Why work harder if you can work smarter?
And with a wealth of business tools and tech out available, there’s no reason you can’t.
The trouble is knowing which business tools to choose.
When I started my business I felt overwhelmed with the multitude of ads hitting my Social media feeds and Pinterest articles raving about the latest must have business tools and apps.
Trust me. I made a lot of mistakes.
I wasted a lot of money on unnecessary sign ups, plugins and apps. But perhaps worst of all I invested a lot of time in trying to get them working, only to delete them.
Time better spent on growing my business and marketing it.
I can finally say with confidence, that I have the right business tools and resources in place. Ones that help me run my business smoothly and focus on my growth plans, marketing and making profit.
So here’s a look at my very own business toolkit so you can make running your business a breeze too.
Siteground do website hosting. Hosting is what puts your website on the internet, lets people see it and handles your traffic.
I admit it, I didn’t get the importance of hosting until I made the switch to Siteground. But the moment I did, I got it.
Errors I’d been experiencing with my template, like menus and pictures not loading, disappeared instantly. But the most important changes were:
- An increase in traffic;
- Reduced bounce rate;
- New blogs ranking where they never ranked before!
Why? Because Google loves fast page load speeds.
I’m not a techie at all! So I got Siteground to switch my hosting for me. They did this within hours of me signing up. Their customer service really is second to none.
Siteground handles all website backups, meaning I could switch off my previous backup (saving me money and meaning I could delete a plugin). You can also restore your site at the touch of a button in the event of a problem – avoiding the costs of hiring an expert.
Investment: $8.95 per month for the premium package (packages start at $3.95 per month)
Pexels is an online photo library. You search by topics, descriptions or tags to find high res photos. Every photo is fully licensed, so they can be used freely for commercial purposes.
Why I love Pexels
Pexels is one of the most comprehensive library of high res photos available on the internet and it’s FREE.
I wouldn’t go anywhere else for photos. Pexels is free and easy to use.
But of course that does mean lots of other people using it. So don’t be surprised if you see images you have chose popping up around other people’s website.
It doesn’t bother me. It’s brilliant and everyone should using it.
Investment: $0.00 per month
WordPress is probably the most well known content management system for Websites. It’s open source which means that anyone can see and edit the code. That means websites are only limited by imagination.
Why I love WordPress
WordPress makes managing my website really easy. I can add blogs posts, edit and view stats to help me optimise my site.
With WordPress you can add almost any type of functionality like:
- E commerce
- Online booking
- Links to social media
This means that by choosing a WordPress site I can start out really simple but have the option to develop my site as my business grows without worrying about changing my content management system.
WordPress needs to be installed onto a web server before you can start building your site. Siteground offers one click install of WordPress making it easy to get started if you want to build your own website.
Although WordPress comes with some built in themes, they are pretty basic. So you would also need to buy a theme (more on that later) or have a developer build you a website. Make sure you budget for the costs of everything you need to get your website live.
Themeforrest.net is a market place where you can buy WordPress themes. It saves you thousands on hiring a web designer.
Why I Love Themeforest
There are literally thousands of WordPress themes on Themeforest. Whatever you need you’ll find it there along with reviews to help you make your decision.
The Go Self Employed website is built on Newspaper 9 and I chose it after reading reviews, being able to check what plugins it is compatible with and check out live demos.
The themes are available for download as a zip file. You then just need to upload this into WordPress and start building your site. If you prefer you can pay an extra fee and have someone install your theme for you.
Investment: $59 (one off investment, all updates included)
Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin that provides e commerce functionality for online stores.
Why I love Woocommerce
Woocommerce was really easy to buy and install. It adds an online store to my website where I can add products that my customers can buy, much like adding a blog post.
It is renowned for its easy setup and simple for product management. Which is why 37% of online stores in the world use Woocommerce.
Woocommerce does not process card payments. It is a way for you to add a store to you website and manage your products.
You need an additional plugin to do this which is compatible with Woocommerce. Luckily it integrates almost all of the well known payment processors like Paypal, Sagepay or Stripe (there’s more on this below).
Investment: $5.75 per month
Stripe a Level 1 PCS Service Provider – which is the highest grade of payment processing security available. When a customer enters their card details, Stripe dials their card company to collect the payment on my behalf.
Why I love Stripe
Stripe handles all my online payments for my business. It integrates with Woocommerce on my website and allows my customers to pay invoices by credit card on my accounting software (more on that later).
Stripe was so quick and easy to set up. It is always reliable and has the ability to integrate with most major products for courses and online services.
Investment: $0.00 + % deducted on each sale
Convertkit is a GDPR compliant email marketing software. It allows users to build an email list, create automated emails, set up email sequences, segment users.
Why I Love Convertkit
When I first got started in my business I used Mailchimp for the simple reason that it was free. But I struggled with making my mail outs look good and I needed Optinmonster to get my sign up forms look the way I wanted (at an extra cost).
It comes with a 14 day free trial so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
Investment: $29 per month
Canva is an online design tool which uses drag and drop to create almost any graphic, logo and images.
Why I Love Canva
Almost all the graphics on my website and social media are made in Canva. I lack a lot of creativity so their templates are my saviour!
The Canva templates, icons and shapes are ready to use and save me so much time messing around trying to make things look “pretty”.
Canva is FREE! Which was great when I was just starting out. I recently made the decision to start paying for it. The paid version gives me access to icons and pictures that are locked in the free version. I can also save my colour palette which is another little time saver.
Investment: $12.95 per month
Serpstat is an SEO tool that does keyword research, SEO audits and tracks keywords a website ranks for. It gives website owners the opportunity to improve its rankings as well as spy on their competitors.
Why I Love Serpstat
I found Serpstat when I was looking for a more affordable solution to SEM Rush. At $19 a month it gave me huge insights into my website, helping me to strengthen my positions as well as find new keywords to target.
Serpstat has a really easy to use dashboard and clean looking interface. It has all the basic tools I need for SEO research so that I never feel overwhelmed and can easily understand results.
Investment: $19 per month
Freeagent is a UK Cloud Accounting Software designed specifically with the self employed in mind.
Why I Love Freeagent
Freeagent is my favourite online accounting software. It helps me keep track of all my business finances through one handy app that links to my bank account and let me photograph my receipts while I’m on the move. It even files my self assessment tax return straight to HMRC.
Freeagent integrates with Stripe. That means I can invoice straight from the app or cloud platform and offer my customers the ability to pay by credit card.
You’ll also get a free 30 day trial – no credit card required so you can walk away if you don’t like it.
G Suite is a group of cloud based applications designed to give Businesses everything they need to get their work done – email, video conferencing, docs and spreadsheets.
Why I Love G Suite
G Suite is the cornerstone of my business. For one single price and with one single login I can do everything I need to get my work done. I love the fact everything is on the cloud or I can install apps on my phone. It means I can get my work done seamlessly.
For my monthly subscription I get 1TB of cloud storage, which is more than enough to hold all the files I need.
G Suite is designed for collaborative working. So as my team has grown we can all access the same documents, meaning we don’t all have to be in the same place at the same time.
Investment: $9 per month
Trello is a visual planning and organisation tool. It is made up of Boards and each Board consists of lists filled with cards.
Why I love Trello
Trello is my most used app. Best of all it’s FREE!
Trello helps me manage every aspect of my business from administration to blogging and business planning.
For me, Trello is a visual way of Goal Setting. The Boards help me to compartmentalise each aspect of my business and break each out into lists with granular tasks. I can then use reminders and due dates to assign a deadline to each.
Trello has a clever little feature call Powerups. These can take you boards to the next level by letting you add things like custom fields or card aging.
My favourite Powerup is Card Repeater – it means that I can create to do lists that repeat on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis.
Starting and running your own business is not easy. But with the right arsenal of business tools and resources you can reduce at least some of your headaches.