Strategies, strategies, you have to have those to know where you’re going with your work and actually accomplish something meaningful. But you also have to have another element of the puzzle, one that’s completely different…
You see the headline of this post so you know what it is – tools and software for small business … no matter if your online business is actually small or not, there’s nothing like a big, nice set of tools, presumably free, or at least so brilliant that you don’t mind paying.
The following list consists of various tools I use every day (i.e. very often). All of them have been tested by me, so I’m not advising you to use anything uncertain. I hope you’ll enjoy the list.
9 tools and software for small business and online entrepreneurs
1. The Captain Obvious Package
First up is a set of tools that I call the Captain Obvious Package. I didn’t want to include them separately on the list because their presence would probably get you to leave the page.
Anyway, these are tools everyone knows and everyone uses, and I’m only including them to make the whole message complete.
The Captain Obvious Package consists of:
- WordPress – the ultimate solution for your website, free, lots of plugins, massive community.
- Google Analytics – free and powerful site analytics software.
- Google Reader – so you can keep up with the world and be up-to-date with what’s going on.
- Dropbox – a cloud service for keeping your files in an online space that can be accessed from anywhere.
Of course, there are some alternatives to all of these tools, but for me, this is the most basic package of software for small business.
This is my favorite email delivery service, or email newsletter service like some people like to call it.
All the essential features are included. You can create a number of campaigns, generate reports, send out both HTML and text emails, set up autoresponders, and lots of other stuff.
As a matter of fact check out this quick video to get some basic understanding of what MailChimp looks like:
Now the best part is that at MailChimp they have a free plan as long as you don’t have more than 2,000 subscribers and don’t send more than 12,000 emails per month.
This makes it possible to get off the ground without spending a dime. I’m sure switching to a paid plan won’t be a problem once you grow your list of subscribers and actually make some money.
3. Market Samurai
Market Samurai is a complete, all-purpose platform for an online entrepreneur, and a superb example of software for small business. There are tons of features, and the software is organized around 8 separate modules, each taking care of a different element:
- Rank tracker.
- Keyword Research.
- SEO Competition.
- Find Content.
- Publish Content.
Check out the review (Market Samurai review) I’ve written just lately. It covers all the most important aspects of Market Samurai and explains why it’s so valuable for every online entrepreneur.
Fiverr is a great site to get some serious work done for as little as $5. In fact, every gig you can order there is $5, hence the name.
I have some really good experience with Fiverr, mostly when it comes to link building and writing services. Once I even had my personal signature designed.
The scope of possible gigs is very big, the list of main categories includes things like: graphics, video, social marketing, writing, advertising, business, technology, programming, and more.
Payments are done by PayPal so it’s safe too. Depending on the gig and the person providing it you can expect results within hours or a week.
This is my software of choice when it comes to project and team management.
This might be particularly important to you if you’re hiring other people or work in a team with other coworkers. In such scenarios, good communication can sometimes be a challenge. Especially if you’re working on many different things, each with a different deadline.
Teambox provides many useful features like:
- Recent activity lists – something similar to a Facebook Wall.
- Conversations – something like a simple message board.
- Task manager – no explanation needed here.
- Time tracking.
- Pages – if you have a need to share a bigger piece of information with your team, like a tutorial or some kind of instruction on how to perform a certain task, etc.
- Files – everything you upload to share it with your team.
- User and role management – you can invite new team members and assign them different roles (admin, participant, observer, etc.).
Teambox provides 4 basic plans, and there’s a free one too. In which you get to create up to 3 projects and you also get 50MB of storage space for files and attachments.
In my opinion, this free plan is sufficient enough to get a hang of the software and decide whether you want to use it regularly or not.
Check out this video for more info:
6. Remember The Milk
I simply love this tool and I’m using it every day to keep up with my personal to-do lists of tasks. It’s very easy to use and neatly fits within the GTD methodology.
The tool provides some very cool features like: tasks, due dates, multiple task lists, priorities, easy keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys), and more. Feel free to check out their tour and getting started guide.
One more thing worth noticing is that Remember The Milk also provides apps for major mobile platforms. It runs on the iPhone (it’s integrated with Siri, by the way), iPad, and Android.
Fotolia is one of my favorite sources of images as of late. The fact that they’ve given me a free membership might have something to do with it, but nonetheless, there are some great pics there.
Basically, Fotolia is a stock photography directory – a place where you can buy some royalty free photos and then use them wherever you like.
Why is it important for an online entrepreneur? Well, there’s no better way of making your content more visually appealing than by including some nice pictures. Every new post on your blog would surely be more memorable and recognizable if it had a nice picture included at the beginning, or somewhere else inside it.
As a matter of fact, check out my other post where I explain why and how to use images on your blog. And while I’m at it, if you want to find out more about Fotolia check out another post of mine where I present a list of possible sources of images for your blog.
In essence, Buffer is a scheduling tool for Twitter. Which means you can schedule your tweets to be published later.
Why? Well, this gives you the opportunity to set a scheduling calendar for your promotional tweets or/and other special-purposes postings. Also, you get some basic analytics, so you can see how many retweets and clicks your tweets have received.
Here’s a short presentation:
Buffer integrates with all the major browsers and mobile platforms (here’s more). There’s a handful of different plans, and the free one provides good enough indication of what the software is like, so you can make the decision whether it’s worth to upgrade or not.
9. The Best Spinner
The list concludes with this final position – The Best Spinner. And the name says it all. It’s the best article spinner available. Not only my opinion, but hundreds of other marketers’ as well. You can get a 7 day trial for $7, then it’s $77 a year.
Article spinning is a topic for a separate post and a somewhat controversial concept. The opinions about the practice vary across the internet. However, whatever your opinion is I just want to remind you that here I’m talking about tools, not their possible usages. Therefore, if you’re looking for a good article spinner, this is the best one out there.
It is easy to use, and once you get used to it you can create a quality spin within 15 minutes or less.
… There’s one main problem with different lists of tools like the one you’re reading right now. They can go on and on, and it’s very difficult to choose the few items worth including into a “top 5” or a “top 10” list. So I’m not trying to convince you that you absolutely have to use everything from this list.
Remember that these are just tools, they don’t matter. How you use them is what matters.
Feel free to share your own experiences with various tools and software for small business. Did you notice any issues worth sharing with others? Or maybe any tricks that make using these tools a lot easier?