Top tools for small business owners


Lately, aside from the general global weirdness, there has been a lot of change going on here at Write It! Lots of growth. Lots of thinking. Lots of research. Now that I’ve earned my novice stripes, and work is starting to flow, I’m starting to go through the process of finding the right tools to help my business grow and thrive. Many of you will be experiencing the same thing – you’ve set up and achieved the basics… where-to next?

Scalability is such an important part of the journey. Maybe you have a good handful of loyal customers now… What happens when you have hundreds?! Do you have to tools to keep up?! Here are some of my favourites…

Writing tools

  • Grammarly

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. This amazing app is the most useful, FREE tool for spelling and grammar available. Yes, they offer a paid version, but for most people the free version does plenty. Working as an extension through your browser, or even on Google docs these days, Grammarly dots your I’s and crosses your T’s. You can even get competitive over the weekly reports they send you: “Your statistics show that you were more productive than 94% of Grammarly users last week. Keep up the epic writing!” Thanks, Grammarly. I feel better now!

  • Hemingway

    There are so many great things about Hemingway. This eponymous programme is here to keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to readability. Just paste your writing into the box (or download the desktop version) and the boffins at Hemingway will tell you how easy your copy is to read, which sentences need work and where you can make tweaks to ensure your copy is frickin’ excellent. [*N.B. Hemingway hated that last sentence. I’m OK with that.]

email automation tools

  • Flodesk

    I have been tearing my hair out lately looking for the best, simplest email automation tool to use. Flodesk is simple, understated and produces the most beautiful-looking emails you’ve ever seen. I know that’s not what everyone is looking for, but it fits with my branding and aesthetic. You may pay a little more for this tool than others, but it’s well worth the money. (Also, if you’re interested, hit me up – I can get you a 50% discount on your membership, which would mean you’d only be spending $19/month!)

  • Mailchimp

    If you’re looking for something a bit more heavy-duty, Mailchimp has all the bells and whistles. If you’re aiming for 1,000+ subscribers, this might be more for you. It integrates with all the main players for web and graphic design (i.e WordPress, Squarespace and Canva) and has lots of tutorials on how to get the most out of it. It’s probably the best-known email automation tool about and it is a beast!

    *N.B. There are a heap of options here. Other providers include Convertkit, ActiveCampaign, MailerLite and Infusionsoft

graphic design tools

  • Canva

    Canva has singlehandedly turned my graphic design game from dreadful to epic in a few short months. I still know nothing, and I’ll freely admit that, but what I can produce in Canva looks like I might have the slightest inkling of a clue. The free version is good. The pro version is even better. At $17.99/month for the pro version, this is a total investment in your business. Unless you want your stuff to look rubbish, or you have the budget for a graphic designer on-staff, Canva is the perfect middle ground.

  • Easil

    Just like Canva, Easil elevates your design game to a whole new level. The kicker for this one?! Easil is completely Australian owned and run. #goAussie As far as usability, it’s much of a muchness, but the paid Easil incarnations can either be much cheaper, or much more expensive. Easil is slightly less user-friendly and has fewer options for integrations with the big dogs than Canva.

Scheduling tools

  • Hootsuite

    If you’re planning on doing a lot of social media posting (and yes, Susan, you should be), you might find that it’s helpful to have a scheduling tool to post all your main ideas for the month in one hit. Hootsuite has been super easy to use, and I’m managing not only my own socials, but also my clients’. With a huge range of price points to choose from, Hootsuite is not only cost-effective but super versatile.

  • Agorapulse

    Truth time. I haven’t invested too much time in Agorapulse yet. I have a lot of peers who are super happy with it, but so far I’m just a silent observer. It looks like it does all the big stuff – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc and is big enough for agencies to use. Personally, I’m not a big enough dog for that, but there sure is a whole heap of room for scalability! Give it a run and see what you think!

honourable mentions

  • Loom

    Do you ever find yourself in a loop of back-and-forth emails with your clients trying to explain something you think is very simple, but they’re just not understanding? Enter Loom. Loom is a great little video recording tool you can use to send videos to your clients, and can even include screen sharing, so you’re both looking at exactly. the. same. thing. Even better, it’s FREE…

  • Toggl

    For anyone who is billing clients based on time, Toggl is a great tool. Another free offering (with paid incarnations, of course), Toggl tracks your time and can assign it to the projects you are working on. the hardest part? Remembering to start and stop the bloody thing! Once you get in the habit it’s really great for providing proof to clients you’re worth your hourly rate.

  • Zoom

    How could we do anything without acknowledging the saviour of lockdown – Zoom… From what I can tell, Zoom has pretty much left competitors like Skype in the dust with its ability to provide online video meeting space for co-workers and clients alike. Setting aside the privacy and security issues, Zoom has been overwhelmingly helpful during a time when nothing has been particularly clear-cut.

  • Xero

    You can’t write a blog about top business tools without mentioning Xero. Yes, there are other options including MYOB and Quickbooks, but Xero is indeed the hero when it comes to accounting software. Once again, it’s an Australian-developed initiative and is so easy to use, even I understand bookkeeping. Admittedly, it’s not a free tool, so is another investment in your business. In saying that, the amount of time and stress you save by using it more than makes up for the money you spend.

Something else I haven’t mentioned here, but would definitely be worth investigating are the various CRM options. So far, I have tried a heap, but nothing has stuck for me. Realistically, if you want to scale-up your business, you need to have CRM software to ensure you are keeping on top of your leads and that anyone involved with your client journey can see what stage of the sales journey they’re up to. I’ve tried Hubspot, Capsule and Salesforce. So far, nothing has stuck – that’s on me, not on the programming.

So there are just a few of the tools I’ve been investigating over the last little while. It’s so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole when you’re investigating your options, and learning the new skills to go with each tool. Hopefully this may save you a little time and stress when looking about for the best tools to help your business along.

Got anything to add? Let me know!

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