I love experimenting with apps and integrating the best ones into my business workflow.
But it wasn’t always like that. For decades, “buying software” meant a huge investment upfront – followed by sizeable upgrade fees every year.
Enter the SaaS subscription market. — Someone figured out that by charging an affordable monthly rate, out-of-reach software suddenly became democratized. Everyone could afford Photoshop and Lightroom, because they were just $10/month.
However, this affordable software model quickly leads to a new financial burden known as “app creep.” As in, “before you know it, all the small apps have created a big monthly credit card bill. It’s an epidemic these days.
To help you avoid a business appidemic (see what I did there?), here’s a list of all my go-to apps.
7 Apps I can’t live without
If you’re like me, you have lots of Google accounts. Keeping on top of them means having lots of Chrome tabs open at all times. However, most email apps take away the features that make Gmail so great (ahem, Apple Mail and Outlook). Enter Shift: a desktop app that lets you use the native Gmail interface in an easy-to-switch layout. » Learn more about Shift here.
Instead of trying to remember when it’s time to email someone back, let Boomerang return that email to your inbox at a date/time you specify. I also love the “send later” feature, which lets me do work at midnight and have it go out at a reasonable time the next day, week, month, whatever. -> Learn More
I spent years searching for the best way to manage the large number of freelancers and clients. Enter Monday, a fun project management app that lets me keep track of everything in one place. » Learn more about Monday here.
As a small business owner, my goal is to automate as much of my marketing funnel as possible. That includes newsletter, lead tracking, and a robust CRM. Over the years, I’ve tried dozens of apps that offer one or all of these features — and Active Campaign has the best mix in an affordable package. » Learn more about Active Campaign here.
On most days, I use Photoshop and Lightroom. On many days, I also use Illustrator and Dreamweaver. Plus, because I have the “all apps plan,” I can always download any other Adobe Creative Suite app whenever I need it. The subscription is a bit pricey but totally worth it! » Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud here.
If your small business doesn’t already use gSuite for email, cloud storage, document sharing, and general productivity, it’s time to make a switch. » Sign up for gSuite here.
Sure, gSuite can open Word and Excel docs, but they work so much better in their native apps. Plus, PowerPoint is way better than Keynote. Well worth a few bucks a month. » Learn more about Office 365 here.
5 Apps that help make money
A beautiful and easy to navigate proposal can be the difference between a new client and a lost lead. Better Proposals is the best of the bunch. -> Learn More
Time tracking apps are a dime a dozen. So what makes Harvest stand out? Simple, it has a time tracker that sits on the top of my Mac screen at all times. When I start to work on a client project, I just click a button and the timer starts. Plus, if I get distracted and walk away, it stops the timer and lets me know. -> Sign up and save $10 on your first month
It sends invoices, lets me accept credit cards, integrates with other apps, and has a clean and easy interface. -> Learn More
I don’t like Quickbooks Self Employed. It’s too simplified and you can’t transfer your data. But, it’s easy to use and makes taxes and income/expenses tracking a breeze. I’ve tried lots of other options and keep coming back. -> Learn More
Indy is a user-friendly platform for managing your freelance projects. Bring all your workflows into one place with Indy’s tools. Create proposals, contracts, and invoices in minutes with automatic tools. -> Learn more
4 Apps that make the leads flow in
Chatbot used to be a dirty word. Today, it’s ubiquitous with a successful small business website. Answer FAQs, book phone calls, offer newsletters, and more. Continually combines a powerful chatbot with live Skype integration and easy to use backend. To see it in action, just click the little blue icon on the bottom right of your screen. -> Learn more
For most small business owners, the free version of Calendly is more than enough to offer online scheduling to potential clients. It integrates with your calendar and can be set up to ask questions, take payments, and allow leads to reschedule their own appointments. See it in action here. -> Learn more here.
When someone is about to leave your website, show them a popup with a special offer, lead magnet, or newsletter signup. According to the OptinMonster website, this simple tool converts an additional 2-4% of website visitors … aka, people who would probably never come back once they leave. -> Sign up now
If cold emailing is a part of your marketing plan, Lemlist is by far the best tool. It’s also great for sending automated responses to contact form signups and other outreach methods. -> Learn more
5 Apps that make it all work
If you like 24-hour tech support, blazing fast site speeds, and a website that’s always online, then WP Engine is the only web host you should consider. It’s certainly the only service I offer my clients. -> Learn more
While I don’t recommend low-cost web hosts, Siteground is the best of the bunch if you need to go that route. Whatever you choose, just be sure to avoid GoDaddy. They are the worst! -> Learn more here
OK, so this is less of an app as it is a website platform. That said, it is a piece of software that I spend large chunks of my day working in. If your website isn’t on WordPress, maybe it’s time for an upgrade. -> Learn more
Ever look at someone’s email signature and think, “wow, that’s great! I wish mine looked like that?” With Wisestamp, it’s easy to create beautiful signatures and easily add them to your email. -> Learn More
Most apps don’t natively communicate with each other. Zapier makes that happen. For instance, I have a zap that when someone fills out a contact form, they are automatically added to my CRM and also sent a one-off email from my Gmail account. -> Learn more
3 Advertising Apps
Yelp – for managing your brand
If you have a small business, you’ve probably had a pushy Yelp salesperson call you about paying for ads. It’s annoying and I’m pretty sure that Yelp hides good reviews if you don’t pay for ads (though they deny it). That said, Yelp gets results. It gets people in the door and provides a steady flow of leads.
Paying for ads is the fastest way to get your business onto page 1 of Google. Just be aware that you’re paying $5+ for everyone who clicks to your website … hopefully, you have a plan for once they get there.
Facebook Ads – for the heart of your funnel
Facebook is an integral part of any successful marketing funnel. However, the days of just posting a few articles on your business page and getting results are long gone. Nowadays, you need to pay to get results. Here’s a guide to get you started.
What’s the best app for your business?
It took me a long time to come up with the list on this page. My business app suite is constantly evolving and is the result of countless sales calls with vendors and infinity-plus-one free trials.
In my head is an encyclopedia of possible solutions for most business needs. If you’re wondering what the best app or suite of services might be for your business, reach out today and schedule a free consult.
Hope to hear from you soon.