Toolbox Set 1: 8 Kick Ass Tools & Resources Your Business Should Know About

I’m always on the look out for new tools and resources to ensure I waste less time, become more efficient and make sure my money stretches further.

The thing is there’s a plethora of them out there and new companies springing up every day with cool services or products to help you run your business better.

This can all get a little overwhelming, and if you’re like me you’ve probably signed up to several of these in the hope that they will transform your life and then never logged in again.

In my mind these tools or resources either didn’t fill enough of a need at the time or weren’t user friendly and so I abandoned them. However I’m here to try as many as I can and test them on your behalf – I’m just that kind of gal.

Plus I love new things, and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest. So I’ll be featuring a regular post reviewing the key tools I like and want to recommend.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


With a tagline of `The Virtual Phone System Designed for Entrepreneurs’ how could you not love Grasshopper.

Grasshopper was started by two entrepreneurs back in 2003 who wanted a simple way to sound professional and stay connected no matter where they were.

They couldn’t find a solution with all the benefits and featured they needed that was affordable so they created Grasshopper, where you have complete control of the experience you give your callers.

You can set up multiple extensions. You can adjust voicemail greetings based on time of day. You can have your voicemail transcribed and sent to you.  It’s also been proven that having your phone number on every page of your website increases sales (ok so not set stas but trust me it does).

I really like is that they have no long term contracts, and prices start at just $9.95 a month which is so affordable. I’m excited to support Grasshopper to support you. If you click here you’ll get $10 off just for being part of the WomanzWorld commuity.


When I discovered Dropbox earlier this year I was thrilled. Now I could host files on their secure server and access them anytime online, from any computer or even my mobile. What’s more the software syncs my files online and across my laptops (yes I have more than one).

Put your files into your Dropbox on one computer, and they’ll be instantly available on any of your other computers that you’ve installed Dropbox on (Windows, Mac, and Linux too!).

For example I could upload my eBook to the public folder on Dropbox and grab the link it gave me so that I could paste that into my blog and anyone could download it.

I also posted some of my `PR’ shots up there and then just sent the link to any media who needed it. But I can also keep files just for me in my private folder. It’s super handy and you can store up to 2GB for free. Check it out here


This service takes DropBox one step further. It’s a cloud content management system that helps businesses share information and collaborate on projects online. The basic platform is free and is monetized by upselling advanced features, increased storage and additional security.

In just a few short years, Box.net has grown tremendously, the company now has more than 4 million users so they’re obviously providing a handy service.

Not only is it a cloud file server, you can also manage file transfers and track them, manage all your docs and media in one place, manage projects around your content and securely manage files.  Plus they integrate directly with Google Apps – sweet. Click here to find out more.


If you have any kind of customer database then you should be using an email platform to make the best use of your list otherwise you’re wasting valuable leads and referrals. Even though Aweber has a great reputation and has been around for a long time, as does Constant Contact, I love Mailchimp.

Ever since I signed up and the cute monkey avatar told me `You look great today Natalie, wanna share a banana?’ I was hooked. They have great tutorial videos – humorous too, and a really beautiful interface and dashboard that makes it really intuitive.

I use it to design fancy emails (still working on that!), then Mailchimp sends them so they stay out of junk mail filters. I can even see reports on who opened, clicked, do some split testing on what subject lines work better and track it through Google Analytics. I mean there’s a ton of features.

I also like that they’re free for the first 500 subscribers you have and so many of the others charge straight off. Once you go past that their rates are really reasonable. If you are interested click this link and when you sign up you’ll get $30 of free email credits, and so will I. Yay!


This is a brand new free resource for any business owner that is ready to accept credit cards or ready to switch credit card processing companies.

The site provides valuable information about merchant services including the different types of processors, the fees that are often included in the service, what to expect from the merchant application process and much more. You can also find useful tips for negotiating with processing companies.

For example, if you are expecting a high volume of credit card purchases in your business, it is more important to focus on negotiating a smaller transaction fee as opposed to negotiating smaller start up or monthly fees. Additionally, you can find tips on how to save your business from dreaded hidden fees or outrageous cancellation fees.

Being aware of common tactics credit card processing companies use to charge you additional fees can save your business a lot of money. Aside from providing information on merchant services, they’re also developing a free database full of reviews of the best credit card processing companies, which are posted on their site so you can compare different processors and then choose the right one for your business. Check them out here www.CreditCardProcessing.org


If you’re anything like me you probably have a gazillion ideas a day and if you could capture them all you’d be a genius. Well you actually can. SpeakWrite allows you to speak your mind and then turn it into written word for you. Just like dictating to someone, you get on the phone and say what you want to say.

SpeakWrite transcribes your message and emails it back to you, typically within 2 hours. The charge? 1.25 cents a word for general, non-legal work. That’s $1.25 for every 100 words. So if I calculate the words in this article so far it would have cost $12.  When you start thinking about how much your time is worth it’s really cheap.

I can think of multiple uses for this service especially if you write a lot, or produce a lot of information content, or if you’re travelling a lot and have downtime on the road.

There’s also software that can do this for you. If you have an iPhone you can download Dragon Dictation and it does the same thing (although it doesn’t recognize my Kiwi accent so well!). Look at what they offer here .

It’s a collaborative mindmapping tool that you can use to set up complex campaigns, todo tasks, map out websites (and track progress), visually delegate tasks, map out marketing/sales/fulfillment strategy, and a handful of other things.

My marketing savvy friend believes it’s the best tool he’s ever used for visually organizing complex things (and collaborating on them with others).

He’s tried project management software (celoxis, MS Project Manager), task management (Basecamp, Manymoon, paper), collaborative tools (google docs, google wave) and none of these compare. Cost is $9 per month. Check it out here http://www.mindmeister.com

My new all-time favourite tool is this amazing scheduling service. I can’t say enough good things about it, other than sign up for free and start tungling.  It’s the easiest way to stop wasting time going back and forth to find a time to set a meeting and it eliminates double bookings and time zone mishaps

It automatically connects with your existing calendar(s) so if you use Google Calendar or MS Outlook or both or more – it updates them instantly.

All I do nowadays is send an email saying `Tungle me’ and send people to my page http://tungle.me/nataliesisson and they pick a time that suits them and that is free on my calendar.

I get sent an email and can accept, suggest another time, leave a comment and suggest a location if I want. They get a confirmation email saying it’s on and it updates their calendar even if they’re not on Tungle.me. Try it!

Have you used any of these? Want to comment on your experiences – go ahead below

Comments

  1. says

    These are awesome tools! Thanks for sharing. I am going to have to check out SpeakWrite asap. Too bad I didn’t know about it before I started my latest product. It would have saved me a lot of time and money!

  2. Natalie says

    Great glad to know you enjoyed this Celene as this is my aim, by highlighting these tools regularly I hope to help entrepreneurs save time and money!. If you use it let me know how you get on.

  3. says

    Love your post Natalie. Great tools. Using these tools and being resourceful is crucial. Thanks for sharing.

  4. says

    Thanks for the Tungle.me love, Natalie! We’re honored to be included in such an impressive list :)

    If you ever have any questions about Tungle.me, please feel free to reach out.

    Best,

    Erin
    Community Manager, Tungle.me
    http://tungle.me/erin

    Ps. Have you checked out today’s Tungle.me news? We put out our manifesto this morning – http://calendarofthefuture.com – some great thought leaders discussing the future of calendaring. Would love to get your thoughts!

  5. Natalie says

    Hey Erin, thanks for the visit! That’s awesome. I totally love the tool, I’m your latest Tungle fan, it’s part of my lingo now. Love the signature option too (with Wisestamp) many people have already commented on it.

  6. says

    Thanks for the post. I saw a few I need to try to add to my lineup. I too have multiple laptops and think the drop box would be helpful. Does anyone have any feedback on Grasshopper ? I could have sworn the logo was jumping a bit when I looked at, must have been the nearby dryer vibration.

  7. Natalie says

    Valerie that’s hilarious! I do know they have a ton of satisfied customers who love them and think the service rocks. Plus they’re really good at promoting their customers taking it one step further. That to me is smart business. One of their Co-Founder David Hauser is also really proactive and even put out a vote this year to get President Obama to form a `National Entrepreneur’s Day’ holiday!

  8. says

    Hi Natalie,

    great website and some really good recommendations. I’ve been using Dropbox for about a year now and it’s fantastic for collaborative working and for accessing key files wherever I am.

    I’ve got a couple of recommendations of my own. Toodledo is an excellent task manager and it synchronises to Outlook as well as having an iPhone app so you can access it and add to it on the go. A nice touch is that if you only have a certain period of time it will recommend what you could do in the time you have available.

    Also for anyone who needs to conduct surveys or questionnaires, Survey Monkey is excellent. It helps you build your surveys and analyses the responses for you as well. We use it for getting feedback from participants after our workshops and it’s so easy to use and review.

    Hope these are useful and I look forward to seeing other suggestions.

  9. Natalie says

    Richard great to have you here! I’m really excited to check out Toodledo, very cool idea indeed. I also use Survey Monkey – it’s definitely helped out, plus Poll Daddy too, handy plugins for WP too. But great idea to feature these in the next post. Thanks

  10. LifeOutofaSuitc says

    I use Tungle and ABSOLUTELY love it. considering I had to book meetings across various time zones and up to 8 meetings with different people virtually a day, it was the easiest solution! The fact that you can also sync it with iCal or google calendar was an amazing feature i really appreciated

  11. NatalieSisson says

    @LifeOutofaSuitc I adore it too and especially how easy it is for other people to figure it out even if they don’t have an account. @jonathanlevitt will be pleased to hear that. That’s why they’re a featured tool in my upcoming eBook!

  12. abbie2636 says

    Hi from Australia Natalie! Great post! I love using MailChimp and now use it all the time. I also looked into Box.Net last year and plan on using it as we grow as it really looked as thought it would work well. I was interested in Grasshopper but from what I could see it was only really viable in the US & Canada – is this correct or is it possible to use in Australia & NZ? Am new to your blog but really enjoying it.

  13. DavidYoung says

    Having the right business tools and resources are key to any business. This saves on the frustration that can come from using the wrong techniques and tools.

  14. DavidYoung says

    Great article! Some really useful resources. I also use Dropbox, and I find it a wonderful way of working, especially as it joins synching and backup.

    Having the right business tools and resources are key to any business. This saves on the frustration that can come from using the wrong techniques and tools. Here’s another 9 kick ass tools & resources your Business should know about: http://www.timedoctor.com/biz3.0/9-of-the-best-free-resources-for-entrepreneurs/

  15. DavidYoung says

    Great article! Some really useful resources. I also use Dropbox, and I find it a wonderful way of working, especially as it joins synching and backup.

    Having the right business tools and resources are key to any business. This saves on the frustration that can come from using the wrong techniques and tools. Here’s another 9 kick ass tools and resources your business should know about: http://www.timedoctor.com/biz3.0/9-of-the-best-fre

  16. DavidYoung says

    Great article! Some really useful resources. I also use Dropbox, and I find it a wonderful way of working, especially as it joins synching and backup.

    Having the right business tools and resources are key to any business. This saves on the frustration that can come from using the wrong techniques and tools. Here’s another 9 kick ass tools & resources your Business should know about: http://www.timedoctor.com/biz3.0/9-of-the-best-fre

  17. DavidYoung says

    Great article! Some really useful resources. I also use Dropbox, and I find it a wonderful way of working, especially as it joins synching and backup. Having the right business tools and resources are key to any business. This saves on the frustration that can come from using the wrong techniques and tools. Here’s another 9 kick ass tools & resources your Business should know about: http://www.timedoctor.com/biz3.0/9-of-the-best-fre

  18. Natalie says

    I don’t know what I’d do without Dropbox David. Thanks for stopping by to share your experiences.

  19. DavidYoung says

    Great article! Some really useful resources. I also use Dropbox, and I find it a wonderful way of working, especially as it joins synching and backup. Having the right business tools and resources are key to any business. This saves on the frustration that can come from using the wrong techniques and tools. Here’s another 9 kick ass tools and resources your Business should know about: http://www.timedoctor.com/biz3.0/9-of-the-best-free-resources-for-entrepreneurs/

  20. says

    I think a lot of people don’t understand the different things you need
    to do to get a semi-accurate result from polling or a research study
    involving people

  21. says

    Hi theere would you mind stating which blog platform
    you’re working with? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult
    time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reasdon I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had tto ask!

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