12 Most James Bond Worthy Tools for Freelancers
I grew up with a big brother who adored the James Bond films. This has led to many discussions about the series over the years. To be honest though, I am not into spy films. I watched the films for the gadgets. Q was my favorite character and in the Pierce Bronson era he was played by Monty Python alum John Cleese.
With that inspiration in mind, here are 12 tools no Freelancer should be without.
1. Entity Search
I was burned by one of my first clients that refused to pay. My father, a Certified Public Account, taught me to perform an entity search to make sure the company is a registered LLC. For your information, most businesses incorporate in Delaware or Nevada because of tax laws.
Well, after that first experience I decided that every client must have a contract with me. It isn’t just about legal protection, but building trust. I become suspicious of any client that refuses to commit to a contract. I highly suggest getting the Vandelay Freelance Starter Kit. It comes with everything you need to run a small business in social media marketing, SEO, or design.
I know that this might sound like a bad idea. It isn’t the most secure option and there is a small fee for using the service. I use it because it is the easiest way for my clients pay by credit card. Any service you can use for this is going to charge you a fee. I use PayPal because a client only needs my email to make a payment.
I just discovered Outright last month. It syncs all your incoming payments and expenses from your accounts (Banks, PayPal, and even Etsy).They attach a tax category automatically. By the time April comes around you will have a Schedule C ready to print. If you have earned at least a $1,000 in the past four months you will also have to pay your quarterly estimated taxes . Outright calculates this for you too (the next deadline is January 15, 2013).
There are many time trackers out there, but I have stuck with Paymo. I use it to track the time I work on assignments for clients. It will then automatically create an invoice when it is time to bill them.
6. Kitchen Timer
I divide my day between tasks for clients and those that will move my own business forward. I use my kitchen timer to set limits on the time I spend with social networks during the day. I usually give myself between 10 or 20 minutes depending on how much free time I have.
Yes, I have been using Google+ to host hangouts in Gmail. This feature was added in July of 2012. Google+ is becoming a necessary network for the social aspects of business.
8. Google Voice
Following that thread let’s just launch into the importance of Google Voice to business. Google Voice forwards calls to my cell and allows me to publically list that number on my business profiles. I no longer have to fear giving out my personal number online. Plus, it comes with a ton of features like voicemail transcription.
I use Dropbox as my personal secretary. Through the use of IFTTT and public folders it automates my business routine.
10. Google Chrome
Google Chrome is my browser of choice, purely for the blazing fast speed. It also has great integration with business apps that I use daily. Nothing is further away from my reach than a click.
I just started using ThinkUp to monitor my data over social media. It pulls in data from your social networks and archives them. It also gives you robust statistics to track your community building and follow conversation threads. It is one of the only tools freely available to track your Google+ posts.
12. Open Office
The Open Office suite is a free alternative to Microsoft Word. No expensive software is needed to create or edit a PDF. Simply format a word document and export to PDF. Easily make changes by repeating the process. This has allowed me to make professional looking reports for clients with little hassle.
What tools have you discovered? Please share them in the comments!
Featured image courtesy of SeeMonterey licensed via Creative Commons.