Some links to the digital tools in this post are affiliate links*
I’m sitting at a busy coffee shop in Stockholm writing this post. Soon I’ll be wrapping up my first year as a small business owner (woop woop!). I love my new life, being part of the gig economy suits me and my skill set very well.
There are a lot of things you don’t know when you start a small business, even if you (like me) have a degree in business. But it’s not running the company that is complicated. It’s putting all the small things together: making sure you market yourself, sell your services, manage projects and communicate with clients, to be able to invoice and get paid finally.
But in 2018, running a one women business can be very simple. I have multiple digital tools assisting me on a daily basis, and I often feel like it’s like having a handful of employees keeping track of all the things I find a bit boring.
Here are five of the tools in my stack:
1. Cushion – To manage my project
Cushion helps me manage planning and managing the projects I work in over time. Do I have enough work or too much? I can keep track of the whole process, from vaguely discussing with a potential client, to sending the invoice. I’m also able to keep good track of my yearly goals, making sure I’ll be able to eat and pay rent all year.
Made by freelancers, Cushion is super simple to work with, and it keeps getting new features. I’ve recently started to track my time directly in the tool, and next year I’m planning to let Cushion keep track of my expenses.
2. Slack – To communicate with clients
Being an independent consultant, I need to be able to get back to clients quickly. E-mail is fine for more structured communication, but often I just need to nudge clients in the right direction during their workdays. Slack is the perfect way to be close by but not actively involved in everything.
Being directly in my client’s Slack channels leverage the work I do for them by making sure it gets implemented. And I can be around most of the time for all my clients at once.
It’s so convenient that usually, the time I spend lurking around in Slack is not something I actively charge my clients for. It just a bonus perk to make sure they get maximum value out of the projects we’re working on.
3. Grammarly – To proofread everything I write
6 or 7 years ago I decided to do most of my external communication in English. This decision is one of the best I’ve ever made. My English wasn’t bad before this, but naturally, it’s improved a lot over time. I can still see my vocabulary improving month by month.
Participating in an international business context demands the skill to communicate fluently in English, and this need will only increase. My English will never get perfect, but I’m planning on getting pretty close.
One of the tools I use on a daily basis, to get feedback on my writing, is Grammarly. I use it both on my laptop and as an Android keyboard on my phone. The number of errors in my daily writing has decreased exponentially over time working with Grammarly.
4. CoSchedule* – To keep track of my marketing
Since I prefer to spend time on working with my clients instead of working on my marketing, I’ve tried to find ways to simplify those efforts. I try to write blog posts and social media updates regularly and make sure to distribute the content where I believe there’s an interest in the knowledge I share.
I use LinkedIn on a daily basis, and I use MailChimp to do weekly newsletters. Additionally, I use Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram a couple of times a week. All these activities are possible to plan, create and publish in CoSchedule’s* content calendar.
They also give me the possibility to automatically share all my evergreen content when their algorithms feel like it’s a good idea to post something. Pretty convenient, and it saves me a lot of time.
5. 1Password – To securely guard my clients’ passwords
1Password might feel like an outsider on the list. But working as an independent digital marketing consultant I have access to a lot of client passwords that I need to keep safe. I could never do that without a password
In 1Password I can keep all my client’s passwords in different vaults, and when a project is over, I can delete everything with a click.
I often try to get my clients to start working with 1Password themselves; it would significantly improve their security by making sure all their passwords are secure – and different for each service. Also, you can easily add and remove people to make sure your passwords are not on the loose, floating around aimlessly in cyberspace.