No matter what business you run; an accountancy firm, a law firm, a design studio – the same challenges will often present themselves. How do you run your business efficiently and keep on top of your ever-growing to-do list? Below is a list of essential apps for running your business I find myself regularly recommending.
Quotient is the newest web app we’ve been using in the studio. Aimed at streamlining the proposal and quoting process, it has the ability for clients to accept quotes online, use checkboxes to decide on optional components, ask questions and even give feedback and reviews. From our end we can see when a client has viewed a proposal, attach images and files within the proposal and also create templates for projects that we work with often.
Use our referral link for 1 month free: quotient.com
Pricing: Plans begin at $25/month
This accountancy software is my number one pick. It connects to your bank account, allowing for easy reconciliation and has a range of add-ons and integrations. It has a beautiful UI (essential for a designer) making it easy to use whilst giving you powerful reporting abilities to help you take charge of your business and keep on top of those overdue invoices.
Pricing: Plans begin at $25/month
When communicating internally, gone are the days of long email threads. Almost 99% of our internal communication is completed over Slack. Set up your team and quickly chat with other members on your desktop or through the mobile app. You can set up group chats when you need to speak to everyone, and it handles images and attachments easily which is a must for a design studio.
Pricing: Plans begin at $0/month
This free software is another personal favourite. We use Trello as a Work in Progress (WIP) overview with all our projects separated into columns of ‘To Do’ ‘In Progress’ and ‘On Hold’. Each team member has an account so they can keep across where everything is at a glance. You can easily allocate projects to team members so everyone knows who is doing what.
Pricing: The Basic version is free
After lots of testing and trials, we have settled on Harvest for tracking our time on projects. Whilst it still isn’t 100% perfect (I don’t think any solution out there is) it’s a really helpful tool to help keep track of where time and budgets are being spent. A big selling point is the Mac desktop widget so you don’t have to open your browser.
Pricing: Plans begin at $12/month
Forecast by Harvest
Another one from the team at Harvest, Forecast is a tool for scheduling your team in a gnat style chart. This integrates back with Harvest and gives you the foresight to see if you have too little, or too much work coming up.
Pricing: $5 per person per month
As a design studio, it’s really important to keep on top of where your files are. Clients can lose things so it’s imperative we back up to a secure platform. As Dropbox is cloud-based there is no chance of losing anything when a hard drive breaks or computer crashes. We recently upgraded to Dropbox for Business which has replaced our need for a physical server.
Pricing: Plans being at $13.99/month
This desktop software is great for sharing important notes, processes or documents that your team needs to access or update regularly. Evernote allows you to set up notebooks privately, or you can share them with any number of team members. Notes sync between members allowing for easy collaboration and sharing. There’s also a convenient mobile app.
Pricing: There is a Free Basic version and upgrades available
Google Business Tools
All our email accounts are hosted with Google Business Tools. GBT allows you to use your own URL as your email address and we’ve never had an outage or an issue. You can use GBT within your browser in the familiar Gmail interface or connect into a mail app of your choice.
Pricing: Plans begin at $5 per user per month
For those of us who can get a bit distracted by any number of things, SelfControl is a handy app that will keep you in check. You set it up by telling it what time-sucking websites you want to block and for how long, then a countdown timer will begin. Restarting and reinstalling won’t help you, and you can’t quit it!
There’s nothing worse than sending an email to an important contact, only to see a glaring typo once it’s too late. Grammarly is a free browser plugin that automatically detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in your writing.
Pricing: Free browser plugin with premium paid services available.
Prices as of April 2019.