It’s National Small Business Week! We’re celebrating by compiling our very best tips and tricks for small business owners — both those who are just entering the business arena and those who have already gone a few rounds.
As you probably well know, many small businesses start out as a one-person show. And that one person is required to wear quite a few hats as they prepare to grow their business. Juggling multiple clients, multiple projects, and multiple streams of revenue is all in a day’s work for a freelancing entrepreneur.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. On the contrary, figuring everything out on your own can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, despite your solitary status within the workforce, you’re not alone. Today’s technology is making it easier than ever for freelancers, and those brave enough to navigate the turbulent waters of the gig economy, to make a living.
So if you want to see success (and a steady income), these are 5 apps you shouldn’t stay home without.
For fast, secure, and legally binding eSignatures …
With HelloSign, you can create, send, and sign binding contracts in a matter of minutes. Cut down your document turnaround time and get to work (not to mention, get paid) faster!
HelloSign integrates with Gmail (along with many other of your favorite apps), so you can send, fill out, and sign documents without ever leaving your inbox. All signed documents are automatically backed up to your HelloSign account, so you’ll never have to go searching for a lost contract. Ask your clients to sign in person (straight from your mobile device), or on the go (straight from theirs); you’ll be alerted anytime your client reviews or signs a document.
Worried about loopholes? HelloSign eSignatures are legally binding and available in 17 file formats — each document leaves a paperless paper trail which protects you from pesky audits and serves as undeniable proof that your contract was reviewed and signed by the correct party. Bank-level security combined with two-factor authentication means you can rest assured that your sensitive documents are safe and secure from unwanted, prying eyes.
Best of all, HelloSign features an easy, open API, so you can build eSignatures right into your website or app. Ready to get signing? Get started with HelloSign for free or visit the pricing page to pick the package that works best for you.
For easy, organized, and simple project management …
Trello is the 21st century version of a cork board filled with sticky notes. It’s a project management tool that adapts to your projects, your clients, and your workflow. Here’s how it works:
Trello starts with a board — you can create private board just for you, or share a board with your team or client. Each board contains customizable lists, things like “To Do” or “In Progress.” And each list contains cards. The cards, much like virtual sticky notes, can be dragged and dropped from list to list as the project progresses.
However, unlike sticky notes, Trello cards can do much more. They can be given a due date or assigned to a specific person. They can be tagged with multiple labels and followed by a team. They can hold attachments, task lists, and comments — and they’re updated in real-time across all of your devices.
“Ditch the sticky notes, spreadsheets, email, and clunky software for managing your projects and become one of the millions of people to fall in love with Trello.”
*Psst! Trello and Ultimello go together like peanut butter and jelly. Use the Ultimello Chrome app to sort your lists, connect your cards, and easily keep track of how many cards are in each list.
For invoicing and expense management peace of mind …
Try QuickBooks Self-Employed
Powered by Intuit, QuickBooks Self-Employed helps freelancers manage their finances and other income needs, through essential tools like fast and accurate invoices and automatic mileage tracking.
Let’s face it, freelancing can be scary. You never know when your next “paycheck” will be coming in … or what it will look like. With QuickBooks Self-Employed, you’ll always know exactly what you’re owed and when that invoice is due. Select the QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle and enjoy additional features like automatic quarterly tax estimates and easy filing through TurboTax Self-Employed. Take the mystery out of knowing how much you’re getting paid and what you’re responsible for sending Uncle Sam.
QuickBooks Self-Employed offers all sorts of benefits to users, including increased deductions (with the help of all those recorded miles) and a running total of expenses and invoices. Plus, you’ll be more organized than ever, when you store and save your receipts straight to the app. QuickBooks Self-Employed can even sort your receipts automatically, so you don’t have to, making tax season infinitely more manageable.
Take the financial stress out of freelancing with QuickBooks Self-Employed. Sign up for just $10 a month!
For accessible, simple, and safe file sharing …
Dropbox lives in the cloud, so your important files are always safe and available whenever and wherever you are. If (knock on wood) your computer crashes, have no fear, your files (and, in turn, your work) are still secure.
Even better than that, Dropbox makes it safe and simple to share your files with your clients. Emailing huge files is a thing of the past; it’s slow, it’s insecure, and it’s got a good chance of ending up in their junk mail box before it ever reaches their outstretched hands. The result is irritated clients, longer wait times, and confusion on either end. With Dropbox, you can share folders, files, and photos instantly and easily from your desktop computer or mobile device.
Ready to get the drop on Dropbox? Get 2GB of file storage for free. Need more space? Refer friends to Dropbox and earn more data or upgrade to the PRO plan for as little as $8 a month (when you pay annually).
For accurate time tracking, expense tracking, and invoicing …
As a freelancer, time is your most precious commodity — it’s how you bill your clients, how you get paid, and how you determine whether or not you can take on more projects. Shouldn’t you be tracking it accurately?
With TSheets, tracking time against specific clients or job codes is as easy as the click of a button from your desktop computer or mobile device. Track time anytime, anywhere, and rest assured that you’re billing your clients for every second of time worked. TSheets leaves a paperless paper trail for audit protection and invoicing ease — and freelancers who use TSheets bill up to 20 percent more!
But that’s not all. Thanks to TSheets’ many seamless integrations, tracking expenses, creating invoices, and billing clients is as easy as selecting your favorite payroll or accounting software and clicking “Sync now.”
Best of all, TSheets is free for freelancers (up to 5 projects), try it now!
What apps could you not stay home without? Let us know!
While you’re at it, check out the 10 best (can’t live without ‘em) web apps for small businesses.
“These apps are total lifesavers.”
-Small Business Owners Everywhere