Starting a business on your own is both a thrilling and overwhelming prospect. As a solopreneur, you’re the only person you answer to. But you’re also the only one responsible for making your business a success. When you have the right tools to stay organized and build relationships with prospective clients, you’ll start out ahead of the curve.
For the burgeoning solopreneur, one of your most important early steps is to choose a top-notch CRM and supplement with project management tools that will keep you on-task, on-budget and in contact with clients. We’ve got the eight best (FREE!) CRM and project management apps that will get you on your way to solo success.
Best Free Apps for Small Business Owners
In today’s digital world, new apps and tools hit the market at a rapid pace, each offering promises of simplifying and optimizing your business operations. It’s difficult to know where to start, but lucky for you, we’ve done the research, and can point you in the right direction. We’ll look first at the best CRM apps for solopreneurs. The right customer relationship management tool will offer ease of use, simple automation and customization capabilities. There are numerous robust platforms out there with tons of bells and whistles, but as a business singleton, you’ll benefit more from finding a program that is scaled back, lean and budget-friendly.
HubSpot’s free CRM is an industry favorite among marketers. It is fully scalable for any business size, from solopreneur to enterprise. But what sets HubSpot apart is its focus on content and inbound marketing. If you’re a freelancer, independent contractor or consultant providing content to your clients, HubSpot is the CRM you need. Along with managing contacts, HubSpot offers numerous other tools for SEO and content optimization. It has advanced customization features and allows for easy automation, so you can reach leads easily and effectively. Best of all, its base platform is always free.
Agile’s free plan is great for solopreneurs with fewer than 1,000 contacts. Not only will you be able to track and score leads, but you’ll also be able to set up customized, automated email campaigns with drag-and-drop templates, build forms and create custom landing pages. Agile also helps you manage customer service with a help desk designed to prioritize issues and deploy quick responses. You’ll also get Agile’s analytics capabilities to dig into your customer data and develop actionable insights.
If you’re looking for a starter CRM and have fewer than 250 contacts, Capsule is a great choice. Capsule focuses on customer nurturing and provides best-in-class data security, so you and your clients can rest assured your privacy is always protected. As a solopreneur, you’re likely to need on-the-go capabilities. Capsule’s mobile app makes it easy to manage relationships and track progress from anywhere. So wherever you work, Capsule will work for you.
This cloud-based app offers a forever free plan for basic CRM that promises it will grow with your business. Its basic contact manager is simple and easy to use, but as you find you need more capabilities and functionality, you’ll be able to integrate a variety of free apps from contract design to competitor analysis. Apptivo can also handle billing and invoicing, and it even gives you the ability to accept PayPal payments directly through the platform.
Best Project Management Software for Solopreneurs
While many CRM tools offer features that aid in project management, you might find you need more robust tools to keep your business on track. These project management apps provide on-the-go capabilities to keep you organized so you can manage your time productively and efficiently.
ClickUp’s free platform offers unlimited task management plus 100MB of storage to keep your important documents and files organized in one easy-to-access location. ClickUp helps you set goals and then track your progress so you can achieve them on the timeline you set. The service also offers ready-made templates you can customize to your business needs. Create checklists, set priorities and build mind maps for a quick visual reminder of your progress and outstanding tasks.
Asana offers a wealth of features and capabilities for all your project management needs. While it’s designed for teams, solopreneurs will still find value in its ability to break out projects by client for easy tracking. Select board or list view, according to your preference, for at-a-glance insight into your daily, weekly and long-term tasks. Asana also allows you to bring in collaborators, attach documents and files and set goals.
If you’re more of a visual learner, Trello is your best bet for project management. Its card system displays projects and tasks to give you a bird’s-eye view of your workload. It also offers templates for a wide variety of industries and use cases to get you up and running in a snap. Integrate with your favorite business apps to keep all your key information in one spot.
Task Pigeon is a totally free software platform with solopreneurs in mind. It offers a fully customizable overview of your projects, so you can manage them in the way that works best for you. Choose from boards, lists, tiles, checklists and more. Task Pigeon promises unparalleled flexibility, and if your business grows, they have several premium upgrades to meet all your expanded project management needs.
Looking for a free tool that will help you check off your most pressing to-dos? Todoist is the one for you. This simple mobile app allows you to create to-do lists by project or client. Set recurring tasks, add reminders or attach notes and documents. Color-code tasks based on priority and manage both personal and professional lists from one convenient location.
As a solopreneur, you have a lot on your plate. The apps listed above will help you DIY your way to business success. And if you need more support, Incfile’s DIY course will get you off on the right foot and on your way to a thriving solopreneur career. You might be the owner, boss and employee, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).