When I launched this blog, I posted a list of resources for entrepreneurs. Today I’d like to go into further detail on some of these resources with a list of 5 free tools from every aspect of business development that are essential for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Wave is a free invoice and accounting software that lets you manage both your personal and business accounts. It offers many great features although their accounting tool can be a bit confusing at first. The most useful feature that I frequently use is their invoicing tool. You can create several different invoice templates that are all customizable with your branding elements and business details. Wave also has a great receipt tool so that you can upload and keep track of business (or personal) expenses. If you have employees, Wave offers a paid upgrade to keep track of payroll.
Canva is a great tool for creating uniform social media and collateral items (such as posters, brochures, etc…). It allows users to set brand colors and if you decide to pay and upgrade you can create brand kits to always have your other brand elements handy. Canva has both a web and mobile app version, so it’s great to use on the go as well.
Besides having easy design options, Canva also has tutorials to help its users learn design. If you need great looking graphics but are on a budget, Canva is definitely for you. If you have already hired a designer, you can utilize the elements that they have created and integrate them in these collateral pieces. All of my own social media graphics have been created using this.
Toggl is a free time-tracking site that offers extra paid features. The free tools allow you to create projects and then track time spent on different tasks for each one. Toggl creates reports of the time spent separated by the project that you can save to view your total time spent working on each one. The paid option allows you to calculate billable amounts, but this is easily done with using just the free tools. If you charge hourly for projects I would highly recommend using Toggl to track your hours.
Freedcamp is a free version of the ever popular (but pricey if you’re on a budget) project management software Basecamp. Freedcamp offers the ability to create projects and manages files, discussions, tasks, milestones, time, etc… within each project. It is a collaborative tool where each user can have different permissions and be limited to certain projects. This would also be great for working with a virtual assistant since you can assign tasks to different users.
In terms of idea, notes, article and content collection, Evernote is the best tool that I have found. It is a cross-platform tool that is also great for multi-user collaboration. It now seamlessly integrates with google docs and is an invaluable resource. You can easily use it to create checklists, notebooks for different topics and save any helpful articles (like this one) using the web browser add-on. Evernote even has the option to have work chats and set due dates on tasks that it will remind you to complete. It outshines any similar tools in its category.
I know that I said there would be 5 free options here but I recently discovered a 6th option for entrepreneurs and business owners, 17Hats. 17Hats is an all-in-one option for business management and so far I have really enjoyed it. If you can afford to put a little extra towards your business, I would definitely recommend this over using the multiple separate options.
It offers both free and paid options, along with a free trial to test out the paid features. The free version only allows for the management of up to 3 projects. I tested out the paid version and it’s been fantastic. It allows it’s user to manage time tracking, invoicing, project management, contacts, leads, integration with google calendars, to-do’s, an automated workflow creation and bookkeeping that integrates with your bank account (a paid feature). 17Hats combines Toggl, Freedcamp, and Wave into an all-in-one tool with even more features.
I hope that you find these resources helpful, what are some of your favorites?