Running a business online is a popular way of doing business, as people realise the freedom, opportunity and versatility of being able to do so. I have been running my online business for over 4 years and couldn’t get by with some of the essential tools that help me operate online. In this blog post I share the essential tools I use and recommend to run an online business efficiently.
I have been running my online business for over 4 years and couldn’t get by with some of the essential tools that help me operate online. In this blog post I share the essential tools I use and recommend to run an online business efficiently.
In this blog post I share the essential business tools I use and recommend to run an online business efficiently.
In order to have an online business, you need to have a website and subsequently your website needs to be hosted with a web hosting provider.
There are many web hosting providers out there, the key is to find a web hosting provider who has great support (so you can call on them when things inevitably go wrong), who is focused on security (to protect your site from constant internet threats) and who is reliable (high up time, so the site doesn’t go down often – or ideally at all!)
I love both A2 Hosting and WP Engine for their security, speed and customer service.
Domain name registration
When you set up a website for your business, you need to have a domain name – which is essentially the address for your website on the internet. I use GoDaddy for their domain name registration services. I find their customer service for this area exceptional (I have heard from my peers that other services they offer are not so great…).
I also love GoDaddy as you can easily find coupons online to get discounts off the regular price. And really, who doesn’t love a good discount? 😉
Once you have your web hosting and domain name registration complete, the next step is to get a website theme so you can start building (whether you do it yourself or outsource it) your website.
It’s important to have a good theme that is clean, functional and flexible to grow as your online business needs develops
It’s important to regularly back up your website. The possibility of something “going wrong” with your website is a reality. If you backup your website regularly, you can save time, tears and money of having to rebuild a website from scratch, when something goes wrong.
Email marketing software
One of the best ways to leverage your website to help you make money is to build an email list. This requires capturing people’s names and emails using email marketing software. You can use your email list to communicate with people who have registered an interest with you. Once you have people on your list, you can engage with them easily with online events, offers and all sorts of high value campaigns to help you convert them into customers.
You need an email marketing software service to help you manage your email list and comply with international email and anti-spam regulations
I use Aweber.com as a flexible and easy to use email marketing software provider.
Website Tracking Software
Once you have your website set up and running, it is important to see how users are interacting with the content and pages on your site. Having website tracking software helps you with this, by proving data on what pages people are going to, where people are coming from and how long they are staying. With insights like this, you can adapt your future content based off the data.
Google Analytics is by far the most superior website tracking service out there. It’s also free.
Google Apps for work
Google has a great suite of apps to help you work online extremely efficiently. Not only are they hosted online for you, you can easily add collaborators and control access to your documents.
Google Docs – is a great word processor, so you can get your information down on a page and start sharing and editing with other users.
Google Sheets – easy to manage spreadsheet system, that you can also share with others easily.
Gmail – quality, secure email. Moving your email to Gmail is one of the best decisions you can make for your business. Their email is reliable, secure and simple to manage.
Using Google Apps for work, you can create documents that you can share with your staff or clients easily. One of the best parts is that you can track changes in real time. So everyone can work on the 1 document at the same time, instead of having 10 different versions of a document floating on different email attachments. It’s much more efficient and easier to operate using these tools.
When running an online business, having a space where you, your staff and your clients can easily access common documents is essential. For example, I use Google Drive to store design work with my graphic designer. We keep
For example, I use Google Drive to store design work with my graphic designer. We keep record of current and past jobs on the drive, so we can both access designs and design assets (templates, stock images, client briefs) as we need them.
This also eliminates the need for us to email attachments and files – which become problematic when you start working with lots of large sized files.
Google Drive is my highly recommended storage drive and Dropbox is a close second. 🙂 Both have free and paid options.
Screen capture software
Working online allows me the ability to have remote staff and clients. Communicating well with your staff and clients is essential for your business success. Whilst email is quick and easy, messages can get lost in text. I use screen capture software to record instructions, feedback and updates for my staff and clients.
Jing is a brilliant screencast software. I can easily record my screen and record voice dialogue (under 5 minutes worth) and quickly upload it to the web. Jing provides me with a link to the recording that I can share with anyone. You can also take screenshots, draw on them and upload them too.
Snagit is similar to Jing. They are actually owned by the same company. Jing is a great basic tool for screenshots and screen recordings but sometimes you need more. If you’re looking to add more to your images or record longer videos, Snagit gives you extra tools and flexibility to bring your ideas to life.
Screenflow is the big daddy of screen capture software. It allows you to record and edit video and screencast at a high quality. You get many more editing options than Jing and Snagit and can also integrate different media clips and images. It is a Mac-only app at the moment however, it’s PC rival- Camtasia is a good app as well.
Voice and Video Calls
The ability to have a video call with your staff and clients is a really cool thing. Although I live remote from my team and clients, I interact with them regularly on skype. We can chat and have a direct call when needed. I use both Skype and Google Hangouts which have video call capability and they’re both free too!
Task Management Software
When you start working online and need to manage multiple task, clients and staff members – being organised is important. It took me a while to find the right Task Management Software that I and my team could use efficiently. A system is no good to
A system is no good to you, unless you have people actually using it.
One of the advantages of using a task management system such as asana or Redbooth, is that it keeps a record of dialogues and free’s up your inbox.
A common issue with working online is the reliance on email. Email can be extremely inefficient as a way of communicating when there are lots of moving parts. Using Redbooth and Asana, I have the ability to view all of the documents and conversations for a project in the one task as opposed to searching across hundreds of emails.
Image editing software
No matter how hard you try and run from it, when you run an online business you constantly need to resize and edit images in some shape or form. Whether if it’s to include a thumbnail on your blog post or to add an image to your social media profile. Being able to do small image edits and resizes helps you get things done faster.
I have graphic designer who takes care of major design and resizing, however I invested in learning Photoshop many years ago so I can do small resizes myself. Free online editors you can use include Pixlr and Pic Monkey.
Mindmapping is a great way of brainstorming and getting all of the ideas from your head onto a page. I use mind maps as a way to plan when I am working on projects, as well as a way of creating content.
I am a visual learner and find it efficient to organise my ideas using a mind map. I use Mind Maple as it’s easy to use.
One of the areas that I find many small business owners (myself included) really struggle with is accounting. For me, it’s one of the less desirable things I need to do in the business. For all of my journal entries, invoice tracking and reporting I use Quickbooks. I like Quickbooks as they are more user-friendly that their rival MYOB.
It’s important to have your accounting in order. You need to track your expenses, sales and income accurately using some system. I have friends who are great at spreadsheets and have a fantastic system where they don’t need software.
Me on the other hand…I need all of the automated help that I can get in this area, so I use Accounting Software to make this side of the business less painful and more streamlines.
Getting paid and making money is important in any business. If you run an online business and have clients worldwide and staff worldwide, you need an easy way of taking and making payment.
Whilst it’s not the cheapest option – PayPal is a fast and easy solution to getting paid by your clients. PayPal don’t charge monthly fees, however they do sting you with transaction cost and skim money off international exchanges. You can send your clients invoices that they can pay via PayPal or credit card, and manage multiple currencies as well.
There are so many different tools available that help you run a business online. The 15 tools I shared, help keep me operational, functioning and efficient. I hope you enjoyed the blog post…please feel free to share the love if you did 😉