Biz Rocking Resources
We have big dreams and we want to create change. It can be tough to know where to start. Below I have included some of my favourite business tools and online resources that will hopefully help you get a head start!
EmailEMAIL MARKETING Having a professional way to delivery emails is important. It is also the law that all business/promotional emails have an opt-out option. There are loads of options to choose from. I personally use Mailchimp and love it.
- Logoworks: This is a great option if you're the kind of person who many not know what you love until you see it. Logoworks is where you provide a creative brief (a description of the look/feel you are after) using their handy form and designers from around the world create for you. You only pay for the one you choose. Logoworks can create just a logo, business cards, even a starter website. It's like having your very own ad agency!
- 99designs: This is another great option for getting your logo and other professional design work done without needing a dedicated designer. You can get anything done- from a t-shirt design, to packaging, your logo and business cards. If you don't like any of the designs that are submitted for your project, it doesn't cost you anything.
Your DomainYour domain name is how people find you online. I always recommend using your name, or at least owning your name and having it forward to your business. This helps in the event that someone searches you by your name instead of your business name. While you can register your preferred domain name through WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace — having control over your domain settings is important as your website grows. Consider one of the following sites to register your domain with. Note: Don’t let this process overwhelm you! You can always ask your developer/designer for assistance registering your domain and pointing it in the right direction.
- GoDaddy: Perhaps the top name in domain registration (yes, that is a thing!) GoDaddy offers reasonable pricing and excellent phone support — if you can handle the constant upsells and borderline inappropriate TV ads.
- Namecheap: Aptly named, Namecheap offers domains for extremely reasonable prices while also providing excellent support. Another great option!
- WP Engine (Wordpress sites only): WP Engine is our absolute favourite web host. Super speedy load times, 99% uptime and a nifty website staging area to test on, too!
- Bluehost: While WP Engine is our top recommendation for hosting, it is only available for Wordpress users. If you are not using Wordpress and require hosting, Bluehost is a good option.
- Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org: Wordpress is the best CMS (content management system) out there -- almost a quarter of all websites on the internet are now built with Wordpress. Google also loves WP and favours WP sites in search results. Wordpress is how my websites are built (custom templates). If you're just getting started, wordpress.com is the way to go (and I provide theme recommendations below). If you are getting someone to build it and you're super particular, wordpress.org will be your spot.
- Squarespace: These are beautiful templates and a simple interface. This is your choice if you are planning on keeping things super simple.
- Shopify: If you are keen on selling on your website, whether it's hard goods or digital, Shopify is your one stop shop (no pun intended!)
WordPress Themes: The DIY Approach
- StudioPress: A great option for getting a beautiful WordPress site up and running is Studiopress. Studiopress uses Genesis Framework for the overarching theme (the “child” themes they offer are what you customize to be your brand), which results in super fast, secure and scalable websites. These are crisp and clean and simple- which is what you want! Studiopress doesn’t offer the same level of customization that A Splendid Start does, but their child themes are versatile and easy to use. If you want specific customizations outside of their scope, they have a full list of recommended designers and developers.
- Themeisle: Wordpress has a tonne of free themes to get you started, but if you are ready for something a bit more sleek and next level — there are vast amounts of online resources for WordPress themes. You don’t have to hire a fancy agency to get a beautiful website anymore. Enter Themeisle. You can get access to a whole collection of their premium WordPress themes for very reasonable costs.
- Opt-In Forms for Wordpress: Being able to collect email addresses from your website visitors is important. Check out this awesome little wordpress plugin that can help add opt-in forms and social share buttons to your website.
- Subscription Pop-ups: This easy to use and pretty tool allows you to capture data of those visiting your website by popping up after a certain time period. This allows you to request they subscribe or make an offer to subscribe in exchange for your latest piece of ebook brilliance.
Online CoursesOnline courses are an incredible way to scale what you do. All of my courses are hosted on a custom built learning management system that has been a timely and expensive endeavour. Since I started offering online courses in 2011, there have been a lot of amazing developments. These two options seem to be the simplest and most straightforward.
- AccessAlly: It's compatible with a Wordpress site and combines everything you would need- from a landing page, sales pages through to membership access and even an affiliate portal. It has it all.
- Simplero: For those of you interested in hosting online courses without all the necessary tech skills to host yourself, Simplero is an awesome option! You can easily set up an account with various options for storage, video encoding, e-mail marketing and more.
- Mailchimp: Email marketing has never been as easy as it is with Mailchimp. You can get started for free and get building your list - plus, Mailchimp has a whole whack of beautiful and easy to use templates. Segment out your lists based on subscriber activity, e-commerce data and more.
The Financial Stuff
Bookkeeping + Invoicing
- Freshbooks: This is my personal favourite. Whether you offer services online or in-person, having cloud based accounting software is a must. Many of your clients will expect to be able to pay you online — and you certainly want to give them every opportunity to give you money! Freshbooks is an awesome option for creating estimates and invoices (including recurring payments.) You can keep track of your clients' payment history and export all your finances when it comes time for bookkeeping.
- Square: If you're accepting payments for goods or services, Square can be a great option! You can process payments, send invoices and gather reports. Their card readers connect to your mobile device and products can easily be added into the app, for an easy, mobile point-of-sale option.
Big Picture Finances
- Mint: This is an awesome option for managing your finances – professional and personal – in one convenient location. You can see all your bills, balances, transactions and investments in one place so you can easily see the bigger picture. Bonus? It’s free!
- Grasshopper: If you work remotely with your team, or just don't feel comfortable publishing your phone number online -- Grasshopper is the solution for you. Set up different extensions, voicemails and call schedules for all around awesome phone option that is run and managed completely online.
SchedulingYou're going to be busy, or at least you best plan to be busy. Having an easy-to-use scheduling system in place will save you loads of time. I use this one from Acuity. I love it because I can set up different calendars for different uses, it integrates with my regular ical (or google cal or whatever you use), allows you to add a form if you need your appointments to fill anything out and you can even link it in to take payments. Check it our here.
- Rescue Time: Avoid distractions and stay focussed on the task at hand with this most awesome tool.
More Business Building Resources
- 30 Day list Building Challenge by Nathalie Lussier: Since e-mail marketing is an essential aspect of online promotion, it’s really important to build your subscriber list as soon as possible. This is a great 30 day list building challenge from online biz coach Nathalie Lussier.
- Have a service-based business and you want to package them up? This "Hey Nice Package" program from Rebecca Tracy might be just what you're looking for. This course helps you narrow in on creating great packages of services, pricing them out and selling them.
Making and Managing Your Moolah!Get Schooled with the New School of Finance: Shannon Lee Simmons is a financial genius. A genius I tell you and she has successfully helped me understand my personal and business finances. She's helped me create budgets, understand taxes, investing and the whole lot of it. I can't recommend her and her courses more highly. If you're not sure what courses to start with, allow me to help you:
- Change or Die by Alan Deutschman (Canadian Link)
- Control Alt Delete by Mitch Joel (Canadian Link)
- Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson (Canadian Link)
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini (Canadian Link)
- Motivational Interviewing by by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick (Canadian Link)
- The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin (Canadian Link)
- The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz (Canadian Link)