6 Tools I Use To Run My Business

 

As a business owner, there are several tools I use to ensure that my business and client projects are smooth and organized. These tools help me streamline my process, create new products, organize my files /  documents and more. 

Here's a look at some of the tools I use on a regular basis.

*please note, this post does contain some referral links, which means I do make a small commission from them, but I wouldn't recommend them to you if I didn't love to use them for my own business. 

 

6 Tools I use to run my business, by Melanie Craft & Company

1 | Dubsado

Just recently (about 2 months ago) I had taken a leap and purchased Dubsado after all of the frustration and hair-pulling Duetapp had given me. Honestly, Dubsado has been a system I had been looking for far too long.

Dubsado - Client Management System used by Web Designer Melanie Craft & company

For those of you who have no earthly idea what it is, Dubsado is a client management system specifically designed for creatives. Basically, it's the home base of my business. From this application, I'm able to track leads from any contact form on my site, send proposals, contracts or questionnaires. I'm able to send invoices and accept payments, manage a to-do lists for my client projects, sync my calendars and set up a workflow. This has changed the way I run my business dramatically. My process is way more organized, I can track the income I make and more.

What's great about Dubsado is that they are always working on adding more amazing features to their CMS. You can see a list of upcoming features here. If you're interested in trying it out, feel free to sign up! There is no credit card needed to try it out and no time limit on when you need to switch to a paid plan. They let you try it for up to 3 clients. Use the code CRAFTCO20 to receive 20% off your first month or year!

 

2 | Dropbox.

When it comes to sending or receiving client files, dropbox has been an absolute life saver!  At the beginning of every project, I request that any photos needed for the project to be shared via Dropbox.

At the end of the every project, I am able to send all deliverable files through a Dropbox link where it is only available for 30 days after the project has been completed.

 

3 | Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator is definitely also one of the main tools I use in my business. I use it to create all of my graphics for my own website to client websites. I create blog posts images, website graphics, website mockups, logo's etc. 

 

4 | G-Suite

Obviously, G-Suites has to be one of the top products I use for business. I love it because you have access to absolutely everything online, from any desktop, iPad or laptop. The 4 main things I use in G-Suite are Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar and Gmail. 

For the most part, Google Docs are home to my blog post drafts, and business documents. I love using this because I don't ever have to worry about losing my work since it automatically saves it for me. 

In Google Sheets, this is where I have the list of blog posts ideas for my website. I got the idea from Kory Woodard when she shared how she plans out 5 months worth of blog posts on Facebook Live. This has helped organize my thoughts and ideas so much, especially when it comes to getting snippets set up for sharing on social media. See picture below for reference.

Google Calendar is absolutely important to keep specific dates and organize my work / life events. It's also where I can track specific tasks and due dates. I have a few different calendars that are color coded so I can easily keep track of each event or task - More on that in a later post!

Lastly, Gmail. Because no business can run smoothly and you can't get in contact with clients (or potential clients!) without it! My folders are organized by different apps and client years, that way I'm never missing anything. See image for reference. To the right, you see the different labels I've assigned different labels for pretty much each important email I get that I need to keep. I got the idea to do this from working at the law office for the last year and a half. I'll talk more about how I organize my emails in a separate post, though.

 

5 | Day Designer Planner

Day Designer by Blue Sky, used by Melanie Craft & Company

Now I know I already keep track of deadlines through Dubsado and Google Calendar, but I seem to love having different ways to keep track of the monthly / weekly / daily stuff.

For the last two years, I've been using Sugar Paper Planners for a few reasons. The first, come on it's an absolutely adorable planner. Super cute, super stylish. Why wouldn't you pick a planner for that reason?! But in all seriousness, I love using these planners because of the way they are organized.

This year, when I decided to take my business to the next level, I told myself I would keep track and organize my business life a lot more. I just recently (at the beginning of July) switched from the Sugar Paper planner to the Blue Sky Day Designer that recently launched in Target. I LOVE IT. This planner has allowed me to check off things in a "list form" I mean, come on?! That's just about what I've been looking for, for I have no idea how long.

 

6 | Project Binder

This idea, I got from Lauren Hooker a few years back. I had gone through a few different stages of how big of a binder I needed up until this year when I told myself I just wanted to have something small to write notes in, and keep certain things for client projects organized in paper format.

I basically have 4 different dividers. The first divider are for my own business. My moodboard, branding elements, etc. The other 3 dividers seperate the different client projects I'm currently working on: Moodboards, contracts, inquiry forms, questionnaires, notes... 

As much as I love having everything online, I feel like having a physical hard copy of certain documents also work so well for me. I'm able to stay focused on designing in Illustrator or on a clients site without having to keep switching through different windows, and instead by referencing the hard copy documents I have in my binder.


What are you're top tools in business?