Ready to Build Your Essential Entrepreneur Toolkit?
So you’ve decided you want to become an entrepreneur. Marvelous! It’s going to be the best ride of your life.
When I look back, my one regret is not using the BEST products and services from the get-go. The other regret is not hiring a coach from day 1! Live and learn, right? Except you lose out on time and opportunity and a whole lot of money.
So that’s why I built this ultimate essential entrepreneur toolkit for you. Start investing in your online business from day one! It is worth it and so are you! Let’s start building your entrepreneur toolkit now so you are set up for success from this minute forward. I only talk up products that I know inside out, have tested and used for a good while and love.
1. ~ The WordPress Theme of Choice: Genesis by StudioPress
We switched Prolific Living over to the Genesis Framework on December 2013. As the blog grew in size and traffic, we wanted to increase the reliability, security and scalability so we went with this obvious choice and here’s why.
Two of the main reasons we chose Genesis Framework were the supreme performance in SEO as well as the mobile responsiveness – this theme is made to work with mobile devices and tablet and that is a must for a growing online business.
Genesis takes website beauty seriously with its gorgeous StudioPress themes (we opted for the developer package and if you have more than one website, that’s the best choice), and the versatility of the theme. It’s the professional and smart choice for us now and we cannot speak highly enough of the Genesis experience thus far.
Facebook is, whether we like it or not, the king of social media platforms. Having a Facebook Fan Page for your business is an important way of connecting to people that have already shown interest in what you offer, but every-changing Facebook policies and algorithms make it difficult to reach those people. I just couldn’t find a way of getting traction, and the increasing frustration led to me ignore it for far too long. Thankfully, I found a super guy and a super program that helped get my Facebook Fan Page back on track.
Steve Aitchison’s course “Your FB Challenge” is just what you need to get YOUR Facebook Fan Page moving in the right direction.
After using Steve’s Facebook challenge system for just 3 days, we saw a huge spike in our fan page engagement rate, and after 2 weeks, we started getting a noticeable increase of Facebook traffic to our website. Another one of our sites had a large increase in Google search referrals about a month after we started to implement only a part of Steve’s recommendations.
I’ve used lots of Facebook techniques since 2010 and none have been successful so I had given up bitterly but I am stoked and back in the game, thanks to Steve. His method works just as he had promised!
3 ~ Build Your List Fast with Email Marketing: Aweber
One of my regrets about the incredible journey of blogging has been the same regret as other intermediate and even pro bloggers – go ahead and ask them! – and that is the fact that I started my mailing list too late in the game. My goal is to make sure that no one else has this regret!
Your mailing list is your biggest business asset.. Your RSS feeds and website traffic and even your Feedburner emails are all great but you can’t reach out to those users unless you have their email address!
The good news is that I started with the BEST company out there after doing my research: Aweber Communications! These guys rock. I chose them over all others because they provide a month-free service and they have LIVE support where you can talk to someone about your problems on the phone, the traditional kind without the wait and the hassle and with an amazing staff. The features are brilliant, the system is efficient, the information about your subscribers is invaluable and the entire work flow is extremely user-friendly.
The best part about Aweber is that you get the first month for FREE – otherwise, I would probably need more lovin’ to be convinced! Click the nice picture banner below and go! Get on Aweber. What an exciting step toward your blogging journey and how smart of you!
4 ~ Invest in a pro conferencing service: GoToMeeting
I can’t stress enough how important it is to steer clear of all the “free” conferencing services out there, because not only do you have little reliability with their systems, you risk coming across less than professional to your customers and clients.
Case in point: Imagine how awful and embarrassed my friend felt when a cheap conferencing system didn’t record our live training – his first such offering to his list – and didn’t even let attendees dial-in properly to the conference. “Technical glitch” can only save you so much when the opportunity is all but lost. This whole experience was mortifying, and that’s the stuff that’s hard to recover from.
You won’t have that problem with GoToMeeting. I use GoToMeeting to meet with clients, record our sessions, interact live, share webcam and create a wonderful experience of working together. I use it to run my group coaching calls and my small mastermind and training sessions. I love Citrix – the company behind GoToMeeting – so much that I also upgraded to use GoToWebinar for larger training sessions. The actual experience of the conferencing tool aside, you get excellent data after the calls to evaluate how things went so you can make it better for the next time.
I’ve been using this company for over 2 years now and would not consider any other conferencing tools. The free or the cheap waste your time and can damage your reputation. Go with GoToMeeting!
5 ~ Best Tool for CRM and Client Pipeline Tracking: Streak
After searching for months and years for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that helps me track prospects and their stages in the pipeline and keep tabs on current clients as well as business partners, peers and colleagues, I had given up. Until a client told me about Streak. She mentioned a random feature like it lets you track whether your emails have been opened by the end user. Then I found out there is a whole house of functionality to Streak including the amazing pipeline tracking function.
I love Streak. It has got me so organized and is now the foundation of my prospecting work with clients.
And you know what? Your memory is not strong enough to remember who is in what stage and needs what.
I LOVE Streak for organizing my customer and client pipelines.
6~ Great WordPress theme for new bloggers: Thesis
I loved for 4 years and really enjoyed running it on Prolific Living. While I am no longer a user, I am a proud affiliate because Thesis served me very well and here’s why I love these guys:
First: Thesis is rich, professional, clean, versatile with a killer layout. It is also powerfully customizable to your needs. All your needs. Other themes: been there, done that many times. I spent hours and days to get things right to no avail. Thesis has been my answer since August 2009.
Second (and just as important): The outstanding, unmatched and quick-to-respond-and-solve-your-problem customer support. The forums are very closely watched and Godhammer and Girlie, the brains of this operation, answer any question you may have from basic functionality to super complex hooks and coding. These guys rock.
7 ~ Search Engine Must-Have: Scribe
I love that all of my SEO (Search Engine Optimization – a term you will get to know intimately as you live online a while) is so integrated now. Just the fact that Scribe gives me a Content Score for every single post encourages me to go for 100% every time. Plus it works. My search engine traffic has more than tripled and continues to grow with this system.
You learn to do your Title Tags, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords in a well-laid-out system and if you score poorly on your SEO, you know *exactly* what is wrong and Scribe gives you specific suggestions to fix it and move on.
8 ~ Use the best web hosting: bluehost
But one thing I have learned is that the stuff that is invisible to your readers is the stuff that sometimes makes or breaks it, choices like which hosting company you should go with.
That’s the stuff you cannot leave up to chance. That’s the decision that has to be made correctly the first time.
I think you might be hard-pressed to find a hosting company that rocks like these guys. I have used others that I love and will soon promote as well but bluehost is hard to beat on customer support front (super important to bloggers!) and on cost front (lowest in the market)!
It’s up to you but more than years of blogging says go with this hosting company.
9 ~ No More Manual Invoicing: Fresh Books
My brother asks me the other day if I am sick of PayPal fees yet? I say, of course but what am I to do? Then he tells me about FreshBooks.
So long as you choose the right option, and your customer or client pays you with Paypal, FreshBooks and PayPal have agreed to a 50 cent flat rate per transaction! (This applies to US-to-US transactions only at this time.)
But that is just one perk. FreshBooks has beautiful looking invoices, excellent user interface, organization beyond what I could do on my own, and it lets you create and track customer database and every activity and it actually makes the process of billing joyful and easy!
10 ~ Cloud Storage for Your Precious Data: Dropbox
Without your data, you have very little business. Your data, you must protect. That means, if your phone or tablet or computer gets stolen or hacked, you want to make sure the physical device is your worst lost. Not Your Data! If you’ve ever lost data because you didn’t back it up, you know the agony of which I speak. If you don’t, you can avoid agony.
How? Simple. Use Dropbox. It is the universally trusted solution that I can’t imagine doing without. I use Dropbox to store practically all my data on the cloud, I can access it from anywhere and any device, and I also get my clients to use Dropbox to share information between us. Dropbox ROCKS and so should your business!
11 ~ Reliable recording of Skype calls: Call Recorder
I have always used CallRecorder by Ecamm Network – this is not an affiliate link or anything – for recording audio and video Skype calls. In the 3+ years of using it, it has only let me down once or twice and I may be able to blame my Mac for it. It’s a one time payment, and it’s extremely useful for recording Skype calls for interviews or coaching calls or consulting with clients or doing personal video conferences. The updates are regular and easy to do. I’ve never had to call their tech support! It’s a must-have tool for digital entrepreneurs.
12 ~ Top Choice of Document Management System: Google Docs
I admit: I have hated MS Office for as long as it has existed. It is an abysmal piece of software that has lived far too long for the pain and suffering it has caused to millions. As soon as I quit my corporate job, I dropped it like a hot potato. Then I moved over to Evernote. I loved Evernote until someone introduced me to Google Docs and I’ve never looked back.
Google Docs and Google Drive are the most reliable, efficient, fast and mobile-friendly method of managing your documents as an online business owner. I love all Google products but Google Docs has moved up to the top of the queue. Your documents are accessible from all your mobile devices, updated on the fly, shared by anyone you wish and guess what, Google Docs has yet to freeze on me. It is a brave new world and I am loving it! So will you!
13 ~ Best Screen Recording for Presentations: ScreenFlow
I am a Mac junkie through and through, so for screen recording of all my presentations and courses, I use Screenflow religiously, even though they have an awful affiliate program, which means I am not affiliated with them.
I have used Screenflow to create hours upon hours of content. The learning curve was fast, and I have been able to do some fun editing and post-processing with little that I have learned in a short period of time. I love the options of being able to include a vide of yourself during the presentation, as well as super easy editing features. The quality of the recording is excellent.
14 ~ Best Selection for Audio Books & Unlimited Reading: Scribd.
I am in LOVE with Scribd. When I first fell in love with audio books, I had no idea it would cost so much to listen to them and as a reader with a voracious appetite, I am not willing to pay the high price of membership for Audible nor can I be satiated with the small selection of Kindle Unlimited audio books.
When I saw the selection on Scribd., I remember I was in Hawaii on vacation, my husband was napping and I had just finished with a client call. I started browsing their audio selection and I screamed from excitement (and naturally woke him up ;))! They have Game of Thrones, not to mention a TON of unbelievably amazing fiction, up-to-date non-fiction selection, most narrated by the authors themselves (the Neil Gaiman stuff is top notch) and it’s only $10/month – but you get 2 months free with the link I have here: Scribd.
It is the DREAM of the true book reader come to life. I love Scribd. I know you would too! Read every day and your life will transform for the better.
Disclaimer: Some of these products are affiliates. When you buy something here, I will make a small commission. So you build your business with trusted advice and proven experience, and support my work. We both win.