Starting a business can be a daunting task. And staring on online can be even MORE daunting!
There’s literally a tool for everything and you can quickly go from feeling A-okay to complete overwhelm in a matter of minutes if you let yourself fall too far down the tech rabbit hole.
And to top that off, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars trying new tools chasing the best way to operate your new online business. I know. I’ve been there. (It doesn’t help I love to try out all the new tech and gadgets)
I want to help you save some time and money by introducing you to my top 10 ESSENTIAL tools for running your business online. These are all tools I have used or currently use in my business. Some are free and some are paid, but all will add tremendous value to your business.
Before I dive in, here’s the list of tools I’m going to dive into in case you want to jump to a specific tool:
1. Novo – Business Bank
2. Waveapps – Accounting
3. Canva – Graphics
4. Zoom – Video Conferencing
5. ClickUp – Project Management
6. Dubsado – Client Management
7. Zapier – Tech Integrations
8. Google Workspace – Business Operations
9. MailerLite – Email Marketing
10. WordPress (.org) – Website
Bonus: FG Funnels
** Fair warning: Some of these links may be affiliate links, but I only recommend tools I absolutely love and adore. I may earn a small commission from the product, at no additional cost to you, and usually, give you a discount too <3**
NOVO is an online bank that perfect for starting out. When you first start your business, it is really important to make sure that both for your own sanity and to create a solid foundation for your business to grow on that you keep your business money and personal money separate.
NOVO makes it super easy.
They offer all the conveniences of a traditional bank (Debit Card, online portal… and really they do that part much better)
I would say though, that if your business is a hybrid of online and offline, and you need a place to deposit physical money, you may want to consider looking into your local credit union. Even just opening a second personal account to keep your business money separate makes a world of difference.
Up until recently, Azlo was my online business bank of choice, but sadly they announced their closure.
Luckily though NOVO stepped up to take their place. They made it so simple to switch and even offered previous Azlo customers an incentive (which is always nice) And if you haven’t made the jump yet, here’s a link that when you transfer $100 from Azlo to NOVO you get $25! Sweet deal, right?
You’ve got your business bank account set up, but now how will you get paid? If you are an online service provider and just starting out, I’d highly recommend Waveapps for handling accounting and invoices.
Its easy to use and Free!
I will say though that there is a bit of a learning curve, so be sure to check out YouTube for some quick tutorial, and depending on how you choose to do your accounting, it may not eliminate the need for a spreadsheet.
I can’t live without Canva! It is such a timesaver. (but it can also be a time sink, so watch out)
While I don’t think Canva replaces the need for an actual Graphic Designer, it is an incredible tool for making social media graphics and other assets you might need in your business. So it’s a great option when you are just getting started.
It does have a free version, but it is worth it to pony up for the pro version <3
Oh, Zoom. This was at one point a relatively unknown platform, but now it’s a household name. Chances are you already have a Zoom account, especially if you are a parent or have friends you’ve wanted to hang out with virtually.
Zoom is going to allow you to have face-to-face interactions with your clients and more. As long as you plan to only do 1-to-1 meetings, you can use the free version without issue and wait until your ready (if ever) to upgrade to a paid account.
Clickup is a project management tool. I was pretty skeptical at first, but the more I used it the more I fell in love with it (and I was a die-hard Trello fan before, I’ll have to post about why I left another time.)
ClickUp’s clean and bright interface, and robust ability to create dashboards and awesome automation makes this a must-have tool.
Plus you can start on a free forever plan which is super rad. (no risk there)
I use clickup to keep track of so many things! My client projects, My social media strategy and calendar, all my business info from ideal client avatars to goals, SOP’s and plans.
It truly is the Command Center of my business.
Dubsado, let me count the ways I love thee.
Dubsado is a CRM (Client Relationship Manager). It acts as your address book. It is an amazing tool for photographers, online service providers, and more. Really anyone that needs a central hub for their clients.
I love this tool so much that I started offering Dubsado builds in my business for clients. (You can find out more here)
It is so much more than just an address book though. It stores all your client contact inf, you can organize your projects for them, invoice them, email them, collect info from them and even add notes. It also has a calendar function so you can let your clients schedule meetings with you!
You could even use it for project management since it has some of that capability, but I prefer to use it in conjunction with ClickUp since ClickUp’s project management is much more robust.
Dubsado is a paid service, but it is pretty reasonable and you also can try it out before you buy with a test client & up to three actual clients.
Eventually, you may run into wanting to connect two programs that don’t talk to each other (also referred to as integration.
That is when you will want to turn to Zapier.
While there are other platforms out there that allow you to make two programs talk, Zapier is by far the most robust and has the most pre-built integrations.
Zapier can be a little tricky, but with a little Youtubing, or hiring out the work, you can build a wondersuite of communication between all your platforms to help automate your business so you can save time and make more money.
Google is a small business owner’s best friend. Seriously. It really is.
Google workspace (formerly G-suite) is a robust paid version of the suite of Google products they have available for personal use.
So if you can get the tools for free using a personal account, why add the business expense of Workspace?
This is definitely a valid question and one to carefully consider. I know I started out using a free Google email and google drive.
But if you want to use the power of Gmail with your custom domain, Google workspaces is the way to go.
No matter the size of your business, you want to start building your email list as soon as you can. (More on that in a future post!)
There are a myriad of ways that you can go about list building and we will for sure cover that topic in the future as well, but once you have those emails you don’t want them to just go stale! What would the point be of gathering an email to build a relationship with your potential customer if you’re not going to nurture that lead? It’s a lot like buys a houseplant and letting it wither and die.
And the water for email lists, are… emails! And the best way to reach your whole list is by using a tool that allows you to create mass communication that can be personalized and invite your audience to interact with you.
And if you’re thinking that’s too much work, and you’ll just interact with them on social media… what happens when that social media outlet is gone? You’ll lose that audience if you don’t have alternate means to connect with them.
And this is another risk-free endeavor because Mailerlite accounts start at…. you got it! FREE!
10. WordPress (.org)
Websites. The most daunting yet necessary thing in the online world.
Now, you can for sure start your business without a website.
(what?!?! what kind of web developer says this?!?! I know. I know. hear me out though)
In the very beginning, if you are not 100% sure if you will commit to your business, or maybe you’re not quite sure what you want to offer and t changes from day to day, then, by all means, do NOT start with a website. Hop on Facebook, Insta, Etsy, Reddit, wherever. And hustle your butt off until you have direction!
And then, build your website once you have direction and some experience under your belt. Your site doesn’t even need to be much at first. You can even just start by writing a blog about what you’re working on, or even round up posts similar to this one.
But get a space of your own!
WordPress is my top choice for this. Largely because of the blogging portion of it, which allows you to publish content that can help your SEO rankings and also build your trust and authority with your audience. It adds a “legit-ness” to your business.
WordPress does have a learning curve though, and it may not be the best option for every business owner, but more often than not I find business owners jumping ship from their other platforms to WordPress for the increased functionality and sky’s the limit customization options. So why not start out where you’ll end up?
Bonus: FG Funnels
Now, this is a relatively new tool on the scene. But let me tell you… WOW!! IT IS AMAZING!!
This tool comes from the amazing people over at Funnel Gorgeous. The women behind the brand, Julie Stoian and Cathy Olsen are amazing, and they are leading a movement in marketing and funnels that proves that your websites and funnels can both Beautiful and high performing.
FG Funnels is funnel software in a similar vein to ClickFunnels. But it is so SO much more.
You can host your website, funnels, leads, pipelines, courses, email marketing, and membership area all from one place.
These women have proven time and time again that they are not only a force to be reckoned with but that they value integrity and they deliver on what they promise. So while this is new software on the market, it is 100% one to grab if you are in the digital learning space or in the service-based industry. It actually has the ability to replace a good number of the tools I’ve listed above <3
So those are my top 10 (+1) Essential tools for just about any small business. What are your favorite tools to use in your business? I’d love to know. Let me know here or over on Facebook and Instagram!