themselves on saving customers an average of two days per month from everyday accounting tasks. Price ranges depend on your needs and start as low as $17.96 a month.
Quickbooks is another accounting tool full of features aimed to help you get paid faster and keep your financials organized. Again, pricing varies — starting at $5 a month and going up from there.
ConvertKit promotes themselves as an email marketing service for professional bloggers. A subscription includes some really fantastic features that make it simpler to grow your email list like creating upgraded content with just a few clicks, intuitively sorting subscribers, and (my personal favorite) one-click new subscriber confirmations and opt-in downloads.
MailChimp is another email marketing software that gives you a number of ways to design and send emails. They offer their service for free until you hit 2,000 subscribers.
Mad Mimi is an insanely easy to use tool for creating, sending, sharing, and tracking email newsletters. It’s best for people who want email marketing to be as simple as possible. You can start out with them for free. When you’re ready to upgrade for more features, plans start at just $10 a month and go up depending on your needs.
Cook Smarts aims to make life in the kitchen easier — with weekly meal plans, grocery lists, cooking guides, and even cooking lessons. Since my move to China I no longer use them because grocery shopping is a little more complicated here, but I’m leaving it on the list because if I could use it I totally would be! You can give them a taste test with three free meal plans. After that, pricing is $6 to $8 a month.
The Fresh 20
This meal planning service prepares a weekly menu for you using just 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients — keeping things easy at the grocery store and in the kitchen. Monthly plans start at $10 a month.
Blue Apron takes meal planning to the next level by doing the shopping and prep work for you. Basically, you get a box full of ingredients delivered right to your door. All you have to do is cook! They offer a two-person and a family plan.
Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. With one glance, Trello tells you who’s working on what and where something is in a process. The free version is great and has pretty much everything you need. However, if you need more robust features or additional security features, upgrading is as low at $8.33 a month.
Asana is another tool that allows teams to share, plan, organize, and track progress of the tasks each member is working on. Asana has free and paid plans depending on what you need.
ToDoist is a project management software in to-do list form. It’s free, but additional features (like collaboration) are only available in the paid version.
Storage and File Sharing
With Google Drive, you start with 15 GB of free online storage for files of any sort. You can access these files on your phone, tablet, or your computer. Paid plans depend on how much storage you need, but you can get 1 TB (which is a lot) for $10 a month.
Dropbox is another file storage service that can be using for storing and caring files. You can get some storage for free, but plans start at $10 a month for 1 TB of space.
Box prides itself on safe and easy collaboration for businesses using their file storage software. Business plans start at $5 per month.
Republic Wireless is a cellphone carrier that offers a WiFi-only plan. As in, your phone can make calls only when it sees a WiFi signal. It ignores cell towers. The big advantage: A WiFi-only plan is a lot cheaper — which makes it the perfect system for a business phone number. You can opt for 3G phone and data at any time. These flexible phone plans pay you back for any data you don’t use each month.
Google Voice is a voicemail service that allows you to set up a new number that you can forward to your current phone, send free text messages, and customize your voicemail. It’s totally free to use.
MightyCall gives small businesses a professional phone presence with an auto attendant, customizable greetings, dial by name directory, and more. Pricing for MightyCall starts at $20 a month after a 14 day trial.
Calendly allows anyone to schedule appointments, interviews, calls, and more with you. Say goodbye to phone tag, or even worse, email tag. They offer a free basic plan or you can get all the features for $8 a month.
Acuity is an online appointment scheduling software. Clients can schedule appointments, pay, and complete intake forms online 24/7. There’s a free plan but premium features start at $10 a month.
Doodle is the scheduling tool for you if you’re trying to find a time to meet with a group of people. There is a free version and premium features start at $39 a month.
Keeping in Touch
Greetabl makes sending little gifts to biz friends and clients so, so easy. Pick some nice packaging, fill it with a thoughtful gift, and presto! You’ve just gone the extra mile to cultivate meaningful relationships with your community, your tribe, and your ideal clients.
Postable is exactly what it says it is – snail mail heaven. You can send a thank you note, congratulate someone on a launch, or mail a card “just because” in just a few clicks. With so many lovely artists’ work to choose from I know you’ll find the perfect card for any occasion.
Doing the Work
With Spotify, you can listen to most any song and curate your own playlists. Too lazy to curate? Spotify has tons of pre-made playlists for every style and every mood. Spotify is free to use if you’re cool with listening to ads every thirty minutes or so. Premium plans start at $10 a month.
Pandora creates playlists for you based on your choice of genre or even a favorite song or artist. Thumbs up songs you love and thumbs down songs you hate to slowly curate the perfect playlist for you. This music streaming service is also free with ads. Ad-free listening is $5 a month.
On desktop, it’s basic iTunes for listening to my long list of all kinds of podcasts. On mobile it’s all about the Podcast Addict app.
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