Over the years I have googled and researched until my fingertips couldn’t anymore. I built my business from the ground up single-handedly. For those of you who know me personally, you know I don’t like to do anything half way. If I am going to do something, it’s going to be done properly. I get this from my dad who has run his own business for 30 years. Our motto to each other is, “go big or go home”. I researched all of the logistics on running and maintaining a business in the state of Florida. I will be starting a series on some of the lessons I have learned along the way and some tips for anyone thinking about starting a business.
Over those years, there have been many tools and apps that have helped me tremendously along the way. Some of these are related specific to my stationery industry, and others are for business in general. Below are my top five favorite business tools or apps.
One of the most important things about running a business is keeping track of where your money is going and where it is coming from. I have used QuickBooks from the beginning and absolutely love it. I currently have the software version, but will probably look into the online version in the next year. I am able to create my client’s invoices directly in QuickBooks (and customize those invoices to match my brand!), keep track of payments, expenses and taxes. I know some people prefer other platforms to keep track of their finances, but this one really works for me.
One of the most amazing tools ever invented for stationery designers is the ATG tape gun. Most of my invitations have backings, envelope liners, or other bits and pieces that have to be adhered. I have the ½” tape gun that simply rolls on to what you need. It seriously saves SO much time during assembly!
For anyone who works with clients, a must have is a contract/terms and conditions in place. This not only helps protects you, but your business as well. I highly recommend consulting with a lawyer when developing your own. Anyways, I use Adobe Sign (formerly EchoSign) to send, sign and manage my contracts with my clients. I can create a template of my contract by uploading a PDF and then when I have a new client, I can send it directly to them to review and sign and then it stores it away and I get an email notification. And the best thing, you can get a 14-day free trial with Adobe Sign! And it’s only $9.99/month to manage unlimited contracts.
If you’re anything like me, you have emails piling up day and night. From clients, vendors, subscriptions, you name it. I have my domain email connected through a business account on Gmail for only $5.00/month and this allows me to have a direct inbox on Gmail using my professional email. Gmail is super user friendly, has great storage capacities, and is a great organization system. I’m a sucker for folders and organization. This has been invaluable to keep me on top of things and sane when it comes to business emails. You also get other amazing apps like Google Drive and Google Calendar.
My second purchase when I started my business (first was a computer) was an Apple AirPort Time Capsule external hard drive back up. For any business that is primarily computer based, a back up system is a must. The thought of losing any of those precious documents is terrifying. I love the Time Capsule because it is very user friendly and self-operating. I connected it to my computer, set up how frequently I want it to back up and I’m done. I have it back up daily, and it does it automatically, I don’t even have to think about it. If I accidentally delete a file, I can go back into the latest backup and restore it. And there has been a time when it has saved my life when my hard drive decided it was time to kick the bucket. Worth.Every.Penny.
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