Business tools

As a small business, I don't have a staff of marketing gurus, graphic designers, accountants, or administrative assistants to keep me going. Just me, myself, and I. And the computer. There are so many helpful online programs that help me manage my workload and business and I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you!

1. Project Management: I've just recently started using Basecamp for a collaborative project and I am in love! My partner and I use it to share ideas, share documents, create to-do lists and assign tasks, discuss topics (without having to save 8 million emails), and we haven't implemented the calendar piece yet but I can't wait! It's perhaps overkill for my daily work, but when I'm having to coordinate with someone else, it's a lifesaver. I haven't committed to an iPhone app for this yet but I have one that I'm testing out.

2. Productivity: AKA my to-do lists. Sometimes I revert back to pen and paper, but I've been using Remember the Milk occasionally and TeuxDeux recently. Remember the Milk is great for setting up recurring tasks (like backing up my site, or posting an online ad weekly) and TeuxDeux is better for me for dumping tasks into a week but not losing anything (any unfinished tasks bump to the next day so they're there waiting for you). Both have iPhone apps that come in handy too!

3. Email: I use Gmail for my personal and business email, which I like because I only have one place to check. Gmail checks my business account every half hour automatically and I can reply with that email address (and not mix them up too much, except if I forget when I'm on my phone to change the account). I can also set up each email address with a different signature at the bottom. And I use Google Chat to send Ryan dining chair ideas in the middle of the day (which he LOVES, let me tell you).

4. Mass Email: For my email newsletter, I use MailChimp and have never been disappointed! They have amazing customer service, and for a little business with a relatively petite mailing list, it's free. Can't beat that! They have lots of templates that I can just plop my own images and text into (I had my graphic designer make logo images in sizes that worked well for it - btw, try my friend Deanna if you need help with graphics!). It handles my list subscriptions seamlessly.

5. Website: I use Wordpress for my site and I love it because my website and blog are all one piece - no logging into one thing to blog and another to manage my business pages. Since I'm self-hosted I use and can manipulate the site however I choose. My site is built with a theme purchased on Theme Forest, and then I was able to customize it mostly by myself.

6. Website #2: I recently have been playing with SquareSpace and love it! I happen to have a lot of fun tweaking websites and learning how to customize things, so it's kind of brilliant for me (but someone who just wants it to look good NOW wouldn't like it). You just move different elements around and see changes in real-time, and no FTP files or anything else "extra" to fuss with. Seriously considering using it for a project and recommend signing up for a trial and playing around.


So those are my much relied-upon sites that help me keep my business afloat. Any recommendations from other business owners?