What’s In My (Business) Bag: 6 Surprising Tools Today’s Entrepreneurs Can’t Live Without

We’ve come a long way since clunky typewriters and that printer paper with the holes in it (remember that?). A modern workforce requires modern tools.

As we celebrate entrepreneurs everywhere this Labor Day, we wanted to know: What IS in your business toolkit these days? What small but mighty tools help save the day? And which tool would your grandma be most surprised to hear you’re using?

From Ziplock bags to the messaging app people can’t seem to get enough of, these answers from the community might surprise you!

Jessica Whitaker, Photographer

Jessica Whitaker@jessicawhitaker

What is a small but mighty tool you use that surprises people?

A Zip-loc bag! I love using it in-camera to create haze lens effects, holding it in front of my lens to cover up any trash or patchy grass on locations, and to also wipe off any wet surfaces.

Fill in the blank: My great grandmother would never believe I’m using __________ to __________.

A telephone to run my own business as a 24-year-old girl

What are your top 3 tools to run your business?

  1. HoneyBook – Automates my photography clients
  2. Acuity Scheduling – Allows photography clients to book me and allows my non-profit team to see when I am available for meetings
  3. Trello – Keeps all my projects and detailed to-do lists all in one place

Fill in the blank: I can’t leave the office without  __________.

A huge bottle of water

What’s a tool you used in your corporate job that you actually still use today?

Trello. I learned how to use Trello in college and I used it in both of my desk jobs. I have so many different areas in my biz, and Trello keeps all the various projects (and team members!) all in one place both on my computer and phone.

Fill in the blank: I always pack __________ if I’m traveling for work.

My camera and about 4 external hard drives

Laura Neff, Business Strategist

Laura Lee Creative@lauraleecreative

What is a small but mighty tool you use that surprises people?

MileIQ. LOVE THAT APP. It tracks all my miles in the background of my phone so I don’t have to worry about it.  Then at the beginning of each week, it takes me about 30 seconds to classify all my business drives and at the end of the year I can click a button to create a report for my accountant come tax time! Easiest money I ever spent!

Fill in the blank: My great grandmother would never believe I’m using __________ to __________.

Something called “Facebook” to book clients.  She wouldn’t have a clue what a computer is first of all, and social media would be completely foreign to her! 

What are your top 3 tools to run your business?

  1. HoneyBook! HoneyBook is how I manage 80+ photography clients and projects at a time, and all my coaching and workflow implementation clients for my other business! I LOVE using the workflow and task management tools, having all my email correspondence in one place, having all client data and reports in the click of a button, and syncing with my Google calendar for all bookings! On a daily basis I’m checking HoneyBook to see where every client is in the process and my workflows help me stay organized, streamlined, and 5 steps ahead of my clients. I couldn’t run my business without it.
  2. Asana – Asana is where I house ALLLLL my other business and life tasks for the various projects and goals I set both personally and professionally.  I use it as a project and task management tool for myself and my team for projects like retreat planning, conference planning, my own wedding, admin tasks, content planning, and SO.MUCH.MORE. I always joke with coaching clients that my entire brain is in Asana and if it ever ceased to exist I would die.  I absolutely love it and love that it’s free!!
  3. QuickBooks! I am getting more and more obsessed with tracking profits, expenses and the overall health of my business and the only way to do that is by constantly looking at numbers – revenue, profit, expenses and overhead, booking rates, and more. With the click of a button QuickBooks can whip up reports for me for each revenue stream so I can always have a pulse on my business and the health of my profit.

Fill in the blank: I can’t leave the office without  __________.

A blank notebook to braindump all my thoughts and ideas in!

What’s a tool you used in your corporate job that you actually still use today?

Asana! Well, truth be told I used Trello back then because I hadn’t heard of Asana but I tell all my clients who have corporate jobs still to use Asana, too! 

As I previously mentioned, it helps me track all tasks across EVERY SINGLE PROJECT both professionally and personally.  I can write task descriptions, create subtasks, assign tasks to team members, assign due dates, and so much more. This is how I would have used it in my corporate job too as a project manager at an interior design and construction firm. Everyone needed a solid management system in that job and I would have loved utilizing this!

Fill in the blank: I always pack __________ if I’m traveling for work.

My laptop, a notebook, headphones, and a pack of colorful pens, and usually a book and a planner!

Cristina Barragan, Floral and Event Design

Posh Peony@poshpeony

What is a small but mighty tool you use that surprises people?

Cell phone—because I can do virtually anything on it. Webinars, calendar, welcome videos, live streaming, filming, email marketing, emails, social media, blogging, graphics, etc. 

Fill in the blank: My great grandmother would never believe I’m using __________ to __________.

bonjoro to send welcome videos….or teachable to teach courses

What are your top 3 tools to run your business?

  1. HoneyBook (software)
  2. Bonjoro (software)
  3. Convertkit (software)
  4. Profit first (book)
  5. Japanese floral sheers (for flowers)
  6. Posh Peony apron (for floral work)

Fill in the blank: I can’t leave the office without  __________.

my laptop and planner

What’s a tool you used in your corporate job that you actually still use today?

My Simplified planner and Powersheets,  keeps me organized, on track, and accountable in my goals. 

Fill in the blank: I always pack __________ if I’m traveling for work.

laptop and headphones

Preston Lee, Full-Time Blogger

MilloHow to start a blog and make money

What is a small but mighty tool you use that surprises people?

I bought this cheap little “low-tech” computer stand on Amazon a couple years ago. It was literally less than $15. Not only does it SAVE my back when working remotely on my laptop, but I have received more compliments and had more conversations about it than anything else I carry around with me. I think people enjoy and appreciate the simple materials and design. I personally can’t work on my laptop without it so I always make room in my bag for it.

Fill in the blank: My great grandmother would never believe I’m using __________ to __________.

a computer… to make a living from absolutely anywhere in the world.

What are your top 3 tools to run your business?

  1. My laptop
  2. Computer stand
  3. Mouse
  4. Keyboard

Fill in the blank: I can’t leave the office without  __________.

My laptop.

What’s a tool you used in your corporate job that you actually still use today?

Magic mouse. I’ve tried all sorts of track pads, ergonomic mouses, roller balls, and other simple USB mouses. For some reason, my productivity skyrockets when I have a magic mouse in my hand. For me, the weight, size, and added ability for swiping gestures make it a productivity tool I can’t live without.

Fill in the blank: I always pack __________ if I’m traveling for work.

A snack. 😉

Emma Rose, Website Designer

Emma Rose Company@emmarosecompany

What are your top 3 tools to run your business?

  1. Asana
  2. Squarespace
  3. HoneyBook

Fill in the blank: I can’t leave the office without  __________.

My polaroid camera!

What’s a tool you used in your corporate job that you actually still use today?

QuickBooks

Fill in the blank: My great grandmother would never believe I’m using __________ to __________.

the Internet… to make a living

What is a small but mighty tool you use that surprises people?

Greetabl!

Fill in the blank: I always pack __________ if I’m traveling for work.

My laptop

Christina Scalera, Founder

The Contract Shop®|@christinascalera

What are your top 3 tools to run your business?

  1. Shopify. I switched my online digital product shop to Shopify about two years ago from Squarespace and never looked back. The capability of Shopify and its analytics is astounding. You don’t need Shopify right out of the gate– but when you are selling more than $100K online, you’ll really, really love the switch just for the improved metrics and features.
  2. HoneyBook, obviously! I know this sounds like pandering, but it’s not. HoneyBook is such a lifesaver, especially when it comes to automations and bookkeeping. It is SO incredibly helpful to know where I’m at with each client at a glance, whether any clients are behind on payment and when I write emails to clients, to be able to send them in a few seconds flat is, mwah. Amazing.
  3. Eyelash extensions. So far I’m not aware of any filter like Instagram has for my webcam. On video calls for my group coaching program or 1:1 with clients, these little puppies make me look awake and made up, even when I didn’t have time to get ready. Plus it’s forced naps for an hour every other week.

Fill in the blank: I can’t leave the office without  __________.

Cleaning up. I’ll have somewhere to be in the evenings and I’m just late to whatever that is because I can’t not tidy up before I leave. I hate walking in to a bunch of papers and empty coffee mugs everywhere. Ick.

What’s a tool you used in your corporate job that you actually still use today?

There was really nothing easy or efficient about my former corporate job. The internet and office furniture are the only tools my job then vs. now have in common. Ooohh– but my corporate job did have a cool coffee maker that allowed me to enable my procrastination habit wayyyy too much.

Fill in the blank: My great grandmother would never believe I’m using __________ to __________.

My family are all immigrants so my great grandmother wouldn’t believe I’m using English to communicate. The amount of money I spend on stationery would also probably give her a heart attack.

What is a small but mighty tool you use that surprises people?

Electronically? Bonjoro… it’s an app that allows me to send personalized video follow-up messages to new subscribers or customers. 

IRL? A double-walled, insulated Hydroflask wine cup I got at REI as my coffee mug. Just as effective as an Ember mug, without the cost or hassle.

Fill in the blank: I always pack __________ if I’m traveling for work.

Food! I could be completely satiated, surrounded by restaurants, and I still get really nervous if I have no food in my bag.

Sobrina Pies

I’m a HoneyBooker—writing about small businesses, the people who run them, and tips and tricks to help them grow—and a lifestyle blogger at Quiet Like Horses, sharing stories, not small talk. HoneyBook helps you manage your business all in one place, from sending proposals, invoices and contracts to managing your projects and getting paid. Want to give it a try? Start a free HoneyBook trial here.  

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