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5 Must-Have Small Business Tools






5 Secret Tools Small Business Owners are using to operate their business. Planoly, HoneyBook, CoSchedule and more!

I remember asking myself: How does she do it all? It looks like she is in a thousand places at once and found the secret formula for human cloning. She is a solopreneur accomplishing the work of six people and here I am still struggling to get my inbox to zero.

Sound familiar? Yep. I’ve been there. I remember wondering how all of the small business owners that I looked up to were getting so much work done with so little time. The secret? Automation. Technology replicating your processes, streamlining your systems, and going to work for you so that you can get back to doing what you love most.

After being an entrepreneur for over eight years, I’m sharing the top five tools that I use to automate my business operations, workflow, email nurturing, and social media marketing.

Automation is one of the biggest small business secrets for success.
It’s how she does it all.


The day I upgraded from Convertkit to Flodesk was a game-changing day in my business. Flodesk is easily the best email marketing platform for creatives and small business owners who are looking to nurture their audience.

Guys, the simplicity of automating your email marketing is the main reason why I love Flodesk so very much. The automations and sequences (that run constantly in the background) enable my email marketing strategy to operate behind the scenes. I can build out my dream series of emails that I would want every new member of my audience to receive, setup the avenues to funnel emails into the series, and it does the rest.

For example: When someone downloads a content upgrade (freebie) or watches one of my webinars, they are placed in the proper segment and dropped into my welcome sequence where they receive a ton of amazing free value. All of that without me having to lift a finger. Guys—it’s pure magic!


I’m grateful to have my personal business running on HoneyBook—contracts, invoices, and payments are all automated as a part of my workflow. It helps me to flip the 80/20 rule of being a small business owner and get back to doing what I love to do.

For the first six years of my business, booking clients was a tedious process of editing contracts in Microsoft word, exporting + emailing PDFs, waiting for the mail to arrive with a signed contract, and making the trek to the bank each week just to deposit checks. Oh, I haven’t even mentioned scanning documents, filing everything in a binder, and attempting to track incremental payment due-dates by hand.

You get the idea. My workflow system was broken and when we met the HoneyBook team back in 2015 (before officially joining on as Head of Community) I felt like my eyes were opened and I realized just how much time I had wasted in those early years of business.

If you’re on the fence with investing in a client management platform for your business, I want to encourage you to take the leap and get setup today. Time is your most precious resource (one thing you can never get back) and I don’t want you to spend hours doing something that a professional platform like HoneyBook could do for you.

Get 50% off of HoneyBook with my friends + family discount!

Automation Email Marketing and Workflow for Creative Entrepreneurs by Natalie Franke


CoSchedule is a user friendly, drag-and-drop editorial calendar for WordPress blogs, like this one. I have been using it since 2014 and swear by it. In a single sentence: CoSchedule is my editorial calendar that houses all of my blog posts and schedules corresponding social media messages to automate my marketing strategy.

For me, it truly comes down to the gorgeous calendar display living directly in WordPress as a plugin. The design gives you a high-level overview of your content and allows you to color coordinate, create tasks, and see everything displayed intuitively!

In addition to using CoSchedule for my blog—I also use it to automate any social media related marketing to accompany my content. It allows you to schedule posts on a multitude of platforms like: Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. It also allows you to create entire campaigns and save social media sharing templates for additional time-saving benefits.


I couldn’t run my business without Planoly. It’s my visual Instagram planning, analytics, and scheduling tool that has helped me to grow and manage accounts in excess of 100,000 followers. I even did an Instagram Scheduling webinar that took you behind the scenes of how I use this platform every day.

I love the visual display of the calendar that allows you to see what your feed is going to look like with a click and drag approach to rearranging potential images. You can play around with the future look of your feed and it gives you a better avenue for ensuring that your images flow in a way that is representative of your brand.

Planoly is perfect for the aesthetically obsessed content curators who want to level-up their Instagram game. They are constantly rolling out with new features like Shoppable Instagram feeds for influencers and hashtag lists to help you beat the algorithm.


If you aren’t recording your mileage for business, you’re leaving hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars on the table each year… and if you’re recording it manually—you are likely familiar with the pain of having to document every drive by hand.

Meet MileIQ—the mobile app that records your mileage invisibly in the background of your phone and simplifies the entire process. I have been using this app for years and cannot imagine life without it.

The beauty of MileIQ is that it runs in the background of your phone and records all of your travels using your integrated GPS. You don’t have to “remember” to do anything as it automatically records for you and allows you to categorize drives later on! Everything is mapped out for you so you can literally see each drive geographically from one address to another… It’s perfectly accurate!

Once drives are recorded by MileIQ, categorizing them is as easy as swiping–keeping track of my mileage takes me seconds rather than minutes. You can attach notes to each trip to record the “purpose” of that particular drive (meeting, shoot, wedding, etc.) and access your account at any time online for easy monthly and yearly overviews!

The easiest part, is downloading your Annual Report at the end of the year and sending it to your accountant. It’s worth every penny.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I would love if you decided to use them. Affiliate links + referrals programs help educators like me to fund the free content that we provide on our blogs. I also work for HoneyBook (if you didn’t catch that from my bio) and believe in this company with my entire heart. Supporting HoneyBook means supporting Rising Tide—so obviously I’m encouraging you to check it out.

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Great news: there’s more where that came from! I have a whole library of resources waiting for you - consider it your personal brain-fuel bookshelf. The only thing you need to bring? A cup of coffee.


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Add Your Comment


  1. Sarah says:

    This was so helpful! I use HoneyBook too and love it. Going to check out the others.

  2. Martha says:

    This list is so amazing. Loving your blog and new brand, Natalie!

  3. Missy says:

    Thank you! I’m looking for more ideas to make my workflow easier!

  4. Amanda says:

    There were a couple I haven’t heard of! I LIVR for automation!!! Good read.

  5. Laura says:

    Super helpful info! Thank you so much!

  6. Donna says:

    This was a great read!! I need to get in on the Planoly game!

  7. Zoe says:

    Thanks for the overview. Automation sounds like it really can help. I’m using Buffer, IFTTT and GetResponse for marketing automation.

  8. Laura Katie says:

    Just ran across this post and don’t use a few of these. So helpful!

  9. Megan says:

    Pretty interesting. I think my sister would like the mileage one for work.

  10. Sara says:

    Wish I’d seen some of these recommendations a few years ago when this blog post first came out! But excited to try out some of these new tools now.

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