The 10 best [& free] apps every small business owner should use

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If you’re anything like me, you love yourself a good list of tools you can use to do what you do better. While I’m usually an avid consumer of said lists, I thought I’d try my hand at putting my own “Top 10” together. Here they are.

These are my 10 go-tos, the 10 apps that make my life as a marketer and small-business owner a million times easier, more productive, and relatively sane. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you take them for a spin.

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#1: Asana

Asana is meant for task masters. At its very core, it’s a to-do-list machine on steroids. But once you master its to-do features, you can leverage Asana’s capabilities to do so much more. I use Asana at work and at home, as a to-do list, an editorial calendar (more on that later), a meeting-agenda creator, and so, so much more.

#2: Spotify

It’s rare for me to do anything without a soundtrack, so I’m a religious Spotify user. If it weren’t for Spotify, my work days would be way too quiet, and way less productive.

#3: Buffer

Buffer makes social-media scheduling easy. Like, super easy. With the Buffer extension for Chrome installed, I can add anything to my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram queue in seconds. If you’re in the market to build your brand and amplify your content, it’s probably time to get serious about social media. The free version of Buffer helps take the pressure off by allowing you to schedule up to 10 future posts to each of your social media accounts.

#4: HootSuite

While Buffer is a super-simple, easy-to-use scheduling tool, the free version doesn’t give you the ability to monitor your social media feeds. Just as important to posting social content is interacting with others’ content. HootSuite makes meaningful social media engagement possible by enabling you to build multiple, customized feeds based on hashtags, Twitter lists, and other criteria.

#5: Pomodoro Timer

If you haven’t tried pomodoros, I definitely recommend you do. In a nutshell, the Pomodoro Technique outlines that, in order to achieve your highest levels of productivity, you should focus on a single task for 20 minutes at a time, and then immediately follow those 20 minutes of crazy productivity with a five-minute break. Then repeat. You can download the Pomodoro Timer app on your Mac or smartphone to make test driving this technique easy.

#6: Google Drive

If you need a simple solution to address your file-storage challenges, Google Drive is it, people. It’s a fantastic storage tool, but it also provides ample opportunity for collaboration through document sharing. Organization and collaboration are two essential elements of any killer content or customer experience strategy, so I’m all for tools that make those two things easy. My suggestion is to establish a folder structure before you start saving documents in Drive like crazy.

#7: Evernote

Notes, grocery lists, screenshots – you name it, Evernote will store and organize it for you. I like how easily I can migrate from phone to desktop in Evernote, so I have instant access to all my ramblings. Also worth noting, Evernote’s search capability. Wowza. Not only can Evernote search through the text you’ve typed within your notebooks, it can also search text within embedded PDFs + images.

#8: Feedly

This RSS reader is the best. I have feeds set up for wedding inspiration (hello, September 2017), branding, blogging tips, clinical research (hello, day job), and all sorts of other goodness. Feedly allows me to quickly skim through recent content related to topics I’m interested in, so I’m never out of the loop. It also provides me with oodles of social media fodder, so I always have something timely and relevant in the queue to share with my followers.

#9: Canva

This. Tool. Is. Magic. When I first met Canva, I immediately knew it was love. It’s a graphic design tool made for people who are graphic-design illiterate, or who just don’t have the time to build out stunning images in complex applications like Photoshop or Illustrator. I love drawing inspiration from their HUGE library of design samples – almost as much as I love how easy it is to select a template that’s already sized and ready-to-go for the platform where I intend to use it. Whether you’re creating graphics for social media, your blog, print, or some other medium, definitely give Canva a try.

#10: C25K

Lastly, and on a somewhat unrelated note, Couch to 5k. If I didn’t take some time to burn off some steam and release some endorphins, I’d be an absolute psycho. If you’re hunting for a hobby/fitness regimen but just haven’t found it in yourself to commit to something regular, might I recommend a running program? I recently finished the 5k version of this app and am on to the 10k version next.

There you have it. Ten apps you absolutely, 100% must at least try, if you’re not already using them. I’d love to hear about your experience using any of the apps on my Top 10 list. Leave a comment with your thoughts on these apps, or suggestions for other apps you’d recommend for small-business owners.

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