This post describes the tools I use in my home-based, freelance business. I’m focusing on business software that most solopreneurs or online small business owners will appreciate.
As with any tool, proper care and education is vital. These are software applications and SaaS (software as a service) products. Some require a paid license, but many are absolutely free.
SEE Finance by Scimonoce Software – a Mac-only accounting package that I use as a replacement for Quicken. Tracks all accounts, transactions, and investments and creates reports and helps with taxes. $39.99 per license
Howler Timer – a very simple Mac app for my desktop that lets me use a stopwatch or countdown timer with alarm and even converts units; free or pro version ($1.99). There are many such small apps for Windows or Macintosh; also called “egg timers.”
OfficeTime – “Easy time and expense tracking for Mac, PC, iPad, and iPhone.” I absolutely love this app and have recommended it many times; great customer service, too. $47 for Mac or Windows with a money-back guarantee.
Teamviewer – Remote control any computer over the internet within seconds or use TeamViewer for online meetings. Extremely easy to use and works well between different operating systems; free for personal use and $749 for business.
Splashtop Streamer – “The easiest and fastest way to access your Mac or Windows PC from your tablet, smartphone, or another computer;” free for personal use, $60/year for business.
Password and Account Records
1Password from Agile Bits – I couldn’t get by without this app, seriously. I strongly recommend 1Password* for creating, storing, and using passwords, account data, and notes. Stop using sticky notes and get this app! I use it many times a day to create secure passwords, keep track of accounts (client work, web sites, software, identification, banks, credit cards, medical data, and much more), and log in to sites with one click. Easily syncs with all platforms: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS. Starts at $49.99, with sharing capabilities and bundles available.
Online Chat and Meetings
Skype from Microsoft – I’ve used this free app for many years to chat with other web developers and clients. We also share screens for support and hold group meetings using Skype with audio and video. Skype is also known for their international calling plans. Mac, Windows, Linux, and all major mobile platforms.
Slack – a complete “platform for team communication.” I’m a newbie with Slack but can see where it might replace several other apps I use. Great for chats, collaborations, file-sharing, and much more. Online for Windows, desktop app for Mac, and mobile versions for iOS and Android. Lite version is free; premium plans start at $6.67/user per month.
Document Management and Note-keeping
Evernote – Another absolutely indispensable app for me. Keep track of notes, files, research, and much more using this incredibly useful app. I keep work files, family history info, my to-do list, many recipes, and lots of notes, all tagged and organized exactly the way I want them. Free for all desktop and mobile platforms; premium and business memberships are inexpensive.
Google Drive – For creating, storing, and sharing documents, drawings, spreadsheets, and more using only a web browser. Wonderful for team collaboration. Free for all platforms.
Dropbox – backup, store, and share all types of files remotely. Very simple to use and great for off-site work and collaboration; Free for basic, pro and business plans are inexpensive.
Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) – part of Amazon Web Services, this one “provides developers and IT teams with secure, durable, highly-scalable object storage.” Very inexpensive (you only pay for the space you use) and great for off-site storage of all kinds.
Tex-Edit Plus from Trans-Tex Software – for Macs: “a scriptable, ASCII text editor that fills the gap between a Apple’s bare-bones TextEdit and a full-featured word processor.” Possibly the best $15 I’ve ever spent. [Plus, he’s from Texas.]
Microsoft Word – the ubiquitous king of word processing. Used for business all over the world, and the main app for writers and editors; Track Changes is an excellent editing tool. If you don’t have it, you should. Many purchasing options and bundles.
Apple Pages – a beautiful Mac and iOS alternative to Word, with many design and layout options; if only more writers used it! $19.99 or bundled
VueScan from Hamrick Software – a longtime favorite for scanning and saving documents for Windows, Mac, and Linux, with free mobile versions for iOS and Android; standard ($39.95) and professional ($89.95) editions. I’ve had a license for many years and recommend it to replace the software that came with your scanner.
17hats.com (My affiliate link) – That’s how many hats you wear each day, at a minimum, when you run your own business. This is a great online service that helps me look professional and keep track of my business clients, projects, quotes, invoices and payments, calendar and to-do list, time-tracking, lead capture, and much more. It’s a pleasure to use and has been invaluable to me this year. They offer flexible pricing plans and are very reasonable for a service like this. Additionally, they are working hard to improve their offerings; several new features have been released in the last few months.
Trello – “the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone.” This great SaaS is a terrific (and free) way to organize teams and projects or just to keep track of your everyday to-do list. Based on cards, lists, and boards that act like a virtual bulletin board with sticky notes. Invite collaborators, upload files, make checklists, keep track of clients, add to calendars, and much more. And did I say that it’s free? Web-based with separate apps for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows 8. Premium accounts for individuals, businesses, and enterprises are very inexpensive.
Microsoft PowerPoint – The industry standard for creating and presenting slideshows, PP offers word processing, outlining, drawing, graphing, and presentation management tools. Many purchasing options and bundles.
Keynote – the Mac and iOS alternative to PowerPoint with most of the same capabilities in a prettier package and easier to learn (did you notice I like Mac software?). $19.99
Adobe InDesign – “a professional page layout software for print and digital publishing, built for designers, prepress and production professionals, and print service providers.” A complex and powerful application that has many years of experience behind it. One of Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps, starting at $19.99/month.
Do you use any (or all) of these apps? What tools would you suggest as alternatives? Let me know what you use and how. Thanks for reading!
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