January 9, 2023
As a solopreneur, I know the importance of having the best business tools for success. However, when I started my business, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. I was drowning in them, testing them, trials, and the overall cost. It was frustrating and discouraging because that was the time I should spend growing my business. This article is here to help solopreneurs looking for the best business tools.
The problem with having so many subscriptions with different providers is that you (the solopreneur) have to navigate as knowledge bases to learn and resolve issues and deal with as many customer service processes as possible. That’s just crazy. I have better things to do than spend my time managing seven different relationships with different providers, even when they go smoothly, which doesn’t always happen. I once spent three frustrating days trying to resolve a payroll issue with Quickbooks Online. But my biggest problem was that I had key information in silos. Nethunt was my CRM, but I had to open up a browser to access Honeybook to work on a project for a client or view project-specific notes. Two silos where communication with one client existed. Simply insane.
I used at least three studio management tools before landing on Honeybook. But it didn’t take me long to realize how limiting it was because managing client projects is only one aspect of business, so I still needed a long list of other applications to take care of the rest. So I was again on the hunt for a better tool, so I looked at those marketed to photographers. Fortunately, I took a step back and gained some perspective on the situation. I found that I shouldn’t believe the hype. Business tools marketed to solopreneurs claim to do it all but don’t. Once you get under the hood (usually after your trial period ends), some functions are seriously lacking, or you’ll find their workflow doesn’t make sense to you. I had at least ten workaround processes in Honeybook, and the replacements I was testing needed other workarounds.
Mostly, I wanted simplification, unification, and the peace of mind that comes with it. So, I started using Zoho One last year.
What Is It: A business operating system with more than 40 business tools, all under one roof (so information is shared from one app to another), but they are fully developed to stand independently.
I love Zoho One because I get all my business applications under one roof. I don’t know why it’s not rated as one of the best business tools for solopreneurs, but I will put it in that category. Solopreneurs need consistency and the simplification of one subscription more any anyone.
What is it: Evernote is a searchable database of anything you want to remember. Their elephant icon is appropriate because Evernote remembers everything you put in it. And quite unlike my brain, it is easy to retrieve stored information from it!
On the Internet — I have the Evernote extension installed in all the Browsers I use. When something is on a page I want to remember, I click the elephant icon in the toolbar at the top and save it. I can save the whole page, just the primary article on the page, a link to the page, or just a screenshot of a page section. I save shoot inspiration photos, articles, and notes about my business.
On the Go — I lose things. All. The. Time. One of my favorite uses for Evernote is snapping pictures of things I need to remember. Since it goes into Evernote, I will find it (vs. having a photo in your phone). I snap product/price information at the store to the Staples receipt showing a business expense. Whatever I know I’m going to need into Evernote.
Evernote is the virtual assistant I don’t have yet, which makes this application one of the best business tools for solopreneurs.
What is it: It’s marketed as the one app to replace them all, and I almost agree. It can be used as a CRM, project manager, productivity tool, and workflow.
I mostly use the free version for my business documentation, including marketing plans, social media calendars, campaigns, and brand management and development. If it has to do with business building, it’s there. My favorite tools within ClickUp are whiteboard and mind mapping; they allow me to think through workflows and marketing campaigns before implementing them. Just for these two tools, I rank Clickup at the top of the list as one of the best tools for solopreneurs.
What is it: The most widely used video conferencing tool.
When I was a member of Google Workplace, I tried out the Google Meet video conferencing program; however, most of my contacts were already accustomed to Zoom, and they didn’t want to take the time to learn a new tool for my meetings. On the other hand, when I joined meetings hosted by others, I encountered the same problem, having to learn the basics of Zoom. This indicated that it would be best to join everyone using the same program.
What Is It: Canva is a Graphic Design program to help designers and non-designers create professional-quality graphics for social media and beyond.
I love Canva because it makes it easy to design all my on-brand marketing materials and videos for social media. keeping your brand consistent makes Canva one of the best business tools for solopreneurs.
What Is It: Stripe has quickly become the new standard in online payments.
Stripe integrates and works well with client management solutions for almost everything in our business. I don’t use the Stripe interface. Stripe was always listed as any app with payment integration, and Square was not so much. So, I closed my Square account and kept Stripe as my go-to for processing every online payment. Maintaining consistency helps make balancing the financial side of my business easier and gives my clients confidence when investing with me. Payment consistency across many subscriptions makes this one of the best business tools for solopreneurs.
Zoho One is an operating system vs. an app with various functions. It has liberated my time to run my business, and dealing with one company has kept my sanity. It’s one of the best business tools for solopreneurs. They have a trial period if you want to give it a shot. But if this route is not for you, you may consider at least what you want to consolidate this year. Maybe, it’s as simple as having only one payment gateway account versus several, so all your finances are in one place. Or, perhaps you can consolidate various operations under one multi-function app. Limiting your subscriptions will help the overwhelm.
Angela Atelier is a New Jersey-based portrait and personal branding photography studio empowering women everywhere to live their best life. Contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation.