Launching a business is bloomin' hard work but I can’t image how difficult it must have been 20 years ago when there was no email, no social media, no INTERNET?? There are so many great apps/websites that I use on a daily basis which have made it so much easier for me to start my business, grow my followers and secure bookings and customers within a couple of weeks of launching so I thought I would draw up a list of my Top 10 apps you need to run business.
NOTE: I haven’t included Facebook/Twitter/Instagram as it’s fairly obvious that most businesses these days NEED all three of these social sites to generate business and attract customers.
I sell tickets for workshops and events through Eventbrite and it’s linked directly to my PayPal account. The PayPal app is so easy to use and it makes it really quick and simple to transfer funds between my PayPal account and bank account. It says the money can take up to two hours to appear in your bank account but I’ve found it’s in my account in literally 2 seconds.
When I got my branding/logo designed, I made sure I got a transparent version of the logo so that I could watermark the images appearing on my social media channels. iWatermark is so quick and easy to use and it’s definitely worth paying a little bit for (think it's about £1.99 to buy once) so that you don't have the iWatermark watermark too, if you know what I mean!
Good quality photographs really help sell your business and convey a professional and stylish image for your company which always make you look more professional. I have a good camera but I still use VSCO Cam regularly, especially if I'm out and about or in a hurry as the editing tools are excellent. I don't do too much to the image other than increase the exposure by +1 or +2 and I usually turn up the contrast by +1 as well. Other than that, the only other thing I do is set it up before I take the pic to make sure it shows the square size so that it is Instagram-ready.
I’ve only recently been introduced to Buffer by Gavin Bell (@mrgavinbell) of Blue Cliff Media at his recent social media strategy workshop at The Lifestyle Lab and already it has made my life so much easier. It’s a scheduling tool for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest and helps me get much more organised with the social media side of the business. I schedule certain posts for the whole week on a Sunday afternoon and it means I don’t have to set aside time each day to put the posts up individually.
A lot of people I know use Canva for generating graphics but I prefer PicMonkey for ease of use. I use it mainly for creating graphics to promote events and workshops or for blog posts. I choose a relevant stock image which I can use for commercial purposes via StockSnap or Unsplash and simply lay words on top of the image. I can change the font, font size, colour and effects in no time at all without any design knowledge or skill. Because I’ve been using it for a while it takes me no more than a couple of minutes and it’s absolutely free too.
Created using PicMonkey
As mentioned above, good quality images really help sell your business. It obviously takes time, effort and a level of skill to create quality images that can be used for promoting workshops and events at The Lifestyle Lab so I often use stock images. StockSnap is undoubtedly my favourite royalty-free image resource. It has a vast selection of images that are perfect for my purposes. Copyright is such a big deal these days and it’s not worth using an image that you don’t have permission to use for commercial purposes as the fines can be hefty and it's also hugely unfair on the photographer. It's so easy to find images by using the search box at the top. For my networking lunches, I often a variation of a coffee cup and a laptop or phone. It brings up hundreds of results so it means that I can use a different one each month I hold a lunch. Once I've downloaded the image, I can add graphics on top of it in PicMonkey - easy peasy!
I’ve only started using this recently for reposting images on Instagram and I’ve found it really helpful. I’d rather let people who visit The Lifestyle Lab do the talking for me so it’s great for reposting other people’s images and words. It's also a great way to make sure you credit other people if they've taken a picture that you'd like to share on your page.
When you need to transform a boring and uninspiring office into a relaxed and inviting space on a tight budget (very tight) then Pinterest is the absolute saviour. I didn’t have time to waste as I needed to be up and running in double quick time (so I could start actually earning some money) and mood boards on Pinterest really helped me get a clear design inspiration for The Lifestyle Lab, not only for the interior but the brand as a whole including logo and business card design. I wanted a high end feel and some luxury touches (about a million rose gold accessories) and it needed to appeal to both men and women. I went for a whole load of grey (approximately fifty shades) and the ‘IKEA hacks’ search term became my favourite thing ever, so many great ideas that I can copy and, crucially, actually afford and that makes me look quite creative. What's not to love about that?
I’m obsessed with Snapchat and I make no apology for it. Building a business and a brand is definitely a long process and often you only see the end result on other forms of social media. I use Snapchat to record the raw, non Instagram-worthy moments that are the actual reality of running a business, i.e. lots of very unglamorous moments. I've made it sound very dull but quite a few people who follow me have mentioned the fact that they feel like they’ve been emotionally involved in the business from the beginning because they’ve followed it all through Snapchat. I also like the fact that it’s not a timeline like Facebook/Instagram/Twitter etc so it’s much less intrusive and you’re not annoying people by posting regularly; if someone doesn’t want to see the pics, they don’t need to view my story - I don’t take offence, honest. All the business advice I've read and heard has been saying that 'people buy from people' and that they like to know who they're buying from and my Snapchat is definitely a little glimpse into building and launching a business. As I'm also still running my styling business, I get invited to a lot of cool events with big brands and always try and do lots of behind the scenes videos and photos from these events and photoshoots too and I love Snapchat because it's much more raw and un-edited.
YouTube needs absolutely no introduction but, like Pinterest, I have used YouTube to try and learn so many things that I can’t afford to pay people to do for me. For example, building my business website, building furniture when I don’t understand the instructions and I also use it to learn lots of business tips and get amazing advice from experts like Gary Veynerchuk and Lewis Howes about building a great brand. Again, I feel very grateful that I live in an age when there is so much information available at our fingertips.
These are my most used apps but let me know in the comments below if there are any other life changing apps that I NEED TO DOWNLOAD IMMEDIATELY!