8 apps that help my small business …and keep me sane!
I have been thinking a lot about how to use my time efficiently this year as a blogger and as a small business and so I have been considering what makes my life easier…and I couldn’t help but focus on my phone! So, I thought I would share with you eight apps that have made such a difference to how I run my business and many of them help with content creation too!
Pages Manager – trying to make Facebook marketing a little easier
Facebook likes to wind me up (!) and the constant changing of their Facebook app and what you can and can’t do on it is as a business owner (and Page admin) is a real frustration…especially now they have removed the scheduling functionality for posts from the main app. Thankfully, you can still schedule through the Pages Manager app and you also have easy access to your business page Messenger inbox which has made life a lot easier. Using this app also really helps with reducing the chance of me getting totally distracted! If I go in to the Facebook app, I end up looking at all my notifications and get sucked in to looking at my newsfeed. At least in the Page Managers app, I can only look at the pages I own or manage and I can see only relevant notifications for those pages, which really helps with ensuring I answer questions and respond to comments. My only annoyance is that to see posts I’ve scheduled through Pages Manager I have to go back to the Facebook app (or log-in through the internet) to see them…go figure?!?!?
Buffer – get scheduling
There are lots of different scheduling apps and software, I know, but I do find Buffer super simple and easy for what I need. It certainly has some limitations, like you can’t tag for LinkedIn or Instagram posts and you can post multiple pictures but the “reminder and cut and paste feature” sort of makes up for this. Without Buffer, I certainly wouldn’t be so active across as many platforms and I am a big believer in consistency of content production for my clients. Hence, an app like Buffer (which I can also use through my internet browser on a desktop as well as on my phone) allows me to effectively work one day a week for a client but make their content appear daily…or even more often. Having the app on my phone also allows me to quickly schedule something in should something relevant arise and post at an optimum time of day. Perfect!
Starling App – easy business banking
This banking app has genuinely changed my life. I have a business account with Starling now, but before I was with a more traditional high street building society and even though they had an app I would have to check my bank regularly to see if an invoice has been paid. Doesn’t sound like much but its so annoying when you are expecting payment and have to keep checking in, only to find the money has still not arrived. However, with Starling you get a notification when money arrives (and is taken out!), so no wasteful logging in and checking. Furthermore, it has an excellent notes and attachment functionality. I can take photos of receipts and make notes regarding invoice numbers or write reminders of what I spent or received and why. Great for the tax return!
It also have ‘Spaces’ which are virtual savings accounts which you can set targets for and set up regular payments in to (as well as lump sums) which holds your ‘savings’ separately, but without having to open a different savings account. The money is taken off the total shown, so you don’t spend it! It is really easy to add the money back to be used when necessary too. The whole process of opening the accounts was super easy and I just find it brilliant to use…also, it is UK based and run by a woman – bonus!
Headspace – a bit of mindfulness
Everyone suffers with a bit of stress from a busy schedule and I often find it quite hard to switch off at night. Without a good night’s sleep and a bit of downtime, I really struggle to create good content as I need all the ‘brain power’ and ‘focus’ I can get!
I highly recommend the Headspace app. You can pay but there are also some basic mindfulness and relaxation exercises you can use for free. Having something like this on your phone makes 10 minutes of meditation so easy and I have found it has really helped me focus when everything just seems too busy. My favourite tip so far is that rather than trying to make your mind blank, acknowledge each thing that is whizzing around in your brain and ‘pop it in a car’, and then let the “traffic” just go by in front of you. You are not worrying about it or trying to stop it, just letting it pass by. I have found this visualisation really help when the ‘to-do list’ and client enquiries is getting a little overwhelming.
WordPress – blog anywhere
My website is WordPress hosted and so having the app has been such a bonus. I can draft posts anywhere; I can correct typos in my blog posts on the go; and I can respond to comments and check stats, whilst having a coffee. It really has made regular blogging much easier. Although I often like to write a blog on my laptop, having the chance to proofread it via the app has make it a breeze. …as well as correcting the odd typo I may have missed!!!
Notes – to do list essentials
You HAVE to have a notes app on your phone if you run a small business – whether it is to keep a ‘to-do list’, blog topic ideas, interesting links, leads, etc., etc. There is nothing like having somewhere to store your thoughts whenever they pop in your head. My Samsung one has a little ‘tick’ facility, which means once I have completed a task or something on my To Do list, it is still there but has a little strike-through through it (which is rather satisfying!), but also a great safeguard. If you delete something from a list then it is gone…but with the ‘tick’, then if something needs to be ‘undone’ then it is still there, at the click of a button. Simple!
Canva – design tool bliss
If you haven’t heard of Canva then go and discover it today! The desktop and app versions are brilliant and essential if you are creating regular social media content. You can even create animated posts now and I just think the free version is incredible functionality…for FREE! I am not a designer at all…but I believe it really has helped me to create great eye-catching designs and has been incredibly helpful for keeping me ‘on brand’ as I use similar templates, colours, logo positions etc., simply by copying, editing and reusing designs.
Tesco – online and home delivery food shopping
This might be a funny one for a small business…but without it my family wouldn’t get fed! Ooops! Home delivery food shopping has changed my life! I love that once my order is placed I can easily just add things as I go and have shopping regularly delivered at times convenient to me. As a small business owner and freelancer, I don’t have very regular hours. I work with clients, have meetings and take phone calls at different times each week. Furthermore, being home-based quite a lot, I don’t drive past a supermarket on my way to or from work (or anywhere!) on a regular basis, so the thought of making a special trip just for food shopping was such a drag. Like any online shopping, it is also just brilliant when you run out of supplies like paper or pens (or emergency snacks!) and know they’ll arrive with the ‘Tesco man’ (as my kids affectionately call him), as planned!
Make your life easier
I am all about going with the flow this year and doing everything I can to make my life a little bit easier. These apps might not all be perfect for you but look around and see what is out there. What is something that keeps nagging at you or holding you back in your business? What is more time-consuming than it should be? Whatever it is …ask someone and I bet they’ll say “there’s an app for that!”