Five Vital Apps For The Self-employed
Starting your own business is daunting enough without having to navigate the paperwork, book keeping and time management. That’s why it makes good organisational and financial sense to recruit some smartphone or tablet apps into your virtual team to support you round the clock. These are the ones I absolutely cannot live without.
Every time a new task management app launches on to the market, I can’t resist having a try but I always come back to Toodledo. Mainly because I’m all about simplicity and this app is the digital equivalent of the good old-fashioned but somewhat cumbersome scribble list on a pad. The free basic version happily synchronises across tablets, smartphones and desktops. For those looking for more sophisticated project management functionality, they’ve launched premium services such as e-mail plug-in and larger memory space. You can organise your tasks into categories and filter or sort by a number of fields e.g. date due, priority or alphabetical order. More recently they have introduced ‘habits’ which help you track daily actions, which really shouldn’t be on your task list, such as exercise, snacking, alcohol intake even tracking how many hours sleep you are getting.
Perfect for those who typically walk around with a notebook to scribble down ideas. For self-employed types it means always having a quick way of recording inspiration and then organising your thoughts into something more tangible later, when you have a calmer moment. You can capture thoughts by typing onto your ‘notepad’ but also scribble or draw on the touchpad plus take photos and audio. This is great if you’re collaborating with teams on projects, you can set up private notebooks and have instant message chats.
Did you know Skype isn’t all about video calling? This can put some people off, as they like to catch up on admin in their jimjams. Just simply switch off the camera mechanism for voice calls. Skype also has instant messaging functionality making it integral to any self-employed persons communication toolkit and it’s free when using over the Internet. For teams, you may want to invest in a messaging tool subscription such as Slack, which allows you to have chat-style discussions with groups but also upload documents and visual media.
There are several time-tracking apps out there but I have found Minutedock the easiest to use. You can time your tasks with a handy stopwatch from your phone or desktop or enter in the time retrospectively (this function is from desktop only). Tasks can be organised by project, so if you offer billable services to clients you can provide a breakdown of your work to accompany the invoice. It would also help anyone running their own business to ensure there is reasonable return on unbillables to clients, e.g. time spent on admin, planning, social media. The best feature is you can generate invoices directly to Quickbooks, saving you hours of your day doing boring admin. Very much worth the monthly £8 price tag.
Social media can be very draining on your time. Yes, it’s vital marketing and lots of fun but are you spending your time productively? What I believe makes Hootsuite the easiest social media scheduling tool is the user-friendly interface for composing messaging, adding media and scheduling the date and time. Plus I find their tabbed layout for viewing your feeds is less cluttered than other platforms e.g. filtering out interactions with columns for retweets and another for mentions. It’s free of charge for two profiles, which when starting out in business is probably enough!
Best of the rest
iMovie for editing YouTube promotional videos. Easier to use as an app on a phone or tablet than the Mac version in my honest opinion.
Facebook Pages – having this on your phone means you can respond to customers ‘on the go’ and manage content. Excellent for your customer service management.
Whatsapp – more and more people are signing up to this app for internet private messaging. You can exchange media and have group chats. There’s a small subscription charge but they don’t sell ad space so you’ll have a commerce-free experience.
Written by Claire Jones-Hughes from BrightonMums.com and a freelance digital content marketer and journalist.
Do you need more Self Employment hints, tips and advice? Take a look at our flexible working advice pages here
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