Below are a list of tools I recommend for entrepreneurs wishing to build a profitable online business and I’ve separated them out into useful categories.
I recommend them because I use them, love them and I believe they’ll save you time and money and allow you to run your business from anywhere. Many are free or seriously inexpensive. Some links below are affiliate links too, so you do me a favor if you sign up or purchase through me.
I’ve also recommended a few key online business course for Facebook and using video here to get you going. Where possible I’ve also included the webinar recording with lots of free tips and strategies.
Sell Your Digital Goods And Services Online:
This may seem astoundingly simple but the easiest way to start selling your goods or services online is with PayPal. You set up a free account, link it to your bank account and then you’re off and running.
You can accept payments via email or through creating email links directly to a PayPal checkout page. Or you can embed simple `Buy Now’ or `Add to Cart’ buttons on your site or blog. People can also pay by credit card and they accept over 20 currencies which makes doing business internationally much easier.
In addition with a Pro Account – which really just requires going through some extra security checks, you can then offer recurring payments (great for memberships or group programs) or subscriptions and free trial periods. The world is your oyster.
This is my number one recommendation to people starting out on line who want to set up shop quickly and easily. For $5 a month e-Junkie lets you sell your digital products and programs simply by creating a new product, uploading a digital file or pointing to a page on your site for a program and naming your price.
Then you can choose from a range of payment methods like Google Checkout or PayPal and embed that code straight into your blog or website page to ensure people can `buy now’. You can also use it to setup a simple affiliate program.
Website Design and Social Media Marketing:
After my previous hosting company took down my website when I went over my storage quota, and effectively shut down my business, I’ve been really careful about who I entrust my website and blog hosting too.
Hostgator simply rock my world as they get that my business is growing. So they give you a variety of plans to chose from and allow you to upgrade at any time. For example I went from their Hatchling plan of $3.95 per month to their Baby Plan when my traffic increased.
Hostgator is one of the best choice for the small to medium-sized business owners and blogging websites because they deliver a variety of services including setting up your own website from scratch using their templates, great customer support and other useful services.
If you want to buy a domain name for your new project or business then I suggest you check out Namecheap, because they offer some of the most affordable domain names in the industry, in addition to full-featured web hosting packages.
If you want a custom-designed business blog—no stress, no hassle, fast turnaround and unbeatable value for money then I recommend EasiSell Blogs.
They did a great job of designing a professional look and feel for my site back in 2011 when I rebranded. They have 3 packages to suit any budget too and they will go out of their way to ensure you’re completely happy with the look and feel.
LeadPages™ was designed to help you build your audience, build your list and make more sales with video. It’s the easiest way to create beautiful landing pages, launch pages, sales pages and squeeze pages for your website that actually convert.
This used to be a tricky thing that stalled a lot of my clients as it involved understanding which software to install, knowing some basic code and figuring out the design.
I personally think the team at LeadBrite have changed the way in which we do online marketing by making this software so damn useful and so simple to use (think drop and drag).
I’m a huge fan of WordPress for building amazing blogs and websites. One of the coolest WordPress themes I use for my Ultimate Toolkit landing page and Premium Member Site is Optimize Press. It lets you build customized landing pages and membership sites.
It’s quite amazing how easy it is to set up and squeeze pages, landing pages with optins, host videos and set up membership sites or even just a secure access to premium content with this theme. It’s ridiculously reasonable at $97 and you get access to a member site with great short video tutorials from James Dyson, the designer, himself.
Pop Up Domination
When I installed the Popup Domination WordPress plugin I more than doubled the number of people who subscribed to my newsletter every month. I realized I had been missing out on telling people about all the benefits of signing up to my newsletter and this plug-in has made that obvious in a visually appealing way to my community.
It’s totally worth the $77 to have a professional looking pop-up on your website or blog. And for those who aren’t interested, they can easily click the X on and not be shown again.This is a no brainer if you’re serious about building your list.
I’ve been extolling the virtues of Hootsuite ever since I started using it in 2010.. It’s made my life on Twitter immeasurably easier. It’s my number one most used tool for managing not only my two Twitter accounts but also post to LinkedIn, Facebook – both my page and my profile and even more.
With my Pro account, I can manage multiple accounts, set up columns for keyword searches plus see and track all mentions of my twitter handle or my blogs so that I can easily respond back to those people. It’s so useful for sorting your your DMs from your RTs to your list and top people to follow plus much more. There’s a free plan too.
I’m not normally one to automate anything on social networks but then I came across Tweet Adder and realized how much valuable time I was wasting not using this great tool. Not only will it bring you more followers – naturally it also allows you to automate a lot of those time consuming tasks.
You can set up a friendly auto-responder for up to 5 Twitter accounts, thank people who RT you, auto follow people and bulk unfollow inactive accounts. You can also schedule out your own personalized tweets in one hit. It’s seriously one of the handiest Twitter tools I’ve used. Plus you can do keyword searches to follow people in your industry rather than doing this manually to save a lot of time.
Mailchimp makes sending out a newsletter amazingly easy – design and send beautiful emails, manage your subscribers and track your campaign’s performance. I really rely on Mailchimp because of its metrics tracking system, and also because it makes it so simple to schedule out my Highflyer newsletters and any promotional campaigns.
I feed my blog content and other special offers into Mailchimp to ensure my subscribers don’t miss anything, and I also use it to send out surveys to make sure I’m providing my readers with what they want to read. It also makes unsubscribing to things super easy as well.
If you’re looking for a robust solution to really turn your business into a serious and sales and marketing machine, you should take the leap to InfusionSoft.
I switched in January 2013 and have really seen the difference in my lead generation, sales funnel optimization and affiliate marketing.
WiseStamp is a groovy email signature tool that transforms your email recipient’s experience into an engaging and social one.You can link your social media profiles, blog feed, videos and more into your signature.
It is a great way to direct people to your content like your book, latest post or product for sale as well as your social media sites – it’s like an ad right in your email!. It integrates with Google Apps and most other webmail systems.
Run Your Team And Business from Anywhere:
oDesk and Elance
oDesk and Elance are my two online workforce communities of choice. They let entrepreneurs like you and me hire, manage, and pay remote contractors as if they were in our own office. You can choose from a talent pool of nearly 1 million contractors and they make it easy as pie to search for the right people, post jobs, interview your potentials and hire someone within minutes. You select your budget, contractor rate and whether you want someone on an hourly or project basis. They even take care of automatically billing you and paying your contractors.
I started by posting a research job. Within 10 minutes, I had 20 applications. Within 45, I had hired someone. I’ve gone on to find people to manage all sorts of things from design to website coding and building a small virtual team for specific projects. If you’re not outsourcing work so you can focus on what you do best, then you’re missing out.
Virtual Staff Finder
Virtual Staff Finder helps you find your perfect match for a one off setup fee and then you work with them independently from as little as US$400 per month full time!
Nobody likes accounting and invoicing (well I don’t), and that’s why so many people love Freshbooks. It is built for small business owners to get organized and get paid. You’ll be tracking time on project, logging expenses and invoicing your clients in no time. Plus you can use it to track your contractors, invoice on their behalf and allow them to bill you.
It has a great interface that makes it incredibly user friendly. I really like the handy ‘time-tracking’ tool which I use to track just how long I’m spending on a project. Sometimes it surprises me. It is free to use for the first 30 days and you can also download the FREE FreshBooks app and enjoy the freedom of working anywhere including taking photos of receipts for expenses.
This is my favourite project management tool. Asana is free. It’s as easy as ‘type in your task and hit enter’. You can create specific projects and assign tasks to yourself and your team very quickly. You can manage due dates, leave notes, links and upload documents so that anyone using it, better understands the task.
Better yet you can look at a comments thread live on the specific project or task from your team member. This makes it much easier to communicate on the priorities and the task at hand.
Highrise is my online contact management tool of choice. It’s where I keep track of all my coaching clients. It allows you to track of who you spoke when, and what follow up is needed so no lead gets left untouched. It’s beautifully simple and easy to use yet has several powerful features.
Washington Post put it this way: “Highrise does nearly everything a personal secretary might do except go out for coffee and pick up our dry cleaning.”
Highrise organizes emails from different sources and allows you to add complete profiles with social media links to your clients, contacts, leads and more. Plus you can use the reminder and follow-up feature like a calendar.
Communicate In Style:
With the tagline of “The Virtual Phone System Designed for Entrepreneurs” how could you not love Grasshopper , a service where you have complete control of the experience you give your callers.
You can set up multiple extensions, adjust voicemail greetings based on time of day, have your voicemail transcribed and sent to you, and more. It’s also been proven that having your phone number on every page of your website increases sales.
I especially love that they have no long term contracts, and prices start at just $9.95 a month. I’m excited to support Grasshopper to support you. Check out Grasshopper virtual phone system
If you don’t already use Skype, start using it now! Skype is my number one go-to software. It lets me stay in touch with not only family and friends, but also with my colleagues and team worldwide.
It’s the one tool that allows me to communicate with anyone, worldwide, for free. Just add a decent internet connection and a headset, and you’re set to go! It even allows for video conferencing and screen sharing, which is super helpful when you need to get things done.
MeetingBurner is hands down the best webinar and online meeting platform I’ve used and I’ve tried them all. What I like most about it is the clean interface, that it’s dead simple to use and to set up meetings in an instant.
I wrote a review and did a video walk-through of how I use MeetingBurner in `How to hold the fastest online meetings ever with MeetingBurner‘.
You can also record your meetings and upload them direct to YouTube and share on social media in one click, or download them as an MP4 movie or MP3 audio file. I think webinars are a great way to offer a ton of value in one presentation, get feedback, answer questions and create fabulous leads for your business. Try this out and see for yourself.
Improve Your Productivity:
Dropbox has to be my favorite tool for syncing documents across multiple computers. And since everything’s saved to the cloud, your data’s safe from hardware failures!
Their free account is great – it gives you up to 2G of space, and allows you to earn up to 6G more through referrals. Dropbox’s paid versions give 50G and 100G for $99 or $199 per year (respectively).
Shoeboxed is a damn cool service for those of us who keep all those pesky receipts we want to use to claim expenses. Rather than letting them build up in your wallet or some envelope like I used to, Shoeboxed lets you send receipts, business cards and documents to them via postage-paid envelopes or camera-equipped smartphone for a really low monthly fee.
They scan and data-enter every document, then organize everything in a secure, searchable online account. All of the receipts you send to them are also accepted by the IRS, so if you are ever audited, just show the images of your receipts from your account.
The bottom line: no more crinkled, unorganized receipts, no more expensive scanners, no more data entry or lost documents, and best of all, no more stressful tax seasons!
Ever get that email from that person you vaguely remember, and know that you should probably know this person better? And they just said they’re going to give you a call about that thing you guys talked about last week, but you can’t, for the life of you, think of what that one thing was… and a quick search in Gmail isn’t pulling anything useful up?
Well, Rapportive is the answer to that. It’s a very handy app that works right inside Gmail, giving you a real time report of who the person on the other end of the line is. It’ll show you their name, picture, location, company, social media accounts, other basic information, and then a somewhat comprehensive google search on their latest web hits. It even has a section for you to save your own notes about each contact! This is a definite must have, especially for all those ninja networkers out there!
Boomerang is a life-saving email tool that allows you to answer an important email straight away, but send it a day or so later so people don’t think you’re too accessible. Plus you can ‘boomerang’ emails for another date, so you don’t lose track of them, but you can read and action them when it’s really necessary.
I certainly think this tool has revolutionized my inbox. I wrote about it here How to To Send And Receive Emails When You Want With Boomerang
If your email inbox is out of control then it’s time you try SaneBox which I love. It’s revolutionized my inbox. It takes unimportant emails out of your Inbox, puts them in a separate folder, and aggregates them into a daily summary so you can focus on what’s important, but not miss anything.
It has a bunch of other features: one-click-unsubscribe, follow up reminders, deferring non-urgent emails, etc. Best of all, it works right away, on any email, and there are no plug-ins or downloads.
It’s really easy to get distracted by well, just about everything on the internet. One minute, you’re researching something on YouTube… the next, you’re looking at cute kitten videos. Aww, kittens. Wait, I’m getting off track.
RescueTime is exactly what I need to keep me on task and productive. It’ll record what you’re doing, how long you’ve been doing it, and spit out a report that’s comprehensive and… kind of scary. RescueTime’s been said to save the average person 3.5 hours per week just by using this. Imagine that – another 3.5 hours of sleep! Sign me up!