4 free apps to streamline your home business

As a small business owner, I am constantly searching for useful (and free) tools that can help me grow and strengthen my business. After plenty of trial and error I have finally narrowed down my utilities arsenal to these four highly valuable tools:


Freshbooks is the best free financial management app I have found on the market to date. I used to use Quickbooks Online and pay the $7.99 fee each month - without complaining! I mean, I could write off those monthly fees come tax time so it wasn't the end of the world. But I eventually realized that I would sometimes see months where there was not a lot of activity in my business (either income or expenses) and it just wasn't worth it to pay for this service anymore. Along came Freshbooks. 

Freshbooks has a clean design with user-friendly functionality. It will allow you to track your business expenses in a simple way, with effective reporting capabilities. You can also create, send and track invoices with Freshbooks - I don't need to send invoices in my Stella & Dot business but I do use this function to track cheque payments and deposits.

Here's how you can get Freshbooks.

Bonus: Why should you be tracking your businesses expenses? I talk all about it in this post.



My full time job requires me to use these types of email management systems regularly. I have tested probably a dozen different systems and I can honestly say that MailChimp offers some of the best visual design templates and options out there. Not only that, but MailChimp also tops my list in these areas:
  • List management functionality
  • 3rd party app integration
  • Pricing plans (especially if you're a small business, the free plan offers tons of bells and whistles)
I use MailChimp to send a monthly newsletter email to my entire customer list. I want to be the first name and face that comes to their mind when they hear "Stella & Dot", and a regular contact plan helps me ensure that this is the case. 

Here's how you can get MailChimp.

Are you interested to see what I send out in my newsletters? "Freebie Club" members can access my full archive - see (and steal) all the newsletters I've sent out to customers in the past and use them for your own! 

Sign up for the Freebie Club using the button here:


We've all sent an email out to a prospective customer or hostess and say around for days wondering if they got it/read it. Agonize no more! Yesware is an amazing email tracking tool that will allow you to view all of your email open and click statistics. You can also use it to schedule emails to send later (or send in the event your first message goes unread), bring your email thread back to your inbox as a reminder, and more.

One of my favourite features is that it allows you to BCC all of your email correspondence to a CRM system - more about this in the next point.

Yesware has turned me into a hyper-vigilant email optimizer - I play with language and key words to try and figure out what gets the most reads, quickest response, etc. It will turn you into a better communicator.

Want to learn more about what you can do with Yesware? Check out this tutorial.

Here's how you can get Yesware.


This app is the newest addition to my toolbelt. I have been looking for a feature-heavy CRM system (customer relationship management, for those of you who aren't Business graduates) that offers a free plan. I've explored Batchbook (which is thorough and can integrate with MailChimp) and it's great, but only offers a one-month free trial. 

There are still some features I haven't checked out but here are some things I've figured out how to do with Insightly:
  • Keep your Who Do You Know list in a place that is accessible from any computer with internet. Because sometimes you just need to find a customer's phone number when you are out and about!
  • Catagorize your contacts with tags. I have my tags set up to identify the hostess of the trunk show where I met each customer, also if the customer is "sensitive" (for those ones who need a little extra attention sometimes).
  • Track all email correspondence you've had with each customer and the added functionality that allows you to add a note (or "event") when you've called them or met them in person too.
  • Link contacts together. Did you meet a mother-daughter pair at your last show? Link their records together in Insightly so when you send invitations to your annual open house you'll remember to send one with both their names instead of two to the same house. It's these little customer service things that will make you stand out.

Each of these tools have smart phone apps you can download to keep your business at your fingertips. You'll never go anywhere without being prepared!

Tell me, what tools do you use to keep your business running smoothly? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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