I thought I’d share some tips on how I run my business, Beanbag Media, online. I hate paperwork and love my iPhone, so having everything available online makes it easy to manage, not only from my Mac, but also when I am on the road.
From the money side of things, I use make use of 2 different web apps. One for invoicing & time management and another for keeping record of my income and expenses.
Harvest is a really simple, yet feature-rich (if you need it) application that manages the creating of invoices and tracking of time. For the most part, I use it to invoice and keep record of invoices. There is a pretty slick Dashboard widget for both PC and Mac for time and project management which I do use from time to time, but mostly I use it for sending invoices and creating statements for clients. There is a free plan, but I pay $12 a month for the Solo account which allows to me to make full use of all the features I need.
Pulse is a basic cash flow management tool for small businesses. I use it to track all income and expenses I incur relating to Beanbag Media. So every few weeks, I go through all my slips I’ve collected, from parking slips to coffee shop receipts to stationery I’ve bought and enter it into Pulse. I’ve also setup recurring expenses for ADSL and other monthly expenses that I know are constant (the $12 I pay for Harvest App as another example). I quickly go through my business bank account to record any income I’ve received and when my accountant knocks on my door to tell me its tax season, I hit the export button and that’s it! Everything is categorised too, so my accountant knows where to assign the different expenses and incomes to. Another $9 a month well spent.
As a small business, most of the projects I undertake are collaborations with other freelancers or small businesses. For managing all the interactions with them, I use Basecamp by 37Signals. It’s a no brainer in terms of project collaboration as well as a place to keep record and update others on the status of projects and ideas. It’s slightly pricey at $24 a month, but I feel its well worth the expense, considering how it keeps all the projects I am working on in order. You can’t properly manage a project with multiple people in different locations over email.
Beanbag Media’s email, calendar and online docs are run using Google’s apps for your domain, which is free!
So that’s a basic insight into how I run Beanbag Media from a day to day perspective. There are apps online that are free that do the same job as the products I’ve mentioned, I just found these apps to be easy to use as well as well-designed, which most of the free alternatives seem to lack.