Running a home based business quickly gets complicated – especially once you start finding success and your business continues to grow.
Below are some of the tools and services (both free and paid) that I use to help me keep my business organized, functioning smoothly and growing – and the grand total for them all combined comes to under $75 per month.
Basecamp (As low as $20 per month)
Basecamp is a project management tool that allows you to organize your workflow. You can give access to team members, contractors and clients – and you can do it on a project by project basis. I find Basecamp extremely effective for ensuring tasks that need to get done don’t get lost in a sea of emails. Their file sharing allows us to upload documents and keep them attached to the comments or tasks related to them. The calendar functionality is also killer for helping to keep you on pace (or helping you notice that you’re very OFF pace) for deadlines as well. The $20 per month plan allows you to store up to ten projects at once and includes 3 GB for file storage.
If you travel a lot for your business, I promise you that creating an account at TripIt will be one of the best things you ever do. It helps you keep every trip organized and best of all? You can simply forward confirmation emails from services like Expedia, UrbanSpoon, EventBrite and pretty much every airline and hotel in existence. No more searching through emails trying to find confirmations or figure out “what’s next” in your day. I always joke that if I’m traveling and a plan is not in my TripIt, then it doesn’t exist. You can access TripIt on the web or via their mobile app – which is available on all platforms.
Shoeboxed (FREE – but in reality, as low as $9.95 a month)
Shoeboxed is an online receipt scanning an organization service. They DO have a free plan, but it only allows you to scan 5 documents a month and that doesn’t seem realistic to me for 99% of small business owners. Their lowest priced paid plan is $9.95 per month and allows you to scan up to 50 documents per month. Shoeboxed has free mobile apps available to let you input receipts on the go as well. Bonus points? Shoeboxed can also integrate with Quickbooks.
Dropbox allows you to share and store files and folders “in the cloud” for free. You can even increase the amount of free storage you get by referring friends. This is a MUST HAVE for anyone using multiple computers or frequently sharing files with collaborators or telecommuters. Their free mobile apps also let you access and share documents on the go.
QuickBooks (as low as $12.95 per month)
Quickbooks is hands down the most popular accounting software for small businesses. They can integrate with your bank and various other services to help you get an accurate handle on your business accounting. While it can be a little daunting to learn, I prefer Quickbooks for our business accounting for several reasons: 1. Most accountants are familiar with it 2. They offer mobile apps on every platform, 3. It’s one of the better MAC accounting software options (and I haven’t used a PC in over four years now) and 4. I can use it 100% online so whether I’m traveling with my Macbook Pro or on my iPad or using my desktop iMac, I can always access the program.
Google Analytics (FREE)
Google Analytics is a free analytics program that can help you get valuable insight as to who visits your site and why. You can set goals for nearly any action taken by visitors that you’d like to track, as well as figure out which keywords are converting into the actions you’re looking for. And if you don’t “get” how Analytics can help you grow your business, Google will teach you the ins and outs for FREE – offering lessons on obtaining everything from beginner through expert level knowledge.
Skype Premium (As low as $4.99 per month)
I’ve written about Skype Premium before. The premium version allows you to do group video calls and group screen sharing. If you’re doing any sort of long distance managing of or collaboration with multiple people, you’ll likely find Skype Premium to be a vital tool in your business arsenal.
Anymeeting is a free webinar service that allows you to host a webinar with up to 200 attendees for free (the free version is ad supported). Hosting a webinar with a co-host(s)? You can show video feed from up to six people during a meeting. If your business is on a tight budget, Anymeeting is your solution to holding professional webinars for free.
MozyPro (as low as $5.99 per month)
MozyPro is an online computer backup service. Backing up your computer can often be something we mean to do, but never get to. The first time you lose all your data before you “had a chance to get to doing it” I promise you that you’ll be beyond sorry you didn’t make the time. MozyPro has “personal” plans that will likely suffice for many “one woman show” home based businesses. Best of all? You can automate your backups so you don’t even have to remember to do it and since it’s “in the cloud” you don’t have to worry about storing your backup in a different building than your computer like you would with a physical external hard drive.
Aweber (As low as $19 per month)
Aweber is the mailing list service that I use on all of my sites (however, Missy prefers Constant Contact so that’s what we use here on It’s a WAHM Thing). Plans start at $19 per month and you can have up to 500 subscribers for that price and send unlimited emails to those subscribers. Mailing lists are an extremely effective outbound marketing tool and I highly recommend every business have one (as with any marketing tool, you need to WORK IT for it to have benefit though).
Chandler is a free “note to self” tool that basically is a “todo” list software on technological steroids – complete with alarms and reminders. This is a GREAT tool for combining your business and personal tasks into one master list as well.
Business Classes from MIT (FREE)
Yep, FREE classes about business, entrepreneurship, marketing and more from MIT. And yes, THAT MIT. As your business grows, there is not a single person out there who couldn’t benefit by growing their own knowledge about running said business along with it.