Maybe you’ve read my other post on budget business resources that won’t break the bank. It’s become one of my most popular posts. Why? Because starting a new business is HARD and expensive enough, and it takes time before the money starts rolling in. New business owners need to be budget conscious, especially in the world of solopreneurs and online biz, where it’s usually one person footing the bill for everything or funding their startup from their personal funds. I’m right there with you.
Because it’s so important to conserve money when you start a new business, I want to share 9 more of my favorite budget business resources. These are a few others that I picked up on the way to starting my second business, which is still in the early stages. So yes, I’m still using ALL of these!
Buffer – Social Media Scheduling
I started out in my first business scheduling with Hootsuite, but it was clunky and glitchy for me. Some people love it, but Buffer is cleaner and more intuitive for me. I haven’t had the pleasure of trying CoSchedule or MeetEdgar or any of the other popular ones yet. I’d love to hear what you think, if you’ve tried them out! Free for one of each type of social account, $10 per month for 10 accounts.
Tailwind – Pinterest Scheduling
I’ve tried Boardbooster and Tailwind. Both allow you to schedule pins ahead of time and spread them out throughout the day to make your Pinterest content more visible. Again, Tailwind was just cleaner and a better fit for me than Boardbooster. To each their own. Free trial for up to 100 pins, $15 per month after that.
Giftcard Cafe – Selling Gift Cards Online
For almost a year, I used Fullslate for online scheduling for my massage therapy business. It worked great…until I realized that no matter how I tweaked the settings, it never showed all of my appointment times. So I switched it over to my beloved Calendly, but since I sold gift certificates through Fullslate as well, I had to find an alternative. I am in the testing stage of Giftcard Cafe and so far I like it! Cost is $10 per month.
HelloSign – Electronic Contracts
HelloSign is popular in the virtual assistant world because we send so many contracts, and it’s been a lifesaver since my business started growing. It allows people to sign legally-binding contracts electronically, with their actual signature. Super easy to use! Free for up to 3 contracts per month or $15 per month for unlimited contracts.
Toggl – Clocking Work Hours
Are you a freelancer who works hourly? Toggl allows you to track hours, break clients’ projects into tasks, and create detailed reports. This is the most user-friendly program I’ve found so far for hour tracking. Free for up to 5 team members, $9 per user per month after that.
Trello – Task Management
When I started adding other VA’s to my team, I knew I was going to have to have a way for us to communicate and delegate tasks. I explored Asana, and some people swear by Teamwork, but Trello was the best fit for me. You create “boards” (projects) and break them into “cards” (tasks). It allows you to assign due dates, labels, priorities, and create teams. The best parts? It’s all drag-and-drop AND it’s totally free.
Zoho and Capsule – Customer Relationship Management
I’m new to CRM, but it is absolutely my new favorite thing! What is CRM? Customer Relationship Management is the combination of processes and strategies to manage the “customer lifecycle” in a company. What do you do with new leads? How do you make them into customers? How do you keep them? The goal is to improve and nurture relationships with customers to make their experience better and retain them longer.
There are so many options for CRM that it’s overwhelming! I know of people who use Excel spreadsheets for CRM and others who pay $200+ per month for Infusionsoft. The number of things each program does varies widely as well. Some do task management and email marketing too. Some display your sales pipeline visually or create beautiful reports (my other new favorite thing), integrate with social media, or have bookkeeping features. Seriously, CRM is insane.
But we need budget CRM, yeah? I tried a few, but Zoho and Capsule are my favorite free options. Both manage contacts and leads, tell you where your customers are along the sales pipeline (and how likely you are to close the deal), allow you to add tasks to individual customers and track calls, emails, and follow-ups, and create beautiful charts and reports. Free forever for basic CRM, with paid options and fancy upgrades, should you need more in-depth reporting and functions.
Airtable – Databases
A client recommended Airtable, and I am OBSESSED. Airtable is an easy way to create databases, and can be used for anything from an address book or directory to a CRM program to a task manager. You can view the database in different formats: list, grid, calendar, form, etc. There are premade templates for all kinds of databases, and you can share bases with anyone you invite to view/edit them. The possibilities are endless in Airtable, and I haven’t even explored all the depths of what it can do. Free for up to 1,200 records per database, $12 a month for up to 5,000 per database.
G Suite – EVERYTHING
I am late to the Google party. Seriously, I just started using G Suite (Google Drive, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, etc.) in December. My business is so much more organized since I started keeping it all in one place! My favorite part is that docs and sheets can be saved in Microsoft formats, PDFs, whatever my client needs. I don’t have to use 100 different programs to be compatible with everyone else! Free.
It’s so important to be budget-conscious when you’re starting out, and even as your business matures. I hope this list is helpful, and please let me know in the comments what your favorite budget business resources are!