Lindsey Fish, Director of Mums Enterprise Ltd, shares her recommendations for apps that enable a home-based business.
29th December 2016
Three years ago, I launched my business whilst on maternity leave and working from home, 120 miles away from my business partner, there’s no way this would have been possible without technology.
New businesses are often short on budget and time, the use of cheap or free apps can have a lasting impact on your productivity.
Listed below are my top ten tech apps, some of which I’m sure you will have heard off – and some you wont!
1. Google Apps for Business
There are a few other cloud storage options such as Dropbox, but as I use Google for my business email it made sense for me to stay with one provider for what I needed. I recommend you do the same. Google Drive is free for up to 30GB of storage a limit shared across both your Google Drive and Gmail.
I also have Google Drive installed on my desktop so I save everything directly into it as if it were a desktop folder. These folders and documents can be opened directly from my desktop or accessed anywhere from a web browser on any device.
I use Custom Company Email for my company email address. Not only is it very reasonably priced it can also be accessed cheap via Gmail. You get all you would expect from a business email account and it can be accessed anywhere on any device. Of course, you can also set it up as a mailbox on your smart phone for easy access out and about.
I have used and tested various Customer Relationship Management cloud tools, such as Insightly and Hubspot which are both free, but I recently discovered Pipedrive and I must say it is doing me very well so far.
This is very much sales focused so you can create organisations and contacts as well as the usual note keeping, task setting and reminders. But the big thing about this is it’s all about the deals and the sales pipeline. So you set a deal, set them at various stages and you can clearly see your deals on the dashboard to keep on top of them and keep moving them up the pipeline.
This is quite a popular choice for an email marketing tool. It is free to use for up to 2000 contacts in your lists and you can pay-as-you-go when adding further contacts. The bad news is that is you go over 2000 contacts then they charge you from 0 and it can be quite expensive, as in $100 for 5000 credits or a monthly cost of $55 for 5001 – 5200 contacts.
The functionality is easy to use and is a basic drag and drop to help you customise your email templates.
You can’t beat Asana. Asana lets you set a project, set tasks, then set further to-do’s for those tasks and then even further to-do’s for those to-do’s. The best thing about this is it’s totally free!
I have only ever used Webflow for my websites. I just love the modern style, feel and back-end which is simply drag and drop. I am no code master but it was important for me to be able to make my own edits, amends, add text, upload images and do whatever needed to be done.
Webflow is the host for the Mums Enterprise website and again we have been very happy with it. If you have little to no experience, there are plenty of tutorials you can do and it’s pretty easy once you know how.
For only £9.50 a month you can access an account with Adobe document cloud. This for me is very important as we send a lot of booking forms out for Mums Enterprise. Gone are the days of posting and scanning. This app allows you to upload the documents for signing and send direct to your clients for digital signatures. Easy as pie and I find the contracts are often signed much more quickly.
Although it needs no introduction, I have found I am using skype more than ever. Lucy Chaplin, my business partner based from home in Staffordshire, and I work from home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. Skype is vital part of our daily communication
I used to use Hootsuite to manage our Social Media accounts but as we frequently use Twitter I have found Social Jukebox to be just what we need.
Users upload their tweets as an when, jukebox then shares them so you don’t need to live post all the time, and it repeats so whatever is in your jukebox gets used. You can link various accounts but we use it mainly for Twitter.
Numbers are like puzzles to me and it has taken me a good while to get to grips with what is essential when running and managing a business. What made it easier for me was when I started to use Xero. I only pay £12.99 a month but there is a free trial so you can decide if it’s for you.
The main thing for me is the dashboard and usability. Having a simple, clear and easy to use system is key.
As a small business I have to work across all ‘departments’ from HR to Accounting to PR and Marketing. It’s great that there are apps available to help shoulder the burden, freeing up time to focus on other elements of the business.
Canva is a fantastic web tool which allows you to create images to social media templates or a custom size of your choice. I am very lucky as my business partner Lucy is a graphic designer so she manages our brand and design. But there are times where I need to do the odd edit and this free online tool has been great.