4 Must-Have Business Tools for Self-Employment

When I quit my full-time corporate job to go full-time self-employed, I had no idea how many little things I would suddenly need to keep my company running in a healthy way. And to be honest, I’m still missing one of the biggest components: a capable accountant. So I’m on a hunt for that!

Here are my 4 “must-have” business tools that have helped me to get my company up and running:

  • G Suite: E-mail, Calendar, File Storage
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed: Accounting, Taxes, Organizing Business Expenses
  • Calendly: Set up “Office Hours” where People can Book Meetings with You
  • Notion: Organizing, Planning, and Note Taking (Evernotes on Steroids!)

Let’s take a look! ?

(Looking for ways to get paid? Check out Bootstrapped Freelancer’s Guide to Getting PAID ? )

G Suite

You might know G Suite as Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar. Chances are, you probably already use them in your personal life! For a very low monthly fee (and no start-up fee!), you can use the familiar services for your own company!

With the G Suite Basic, you get 30GB of cloud storage via Google Drive, and your own branding. I use the Basic plan for 24 Villages, and it’s $6/month per user. I can create conference calls, use Google Calendar, and save collaborative files using Google Drive.

Using the “alias” feature of Gmail, I can make multiple e-mail addresses for myself without having to pay for additional “users” (since you’re billed per user). Basically, I can have things like hello@24villages.com, goodbye@24villages.com, and yoooo@24villages.com all go to my “actual” account by using aliases, and only pay for one account.

If you’re just starting out, I think this is the best option to establish legitimacy through your own branded e-mail address and Google Calendar/Drive functions.

And just in case you’re worried- you don’t need to register your domain with G Suite in order to use it! You just have to “hook them up” – which they explain when you are setting up the account.

Google Drive on Desktop

Once you have a G Suite instance (and even if you just use the free Gmail!), one of the best ways of backing up files to be used anywhere is to integrate Google Drive with your computer’s file system!

These applications allow you to use your Google Drive folders like folders on your own computer, and you can drag and drop and edit directly from your “My Computer” or “Finder” apps.

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed is a super easy to use but extremely powerful accounting software that helps you be prepared for tax time by splitting your business and personal expenses, finding ways to get tax deductions, and reminding you to pay your quarterly taxes.

QuickBooks Self-Employed Intro Video

It’s $10/month for QuickBooks Self Employed. With the link above, you get 50% off for 6 months, so you only pay $5/month!

Here’s what you can get for a few lattes a month:

  • Separate business and personal expenses in a single click
  • Maximize your deductions with Schedule C categorization
  • Quarterly estimated taxes calculated automatically
  • Automatic mileage tracking helps you identify money saving deductions

I personally got the QuickBooks Self Employed + Tax Bundle, because I wanted help with the quarterly taxes (which is completely new territory to me), which is $17/month. For this one, you can get it for $12/month for 6 months with the above link.

Here are the additional benefits to doing the bundle for a few dollars more per month (which I think is VERY worth it!):

  • Pay quarterly estimated taxes online ?
  • File faster by exporting Schedule C to TurboTax
  • One federal and one state tax return filing included

This tool is very important in general to help you do your accounting to take to your accountant at the end of the year, but ESPECIALLY if you are just starting out, and you are receiving funds or paying fees with your personal account.

You – Yes you! If you’re doing this… Go open a business account now! Even if it’s just another personal checking account at your local bank- separate your expenses and income! Save yourself the headache at tax time!


Notion is my planner, organizer, work calendar, and drafting/note taking app. It has a web version, desktop version, and mobile version, so I can take it everywhere. It can do everything from project management with tasks (like Asana or JIRA), calendar events (like Google Calendar), and note taking, organizing, and writing (like Evernote). You can create “teams” to collaborate with your teammates.

Notion “Templates”

There are tons and tons of “templates” available for everyone, ranging from Design, Engineering, HR, to personal Journaling, so you can easily find the best template and run with it. You can have a different template for every “page” you create.

I was looking for a place where I can “brain dump” everything related to specific topics, my projects, and my work, and I finally came across Notion, and I haven’t looked back. I love using it and finally having the “central place” to keep all my thoughts, ideas, and links.

With the link above, you get $10 credit, which is 2 months worth of credits for a paid version ($4/mo). There are also many ways to earn free credits for few more months of free paid version!

You can use your account for free until you get to 1000 “block storage” units. I’ve been using Notion for a few months now, and I’m still under 500 blocks. When I do hit 1000, I’m fully prepared to begin paying for the membership for unlimited storage!


Calendly is… a Calendar service! But instead of you putting your own events and schedules in, it’s like… an anti-scheduler! You put in when you are FREE, and you can invite people to book sessions with you.

Calendly Intro Video

This could be just chats or meetings via Google Meet, or paid mentorship sessions where someone pays when they book via automated payment systems. It takes out all the administrative work for booking sessions, free or paid, and integrates with major calendar applications and teleconferencing services like Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.

For a busy entrepreneur who have loads on their plate already, the back and forth e-mails of setting up an appointment shouldn’t be an extra task.

So those were my top 4 apps that have been helping me run my day to day as a business owner. Do you have any favorites of your own? Please share them with me! ?

Don’t forget to check out HIROBYTES Podcast, where I talk about entrepreneurship, quitting corporate, disability, tech, and personal finance!


This post may contain affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. I only recommend products or services that I 100% believe in, or created myself!

Hiroko Nishimura
AWS Community Hero. Special Education teacher turned IT Engineer turned Technical Writer. Author "AWS for Non-Engineers" (Manning Publications). Technical Instructor "Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers" (LinkedIn Learning).

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