I'm always being asked by new entrepreneurs what tools I (and my clients) use to run webinars, configure advanced targeting email campaigns and power complex courses.
I get it. Those things are important and you want to do it right (and you can see some of my top advanced recommendations here) but you know what's more important when you're just starting out?
Having the basics in place.
The basics are the stuff that allow you to keep your business running smoothly day after day so you can focus on what actually matters in your business - the stuff that moves you forward.
Not convinced why it's important? Check out this entire post I wrote about switching to Squarespace from WordPress, and how that decision alone about a basic piece of background business software changed the entire trajectory of my business by allowing me to stop focusing on background stuff and start focusing on marketing and outreach.
The fancy tools are fun, but none of them would matter if I didn't have the 14 tools below - the ones I literally use every. single. day. in place and running efficiently.
Here's the lowdown on my everyday staples, in alphabetical, not favorite, order because they're all my faves and like my friends and family you could never ask me to favor one over the other.
Active Campaign powers my email list and I love it for its affordability and robust features. It starts at only $9/month and for that you can power advanced targeting and automation, a must if you want to market efficiently.
I use Calendly to schedule all client calls. It syncs with my Google calendar and allows clients to schedule their appointments at their convenience. No more annoying email back and forth trying to find a time that works for everyone.
I store all of my core documents on Dropbox, not my hard drive, so they're always backed up. (I also use an Apple Time Machine as an additional backup because #paranoid). Dropbox allows me to access my documents from anywhere and share folders with clients and partners when I don't want to mess with loading things to my Google Drive.
If it's not in my Evernote it doesn't exist. I use Evernote to store everything: notes from client calls, blog and social media ideas, course content, blog drafts, screen shots and pdf's of things that inspire me. Literally everything. Evernote is free but I currently use the paid version in order to access and sync all files without trouble when I don't have access to a wifi network.
I run my business email through Gmail and store client documents in Google Drive. At only $5/month Google Apps is a no-brainer for any business. It's industry standard at this point and once you dive in you won't ever look back.
I've always struggled with to do lists and project management software. To do lists and apps aren't robust enough but project management software makes me want to scream and run in the other direction. Enter Google Keep. For me it's the perfect blend of the 2: robust check boxes for to do lists and separate cards you can see at a glance to keep all of your projects and priorities in front of you everyday.
It took me a long time to jump on the LeadPages bandwagon (I had all the same excuses you probably have - it's expensive, it's not customizable, blah blah blah). I got over it, and thank goodness I did. LeadPages is the single most valuable tool I have to help me build my email list, and considering building my list is my number 1 priority right now, that's saying a lot. I love LeadPages and harass every client to sign up until they do. Just get it. You won't regret it.
Like LeadPages I put off signing up for Edgar for way too long because at $49/month it felt too expensive. I finally bit the bullet and realized it pays for itself in spades and does so quickly.
Edgar is a fantastic way to keep your social media under control. You can use Edgar to schedule posts to Facebook, Facebook Pages, and Twitter. Even better, you can set up a library of old content, give Edgar a schedule, and it'll continually recycle and repost your content for you automatically.
So those old blog posts that haven't seen the light of day for a few years? Edgar will bring them back to regular circulation with no effort on your part, extending their shelf life substantially.
PayPal's not my favorite payment processor out there (in fact, far from it) but I know that customers in the online space are split almost evenly 50/50 between wanting to pay via PayPal or wanting to pay via credit card. For me the importance of not turning away customers outweighs my feelings for PayPal so I use it, and I use it everyday.
Slack and Evernote may be the most important applications on this page. (See that? I just admitted my favorites after swearing I didn't have favorites). Slack is a fantastic, free tool you can use to communicate efficiently with teams. I regularly join my client's Slack channels if they already have one set up for their team, or I set up Slack teams for my clients and I to use. I also have Slack teams set up for mastermind groups and, let's be honest, for groups of former colleagues I like to stay in touch with.
Slack offers powerful team instant messaging, easy direct messaging and the best emoji and gif functionality to keep things light. If you're not on Slack get on it now. Your email woes will quickly disappear.
I'm currently having a serious love affair with Squarespace. It's made my website life infinitely easier and I can't believe it took me as long as it did to make the switch from WordPress. I'd say more here but I recently wrote a long, 2,000 word post on why I switched. If you've ever considered Squarespace (or even if you haven't yet) get over there and read it. And then consider coming over. It's rainbows and unicorns over here, I promise!
I just shared how I'm not such a PayPal fan, but I am a big Stripe fan. Stripe allows you to safely accept credit card payments from clients. It's easy, has a reasonable fee and delivers your money quickly. In my perfect world I'd run all transactions through Stripe. It's dreamy.
I use SumoMe's suite of free website tools to complement my LeadPages account for list building. Its functionality includes welcome splash pages, social media share bars (like the ones you see to the left and bottom of this blog post), announcement bars for the top of your site and a bunch of other list-building and engagement tools. I only use the free side of SumoMe tools and I've found they're more than enough. If you're not yet supplementing your list building with SumoMe I encourage you to get on it now. I use it everyday (obviously, or it wouldn't be on this list;)
The final tool I use everyday is Wave Accounting. It's a free, easy-to-use revenue and expense tracker. My transactions are pretty simple at this stage so it's more than enough for me, and I love its phone app that allows me to quickly snap pictures of receipts and save them. Makes my expense tracking super simple. Wave even allows you to invoice and accept credit cards straight from the app but I use other programs to do that so I've not used those features.
YOUR TURN: WHAT ARE THE CORE BUSINESS TOOLS YOU USE EVERYDAY? ANYTHING IN THIS LIST BEEN ON YOUR WISHLIST BUT YOU HAVE QUESTIONS? HIT ME UP IN THE COMMENTS AND LET'S TALK ABOUT IT.
Note: A few of the links above are affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you use my link (at no extra cost to you). Consider it a small thank you for pointing you in the right direction. If that doesn't feel right to you, no worries. Simply google the name of the software and you'll be able to navigate there independently.