If you’re like me, you’re pursuing the road of self-employment. Maybe you generate enough income to hire freelancers or employees. These small business tools can help any sole proprietor or LLC to grow their brand and help you make smart business investments.
If you want your business to succeed, these services can help your brand grow and automate some of the tasks you currently do by hand.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Best Small Business Tools 2020
In addition to practicing the best work from home tips and tricks, these tools and services can make your business hum. The following suggestions run the spectrum for just about any business expense and time-sucking task you currently do. Maybe there are some of these you never knew you needed before.
Get real-time tax estimates and track business expenses and miles driven
Hurdlr is a jack-of-all-trades service. Many people use Hurdlr to estimate their annual tax bill and see potential tax savings. You can also track your auto miles driven, business expenses, and business income. This tool can integrate with business apps like Uber, Upwork, Stripe, and FreshBooks. You can also track credit card purchases.
Track business expenses and file business taxes.
Take the stress out of tax time by using KeeperTax to track your business expenses. You can use KeeperTax to track business expenses on your business and personal credit cards. This flexibility makes this one of the best business tools for freelancers.
Plus, you can have Keeper Tax file your business taxes for $89 a year (this includes your state return). If you file quarterly taxes, Keeper can handle those as well.
3. Hiscox Small Business Insurance
Small Business Insurance
If you deal with the public or have on-site employees or contractors, you need small business insurance. There are plenty of places you can go. But Hiscox Small Business Insurance pairs you with an insurance broker. This makes the quote process easier as you can shop between multiple providers to find the best coverage.
Most freelancers (myself included) have term life insurance but overlook disability insurance. They are two different insurance products. For most of us, this was a fringe benefit in our HR package.
Starting at $9 a month, Breeze offers disability insurance that can protect your income if you’re involved in an accident or have another health issue that prevents you from working a regular job.
You can get an online quote in seconds and choose your long-term disability plan within 15 minutes. For example, I can get a $1,000 monthly benefit with a $13 monthly premium.
Term Life Insurance
Another benefit you probably left at your old job is term life insurance. One of the first things I did when I quit corporate was getting a 20-year term policy. We had a mortgage on our primary home and one young child at the time. Now we have a loan on a rental property, two children, and a third on the way.
I don’t want my life to get stuck with a mountain of bills and little income and I’m sure you don’t either for your loved ones. For that reason, I strongly recommend getting standalone term life insurance policy that isn’t connected to your current employer.
6. Wilnau Design
Getting your very own website design is another way to make your business. If you’re like most people, you started with a free theme as a way to save money. Free themes are great at proving you’re a legit business but you can’t customize your graphics, text, or user interaction.
One of the best design studios I know of is Wilnau Design. They have designed websites for some of the most well-known high-traffic personal finance websites (I’m a personal finance writer and my “dream” is to write for some of these sites).
Sleek landing pages
After your snazzy business website is live, you need engaging content that keeps your customer engaged and what to buy your product or service. Leadpages offers four conversion tools that let you secure future business.
Your most loyal followers are probably those on your email list. When you have less than 2,000 subscribers, Mailchimp is the best free email platform.
Once your list grows, it’s worth upgrading to a premium plan to get more custom template options and being able to place special product links directly in the email message. There are a few good ones including Aweber and Constant Contact.
A fast website is important for many reasons. Potential clients will hit the back button if your website takes too long to load and visit a competitor’s site. Also, Google and Bing are less likely to rank your site on page 1 of the search results if you have a slow site. As an online blogger of 4+ years, I can verify that if you’re not on page 1 of Google it’s very hard to make a regular income from your website.
So what do you do?
Have SiteGround host your site. You will see many only websites promote Bluehost. This is a legit hosting company too, but they are heavily promoted because of the large referral incentives bloggers get for referring new signups. SiteGround costs a little more, but you can have better hosting experience and speed for when your site adds a lot of traffic.
Bonus: If you have no clue how to build a website see my #1 recommendation for starting a blog. I used their step-by-step course and hosting tools to build Money Buffalo. It’s free to start!1
Whether you’re a local or online business, a unique logo helps authenticate your brand. Logo design can get expensive quickly and maybe that’s why you haven’t considered it.
Freelogoservices lets you design your logo for free using their online software. You can make unlimited designs and only pay for the logo once you’re happy with its look. Your logo can come in multiple file formats including PNG, SVG, JPEG, and EPS).
You can also order business cards and other promotional items through Freelogoservices which means you can spend more time landing new clients instead of trying to place an online order.
Receive faxes by email
In my old job where I traveled a lot, I had a digital MyFax number. Clients would fax documents to my fax number and they would land in my work email. MyFax is convenient if you’re not near a fax machine often. And, it limits the number of snooping eyes from your co-workers who reach the machine before you do.
Turning your business into LLC or corporation
If you’re ready to level-up your business into an LLC or corporation, try using MyCorporation.
You pay a $99 startup fee and have access to the MyCorporation team with 20 years’ experience. They have helped over one million business incorporate. And you can use them to help you decide what is the best corporation or LLC filing option for your business.
Depending on your niche, you might be a full-time writer. Or you only need to put a handful of pages on your business website so your customers can reach you. Either way, you want content that isn’t full of typos and other noticeable grammar errors.
We’ve all received scam emails asking us to wire money to the other side of the world. A common trend in all of these emails is poor grammar. Even though you’re a legit business, you can lost customers and sales if your page is littered with mistakes.
I use Grammarly every day to look for typos. While it’s not perfect, it’s the best proofreading tool I know of. Although I personally use the premium version, I started with the free edition which does the job for casual writers.
Grammarly highlights your mistakes and questionable words with a red underline. Hover your mouse over the word to either approve or ignore their suggestion. This tool saves a lot of time and can help you find errors that you won’t catch when proofreading in a hurry.
14. LinkedIn Learning
Learn New Business Skills
You most likely have a LinkedIn business profile. Maybe it’s your most effective platform for finding new clients. LinkedIn Learning is the educational side of this business social network. You can take informal online classes for almost any topic. It might be project management, Excel spreadsheets (groan!!!), or understanding revenue models.
Going to school full-time and running a business isn’t a possibility. These classes teach you the skills you need to grow your brand for a fraction of the cost and time of your local college.
Schedule and Track Tasks
Most of my clients use Asana to track tasks that they assign myself and other team members. It’s a free way to make sure deadlines and get met.
When your business is too big to keep using PayPal to pay freelancers and employees, have Gusto handle your 1099 and W-2 payroll. Besides base pay, you can also add extra benefits like workers’ comp, health benefits and paid-time-off (PTO).
Free business credit score
Maybe you watch your personal credit score like a hawk. You may also have a business credit score. Nav shows your score for free. To see all your scores in one place, Nav retrieves your personal and business credit grades.
Small Business Loans
If you need a short-term loan or a business line of credit, StreetShares offers competitive rates. Well-qualified businesses get up to $250,000 in financing. When you need credit to keep expanding, this is one option to consider if you can’t get a standard bank loan.
Business apps you didn’t know you needed
Another platform I use to look for trending small business tools (I didn’t know I needed) is on AppSumo. Most deals are $49 for lifetime access to a certain service. For instance, I have a lifetime subscription to ShortPixel which condenses my blog images for faster load times. I’ve also paid $49 for three years of access to a stock image website (it’s where I got the first image for this post).
Some programs are better than others. And not every app pertains to your business. For example, I don’t need a scheduling assistant app but maybe you do. You can join their email list to make sure you never miss a deal.
20. Brex Credit Card
Brex is a business rewards credit card with no annual fee. There are several different versions of the card:
- Late-stage and enterprise
- Life sciences
Each card earns bonus points on different purchase categories. For example, the Brex Card for Startups earns 7% on rideshares while the Ecommerce card lets you carry a balance up to 60 days interest-free.
You will need an EIN (employer identification number) to apply for a Brex Card. The good news is that you can build business credit and there is no personal guarantee like most small business credit cards.
21. Christian Healthcare Ministries
Health insurance alternative
One workplace benefit many full-time employees overlook when become self-employed is health insurance. Getting a policy on the exchange is expensive (assuming you don’t qualify for tax credits). If you’re a Christian, health-sharing ministries can provide much-needed financial relief. We personally belong to Christian Healthcare Ministries.
Being self-employed means you no longer get an employer 401k match. Betterment offers Roth and traditional IRAs. And you can rollover your 401k or 403b as well. Betterment is an effortless investing platform that automatically invests your nest egg in index funds. You tell them your age and investing goals and they diversify your cash in a model that’s not too risky and not too conservative.
I use a half-dozen different business tools and programs to run Money Buffalo, connect with clients, and get work done. Looking two steps ahead can help you make the right business moves today for better results.
These are some of my favorite tools for a smooth-running business. What else do you use to make things happen?