Hiring and Growth

11 Must-Have Tools for New Business Owners (That Are Totally Free)

Andi Smiles Small business financial consultant 
free small business tool apps on an iphone

Who doesn’t wish they had a robot butler for their business? With so much to stay on top of, an extra set of mechanical hands would do wonders for our task lists. Sadly, we don’t quite have robot butlers yet—BUT we do have software and apps.

Simple time tracking that syncs with payroll.

Just like robot butlers, good software automates the tedious chores in your business and helps you work more efficiently. And there are TONS of free tech tools and software out there just waiting to streamline your business, especially when you’re new and still getting your systems set up. The best part is that you don’t have to drop a bunch of money on systemizing your business… rather you can do almost everything for free!

Here’s a list of my favorite free software and apps for your business:  

For managing your finances…

A digital accounting software that’s free AND easy to use?! No way.

Wave for bookkeeping

Yes way.

Wave is 100 percent free and has many of the same bookkeeping features as paid software, such as downloading transactions from your bank account, digital invoicing with online payments, estimates, bank reconciliation, reports at a push of a button, and an app so you can do your bookkeeping on the go.

Check Wave out here.

MileIQ for mileage tracking

You’ve probably heard that you can write off your business mileage but haven’t gotten around to actually tracking your mileage. Seriously, who has time for that? What if I told you there was a way to track your mileage without doing anything… like nothing, nada, zilch?

MileIQ is an app that tracks your mileage and recognizes when you drive. The app uses a feature called Drive Detection, which knows when you’re driving, automatically turns itself on, and tracks your mileage. Then, all you do is categorize your trips drives as business or personal.

Before using MileIQ, one of my clients kept a manuel mileage log. Every week she logged her drives using her calendar, Google Maps, and a spreadsheet. If you think that sounds tedious—you’re right. MileIQ tracks her mileage in a quarter of the time. Plus she gets a sweet tax deduction.  

MileIQ is free for up to 40 drives a month.

Check MileIQ out here.

Foreceipt for digital receipt management

Foreceipt app-ifies your receipt management so you don’t have to hold onto any paper copies—or dig them up when you’re reviewing your expenses. It lets you snap a picture of your receipt, enter key information, and then toss the paper clutter.

The best part? Foreceipt syncs with Google Drive so you can access your receipts anytime, anywhere.

Foreceipt is free for up to 50 receipts a month.

Check Foreceipt out here.

For staying on top of everything…

Asana for task management

Let’s face it, when you own a business your brain is expected to keep track of 500 things when it really only has space for 50. So how do you keep track of the 450 other things? By using Asana!

Asana is a task management software. You can create projects with corresponding tasks, set deadlines, and assign tasks to your team. You can also create recurring tasks, set up email notifications, and view team progress goals. Trust me, your brain will thank you.  

But isn’t Asana just for big businesses? Not at all! Small businesses can get just as much benefit out of Asana. For example, I use Asana to template my product launch process. I have a master project for each launch and duplicate the project and tasks for every new launch. This way I don’t have to recreate a project outline every time I launch a product. I’ve also heard of solopreneurs creating recurring tasks for their weekly bookkeeping routine so that every week they have a workflow to follow.

Check Asana out here.

Trello for task project management

Trello is a collaborative project management software that is modeled after a Kanban board. You make different columns that represent an overarching project category or status (like to do, doing, done). Under each column you create cards that represent a project. Within each card you can make checklists, upload attachments, and communicate back and forth with your team.

The drag-and-drop system makes it easy to drag cards from one column to another and quickly see the status of any project.

Personally, I use Trello with my content manager to manage my website’s editorial calendar. Not only am I able to quickly pull up a workflow for my weekly blog posts and check my content manager’s progress on projects, but we also communicate exclusively in Trello. That means I don’t have to worry about hundreds of email threads spiraling out of control.

Check Trello out here.

Google Drive for collaborative document sharing

You’ve no doubt heard of Google Drive, which is a free cloud storage account that comes with any Gmail address. Cloud storage is cool and all, but where Google Drive really shines is in it’s collaboration features.

Not only can you share documents or folders with anyone, you can also give them editing or commenting access so you get feedback and can work collaboratively on documents, spreadsheets, and slides without the hassle of sending attachments over email.

Check Google Drive out here.

Toggl for time tracking

If you’re constantly underbilling for your time, you need to level up your time tracking. That’s where Toggl comes in.

Toggl is software that allows you to track your time for unlimited clients and projects. You can start a timer or manually input your time via a mobile app, desktop app, or website. However you use it, Toggl keeps all your time entries organized, and you can run time reports based on a client or project.

One of my clients is a web and print designer who works with up to 10 clients at a time. Between design work, edits, and web updates, keeping track of every small billable task he performs in a day is a daunting. Toggl keeps all of his time tracked and organized so billing is a cinch.

Check Toggl out here.

Appointlet for appointment scheduling

The worst part about setting up a meeting? The 20 emails back and forth trying to figure out a time that works for everyone. Biggest. Time. Suck. Ever. Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.

With Appointlet, you send your clients or colleagues a link to your booking page and let the software do the rest. You can set your business hours, block off time, and integrate your Google Cal or Office 365 to show when you’re busy or free. You can also create multiple appointment types with different names and durations and set different availability for each type of appointment.

Check Appointlet out here.

For leveling up your marketing…

Mailchimp for email marketing

If you’re still BCC’ing all of your customers, it’s time to move over to Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an email marketing software that allows you to create beautiful emails using a drag-and-drop builder and even automate aspects of your email marketing. Plus Mailchimp helps you keep your emails CAN-SPAM compliant, which keeps your customers happy and your business from paying costly penalties.

The free plan comes with 2,000 subscribers and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month.

Check Mailchimp out here.

Buffer for social media scheduling

It’s easy to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. All you have to do is chain yourself to your laptop, sell your soul to the devil, and spend 18 hours a day posting content. Or you can use Buffer and enjoy a Mai Tai on the beach while this social media scheduler publishes posts for you.

All you have to do is load up your content into Buffer’s super slick scheduling page and Buffer takes care of the rest. The free plan lets you post to three social media accounts with 10 scheduled posts per account at any one time.

Check Buffer out here.

Canva for graphic design

Once upon a time graphic design was only for professionals who knew the mysterious secrets of Photoshop. But no more! You can use Canva to create beautiful graphics using a drag-and-drop interface. Canva was made for people with no design experience, which means the entire process is easy and straightforward. Think of it as a stripped-down version of Photoshop with WAY less buttons.

Canva provides a ton of templates for social media and print graphics, so you can just plug in your info and go. The free plan comes with 1GB of storage and access to over 8,000 templates.

Check Canva out here.

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Now you have an arsenal of free tech tools that would make even the most sophisticated robot butler proud. The final step is to start using these tools so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your newfound free time (or keep hustling on the rest of your business).

11 free small business tools pinterest image

Updated: July 8, 2019

Andi Smiles
Andi Smiles Andi is a small business financial consultant and coach who teaches business owners to take control of their finances. She’s helped hundreds of self-employed folx organize and understand their business finances, while also uncovering their emotional relationship with money.

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