Essential Apps for the Budding Entrepreneur
I n 2018, I'm not certain it's even possible to run a business without using a few essential apps. The broad range of functionality that iPhone and iPad apps offer improves a myriad of problems and daily tasks, including automating email, keeping all of your projects organized, building your brand, creating stunning promotional images, sending out invoices, and much more. From the more practical apps that help you with time management and taxes to the creative-but-essential apps that allow you to cultivate your company's presence on the web and across social media, this list will be helpful to budding entrepreneurs across the board. My two personal favorites are Over, for creating promotional photos, and Trello, for staying on top of all the work small business owners need to do.
Every business needs high-quality, stunning images. There are lots of great stock photo memberships out there that you can buy, but the unique thing about Unsplash is that every single photo is completely free to use—in whatever way you want! It's always appreciated when you give credit to the photographer, but there are no royalty fees or copyright infringements— Unsplash is 100 percent free to use. Sound too good to be true? In this rare case, it isn't. Unsplash allows anyone to create a profile (web only, not yet available in-app) and begin sharing photos, which means there are a hell of a lot of photos available and they are truly beautiful, covering more genres than could ever be named in one article. Definitely download the app and check Unsplash out online too.
When it comes to creating promotional materials, whether for social media, email funnels, or your website in general, Over is an incredible tool. I highly recommend using Unsplash to find your background photos and Over to add text, graphics, and pizazz to your marketing materials. Over is available on both the iPhone and iPad, which makes it perfect for both larger projects with a lot of planning and evaluation, as well as the quick image you need to make on the walk from the coffee shop to the train station. For businesses that come to depend on Over, the Pro version of the app is a must-have. With the Pro ver- sion, you have access to all of the graphics and fonts your brand could possibly desire.
For online businesses, a strong opt-in offer that collects emails is a must. Your email list is one of the only audiences you truly own, unlike followers on a social media platform. MailChimp makes it easy to get started with email marketing and automation because it's completely free when you have less than 2,000 subscribers, which is perfect for the entrepreneur who's just starting out. I've used MailChimp on and off for at least four years; it's incredibly easy to use, it seamlessly integrates with the top website platforms (such as Squarespace and Wordpress), and the company consistently adds new features for top-notch email automation and sales funnels.
SEO Edge ($2.99/3 months)
SEO is important. The good news? It's not nearly as difficult as the experts would have you believe. Indeed, I highly recommend reading “SEO is Not Hard” by Austen Allred (published on Medium's website) to help squelch those fears. SEO Edge is an app that allows you to track keywords and competition, similarly to how plenty of people watch the stock market. With SEO Edge, you can create profiles for websites, including your own. Then you can add keywords and see how that website ranks on Google for that keyword. In my mind, the best way to use this app would be to have your own website with the keywords you want to rank for; as well as profiles for the websites you consider close competitors with the same keywords so you can see where they rank and figure out why they may have a better ranking than you (time on page, authority, backlinks, keyword density, etc.). Any SEO software worth its weight will allow you to do something like this too (and much more), but the convenience of being able to track keywords and do SEO research from your iPhone is fantastic.
Trello allows you to take the long list of todos and larger projects swimming around in your brain and file them into designated boards that make it much easier to stay organized and on schedule.
A Trello board is simply a folder for your company or a specific project therein. Once you open the board, you can create several labeled lists of to-dos, reminders, blog post ideas, etc. For each item on a list, you add cards. Each card can have a due date, notes, multiple members working on it, attachments, comments, and more. So not only can an individual use Trello to stay organized, a team of people can use Trello to stay on task while communicating what they need to do, what they're working on, and what they've finished.
QuickBooks Self-Employed ($4.99/month)
For the business that's just sprouting its wings, why not use the most affordable version of QuickBooks: QuickBooks Self-Employed. For only five dollars a month, you can use this app to keep track of both profit and expenses. You can add to each category manually or link the bank accounts you use for your business to the app, which allows you to easily review purchases and either exclude or include each in the expenses and profit categories. You can even create invoices for clients from right within the app and email them the bill. Plus, you can use the app to keep track of business spending and deductions for tax season. Speaking of taxes, for an added seven dollars a month, you can choose the Tax Bundle subscription, which makes it easy to file annual taxes, make year-around payments, and generally be and stay prepared for tax season.
When you work for someone else, you usually have a set schedule you can rely on. You know what hours you're going to work and when your shift is over. But entrepreneurs are known for overworking themselves to the point that it's not actually helping the business. That's why you need HoursTracker. Set your hourly rate and start the clock—track how much you're working and the rate you deserve to be making. This will allow you to see where you need more balance in your life and will also make it clear how much to pay yourself for the month. It may seem obvious to some, but a lot of new business owners have to face the fact that profit and income are different. When you're paying yourself, it's important to treat yourself like an employee, so you're earning what you deserve while also not overpaying yourself and hurting the business. Using HoursTracker is one way to ensure you're treating your employees, your clients, and yourself fairly.
The tricky thing about social media is that (often) we're accustomed to using it for entertainment. It takes a complete shift in our perspective to begin using social media as the business and brand-building tool that it is. Which means, like many other aspects of business, we need to create a strategy, test it out, and make improvements all along the way. UNUM is a free app that makes planning your Instagram feed super easy. Your Instagram needs to tell the story of your brand using color, images, and captions. But posting daily without having a plan is an unsustainable, exhausting way to use social media for business. Plus, planning out your feed will allow you to get a feeling for your own brand. Trust me, planning is your friend! Conner Carey is a writer (creative & SEO), online business consultant, and vision planner. You can schedule a free consultation or join her email list at connercarey.com. She's currently garage-selling all of her stuff to hit the road in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan, and dog, Jodi. Follow their adventures on instagram @georgiatheRV.