I’ll start off today with a confession: I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to computers. I get nervous when my laptop beeps out of the blue and I have to relearn how to use the track changes function in Word every time I need it. However, I’m a big fan of software and web apps that save me time and money.
While it can be tempting to run your business off a stack of post-its on your desk, it really does pay to get organized. Luckily, there is lots of great software out there that can help with a variety of business tasks. Even better, lots of it is cheap or free. Here are the four pieces of software that I can’t live without. I suspect that once you give them a shot you’ll feel the same way.
I know lots of people who run their business entirely through Harvest. It’s a great program for tracking almost anything, as well as invoicing and storing tax information. Harvest does everything from tracking time to creating and updating invoices for you. It can also hold receipts and track new projects so you know how much to charge for that new necklace that you just created. The online version has an iPhone app as well where you can track time and expenses as well. If you have employees, they can also track their time through the Harvest system so you can automatically create time sheets for them.
Basically, Harvest takes lots of things you’d do in different computer files or on paper and stores it all in one place. It also turns some complicated processes into one button actions, which is great. If you want to save time and really track your income, Harvest is worth getting used to.
Asana is like a stripped down Basecamp with many more organizational options. You can use it to track lists of things you have to do and divide them up by client or by category. It will also schedule things to repeat and send you an email when they are due. You can use the system as one person or invite others to it and assign them things as well. I use it to schedule all of my business stuff as well as communicate with my assistant remotely. Even better, it’s free.
Timely is a lot like hiring someone to manage your Twitter, except it’s free. Timely determines when you tweet most effectively and then lets you put in a list of tweets ahead of time. It also tracks all your Twitter statistics for you so you know exactly how many people you’re reaching with each tweet. One of my favorite features is a browser button that is a lot like the Pinterest one. If you see something you love, Timely makes it easy to turn it into a tweet and queue it up.
I don’t use Keynote for presentations. Instead, I use it for graphics. It functions much like a a stripped down version of photoshop and will export slides as JPG files. It’s great when you need an easy way to throw together a collage or any or sort of graphic and it has tons of font and frame options.
What technology is essential for your business? How do you stay organized?
Holly Jackson — Cottage Copy
Holly Jackson is the owner of Cottage Copy, a copywriting boutique. She lives in Mississippi with an artist, two dogs, and a whole bunch of mystery novels.
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