Running a business is really expensive, not to mention time-consuming. It’s easy to get completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that there are to do any any given time. Not to mention the amount of paperwork, notes, documents, articles, and everything else that seems to magically accumulate. While there are tons of expensive premium apps out there that you can use to help stay on top of everything, what if you don’t have a lot of money to spend? Luckily for you and me, there are also quite a few free apps that you can use for organizing your small business without going bankrupt. Nearly all of these have some sort of premium option. However, you can easily start with the free plans until you can afford to upgrade, if you choose to.
Evernote is a remarkable app for taking, storing, and managing all of your notes across multiple devices. It is as easy to use as any other word processor, but features a ton of powerful extras like note reminders, tags, search, and an organizational hierarchy that mimics a traditional binder storage system. That’s why it has been my go-to note-taking solution since I ditched OneNote a few years ago.
What do I use it for?
Every important note, document, PDF, voice memo, or image gets stored in Evernote. This includes things like:
- Purchase or payment receipts
- Customer emails
- Interesting web articles (saved as a PDF)
- Blog post drafts
- My brain dump / inbox / gathering point notes
What about the premium version?
The free Basic version of Evernote is perfect if you’re just getting started. It has everything you need to organize your notes and documents and clear up the paper clutter for good. However, it is lacking a few features like the ability to search and annotate PDF documents. If you find that you need that, require additional space, or want to sync across more than 2 devices, you may want to consider the Premium ($69.99 USD/year) or Business plan.
Trello is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to being able to visually display and organize your small business projects, tasks, and other information. I use it to organize everything in my business, like all my affiliate information, project details, development plan, content schedule, marketing details, and ideas for future projects.
For privacy purposes, I’m not going to share screenshots of my boards. I have a few that are eventually going to go public for voting purposes, but they aren’t there yet. In the meantime, here are a few screenshots from other users’ boards, which show how they use Trello boards to organize their businesses.
How Trello works
The best part about Trello is that it is so easy and flexible to use. It works off a basic kanban-style system of boards, lists, and cards. You create a board for a specific thing, then create lists inside the board to organize your information. Individual cards are added to lists to represent one item, idea, task, or piece of information.
For example, you could create a board named ‘Editorial Calendar’. Within that board, you could create lists for “Planning”, “In Progress”, “Up Next”, and “Published”. Then you would add cards for each article or piece of content that you plan to publish or have published in the past. Each card contains its own set of information, such as labels that can be used to tag items, due dates, attachments, checklists, comments, and notes.
Powerups make Trello even more powerful
Trello is pretty amazing all on its own, but what makes it even better is the growing number of powerups that you can add to your boards. These add even more functionality and integrate other services like Evernote, OneDrive, Dropbox, Mailchimp, and Twitter.
Some of my favorite powerups that I add on almost every board include the calendar, repeating cards, and custom fields for adding additional text, number, and checkboxes to my cards.
Unfortunately, if you have a free Trello plan, you’re limited to one powerup for each board. However, you can choose a different powerup for each board, so it is still great if you’re just getting started or want to keep things simple. I used it for years before finally deciding to upgrade. It has always been one of my favorite apps for organizing my business, even without the extra powerups.
Stick with the free plan for a bit, then upgrade when you are ready (or never… it’s up to you!)
If you find that you want additional powerups, you have a few different upgrade options that are relatively affordable.
Trello Gold is the most affordable option. At $45/year, you can get up to 3 powerups, custom backgrounds and stickers, bigger storage, and access their built-in automation service called Butler. This is the perfect solution for solopreneurs as it is affordable but still makes Trello so much more powerful.
If you have a team or love Trello as much as I do, Business Class is a good option. It’s a lot more expensive at $119.99/user/year (plus tax) but you’ll get unlimited powerups, even better automation through Butler, bigger upload sizes for attachments, and additional settings for board visibility.
Pocket is a user-friendly, cross-platform app that lets you save all of your articles and videos from the web so you can come back to them later. You can add tags for organization, star your favorite articles, and share recommendations with others including your followers.
While not technically designed with business in mind, Pocket is still one of the best apps for organizing your business-related articles. I love using it to save blog posts from some of my favorite bloggers as well as articles about game development, new web development trends, UI / UX design tips, and so much more.
If you decide to upgrade for $44.99/year, Pocket Premium offers an ad-free, more robust experience. You’ll be able to search within all of your saved articles, highlight text, and even store a copy of each article so you can still see it even if it’s removed from the web.
Follow me on Pocket if you want to see some of my recommendations. I only have a few right now, but I’ll be sure to start adding more once I get a few more followers. 😉
One of the pains of owning and running a small business is the never-ending task list that comes with it. That’s where a dependable task management app comes in handy. Todoist is just the ticket. It hands-down reigns supreme as one of the best apps for organizing your business tasks.
Built and designed with the user in mind, Todoist has a clean, modern interface that is impossible not to love. It comes packed with a feature-rich interface that even free users can use. Oh, and did I mention it is cross-platform? You’ll no longer have to worry about missing or incompatible apps when you switch to a new phone. Just download the app to your new device and all your tasks will be right where you left them. There’s even an app for your Apple Watch!
You can organize your tasks in projects so you can keep them all separate, which is really helpful if you are managing multiple projects at one time or responsible for multiple, or all, aspects of your business.
As with the other apps, Todoist offers a $36/year Premium plan with even more features like automatic reminders, custom labels, and 10 different colorful themes. The labels are really nice for keeping your tasks even more organized, especially if you use the GTD task management system. For example, you can add a context label, such as “email”, to a task. Then you can display all tasks that are assigned that label so you know what other emails you need to send out.
IFTTT, which stands for “If This Than That”, is a really powerful automation tool that lets you connect your favorite apps together to make them do even more. It lets you create easy-to-use applets that tell the app what to do if something else happens.
While it is not ideal for organizing your business on its own, IFTTT really helps to integrate your other apps so you can keep them all in sync without having to do a lot of manual updating.
You can use IFTTT to create tasks in Todoist when you add new cards in Trello. You can even have it attach a new Evernote note to your card so you can store your notes separately. It’s also possible to have IFTTT post a new card to Trello when you add a certain tag to an Evernote note.
Finding and creating applets is easy once you get the general “if this than that” format down. You can also search for and use other user-created applets like the one shown below. Just turn it on with the flip of a switch and let IFTTT do all the work.
IFTTT is completely free. Best of all, they are always adding new pairings and working with businesses and developers to make the applets even more powerful.
How Do You Organize Your Small Business?
I’m such a nerd for apps and other productivity tools. I’d love to hear what apps you use for organizing your small business, so please let me know! Also, if you enjoy reading content like this, be sure to subscribe below to get alerts in your inbox when I post something new. ❤