Using Apps to Create Efficiency in Your Micro-Business

April Arotin

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Aside from the few favorites for connecting with your customers – like Instagram and Facebook Pages Manager, and, of course, TikTok, there are quite a few options to keep track of your efforts and expand them easily. In the coming year, I believe that we will find an explosion of micro-businesses and side-hustles as we find new avenues for financial success in an uncertain economy. There has never been a better time to support the efforts of small, micro and local businesses, and many people are looking for ways to support those around them while bolstering the local economy.

One of the most challenging things about starting a small business is organizing your efforts to work in an efficient way, while saving time and energy for what truly matters in life.

We can work more efficiently with the help of a variety of apps, and I've collected a few over these past years that have helped me run my micro-brands more effectively. For the brand-new business owner, these are invaluable (and mostly free) resources that you can use to increase your impact without spending more time and energy.

In general, I find apps useful only when they’re for everyday things, aside from my trusted sources for news and current events. As a small business owner, it's imperative to be able to duplicate efforts without doubling the efforts. The most valuable things that we have in life are our attention and time, and all of these will help you cut down on time spent on administrative work in order to focus your attention on creating products and cultivating relationships with your client base.

These apps are useful for both product and service based businesses.

On a daily basis, these are my HAVE to tasks:

  • Product and Lifestyle Photography
  • Sending invoices
  • Organizing information & content
  • Creating copy & designs
  • Bookkeeping

Having apps that help me manage these tasks and are easily accessible makes my day a LOT smoother. I can pop in and handle quick tasks in the in-between moments throughout the day, especially if I’m out of the or office, even though most of my appointments are now handled virtually.

It’s a matter of efficiency, but I also try to be pretty aware of how I spend my attention and intention in my off hours and during family time. Please remind yourself to set boundaries with your time and that you are allowed to take hours of the day out of your life and find joy in your non-work activities.

Here are five+ apps I use on a near daily basis to keep myself and all of my varied projects in order: (and a bonus one, too!)

Photography – SnapSeed or Lightroom

Both of these are incredible tools to edit product photos. I tend to favor SnapSeed for quick, one-off edits, and use Lightroom to quickly batch edit sets of content. Learning to use one or both of these will add a more polished look to your photography, and is such a valuable skill to have. Great product photography will make or break a sale, and it's important to give yourself time to learn and make mistakes, while learning how to fix them within these editing programs.

Financials: Quickbooks

The integration is the most important part of this app. You're able to seamlessly connect Quickbooks to your banking and it will categorize your purchases and cash flow into meaningful data that help you evaluate successes and opportunity. Quickbooks distills many steps into something automated saves so much time, effort and internal energy. Quickbooks makes it easy to evaluate where money is coming and going, and it makes the dreaded tax time even easier.

Invoicing: Square Invoices or Paypal Invoice

The thing about square? This app gives you the ability to create invoices, book paid appointments, sell in-person, and online – and likely more – and the fantastic customer service makes it an easy app to want to use. The added features come at no additional cost and serve as a professional and polished way to present the final bill for your services or products. Paypal Invoice is a great option if you’re already using the service.

Design: Adobe Spark or Canva

I love Canva because it’s incredibly user friendly, with a ton of easy-to-share options for those of us who aren’t really designers, but want to create content. It’s also free! There are many sources to purchase templates to match your branding, and with a paid subscription, the options for enhanced graphics are endless. Adobe Spark offers a similar option, but has templates and tools that aren’t available in Canva. Either one is a solid choice to create quotes, design social media headers or to add watermarks to your images. With both, you're able to create a seamless, polished presentation to bring your best business face to social media which is increasingly important to grab the attention of potential customers.

Airtable & Trello: aka How I Organize My Entire Life

If you’re a spreadsheet person and haven’t used Airtable, you’re missing out. It’s a place to organize and curate lots of information at once, through multi-layered spreadsheets and ‘bases’ that help keep all my projects in order. Trello offers a way to communicate and strategies in collaborative products, and is an invaluable resource for my digital client work. Within these, I organize a six-month plan for content creation for social media apps, account for sales and production goals and organize project management with a place where my clients can see in real-time the progress of their projects.

When you take the time to bring these apps to your phone, you give yourself the freedom to manage your business from anywhere and have a good pulse on each area of your day to day tasks for a business of any size.

Bonus: Check out The Pattern if you’re into astrology. It provides personalized daily updates & notifications based on your natal chart. It was recommended by a fellow creative small business owner, and I personally appreciate the breaks for insight throughout the day!

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Contemporary artist and jewelry designer. Advocate for radical self care. Meandering wordsmith, lady metalsmith. I write about radical self care through unapologetic creativity, outline strategies for living a more creative life and honoring the call to be creative.

Cleveland, OH
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