5 Essential Business Tools

5 Essential Business Tools for Your Growing Business

NB: This post contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

When I started my copywriting business, I had no clue how important it was to choose the right business tools to support my growing side-hustle. I started out just wingin’ it but soon came to realise that to have a successful and scalable business, I needed to choose the right tools to support me.

Easier said than done, right? Especially if you’re prone to shiny object syndrome like me. I see something new – it’s exciting – I want it! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve signed up for a free trial (and the two times I forgot to cancel said free trial and copped a massive monthly fee – whoops!) for a CRM or project management tool. Actually, I’m pretty sure I scored a great deal on a Canva alternative via Appsumo once – never used it! 

Choosing the right business tools for me has definitely been a trial and error process. But, I’m finally confident that I’ve got the right tool belt and it’s full of freakin’ awesomeness that’s helping me kick my business goals. 

Want to know what essential business tools I’m using for my growing business? Let me tell you.

1. Dubsado

I’m kicking this post off with my absolute favourite/must have/wish I’d bought this earlier business tool. Dubsado has literally changed how I run my business, and it’s saved my time and my sanity – exactly what I needed as a mum, with a PT job and a growing business.

What is it?

Dubsado is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, and it’s my lifesaver. This intelligent system was initially created with creative businesses in mind; that’s why it’s perfect for me. But hold on, don’t just assume it’s not for you.  Photographers, coaches, lawyers and business consultants are using Dubsado to manage and grow their business. It does everything from client management, contracts, forms and invoicing, to freakishly cool automation and workflows. It’s also got scheduling, video conferencing and I hear integration with Xero isn’t far away (woohoo!). 

Why do I love it? 

It’s saved my time – something I don’t have a lot of. Where I used to send three separate emails for my proposal, contract and invoice. I now send ONE! And, it’s a canned email – so I don’t even have to type it! All three documents are sent to my client who completes it all online! They choose their package options, sign the contract, and an invoice is automatically generated. I also use Dubsado to gather website design feedback and to capture testimonials. My clients love the online portal, where all our emails and documents are easily accessible. 

Dubs is super cool and I only wish I’d discovered and invested in it soon. 

What’s the cost?

Free trial – up to 3 clients

Per month – $35 USD

Per year – $350 USD. 

You could pay the above prices (and it’s totally worth it), OR you could score an extra 20% off by using my link and code.

Yes! Take me to Dubsado – just use code: mindyourwords

2. ClickUp

I’ve tried quite a few project management tools like Trello and Asana, and I discovered that there were things that I loved (and didn’t love) about all of them. Then, I discovered ClickUp. It’s basically mashed all the things I loved about the other platforms into one. 

What is it?

ClickUp was designed to bring all your project bits and pieces together in one place. There’s to-do lists, project management, spreadsheets, goal tracking, time tracking, and for those of you with a team, you can assign tasks, work in real-time and even chat. 

What do I love?

I love the flexibility of ClickUp as a business tool. I can choose to view my project tasks in board style like Trello or in list view like Asana. There’s a calendar view, Gantt view and I complete my research in the document view.

I use it to manage everything from client work to content management and right through to all those crazy ideas I have a two in the morning (yes – there’s an app!) I’m even using ClickUp to collaborate with my business coach. Well, she’s using it to kick me up the bum. 

But to be fair, it’s taken me a while to nut it out, so if you’re cashed up, I’d recommend hiring a certified ClickUp consultant to help you set it up. 

What’s the cost?

Free Forever – 100MB Storage, unlimited tasks and unlimited members

Unlimited – From $6.81 AUD per member, per month paid annually. Pretty much unlimited everything. 

Business – From $12.25 per member for month. You get unlimited access plus a few other bits and bobs like white-labelling. 

Enterprise – the whole kit and caboodle. You have to contact them for a price. 

3. MailerLite

Mailerlite is my favourite email marketing business tool. If you’re trying to grow your list through lead magnets, newsletters etc. this makes it all so easy. 

What is it?

It has the latest in email marketing features like drag and drop editing and automation features. I love that it supports my lead magnet with an easy to create and edit email nurturing sequence. There’s also a website builder, landing pages, pop-ups and forms that you can embed straight onto your website. 

What do I love?

It’s free.  There I said it! Oh, and the automation that in most other platforms is an added cost. It’s also easy and intuitive to use; you can do a/b split testing monitor your results through clear reporting dashboards. 

What does it cost?

It starts free for businesses that have between 1-1000 subscribers and are sending up to 12000 emails per month. Then, it’s tiered pricing depending on the number of subscribers and emails that you’re sending. 

Premium plans also naturally have a few added extras like removing the Mailerlite logo, custom HTML editor and using custom domains. 

4. Xero

I started out using a free accounting program that had bank integrations, and it was fabulous – especially for basic accounting. But, when they took away the bank integrations, I went looking for an alternative and Xero it was. Honestly, if number crunching isn’t your thing – Xero is exactly what you need.

Business Tools for Freelancers

What is it?

Xero is an accounting software that makes managing your business finances easier. You get a real-time view of your cash flow, get paid faster with online invoices that integrate with other platforms like Stripe, run your accounting reports and manage your expenses. Got employees or sell products? No worries! You can do payroll and inventory management in the one system. 

What do I love?

It was fairly simple to set up, it makes reconciliations a breeze and at tax time, I just gave my accountant user access, and she took it from there. It also integrates with other platforms either directly or via Zapier. I’m seriously hangin’ out there for the Dubsado and Xero integration!

How much does it cost?

From $25 per month. The cost will depend on the number of invoices, bills and people on your payroll. As a freelancer, I’ve found that the mid-tier standard subscription is perfect and it’s priced at $50 per month. 

5. Canva

If you’re not using Canva in your business, you’re missing out. Now, I started as a freelance copywriter; design was not my ‘thang. And, I’ve always struggled to wrap my head around the complex beast of Adobe Photoshop or Illustration. Enter, Canva – where you can pretty much design anything! 

Essential business tools

What is it?

Canva allows you to choose from a huge range of templates to create social media posts, presentations, reports, posters, flyers, business cards, brochures…and I could go on! 

There are inbuilt design tools, stock photos, fonts, and it even integrates with social media platforms to make it quicker and easier to get your professional looking designs out into the big wide world. 

Why do I love it?

As a non-graphic designer, I’ve never been able to master more complex design software. Canva is so easy to use and even now as a website designer, I’m using it create high-quality, beautiful designs that feature on the websites of my clients. I love that I can set my logo, brand colours and fonts in the brand kit, share templates with colleagues, and I’m about to use it for my upcoming webinar slides. 

How much does it cost?

You can certainly do a whole lot of design in the free version, but I upgraded this year to pro so that I could access premium stock imagery, easily resize my designs and save designs as templates. The pro version starts from AUD 167.88 per year. 

Business tools bringin’ business love

Honestly, I’m such a process-driven girl and having these tools supporting my business makes managing my workload and projects easier. Still, more than that, they allow me to create enjoyable experiences for my clients. A smoothly run project is a happy project for everyone involved.

Obviously, there are other tools that I use like Later for social media scheduling or Whimsical for my wireframe development. Plus, I’ll always recommend Google Workspace (formally GSuite) for email and calendar management, and cloud-based storage.

The above business tools are the ones doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in my growing business. 

Want to see me put these tools into good use for your upcoming copywriting or website design project? Let’s talk. 

Brisbane Copywriter - Leeha Debnam - sitting at her desk

Hi! I'm Leeha Debnam

I help service-based businesses connect with customers with my affordable, all-inclusive digital marketing support packages. Having one point of contact means I get a deeper understanding of your business. The result? On-brand and authentic digital marketing that connects you with clients and helps you build the business you desire. From brand strategy, copywriting and content, to websites and social media - I'll tailor a package to your needs.

If you're a business owner looking to stand out from the crowd and connect with clients, book your free 30-minute consultation call today.

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