How I Keep My Small Business Running Smoothly

I run a PR and marketing business, Sparkle Media, a blog, The Sparkle and am also a beauty editor here at Glitter Guide, so managing multiple clients and projects is a constant for me. In order to keep it all straight while on the go, I’ve nailed down a few holy grail tools for managing streams and never-ending to-do lists! For me, it’s been trial and error and I’ve learned along the way what is most effective in running my business as smoothly as possible.

My coordinator is in the office a few times a week, but she also works from home, so we’ve had to adjust and experiment with the best ways to collaborate and share documents when we’re working remotely. I love streamlining as much as I can, and if there is a more efficient way to do something, I’m all over it!

When you run a business, it’s difficult to dedicate time to making sure your own processes runs smoothly, but it’s worthwhile to put the time aside to really map out your needs, and then find solutions for them. So many programs these days are fee-based, and if you are investing in your business, spending money on these web-based tools and platforms is well worth it. Below you’ll find a list of the web-based tools—software and hardware—I use to keep the back-end of my business ticking along nicely!

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Google Drive: I use this as an external, web-based hard drive to store files. I keep this religiously organized, and all of my clients have their own folders. It’s the best way to share files and documents in real time with my team.

Basecamp: We were desperately in need of one place to keep our duties and projects organized, and after much trial and error with other programs, this has been a game changer. It’s totally intuitive, and is the place where we assign tasks and write out our to-dos—it keeps us very organized. Again, collaboration is key, and this web-based app is perfect for allowing us to see what’s happening minute-by-minute.

Dropbox: I am always working on a lot of creative content, and it can be a challenge to know how to manage images and files. I use Dropbox on my Macbook and iPhone religiously so that I can edit photos on both, and save a copy to Dropbox, allowing me to move seamlessly between applications of the images (for the blog, social media or sharing with clients). Buying the upgrade in space was totally worth the cost!

Harvest: A time-tracking app is so important for tracking not only your hours, but productivity. It has a handy in-browser timer that you can turn on and off as you switch between projects, and the reports show where you are spending your time, allowing you to report and hone accordingly.

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Snapseed: For editing photos, this is my favorite app. It has all the options I need to brighten, straighten and tweak. I find the settings to be much more powerful and true than the in-app Instagram options.

Canon 70D with Wireless: This has been a true game-changer for my business and so worth the investment since I’m always shooting visuals for clients, my blog and Glitter Guide. The wireless capabilities allow me to transfer straight from the camera to my iPhone wherever I am (including the car!).

Freshbooks: Accounting gives me hives, but this web-based program allows me to send out invoices, track payments and set automated reminders to my clients when they are overdue. I love the reoccurring feature, which sends out invoices for me. It also has powerful reporting features that make tax time much easier, and helps me avoid touching a spreadsheet!

Words and photos by Erin Sousa

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Author: Erin Sousa

Erin is the founder & principal of Sparkle Media, and blogs at The Sparkle. Erin lives in her downtown Vancouver condo with her husband, Roberto, and their dog, Ava. Follow on Instagram!

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