Best Business Tools

Success in your business often requires using the best tools to make your business more efficient. On this page, we will be sharing some of these tools we used to grow our business .

 

WEB TOOLS:

Best PAID Keyword Research Tool

Beyond FREE keyword research tools, there are tools you may purchase with a lot more features. The most economical, fun-to-use, and feature-rich keyword research tool on the market (we’ve tried several, and this is the best value) is:

Micro Niche Finder

Registering Your Domain Name (or URL)

Many hosting companies include a free domain registration with your account, but recommend against it… if you run into issues with the web host, some are known to hold your own domain in hock. Regardless, if you are going to register a domain, we recommend the leading domain registrar, the “grand daddy” of them all:

GoDaddy

“CATALOG” Template E-commerce Web Sites:

For building a catalog-style product website (retail or wholesale) with an easy to follow template, including integrated shopping cart, and real-time credit card processing capacity (you still need a separate merchant account), we recommend two different website builders.

Our favorite for adding BOTH retail and wholesale info is 3DCart because it does the following:

  • Allowed us to use different shipping methods for retail and (much heavier) wholesale orders.
  • Aggregated products into case lots for wholesale.
  • Allowed for MINIMUM orders on wholesale.
  • Cleanly separated access to product pricing levels by category of customer.

3DCart Shopping Cart Software

For general overall excellence, and ease of use, we like one of the largest ecommerce hosting companies on the net:

1&1 Internet

And for the ultimate in a catalog website, built specifically to optimize Internet Marketing opportunities, including a bunch of whizbang analysis tools, we like:

SiteSell SiteBuilder

Non-Template Website Builders

If you are going to build a web site without using a template, and are a bit more adventurous, you can use desktop computer software. The learning curve is a bit heavier (those templates are such a no-brainer), but you can build multiple sites for no extra charge… although that does not include hosting (which we will get to in a moment).

Software Packages for Building Websites:

Adobe DREAMWEAVER CS4 for PC
Adobe DREAMWEAVER CS4 for Mac
(Loved by graphics software professionals, and feature rich, but a big learning curve)

Microsoft EXPRESSION WEB 3.0
(A reasonably priced standby from Microsoft – sort of a newer version of FrontPage, which launched many millions of web sites in the earlier days of the Internet, including many by my hubby Malcolm!)

The software we now use (and LOVE), offering outstanding video training, and great internet marketing tools and tutorials, is:

Hosting for NON-TEMPLATE Web Sites

If you are building websites using XSitePro, Dreamweaver, Expression Web, or other software, you will need an online hosting company. (You also need a shopping cart system, which we will discuss shortly.) After bouncing from host to host over the years, we’ve found an absolute gold mine hosting service, and give it our HIGHEST recommendation. AND VERY INEXPENSIVE! We recommend:

A2Hosting

SHOPPING CART PROGRAMS:

You can use PayPal for both your shopping cart system, as well as your merchant account, with a little work.

There are also several free shopping cart programs such as OS Commerce, Agora Cart, Zen Cart, and others (do a search online for “free” shopping cart software). Of course, since they are free, features are lacking, and often you need to know a bit more about HTLM to use them effectively.

The nice thing about shopping cart software is that you can use in on as many websites as you wish. Of course, due to integration with shipping, you may need separate accounts for wholesale and retail websites.

The catalog sites we build use an integrated shopping cart, and each site is stand-alone, so the retail-wholesale issue is taken care of. We also run many smaller niche retail sites, and he uses a different shopping cart program.  Full of features, including affiliate program software and integrated easily with separate email management systems  (topics for another day!). That shopping cart system is:

Get DPD

Managing Your Social Media Post

Using software to manage your social media posts on various networks saves time and effort. Schedule posts to several networks at once.We recommend:

HootSuite

ECommerce Platform

Selling on Facebook and/or WordPress, we have found a software platform that is quick and easy to use.  We recommend:

FB eCommerce Pro

 

Email Marketing Software

After your website is set up, collecting email address of your customers and potential customers is the most important task in marketing your business or products. There is several different email marketing software programs to choose from. Mail Chimp, which is free, is a good option to start with.

The best program is AWeber which offers many different email templates and options to make you email marketing look very professional.  Easy to use and integrate with Get DPD Shopping Cart System.

AWeber

 

MERCHANT ACCOUNT:

Over the years, we’ve used four different merchant account providers, before settling on one that is not out to screw people. (I especially urge you to avoid the Innovative Merchant Solutions program run by Intuit-QuickBooks. We experienced a very unfortunate situation with them, which I will not go into now). Anyway, we LOVE this program for accepting credit cards:

PowerPay

 

OFFICE TOOLS:

Toll-Free Phone

Currently, the service I use is Kall8. I love the options they give such as designating which phone line the 800 number rings into. This was a great service when I was traveling as I was able to forward the 800 number to my cell phone.. We love the service so much that both my husband and I each have our own separate toll-free phone number!

Kall8

Bookkeeping Software

Quickbooks is considered one of the best bookkeeping software for small business. Recommended by most accountants, it is fairly easier to use – will generate invoices, sales orders, checks, statements and numerous report necessary to measure your business finances.

Quickbooks has several different software programs with different options and price ranges. The basic three are:

Quickbooks Simple Start. Like the name says, this is a very simple software program for beginners.

Quickbooks Pro. Quickbooks Pro, is the most popular Quickbooks software, includes all the features of Simple Start and adds inventory modules

Quickbooks Premier Manufacturing & Wholesaling. Quickbooks Premier has several different versions for different business models. The Manufacturing & Wholesaling program allows you to track inventory assemblies (products you make from different raw materials) from inventory parts or raw materials.

Or if you are looking for an online bookkeeping option, try Outright. Free online accounting and small business bookkeeping software that organizes all your income and expenses so you are ready in a snap at tax time.

Outright

Toll-Free VirtualFax

This service is FANTASTIC! With virtual faxing, you are issued a toll-free faxing number. When a customer faxes information to your special toll-free number, you receive the fax as an email. No need to mess with a printed copy (unless you want one), no special fax machine needed, no phone lines to hook up, and no messy fax ink cartridges to replace!! And, of course, you can also fax documents via your computer as well! We recommend:

MyFax

 

Social Media Trainings

SOCIAL MEDIA – Do them right or you are wasting your time!

We live in a world where social media is what’s hot for connecting with customers. Many prospects will no longer take you seriously if you are not represented on the Big Four (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn)

1) The great majority of small businesses are frustrated, and often disappointed, with results from their Facebook Page. But there IS a secret sauce for using Facebook to EXPLODE your results, and this product will get you there (PS this is NOT FB Infiltrator!). I stand completely behind THIS product:

FB Influence

2) You probably already know that I am REALLY big on Pinterest, which is indispensable for my followers… absolutely the best return on investment for your time… but ONLY if you do it right!
Check out the webinar replay, and you will be amazed!:

Power of Pinning Webinar

If your time is constrained, and you are willing to trust me, here is the buyers sales page… 60 day refund privileges:

Pinterest Training

3) Twitter is one of the “Big 4” but I’ve never promoted a Twitter product before. I could not find a training with a perfect fit for my fellow product marketers and sales reps. Below is a link to the best information I could find without a massive investment… not ideal, but pretty good, and reasonably priced. If you want to get started with Twitter (60 day refund) please add it to your training portfolio:

Total Twitter Domination

PS The sales copy is a bit cheesy, but don’t pay more than $27 (look for a coupon code).

4) LinkedIn’s focus is more “business to business”. But opportunity is there. Value comes from branding your business, AND by forming a Group for your target BUSINESS market.

For example, if you are a product maker looking to wholesale, start a Group for retailers. If you are a rep, you could start two groups… one for businesses you would like to rep for, and one for target buyer businesses.

Anyway, here is the best LinkedIn training:

Linked Influence

FINALLY, THE GAME OF MONEY!

5) Last, but not least is something everyone tends to like: free money! Add a new enterprise or product line to your portfolio (something that qualifies as a “project”) with CROWDFUNDING.

Check out the free video for the world’s fastest and easiest way to raise money:

CrowdFunding Formula

NOTE:  Most links listed above are affiliate links.  And even though we receive a referral fee should you decide to buy any of these programs, we would have recommended them anyway!!

 

Small Business Agencies

Small Business Administration (SBA)

SCORE Business Mentoring Program

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

Small Business

Small Business Information

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

 

JobHero’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business Resource Guide