As an entrepreneur, you’ve chosen one of the most challenging, risky, and rewarding paths to making a living. The freedom you’re allowed when running your own business is unparalleled, since there’s essentially no one telling you what to do. The downside is that when you do need help, you have to find it yourself.
To help prepare you for what lies ahead, we’ve put together a list of six tools we think today’s entrepreneur shouldn’t miss. Some are web-based, some aren’t. Some might seem obvious, others will hopefully surprise you. Take a look:
1. Evernote—the 2018 version of your dollar store composition book
Evernote is the superpowered version of your smartphone’s notepad. Are you ever struck with incredible ideas the second you wake up or right before falling asleep? Jot them down in Evernote.
With the free version, you can sync two devices, clip webpages, images, and PDF files, share images seamlessly, and use their powerful search tool, which even finds text within images. Paid versions greatly increase storage space and the number of devices you can sync, and even give you access to customer support and offline usage. It’s time to get organized.
2. Trello for everything
I’ll never think about productivity tools without a mention of Trello. Simply put, it’s a project management powerhouse. Trello organizes projects into Boards (blog content, summer road trip, your wedding—anything) which are filled with lists for each phase or segment of your project. Lists are filled with cards that represent individual tasks.
Cards can include a checklist to completion, file attachments, and a place for you and your team members to discuss.
It’s a beautiful thing that’s easy to get the hang of and almost addictive once you’re on board. If you think you could use a little more organization in your life, give it a shot.
3. Canva, because I’m just not a graphic designer
Canva has saved me hours of time in the few short months since I was introduced to it. It had never crossed my mind how many minor little graphics and images I’d need to produce on a regular basis, and I use Canva for every single one. Blog headers, flyers, images for social media, everything.
Rather than paying a graphic designer for every little thing or spending the hours it takes to Google tutorials for every single step in Adobe Illustrator (Can you imagine?), I just open Canva and whip them up in a few minutes. Their design tools are super easy to use, featuring tons of image dimensions and pre-made graphics to help you out.
Very little can rival the feeling of satisfaction that results from creating a totally legit graphic without any actual design skills. Thank you, Canva.
4. How I Built This, a podcast for some entrepreneur inspiration
Every week on How I Built This, NPR’s Guy Raz talks to the founders or leaders of some of the world’s most well-known and innovative companies. They tell their story, from the birth of their idea to the present and future of the company and let me tell you, I feel ready to build a spaceship, save the whales, and put Apple out of business by the time each (roughly fifty-minute) episode is over.
Standout guests include executives from Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Wikipedia, and Rolling Stone magazine, but there’s so many more. Put an episode on next time you have a long drive ahead of you, there’s tons to learn.
5. A budgeting app to take the fear out of checking a bank balance
I’m not the only one terrified by this, am I? If you’re starting out on a new business venture, budgeting appropriately might just be the most important thing you can do. Luckily for everyone whose stomach drops before checking their bank information, there’s now a great selection of apps designed to help make budgeting a breeze.
My personal favorites are Penny and Mint, mostly because they’re super easy to use. I linked my bank and credit card accounts, answered a few questions about my bills and spending habits, and I was ready. Both apps help you track your bills, stay within budgets, and give you regular alerts anytime anything changes.
6. LastPass, because the best entrepreneurs don’t forget their passwords
There was a time when having login credentials and passwords for all of your online accounts jotted into a note on your phone might have been acceptable, though certainly never recommended. That time ended when you left high school. If that’s still the extent of your online security, you need LastPass. It’s an online password manager that hoards all of your credentials in a “Vault” which can be accessed on any of your devices.
This means you’ll only ever have to remember your master password to access all of your online accounts for as long as you use LastPass. Security isn’t an issue either, thanks to their local-only encryption (your information is never accessed by Lastpass) and two-factor authentication.
Julian de Sevilla is the Marketing Specialist at Tresta, a cloud-based telecommunications company in Tallahassee, Florida. He manages social media accounts, blogs, and whatever else happens to land on his desk.
The information and tips we’re sharing in this article are meant to be a starting point for your year-end tax prep, so you can be informed and feel confident when working with your accountant. Be sure to check with a tax expert in your country or region for any specific advice you need, as each business (and tax district) is different. As our lawyers would say: “This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.”