The Best Business Management Tools for Designers
Running an online design business can be incredibly rewarding – you get to work with a wide range of people from all corners of the globe doing design work you are passionate about on your own time frame. What’s not so great for most people is the amount of administrative work involved in the background.
I myself have struggled to find the perfect balance. When I first started out, I didn’t know it, but I was doing everything the hard way. I was always forgetting which tasks I was up to next or losing track of files and conversations in my countless email threads. Not to mention I would having to manually keep track of how long I worked on projects and set up a new invoice in Indesign every time I needed one.
Thankfully, with a lot of research and trial and error, finding the perfect programs to manage my business has helped incredibly. I can now spend only a few hours a week on the administrative work, leaving me with more time for the creative, fun stuff.
Here are my favourite tools for business management.
Asana is an online Project Management tool that is perfect for freelancers. It is extremely easy to use for managing projects and making sure everything is on track. Plus it’s free to use for individuals and teams under 15 members, and offers the ability to add clients as collaborators to their projects.
My favourite thing about Asana is that you can communicate directly with clients in their projects and tasks, which means no longer having to sift through dozens of emails with the potential for conversations to get lost. You can also assign tasks specifically to clients, for example to send you files by a certain date, or remind them that feedback is due.
Dubsado is a Client Relationship Management system and all-in-one solution for your administrative needs. You can easily send out proposals, invoices, contracts and questionnaires to your clients. You can even create workflows to automatically handle your entire onboarding process.
Other great features of Dubsado include canned emails, so you never have to write the same emails over and over again, as well as a Client Portal which is a password-protected space where your clients can easily access all of their contracts, invoices, proposals and forms.
Wave is a free accounting program which allows you to easily manage all of your business expenses. It has customisable invoices, recurring billing, payment reminders, accounting options and receipt scanning so you’ll always be on top of your finances come tax time.
It also has the ability to setup credit card payments through Stripe. And you can even switch between your business account and your personal account to keep track of both in one place.
Toggl is a flexible web-based time tracking app with a bunch of helpful integrations that will make your life easier and increase your productivity. Not only can you track a project or activity from start to finish, you can add in manual time slots and apply an hourly rate to projects to easily keep track of your earnings.
You can also easily keep track of your time spent on individual clients and projects with their handy reports which allows you to view your time in weekly, monthly and annual increments. There’s also a handy pie chart to show you how you’re spending your time.