January is traditionally the time of year when we take stock of where we are and make plans to get where we want to be by this time next year. You have a fresh calendar on your desk, a new envelope for your business receipts, and the will to do it all more efficiently than ever before.
To help you on your way, we’ve pulled together a list of online tools for you and your business. Some are free. Some will cost you a few dollars a month but any or all of them will save you time and aggravation – which equals saving money in the end.
Accounting and Taxes
We all love making money but most of us hate keeping track of it. GoDaddy Bookkeeping is like having your own personal accounting assistant because the software does the work. All you have to do is link up your accounts, teach the software how to categorize your usual expenses and tweak now and then. The software automatically prepares a profit and loss statement each month and delivers an itemized list of expenses for taxes at the end of the year.
The service starts at $8.34 a month.
If you make more than 20 business purchases a month, you should consider signing up for Shoeboxed. Each month, you’ll get a “magic envelope.” Stuff in all those loose receipts, mail it to Shoeboxed and their staff will scan and categorize everything for you. Next year, when tax time rolls around, you’ll have a perfectly organized, digital list of expenses.
The service starts at $9.99 a month. There is a free version but it’s more effort than it’s worth.
If you routinely prepare invoices for clients, Freshbooks has it covered. This online tool makes it easy to prepare and send invoices, track when you’ve been paid and keep an eye on your outstanding balances. It also has a simple time tracker so you can bill for every minute you spend working on a client’s behalf.
The service starts at $9.99 for up to 5 clients.
This free online tool is all you need to create great looking graphics for your website. The workspace is incredibly intuitive and the available options will turn even the most graphically challenged user into a creative genius. If you use it a lot, upgrade to the pro account for $4.99 a month – a real bargain.
This screen capture tool is just what you need to create video tutorials and web-based walkthroughs. When you start the recorder, the tool captures whatever you see on your screen along with your audio narration. The free version lets you record up to 15 minutes at a time but the videos will have a logo watermark. If you do a lot of online tutorials, a pro account (no watermark and more options) is only $15 for the full year.
Social Media and Marketing
This free tool lets you manage most of your social media accounts from one dashboard and is particularly helpful if you have multiple Twitter accounts. The best thing about Hootsuite is that it allows you to pre-schedule your posts so you can sit down for an hour at the start of the week, schedule your posts and you’re done.
Buffer is another free social media scheduler that’s easier to use on the fly but doesn’t have all of the options HootSuite offers. The best thing about Buffer is that you can install a button on your browser so all you have to do is click when you see something you want to share on the internet. Buffer automatically spaces out your posts so you don’t have to worry about overloading your account. What a fast and easy way to keep your accounts active.
If you like to catch up on your incoming social media posts while you’re on the go, you need NutshellMail. This app collects all the updates from all of your social media accounts then sends them to you in one daily email. It’s a super way to keep up with your network without falling into the social media time trap.
This free service attaches to your Gmail account so you can write emails now and sent them later. Best thing about Boomerang is that you can use it to send emails back to yourself as a reminder to do something at a later date.
The list could go on and on because there are so many great online tools for small business owners. Just one caveat – online tools are supposed to lighten your work load not eat up more of your time. So don’t get sucked in with all the shiny new bells and whistles. There’s no sense spending an hour on set up only to find that it’s not the right tool for you in the end.
Do you have a favorite online tool? Tell us about it in the comment section below.