I started Whimsy + Wellness accidentally in 2016. I never imagined I’d be at a point where people would be asking for my must-have business tools (me?!). I’m deeply grateful to all of our amazing customers who share about us, buy our products, email us about how much they love what they’re doing, and show up for in so many other ways. Showing up for them is what keeps me going every day!
Growing quickly has its challenges, but these are my top 7 must-have business tools for female entrepreneurs, small businesses, and family-run businesses. Whether you’re hoping to start a business one day or are currently growing a business, I hope this list is helpful to you!
The 7 Must-Have Business Tools That Help Me Save Time and Money and Run My Business Better
1. Adobe Lightroom for Better Photos is a No-Brainer When it Comes to Must-Have Business Tools
As any online product retailer will tell you, photos are everything. To help my customers decide which roller bottlers, crystals, or other wellness products are right for them and to minimize returns, I need to be able to share as many photos as possible.
Plus, high quality photos help my customers trust my shop, and help them understand how high quality our products are. They also help my products stand out–people scroll right on by bad photos. Nobody wants to waste their time!
Not only do I need excellent quality images, however, I also need a huge volume of images. I need product shots for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, emails, and the blog. To say photography is a huge part of what we do is an understatement!
Adobe Lightroom is a huge help when it comes to creating gorgeous photos because it has apps for the iPhone and the iPad, and it runs on iOS or Windows. My favorite part, though, is the presets. They make editing photos so easy, and save me tons of time. I can even go a step further and purchase tried-and-true presets from photographers. These help create a coherent look across all my social media platforms and our website.
2. Marco Polo for Better Communication–the Surprising Must-Have Business Tool That Most People Aren’t Using!
Let’s face it: with a tiny newborn and a toddler, plus a growing business, I rarely have time for a phone call and I have even less time for in-person get togethers. Enter Marco Polo. Marco Polo is a video messaging app. It’s like leaving a video voicemail for somebody that they can listen to and respond to whenever they get a chance.
One of the things I’ve learned after more than three years running a business is that community is EVERYTHING. I don’t always have time to meet up with friends who are also busy running a business and growing a family, but Marco Polo helps us stay connected and keep in touch.
I even use it to communicate with team members or contractors because it makes communicating with people way wayyyyy easier. I talk through ideas this way when designing new products or when I need email marketing help or to get tips from my fellow boss babes on all the things. Plus, it’s free!
Finally, Marco Polo belongs on this list of my must-have business tools because it helps me prioritize community over competition. Community over competition is one of our core values here at Whimsy + Wellness. It would be so easy for me to simply see something another entrepreneur is doing in the wellness space, copy it, and sell it myself.
Instead, I seek out like-minded fellow entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things, and I partner with them! I believe community helps us both, and Marco Polo has been a powerful resource for helping me connect with smart, savvy business owners who help me grow.
3. Gusto for Managing My Team
When we hired our first person, it was scary. There is so much paperwork, and I was afraid to do it wrong. Gusto is super user friendly and makes running payroll and keeping track of hours SO easy! Employees can sign in directly, which saves on extra paperwork for you, and makes life so much simpler and easier for them.
Note: this is an affiliate link, which means I may earn a small commission when you start using Gusto. It’s what helps me create posts like this one! Thank you!
4. Instagram for Connecting With My Customers (Is This How You Use This Must-Have Business Tool?)
I love connecting with people through Instagram and learning how we can serve them better. When you’re a new business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down by social media, but here’s what I’ve learned: Instagram is all about the connection.
Yes, we all love beautiful images, but mostly we all want to feel seen, known, and connected to something larger than ourselves. Instagram helps me stay in touch with my customers on a day to day basis. It’s like I’ve become part of their daily lives; they’re definitely part of mine!
I’m able to learn firsthand from my customers about new designs that they want, new products that they need, and other ways I can make their lives easier. In addition, Instagram helps me communicate the heart and soul behind Whimsy + Wellness. When I share the behind-the-scenes of running a small family business, my customers get to connect with me and feel like they know me–because now they do!
It also helps them appreciate how they’re helping our family when they buy from me as opposed to buying something on Amazon. I’ve shared about our miscarriages and grief and our beautiful rainbow baby, and have received hundreds of messages from other women who feel less alone. I’m truly grateful for this platform! It’s what helps me keep ultra-connected to my customers, and introduce new ones to all the amazing things we have going on in the shop.
5. Graphic Designer for Helping Me Focus on What I Do Best
I’m not a designer but I have tons of ideas, and a graphic designer makes those ideas come to life in wayyyy less time then it would take me to do it myself. They can be a little more expensive but in the end it’s so worth it so I can spend my time on other things!
Most business owners will tell you: you start out doing everything yourself, and then at a certain point, you have to start finding people who can help you bring your vision to life.
I ask myself: am I the BEST person to be doing this? With graphic design, for example, it’s better for the whole company if I spend my time doing what nobody else can do–envisioning, planning, and creating new limited-edition styles for the shop!
If you’re ready to hire a designer, here are a few of my suggestions:
- Make sure everything is SUPER clear up front and make sure you know if you’re being charged by the project or by the hour. If it’s by the hour, always ask for an estimate of how long the project will take. If it’s by the project, ask how many revisions are included.
- It often takes working with several different people before you find a designer who’s the right fit, so make sure you budget for failed or poorly executed projects, just in case!
- Create Pinterest boards and have tons of examples on hand so you can be as detailed as possible. This is not a time to be quiet about your opinion and what you really think!
6. Mailchimp (or Other Email Platform) for Communicating With My Customers
As much as I love Instagram, the fact is I’m not in control of the platform and at any point, Instagram (and all our followers!) could disappear. As terrifying as that sounds, we’ve made a point to make email part of our business strategy from early on. This means that we’ve been proactive about collecting email addresses, and I have to include an email platform on my list of must-have business tools!
Mailchimp is free for your first several hundred users and while it’s not the best platform once you really get things going, it’s a great place to start. If you’d like to offer your customers multiple lead magnets or offers for joining your email list, ConvertKit is a better choice (there’s no free option, however).
I look at email the same way I look at Instagram: it’s all about the relationship! I want our Whimsy + Wellness emails to be so fun and valuable that people can’t wait to open them. I include special coupon codes just for email subscribers, essential oil recipe blends, tons of education about oils, crystals, wellness, and business building, and of course sales and discounts.
7. Podcasts to Help Me Learn (the Not-So-Secret Must-Have Business Tool)
Podcasts are the not-so-secret weapon for business female entrepreneurs, and no list of my must-have business tools could be complete without them! I’m always looking for new, fantastic podcasts, but one of my favorites is Goal Digger, from Jenna Kutcher. Jenna is super relatable and one of the best online business teachers out there right now. She’s honest and vulnerable as well, which I love.
Other female founders I love catching on any podcast interview I can find are Gregg Renfrew, creator of BeautyCounter, and Elle Rowley, creator of Solly Baby. I look for podcasts where they’ve been interviewed to learn all I can, and I highly suggest you look for your own business “mentors” that inspire and encourage you, as well!
What Are Your Must-Have Business Tools?
If you have favorite business tools, apps, hacks, or other ideas, let me know in the comments! I can’t wait to hear what’s moving the needle for your business.