One question I get all the time is what software and tools I use for my business. I help entrepreneurs in starting e-commerce stores, getting into affiliate marketing, creating online marketing materials like youtube videos, and so on. So, here are the tools that I use to help grow my own businesses. I think you'll find them helpful.
How to sell your products online
Big Commerce – Powerful Shopping Cart Platform
There are hundreds of great shopping carts to choose from, but I ended up finding Big Commerce about three years ago and have been thrilled with the results. If you are looking to start an E-commerce store quickly and easily I'd highly recommend using Big Commerce. I use Big Commerce to run my E-commerce store named: www.signsofthemountains.com. I simply used a default theme included with the software to create the website. It only costs $24.99 per month to get started and can be cancelled at any time. It makes it easy to sell anything you desire. If you have a hobby and want to turn it into a business I'd give Big Commerce a shot. Check out the review and tutorial I created here.
Shopify is another great cart and is one of the easiest to use. They have top notch customer service and a powerful cart. Shopify is a little more customizable if you don't know anything about coding.
Inspiration and Learning
FREE GIFT FOR THINK ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOLLOWERS!
Audible.com has partnered with Think Entrepreneurship to offer our listeners a FREE 30 day trial and 1 FREE audio book. I love listening to audio books on road trips and while out on a run. To get your free book go to www.audibletrial.com/think. Audible titles play on iPhone, Kindle, Android and more than 500 devices for listening anytime, anywhere! A couple ideas to get you started are Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence people or Robert Allen's One Minute Millionaire.
Blog and Website Building Tools
Bluehost – Hosting Service and Domain Registration
Bluehost is my company of choice to use for hosting and domain purchases. Primarily because of their one click WordPress Integration, but also because they are affordable and the service has been great. For between $4 to $6 per month your site will be live for the rest of the world to see. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Check out this post for a complete tutorial on how to setup wordpress with a host.
The Easiest Way To Build a Professional Site for Your Business
If you want a great looking site for your business and want to drag and drop things into place, this is the answer you've been looking for. I've helped many artists, small businesses, law firms, and bands get set up with amazing looking sites using Weebly.
Logos, Graphics, and Outsourcing
If you want a great deal on a logo and lots of ideas and concepts check this place out. You submit what you are looking for and dozens of designers compete and send you designs. You then pick your favorite and continue to work with it until it looks just right. For $99 off their services go to www.99designs.com/Think.
Elance is an excellent resource to use for outsourcing various tasks that need to be completed. Elance allows you to post job descriptions for all sorts of work including graphics design, book keeping, web design, writing, and so on. Anyone in the world can use Elance which opens the doors to working internationally. I've hired contractors from the USA, Canada, London, India, and Australia. Learn more by reading a post I wrote about “Why Elance Rocks.”
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, & Acrobat – Creative Suite – Every program for just $49.99 / month!
The creative suite used to be thousands of dollars up front, which is a huge cost for bootstrapping entrepreneurs. They now offer every program for an affordable rate of $49.99 / month. It is a great way to have access to all programs that are constantly updated. Definitely worth it!
Grasshopper – 800 Numbers for Entrepreneurs –Just $12 / month! Use my link and get a $75 off coupon today!
Grasshopper allows any small business to get an 800 number quickly and easily. An 800 number will make your company look more professional and legitimate. Your Grasshopper 800 number can be forwarded to as many phones or cell phones as needed, which makes it a great option for businesses with multiple employees working from the office or from the road. We are an exclusive partner with Grasshopper and if you use any of our links will get a $75 off coupon! Click here to read a review by Think Entrepreneurship about Grasshopper.com 800 numbers.
Screen Capturing and Recording Tools
This tool is a must have if you need to create tutorials or record your computer screen. I use Screenflow when I record tutorials to help readers learn wordpress and other software programs. Here is an example of a video I created using screenflow. You can add nice text overlays, transitions, voice recording, and so on.
Call recorder is a great tool for Mac which allows you to record Skype interviews either as video or audio format. I've done a lot of research and this is the best Skype recording software on the market in my opinion. It has different options for working with video and sound quality and is easy to use. This is what I use to record the TE podcasts.
Email and Newsletters
Aweber – Email Newsletter Software
I've used a variety of email programs including Constant Contact, iContact, MailChimp, and Aweber. Out of all of them, Mailchimp and Aweber are my favorites. I started with MailChimp and eventually switched to AWeber. I switched because I heard about the autoresponder features (awesome for bloggers), how easy it is to use, and their good looking prebuilt templates and signup forms. It is $20 or so a month but well worth it.
Quickbooks is certainly the accounting software of choice for entrepreneurs. Although “the books” are not my favorite part of running a business, Quickbooks makes it easy, whether you use a PC or Mac. I recently did a review on the latest Mac version of Quickbooks seen here. Quickbooks has an online version as well in case you need 100% mobility in using their software.
Turbo Tax is my software of choice for accounting. You can file Federal and State taxes for both your business and personal use. If you have a fairly simple business TurboTax will definitely do the job. I use TurboTax and am able to import all the data from Quickbooks.
Analytics and PR
Google analytics is a powerful and free tool used to track your website or blog's traffic. Google tracks just about everything you'd ever need to know about your sites visitors. It's almost scary! Anyhow, you can see where traffic is coming from, what keywords are driving traffic, demographics of your visitors, and all sorts of other information that is helpful in building your business and catering to your clients or customers.
What can't Craigslist be used for? That's the question! Craigslist is a gem for entrepreneurs. It is a great place to buy and sell, purchase used equipment for a business, advertise for a job opening, look for freelance work, or sell products and advertise services. You can even advertise real estate, apartment rentals, and the sale of businesses. Craigslist is without a question one of the most popular classifieds sites on the net.
Haro stands for: Help a Reporter out. It is essentially a community that brings reporters and sources together. Each day three emails are sent from HARO showing what stories reporters are looking for. If you believe you are an expert or good source for the topic you can email them with your credentials and tell them why you'd be the best person to talk with. Reporters of all sizes use HARO; including the WSJ, NY Times, Forbes Magazine, and Yahoo.com. Learn more about how HARO has helped a fellow blogging acquaintance to get written up on the front page of Yahoo.com and on FoxNews TV by checking out Jamie Tardy's blog named “Eventual Millionaire.”
I hope this list of Tools For Entrepreneurs is helpful for you and your business. They've all contributed to building my businesses. Please note that the links above are affiliate links for products and services I use and highly recommend. If you do end up using one of the recommendations at some point I'd really appreciate you clicking on the link above prior to purchasing, as Think Entrepreneurship will get a small commission for recommending products we believe in. Click here to view my disclaimer.