We wanted to share a list of tools our design agency uses daily to function our best. As a business that was built on a budget from the ground up, we understand that growing a business has to be done in baby steps. JAC began only using 1-2 of these and here we are in year five using ALL TEN of these tools!
Some of these are wonderful, time-saving investments that we couldn’t initially fit into our budget. If you’re in that spot but are still eager to invest in the next phase of your business, we listed any discount codes we had alongside our recommendations below! Our team is ALWAYS cheering on other businesses and wanting to help however we can. Wherever you are in your business, we hope this list helps you if you need growth in any of these areas 🙂 Here are our FAVORITE tools:
Team Member + Client Management
This is a messaging app that can be used via desktop or a mobile phone app. It allows you to direct chat with team members, make Team Member group chats, and create individual channels based on projects/topics people are involved in. My team and I do most of our communication here!
If I had to cancel all the softwares and narrow down to 1 or 2, Quickbooks would be the number one software I would continue to keep as a business owner. Having your finances in order is SO key, and Quickbooks makes it easy to track income, expenses, manage payroll, and run reports to gain a financial pulse on your business. We use the Quickbooks Online Plan and the Payroll Add On. Plus, Quickbooks makes it super easy to onboard new team members by getting a digital W9 from them, and we are able to pay our team via direct deposits right from Quickbooks! Highly recommend this for anyone who’s looking to get their finances organized for their business.
This is a cloud-based collaboration and project management tool suitable for businesses. We use this to house important JAC materials so the whole team has access, we are able to assign specific tasks + deadlines to team members, and I am able to set up client portals to track completion of project steps in Dubsado. We also have custom dashboards created inside ClickUp for our Team Member training portal. We’ve also migrated a lot of client communication to happen inside ClickUp to keep our inbox more organized. We use ClickUp to store all of our SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and we have a few forms created to help us manage certain tasks like Tech Support for our Template Shop, and our Team Member Onboarding Questionnaire so everything is stored in one place! Here’s our referral link for ClickUp.
This is my formal business brain between JAC and clients. Dubsado allows us to look professional and stay organized and provide a great experience for clients. This helps us organize our assorted branding + design projects and send important communication materials like contracts, invoices, and questionnaires. We love that it can automate things like payment reminders, manage our calendar scheduling, and it makes processes simple for our clients. Everything is branded to our business, even the automated emails that come from Dubsado! We love having our projects streamlined in one place! Wanna try? Use our link to start using Dubsado and earn 20% off for the first year!
It’s important that my team is able to accurately track their time! Clockify is a great way to organize a team of independent contractors if this is something your business needs. This is available on your desktop or an app for employee convenience. Clockify is a free app with the option to upgrade to paid tiers, but we have been able to tackle everything we need with the free plan!
We use a business plan and use the cloud storage to share projects between team members. We also use it to collect files from clients as needed. We use Google Sheets for managing content calendars, project tracking and analytics.
Social + Marketing Resources
This is a FREE graphic designing website + app. There is a pro version that my team uses, but we love it for a lot of our social graphics. It allows you to store your branding elements so they are handy with your logo + fonts + color palette to keep your social graphics looking cohesive. We have the Pro version so we can use it to create templates for our clients that make it easy to add files to their Canva account.
Save time by scheduling your social media content ahead of time! We create content in batches and schedule it out according to what the algorithm suggests. It also lets you save sets of hashtags to quickly add to each post. Planoly also helps you analyze your Instagram performance so you can track which types of posts perform best for your audience. Here’s a referral link if you want to try it out!
This is my favorite email marketing company! They let you organize several marketing lists, create workflows for your audience to work though, and tracks your email analytics. If you’re looking to spruce up your email marketing and want to try Flodesk, join with this link to earn 50% off the first year.
Our marketing team is full of graphic design + photography talent… but we STILL need a little help with graphics from time-to-time. We love using stock photos to help us with content! Social Squares has lots of professional stock images that are organized into color and style families so you can quickly find material that fits your brand imagery.
There are so many resources that can make running your business so much easier! Seeing this full list of tools our design agency uses DAILY and realizing how far J. Alexandria Creative has come over the years is so cool. Can’t wait to hear if any of these help you in your business! If you have any specific questions about these, reach out to my team and we’d be happy to help.
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