When it comes to running your own business, you probably find yourself wearing many hats. If you work solo, it may also feel overwhelming to handle all the tasks needed to run a business. We are always trying to save time and money. So here are my favorite time saving tools for freelancers!
If you have not already read it, I highly recommend checking out Carrie’s article on Time Management Strategies for Virtual Assistants. She discusses some great techniques and practices in that article. It is a wonderful place to start.
What else can you add to your toolbox though? There are so many tools, websites, and apps out there! In my line of work, I have a few favorites I have come across and would love to share with you, along with some additional suggestions for using your time wisely that you may not have thought of.
Time is Money
When you are an independent contractor, business owner, or in a sales position, you know time, is in fact, money. Time is also one of the things we all have in common. We each have the same 24 hours in a day.
So how do you maximize that time? Does it ever feel like you are getting less done than the person next to you? Or do you wonder how someone gets everything done they do in a day? I definitely have had this feeling! What you may not realize, is that person probably has help (aka is outsourcing), and they are working smarter, not harder!
Outsource what you can
Start by making a list of what your tasks are. Include both your professional and personal obligations in this list, because all of these things take time out of your day. When you look at that list, are there some things that make more sense to outsource to someone else?
If you are just starting a business, you may be thinking “I cannot afford to outsource”. On the surface level, this may be true, but remember—time is money! In the few hours it would take you to clean your house for example, would you be able to make more money than it costs to hire someone to clean for you? If so, outsourcing your house cleaning is more profitable than doing it yourself. (Best money spent in my opinion!)
Are there items listed in your professional category that someone else could do faster than you? Or are there tasks someone could do for you, while you spend that precious time making more money? Then hire a freelancer or a virtual assistant for those items!
When considering this option, think about the things only you can do, what you do best, and what is the most profitable. Then, look for help for the rest.
Use pre-made templates
As a Type A person who tends to be particular, I had a hard time letting other people do things for me at first. Then I remind myself of what we talked about above. I also came to realize the plethora of resources that were already out there for me!
Chances are when you are working in your own business, you will need certain documents, such as contracts, proposals, spreadsheets, trackers, etc. You could spend time creating these, or you could use templates that are already created for you.
If you are a virtual assistant or freelancer, we have assets for you! Our assets include an independent contractor agreement that you can download and use over and over. A simple Google search had me looking at eForms, which also looks like potential option, but another Google search shows me that it’s not actually free. So be careful where you find your forms, though you shouldn’t have trouble finding something. If our resources do not match what you need or are looking for, send us a request!
Let technology be your friend
So far we have covered some time-saving tips, outsourcing, and using templates that are already created for you. Now let’s talk tech! Depending on your age and expertise, using websites and apps for your business may either be second nature or intimidating. Once I jumped on the technology bandwagon, I was hooked.
Using tools and apps can help you be more organized and efficient. There is a plethora of websites, services, and apps out there, and what will be most helpful for you may vary based on your business. (Mine is focused on design, branding, and social networking.) I am going to share my Top 3 picks that have helped me stay more organized, efficient, and focused.
When I started freelance design, I created my own invoices and emailed them to customers. I kept track of what had been invoiced, sent, and paid on a spreadsheet. This involved more work (and time) on my end, and I do not know why it took me so long to go digital.
Some of the most popular invoicing services are incorporated into websites you may already be using for your business, such as Quickbooks, Paypal, and Square. These services allow you to easily create, send, and track invoices.
One of my favorite features of Square, for example, is the ability to schedule reminders if the invoice is not paid. I can set it, and forget it! I also love that you can add your own logo, messages, discounts, or fees to invoices. Another feature I love is the ability to request a shipping address, which is great for my online jewelry business!
2. CREATING GRAPHICS
As a designer, I have a love-hate relationship with Canva. I love it because it makes creating digital and print graphics easy and accessible for the general public. I hate it because I am sure it has taken away some of my freelance design business—that is how easy it is to use!
Canva offers pre-made templates that you can edit and download. There is a free version and a paid version, depending on your needs. The paid version, or Pro as Canva calls it, offers premium content and extra design tools, such as erasing the backgrounds, creating Brand Kits, access to stock photos, videos, and more.
If you have multiple people working on a project, you may also want to check out their Canva for Teams option.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULING
In my line of work, a large part of my business is online, specifically on social media. Not only am I planning and creating content for myself, but I also need to share it with others. All of this became so much easier and more efficient when I discovered Cinchshare!
When I started my social networking business, I was creating content on a whim. Having a resource such as Cinchshare helps me plan ahead. By focusing about an hour of my time, one day a week, I can sit down and schedule my social media content for the whole week, or more. It helps me focus, plan, and get it all done efficiently, allowing me to spend less time on social media and more time on other priorities.
Cinchshare is also wonderful if you have a team, especially in the social networking/direct selling industries. You can set up entire online events, including photos and content, and share with others! If you want to try it before you buy it, there is even a 14-day trial.
Which app or service are you most excited to learn more about? I encourage you to always be open to learning new things. While it can feel intimidating at first, learning about the services and technologies out there can save you time in the end!