This post contains affiliate links to some of the business platforms I use and love in my own business. That means I may receive a small discount or commission if you also sign up for their services. It doesn’t change the price you pay. I appreciate your continued support of my small business!
When I started my business, I spent so much time spinning my wheels trying to figure out which small business tools to use, what certain programs even were (landing pages really had me confused!), and what was the best way to spend my money. I basically signed up for every trial of every program online and slowly but surely figured out what was best for me and, as I grew, my team members.
Luckily, I’ve tried them all! I figured out the essential tools you must have to run your business. It’s not that you need all of these tools upfront; these are just the tools I use everyday to run my business. But some of these tools can help streamline and automate your business — boosting your business’ profits and saving you time. (I even taught you how to negotiate and reduce business costs for these business tools in this post!)
Here are the 6 essential business tools and programs I use everyday to run my business:
1 // ConvertKit
[email, landing pages, email sequences, forms, etc.]
Like most, I started out using MailChimp for email list building and quickly realized it wasn’t going to fulfill all of my needs. When I found ConvertKit, it was like watching all the stars align. It does SO many of the things I need, all in one place.
Before I found ConvertKit, I was so overwhelmed looking for a landing page program, e-mail marketing program, form creator, sequence emails, etc. But no worries, ConvertKit has you covered for all of those things (think of it as one of your primary online marketing management tools).
I create all of my landing pages (pages with a form to giveaway one of your freebies, like my Legally Legit Guide for Online Entrepreneurs) on it, all of the opt-in forms you see on my website, email sequences, and weekly email newsletters to my tribe through ConvertKit.
One of the best things about ConvertKit is that it counts people as 1 person for purposes of counting your email subscribers. So, if you have one person who keeps opting in to your email list each time you put out an amazing new freebie, she will only count as 1 person. This is super important since most email services’ pricing depends on the number of subscribers you have.
You can also track nearly everything and anything your email list subscribers do within your email so you can send future emails to those who are interested in specific things. For example, you can tag people who click on certain links as being “Interested in ____” so in the future, you can send those specific people more emails about ____.
ConvertKit also just rolled out a chat support feature, which has made it super easy to get help on the fly when you have a quick question.
You can get a free month to test ConvertKit out, too!
2 // Calendly
Instead of emailing or texting back and forth to schedule appointments, free consults, or coaching sessions, use Calendly to set your schedule and allow your clients to book appointments with you. I can’t tell you how much easier this app has made my life.
It’s super easy to use and my clients seem to love it, too! It’s truly one of the best tools designed to make scheduling a snap.
All you have to do is setup your days/times that you’re available for appointments and share your link! People will get confirmation emails when they schedule, automatic reminder emails before their appointments (you can send as many as you’d like, when you’d like), and they can even reschedule or cancel their appointment without ever having to go through you.
Another thing off the list!
3 // Canva
My love for Canva is real. Canva’s an online graphic design tool you can use to create graphics, social media posts, headers for your email newsletter, Facebook group/page, and so much more! I even create all of my freebies and opt-ins there, too.
There’s always a time and place to outsource this type of work when it’s not your thing. But if you outsourced every post or blog graphic, it would cost a pretty penny! Canva is a great answer to your basic design needs. I hope you love it as much as I do.
4 // Screenflow
I use Screenflow to record all of the How-to Video Tutorials that come with each DIY legal template and each video tutorial inside the Ultimate Bundle™! With Screenflow, you can record your screen, yourself (on camera), and your audio — or any combination of the 3.
You could use Screenflow to send videos to your clients, record yourself reviewing their documents or notes to you, or to record a video training for your course or program. You can easily export your video recording to Google Drive, Vimeo or YouTube. It’s super easy to use and to edit — I couldn’t have created the Ultimate Bundle without it.
5 // G Suite (GoogleDrive + Gmail for business)
Until I got G Suite, I had to use that dreaded email service that’s provided by your host or domain servicer when you first purchase your website. I tried using Outlook, but it’s expensive and I didn’t love the complexity of some of the features. I love using my personal Gmail account, so I was super excited to find out that G Suite gave me the capability to use my business email address (@samvanderwielen.com) on Gmail’s amazing platform.
That’s right, with G Suite, you get custom email (you can use your @domainname.com email address) on Gmail’s platform! Super simple and such a great tool for small business owners.
Besides the fact that it’s only $5/month (for solo entrepreneurs!), I also get 30 GB of cloud storage for all of my file sharing on Google Drive. This is where I store all of my documents (from Google Docs to images and videos created outside of Google) for the business, host my guest post articles for my blog posts (perfect for team collaboration and editing), and create client folders to put all of their documents in. That way, all I have to do is share the link to a document with someone, and they can access, edit, and print it (if I give them permission, of course!).
I can’t recommend G Suite enough. I love that as my business operations have flourished and my team has grown, we’re able to access and update documents saved on Drive in real time. It’s super simple to use and their customer service is always accessible and easy.
6 // Kajabi
The Ultimate Bundle™ is now housed on Kajabi — an all-in-one business tool where you can create your website, email marketing platform, funnels, landing pages, forms, and host your courses and programs. They also allow you to integrate Google Analytics, which is key for tracking your audience that shows up on your sales page(s). For me, I only use Kajabi to host the Ultimate Bundle™ itself. I still use ConvertKit for email and SamCart for checkout pages, but you could totally combine and lower your business costs by consolidating lots of business tools with Kajabi.
Get a free 28-day trial of Kajabi right here! (affiliate link) That’s 2x the free trial you’d normally get 🙂 Open up an account and play with it! See if you like Kajabi and whether it could replace some of your business tools.
So what am I missing? What are some of your favorite go-to tools you use in your business? Do you have a favorite project management app or accounting software? Or maybe something I’ve never even thought of? I’d love to hear about yours so I can try them out, too! Comment below to let me know!