The simplest tools for running a profitable business
Believe it or not, one of the biggest things that even my most successful clients struggle with is systems. Truth be told... I do as well. Systems are so crucial to me as a Projector because they help me leverage my time (and my limited energy) as effectively as possible and allow me to create income without having to work for every single dollar.
But I am a natural systems breaker... if you've taken the Kolbe A* (and if you haven't, it's a great tool for understanding how you approach tasks), my score on all things systems are low. Which isn't bad, it just means that I work best when things aren't too rigid. Funnels and consistency are definitely rigid.
But if you want to run a profitable business where you're not chasing after every dollar, systems are an essential part of life.
Funnels + Automation
Landing Pages - Carrd. Most people will usually link to Unbounce, Leadpages, Clickfunnels, or Kajabi. While none of those are bad options, I like supporting startups where I can - especially startups that focus on a clean, minimalist, and well designed aesthetic (I think Clickfunnels landing pages are the ugliest things on earth... sorry) and are reasonably priced. Their pro plan (which is what I have) is just 49$/year. Yes, per year. And they have a free option if you're just getting started.
E-mail Marketing - Convertkit.* If you're looking for affordable and reliable e-mail service that works, then Convertkit is the way to go. Their interface is clean and it's relatively easy to use.
The only downside is that they don't have enough customization available for things like Facebook pixels. The interface got a major overhaul and you can now do things like customizing button names and colors in Convertkit itself, and it's an easy embed.
They do have landing pages, but honestly... they're ugly AF and so I don't use them. But if you were in a pinch, then you could definitely get by with it.
I've had a long and drawn out back and forth between Squarespace and Wordpress, and right now, I'm on Squarespace. I find Wordpress a lot more intuitive for blogging, but a lot of the themes out there are UGLY AF and just aren't built for personal brands.
Squarespace, on the other hand, has the most amazing themes that you customize in its own panel. They're easy to use and blogging is a breeze.
I will say that the interface can be a little tricky to use sometimes, and the fact that it only integrates directly with Mailchimp in 2018 is like... beyond ridiculous to me. But you can easily embed forms from Convertkit into Squarespace using the "code" block.
I will not... I repeat, will not use Paypal as a payment processor unless I'm under dire circumstances. The number of times that they've kept my money for absolutely no reason is ludicrous, and unlike with other payment processors, where you deal directly with credit card companies and the burden of proof is on the person making the claim, with Paypal, they almost always side with the buyer.
When I'm sending client invoices, I use Square* (be sure to use my affiliate code for up to 1000$ in free processing). What I like about Square is that you can charge a credit card on the phone, your clients can store credit card information so you can auto-charge them, and invoicing is a breeze. You also get paid in 24-48 business hours, which is the fastest turnaround time.
For courses and any other kind of payment, I use Stripe. Stripe is the gold standard for security and processing, and it integrates with basically everything else we're going to talk about here. As a Canadian, it's a bit annoying that I have to wait a week to be paid, but it's about the same as if I was going with Paypal... without the annoying muss and fuss of Paypal.
First of all... don't use stock contracts - get professional contracts drafted by a lawyer whenever you're in business. Stock contracts don't protect you in your specific country/state/province, but contracts drafted from a lawyer and tailored to YOUR specific business will keep you legally protected.
For signing contracts, I use HelloSign. I used Adobe Sign for a year, but I found it way more complicated to use. HelloSign is easy, it's what most companies use to sign their contracts digitally, and if you're processing less than three contracts in a month... it's free.
Social Media Automation
I use Recurpost for Facebook and Twitter. Most people will tell you to use MeetEdgar, a tool that cycles your content for you in content libraries, but it's expensive at 89$ per month, and I don't think it's sustainable when you have a small audience to be paying more for a content cycler than you do for your e-mail automation. Sorry! Recurpost will let you schedule and cycle up to 100 pieces of content for free, and the paid upgrades are less than MeetEdgar.
Tailwind is a newer app for me and I'm still getting the hang of it, but I use it for Pinterest and Instagram. I used to use a company called Boardbooster for Pinterest, but it was shut down, but Tailwind is an Instagram and Pinterest official partner. I won't lie, it's not as intuitive as Boardbooster used to be, but it has a lot of cool features. It's an investment, that's for sure... but the ROI on having your content properly circulated on Pinterest especially makes it worth it.
My friend Reese over at Yes Supply has a great post about how to make the switch from Board Booster to Tailwind, or how to use it for the first time. I highly recommend checking it out.
Courses + Memberships
I'm going to suggest a bit of a dark horse here because the majority of online business owners use either Teachable or Thinkific to manage their courses, but I've used and loved Teachery for over two years. Unlike the other softwares, there's no bullshit features... it's just what you need and nothing else.
It has built-in sales pages, payment forms, and connects to ConvertKit so that you can make sure you're not e-mailing students to buy the course after they've already purchased it (so annoying).
As I record the podcast and meet with clients, my scheduler is one of the most important parts of my business! Acuity is really the gold standard for me. You can set different availability for different types of appointments, charge for appointments right in the system, and it integrates perfectly with Squarespace.
There you have it. That's ALL the tools that I use to run my business. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Note: The tools that have a * next to them indicate an affiliate link. If you sign up through my link, I will receive a small commission. I only recommend tools that I have actively tried and use in my business.