Before I tell you my favorite business tools, you should know that I am a stereotypical “mom friend” to a tee. The first thing I did when I got my first car was create a mini emergency car toolkit. Chapstick, lotion, hair ties, hand sanitizer, bandaids, and obviously a snack.
The point is that I love being prepared and I would be nothing without my tools.
In the nearly 3 years I’ve been running my business, I’ve curated an indispensable list of must-have business tools that I’m sharing with you today.
Essential Business Tools for Solopreneurs
For Graphic Design – Canva Pro
Before I even knew what exactly my business would be, Canva Pro was the first business tool I spent money on.
You can definitely get far with the free version of Canva, but as a Pinterest manager, Canva Pro is just so much better. Unlocking the giant library of pro fonts, elements, and stock photos made creating content for myself and my clients ridiculously easy.
I probably use Canva every day for one thing or another, so it’s definitely worth it.
For Client Management – Honeybook
If you work with clients or deal with any sort of invoicing and contract signing, it just makes sense to use a CRM (customer relations management) system. Honeybook combines the functions of so many different tools in one – scheduling, contact forms, proposals, contracts, invoices, questionnaires, etc.
There’s lots of debate on whether Honeybook or Dubsado is the better CRM, but for beginner business owners, I’d recommend Honeybook simply because it’s easier to learn at the start.
In fact, I tried Dubsado first using their free trial, but switched to Honeybook in early 2021 and haven’t looked back.
On pricing: Dubsado is actually cheaper than Honeybook in the long run, but you can try Honeybook for $1/month for 6 months with this link!
For Email Marketing – Flodesk
Not every online business owner needs an email marketing platform, technically. I was in business for 6 months before I started using Flodesk, and it was probably a few more months until I actually started taking my email marketing seriously.
That being said, Flodesk is now an absolute essential in my business. I use it for everything from running waitlists and delivering freebies to sending my weekly newsletter, The Thursday Press.
It’s a great, user-friendly option for email marketing, especially if you care a lot about the design aspect of your emails. I joined during their beta pricing for $19/month. Although that’s no longer in place, you can get that same price for your first year with the code ‘SARAHB’ (or just use this link!)
For Project Management – ClickUp
I think I’ve tried nearly every project management tool in existence. Trello, Asana, Basecamp, Notion… and I landed on ClickUp. I’m not going to tell you that you have to use ClickUp, because honestly it’s SO personal.
You just have to pick one and actually use it. I mostly use ClickUp to organize all of my client tasks, as well as internal to-dos. It might not seem necessary when you first start your business because there’s not that much going on.
When I only had two clients, sure, I could keep that all in my head. But as my business grew, things started falling through the cracks. Inquiries went unresponded to, meetings and deadlines were missed.
I’m not proud of that, but I am proud of the systems I’ve set up to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Every task that comes to mind, whether part of my client workflow or not goes into ClickUp.
Now all I have to do at the start of my day is open up my ClickUp dashboard and my to-do list is already created for me, no extra processing power needed.
The free version of ClickUp is also totally sufficient for a solopreneur!
For Pinterest Scheduling – Tailwind
One of my favorite parts of Pinterest is that I can batch my work and schedule it out for months. I don’t usually go that far in advance, but I could if I wanted to because my clients use Tailwind.
If you’re not familiar, Tailwind is a marketing automation software, but most people know it as the go-to Pinterest scheduler. It has a ton of Pinterest-specific features that edges it out over other third-party schedulers in my mind.
Whether you’re a Pinterest manager yourself or just trying to save time while DIYing your Pinterest, Tailwind is a must-have.
Nice-to-Have Business Tools
There are a lot of other tools, resources, and apps I use to run my online business, but I wouldn’t consider them as essential as the five above. The tools I share next are just as important to my business, but are either recent additions or just nice to have, like the whipped cream on top of the business necessities sundae.
Loom is a screen and video recording app that I love using with my clients! It makes it super easy to simultaneously record your screen and your camera with a little inset video. I love that you can trim and split clips after you record without using a separate editing tool.
You can record up to 5 minutes on the free plan, but I upgraded to start offering my Pinterest account audits. You can also use Loom to record course modules, tutorials for clients, or even SOPs for your team.
Airtable was a more recent addition to my online business toolkit, but I absolutely love it. This database-spreadsheet hybrid is perfect for keeping track of my client’s content and monthly pins. I used to use Google Sheets, and it’s a perfect (and free) option.
What sets Airtable apart for me is the ability to link between tables and the ease of sorting and filtering without needing to have advanced spreadsheet skills. Honestly, I don’t even use most of its capabilities, but it’s an essential part of my workflow.
Zapier is honestly my favorite tool I use in my business. I used to be skeptical of any sort of automations but once I started, I was a quick convert. I mostly use Zapier to connect Honeybook and ClickUp.
For example, every time I get an inquiry in Honeybook, Zapier automatically creates a task for me in ClickUp, assigns the task to me, and sets a due date. And when a new client books, Zapier creates a new task list from my ClickUp template, without me ever having to open ClickUp.
It feels like a next level hack, especially for business owners with ADHD, like me.
When I decided not to go into the corporate marketing world, I thought I’d left Slack in the past. But after using it for a group coaching program I was part of, I switched all my client communications there. Our inboxes are full enough, so Slack makes it easier to send a quick request or update.
Most of these tools are pretty standard, I’ll admit. But I hope that sharing my experience with them will help you decide whether or not that particular tool is right for you!
If you’re into lists, recommendations, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at what keeps my business in business, I have an entire page dedicated just to that.
I’m always down to chat about whether or not something is truly “worth it.” Feel free to slide into my DMs on Instagram or send me an email to hear more about my opinions on any of these. Or better yet, if you have a suggestion of something to try, I’d love to hear about it!