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You Are a Small Business, Like It Or Not! 4 Tools Under $20 a Month + A Chance to Win

Struggling with the terminology for your title: freelancer, boutique agency, entrepreneur, solopreneur, web designer, web developer, girl just trying to put food in her fridge?

If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume you are earning money by providing web design / development for clients and regardless of the spin you put on it in the proverbial elevator speech – you are a Small Business Owner.

That sounds like a lot of responsibility doesn’t it?  You are included in those stats on the news and legislation actually has an effect on you!

This week in the United States is National Small Business Week, sorry, I should have been ahead of the curve here, it ends on May 5th.  Throughout the States you will find events geared toward the Small Business Owner. For a full list of events, bus tours, networking, please visit SmallBizTrends.com.  On that list you will see Discounts on Dell Computers, Microsoft events, webinars by the IRS and Google, and loads more.

I know many of you enjoy attending webinars and the US Small Business Association has a great line up of virtual meetings, which you can read about here.

We have talked about this before, but it bears repeating, just because your kitchen table doubles as your business Headquarters, does not mean that you can’t look / act professional.

Here’s the upside to presenting yourself in a professional way: you garner greater respect from clients, you can charge more for your services, people actually pay your invoice!

To that end, I am going to share a few things that are worth the investment.  Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that I understand pulling money out of the coffers to pay for things other than your paycheck can be a mental hurdle.

You need to consider:

  • Will X Y or Z save me enough time to justify the expense.
  • Will X Y or Z help me make MORE money.

If the answer to either of those is yes, then go for it.  And honestly, you may think, oh such and such task only takes me an hour, or 10 minutes, but does it really?  If you can automate it, set and forget, think of the cumulative time savings.

Many small business owners say, you don’t own the business, the business owns you.  Which is probably why so many small businesses don’t stay in business, it is EXHAUSTING.

Some tools I think are worth the investment and none of them will cost you more than $20 a month:

  • Quickbooks Online – note that is a referral link which will give you a discount + a $50 gift card. Depending upon the level of the service you choose you can send invoices, manage finances, send proposals for new projects, and / or set up your account to receive credit card payments from clients.   Super helpful, you can provide your accountant a login so at the end of the year she can access all the info needed to prepare your taxes. Cost begins at $5 a month and scale up to $25, choose a plan that is right for you.
  • 17Hats – that link will give you a 10% off discount on the price.  The Annual Plan rounds out to be under $17 a month. 17Hats is a workflow management system which allows you to send proposals, manage tasks, invoice and pretty much manage anything you do to run your small business (hence execute any of the tasks you put a hat on to manage as a small business owner, see more about 17Hats here).
  • Moo Cards – this link will give you 20% off your first order.  I used to think that business cards were superfluous, we are digital, who needs paper?  Turns out I do.  The reality is meeting people in real life is a perfect opportunity to make new business connections.  Everyone needs a website! Maybe you meet a massage therapist at the park or perhaps a dentist at the gym, make it easy for them to remember you by handing them a Moo Card. Andrew and I had Mini Cards made when we went to WordCamp a while ago, and I customized the cards to have pictures of various products.  I then said to people, “which card do you want”, it was a conversation piece.  Note: The price for Mini Cards start at 100 for $20, seriously affordable.
  • LastPass or some other way to save passwords.  $2 a month, will save you a huge amount of time searching for passwords and resetting them!

Chance to WIN

Readers here know that Andrew and I really like to give away as much as we can (hence all the blog posts, the Facebook Group, the Free Child Theme Maker, etc).  Today we want to give one of you a complimentary Layouts Cloud Plugin + an Annual Membership.  Simply leave a comment and by Friday afternoon we will pick a Winnah Winnah Chicken Dinnah and post it in the Facebook Group.

Also, if you have a tool that you rely upon as a Small Business Owner, even if it is over $20 a month, will you share it in the comments?

Photo by Mathieu Turle on Unsplash

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EMP Author is our generic name for contributors on this blog that are no longer associated with the company but have added content in the past and the content is seen as valuable.

37 Comments

  1. Ken Louie

    Skillshare and Udemy to learn new skills.

  2. Donna Graham

    Definitely agree that LastPass is great value and saves so much time when logging in. I have it set up with fingerprint scanner on my laptop so one swipe logs me into anything.

    I use Dubsado as alternative to 17Hats, it does everything – contracts, proposals, workflows, invoicing and is seriously the best customer service I have ever had from any company! If you want to check them out use my code and you can save 20%: https://www.dubsado.com?c=doodlebug

  3. Nicole Etolen

    I use an insane amount of tools, lol. If you’re a blogger, I highly recommend Tailwind for Pinterest. If you pay annually, it’s less than $20 a month and it makes scheduling pins a breeze. PicMonkey is another favorite, I think it’s about $5 a month now. I also use Google Docs to create editorial calendars, Missinglettr for scheduling social media (I used to use CoSchedule, but they’ve gotten a bit pricey and the cheap plan is so limited), and a ton of other ones that I’m forgetting about right now.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. Bryson Shepard

    LastPass is the best i have tried out so far, and very inexpensive!

  5. JEFFREY COCKS

    Promising tools! Going to be looking at 17 Hats (and hope I win the contest!) 🙂

  6. Kiran Kumar

    Thnx for sharing hope to see more tools used by community.

    Quickbooks
    Slack
    Google Apps
    WHMCS
    and DIVI

  7. Carrie Wilson

    Two chrome extensions that I find really useful for productivity: RescueTime for automated time tracking and Toby for tab management.

  8. Natalie

    It’s so true that good tools can help tremendously. I use Asana for tasks and projects and Dubsado for my client management (just started but loving it). And I am looking into Divi Cloud to see if that takes my business to the next step!

  9. paul newbery

    Obviously Divi, but I also use Pinegrow 4.0 alongside Atom for static website, and Dropbox has saved my life a few times

  10. Abdul Rahim

    Very Nice Read and i simply love LastPass.

  11. Christine

    Lastpass saves me so much time and headache!!!

    Thank you for your generosity with USEFUL information, not to mention discounts and giveaways. I love what you do for the Divi Community.

      • Christine

        Hi Eileen – I think I won the chicken dinner? I hadn’t heard from you guys yet (altho possible that the email came and I missed it). Just checking in. Thank You!!

  12. Gillian Corker

    I love Dubsado, but I think I’d be lost without my Spotify membership….

  13. Amanda Graham

    Awesome post guys and girls

    As a freelancer I love free programs but love to support businesses the make amazing products like Divi.

    Dashlane (Like lastpass)
    – andco. (now free)
    – ManageWP

  14. Cathy

    Another vote here for Divi, LastPass and GSuite! Also I am absolutely loving Dubsado at the moment … the name doesn’t really give away what it does, but it’s one of THE best CRM’s I’ve come across.

    It does everything from lead capture, to quotes, invoices, contracts, basic accounting, questionnaires, time tracking, workflows /automation, project management and client portals.

    You can white label it, embed forms into your Divi site, have multiple brands, connect it with QuickBooks … soooo many things!

    It’s $25/mth but very much worth the investment – especially given you will be able to use it in place of multiple other pieces of software. AND if you use my affiliate code, you’ll get 20% off, which brings Dubsado in right on $20! (https://www.dubsado.com/?c=cathywhite) 😉

  15. Stephanie

    This is totally a non-essential, but my $4.99 Pandora subscription saves my life! My ADD brain needs music to focus, and those commercials used to drive me nuts! haha

    • Eileen Lonergan

      For me it’s Spotify! I thought about including the extra fun expenses, maybe that is next! Or maybe I should do a post on work playlists, Stephanie you could be the EMP House DJ.

  16. Andrew Ang

    Oh wow.. I haven’t used any of the tools in the list.. 😀

    I think Lastpass may come in handy.. I save all my password in my browser.. and if I lose my laptop, I’m a goner.. Thanks for sharing Eileen! 🙂

  17. David Farr

    I’ve been using Roboform for over a decade and absolutely love it. I also enjoy ActiveWords for PCs that allows for quick text substitution when typing on my keyboard. And of course Evernote!

    • Eileen Lonergan

      I don’t know about Roboform or ActiveWords, will have a look. And yes, I agree, Evernote is great.

    • Nicole Etolen

      Oh wow, that still exists? That was my favorite years ago, but over the years I forgot about it. Is it still as good as it was in the late 90s? LOL

  18. Josh Collier

    Never heard of Last Pass that seems like it would definitely make things easier. Definitely will take a look at it thanks for the great article!

    • Eileen Lonergan

      The other popular choice is DashLane, but I use LastPass, so figured that would be the best to share.

  19. Nelson

    It looks like Quickbooks goes up to $50, not $25, correct? I am considering that or Xero.

      • Nelson

        Correct, I just always look past the 3 month offers, because we all know how quickly that goes by.

  20. heather saker

    thank you DIVI !

  21. Tiago

    Awesome post, thank you for the discounts! (by the way, is it here where we should comment for a chance to win?) xx

  22. Shay

    G Suite (formerly Google Apps) is at the top of my tool list. I don’t know how folks live without it! Aside from having Gmail for business, you also can get a phone number with text & voicemail that works from within email and on any mobile device with a free app. For $5 – $10 USD a month, it is well worth it.

    • Eileen Lonergan

      I also use Google Apps and it is super helpful. Actually, such a part of my daily life, I don’t even think about it! Good contribution, thank you Shay.

    • Nelson

      Shay, you mean Google Voice? If so, I had no idea! I was wondering what I should do about a business phone number.

  23. nora

    Nice set of tools, Eileen. Another good one is Harvest. I pay $12 a month and it is great for time tracking and invoicing. It even integrates with my payment processor, Stripe, as well as many other payment processors. It’s a tool I use EVERY day to keep me on budget with projects, and to let me know exactly how much time is spent on each one, when I go to invoice a job. Even for flat fee jobs, it helps me to see exactly how much time was put into them, so I can adjust my next project (that is similar) and make sure I charge enough. So valuable, IMHO.

    • Eileen Lonergan

      I don’t know about Harvest, thank you for sharing. Finances are so important to your business that it is important to make sure you have a platform that fits your needs!

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