27 Tools That Every Entrepreneur Needs from Day One
March 29, 2017
If you're anything like me, you get shiny object syndrome – a LOT! Not only do I love new ideas and really enjoy exploring what could be achieved by just pulling on an idea a little bit, but I also love gadgets, software and tech – especially if there's a promise of more productivity or some way to revitalise something in my life that's just a little bit dull.
The problem is that so many early stage entrepreneurs focus on the TOOLS and not the DOING.
They buy the next big thing, every single time, and call themselves “early adopters” when really all that they're looking for is a shortcut to launch or growth.
The tools that we use are just there to help us on that path, not to push
I'm an early adopter of certain things – gadgets at times, new software and startup products – but certainly stay away from diving into tools and services that promise the world for very little input.
I'm often asked about the tools that I use and although I use SO many, sometimes barely touching a piece of software for months and then suddenly relying on it for a solid period of time (hello Adobe Audition!), I do absolutely rely completely on certain bits of kit.
These are the cornerstones of how I run my businesses and each one delivers much, much more return than any investment that I've placed in them.
Here's my business, in a box!
27 Tools That Every Entrepreneur Needs from Day One
I've built my entire business on this. AWeber is my preferred choice of email marketing software for one simple reason: the customer service is outstanding.
There's no substitute for service and with a quality, focused email list you can generate revenue from day one.
Try AWeber free for 90 days with code “EXEX”.
If my email marketing relies on AWeber, then my personal email system relies on MixMax.
With the ability to track your email opens, set templated replies & drafts and create complete personal email automation, I honestly don't know what I did without this!
There's no doubt that generating traffic from search engines is up there near the top of every business wish list.
If you set out to become a content marketer or use content marketing within your business, then you NEED to know what terms to write around in order to create content that generates traffic.
LongTail Pro makes this super easy and offers complete tutorials on how to maximise your on-site SEO. It's silly to not use it!
One of my biggest goals was to create a business that allowed me the chance to work from anywhere using just a laptop or an iPad.
Dropbox makes this happen. With access to every single file within my business, from any device in the world, Dropbox means that my files are not only safe and secure in the cloud, but that every device I use stays in perfect sync, wherever I am.
I'm a sucker for a list! Seriously, I have lists to chart my lists – that's not even a joke!
Trello is a kanban board for the digital generation, allowing you to create complete project “boards”, with unlimited lists, list items (cards) and the ability to create checklists, notes and file storage within each individual card.
I've used this for product development, admin, project management and SO much more.
Trello is maybe the tool I use the most, every single day.
I find it hard to slow down, to turn off and to sometimes focus.
I use Headspace every single day to work through simple, powerful and guided meditations as part of my morning routine and the results have been immeasurable.
I'm more focused, more driven and can slow myself down by using the techniques learned throughout this process, at any time.
Where Headspace keeps my mind in check, MyFitnessPal keeps my body in check.
I love training at the gym but struggle sometimes keeping my diet and eating habits as clean as they could be. Not a fan of “fad” diets, I focus hard on a lifestyle of clean eating and simple foods to hit my fitness goals.
MyFitnessPal means that I can completely track this and make sure that I'm hitting my targets every single day.
Grab MyFitnessPal for your iOS or Android device, now.
Dropbox secures my files and lets me access them wherever I am, at any time.
CrashPlan secures and backs up my actual computer, to the cloud, constantly so that if ANYTHING goes wrong with my hardware, I can restore my entire computer from the cloud at any time.
CrashPlan is a complete no brainer!
As an entrepreneur, it's all about getting ideas out and tested in the market quickly, but without them feeling “quick and dirty”.
Canva is the online design tool that allows you to create graphics for ANY project quickly, easily and in a professional way.
It's how I create every single graphic for Excellence Expected and even allows you to import your brand kit so that you can let your team work together, whilst maintaining your brand standards.
And Canva is free, so go for it!
Building a social media following is something that you and I maybe put too much of a focus on, certainly from the perspective of how much time we spend doing it.
Crowdfire allows you to automate certain parts of that process but more importantly, it gives you insights into the behaviour of your social media following and shows who unfollowed, your growth and allows you to dig into competitor audiences, too.
And just like Canva, Crowdfire is free.
I'm no videographer, but there are times that I need to create videos for certain parts of my businesses, for example, podcast trailers or tutorials.
Screenflow is a super intuitive way to create and edit these videos and the software also allows you to publish directly to all of the major video hosting platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube.
For a LONG time, I hated scheduling my social media content. It just simply sucked, it was too time consuming and required me to go refill a “queue” of content every couple of days.
And then Edgar came along and made life SO much easier.
Rather than operating a finite queue of content, Edgar allows you to create a library of content that is shuffled and cycled out to your social media platforms on a schedule that you completely control.
Edgar changed my social media life, have a go for yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes that I made within my first business was believing that it was alright to keep everything in my head.
Process Street allows you, for free, to document your processes and standard operating procedures so that as you grow and begin to build a team, you have an operating manual right there ready to go from day one.
The value of this is immeasurable and I urge you to sign up for free and integrate this today – I'm serious.
I suck at remembering passwords and because of that, I used to use the same password for everything.
AKA the most insecure way to operate online EVER!
LastPass gives you a secure vault that will auto-create crazy secure passwords for any platform you use and take the responsibility of remembering them for you, with you accessing your vault via one master password.
This runs in the background of every device I own and I forget just how much I use it.
It's one of the best software purchases I've ever made and costs less that $10.
There's also a free version, too.
I'm 99% sure that my accountant used to hate me.
I was that guy, the guy who turned up with a bag of receipts, threw them on his desk at year end and wondered why he had so many queries.
Xero is now the tool I use to manage my entire accounting and now my accountant loves me, well he likes me anyway.
Xero really easy super easy to use and the reporting features alone make it worth looking at.
WordPress is a content management system that powers over 25% of the ENTIRE web.
Quite simply, it's the easiest yet most powerful publishing tool on the planet and your website should run on it.
Every single website that I've built for the last ten years has run on WordPress because it's SO easy!
You can download WordPress for free and host it yourself, or if you want a fully hosted and supported version, I got some great guys for the job.
Taking payments online used to be a total pain in the rear. Sure, PayPal is fine and I use that too, but I actually use Stripe to run payments through 90% of my products.
The reason is simple: the interface is super intuitive and you have total flexibility over how you run your payments.
Oh, and the fees aren't bad either!
Stripe is also free until you start making money, yay!
I have no words for how useful Evernote is.
I store train tickets for mobile access here, I plan products using it, I sync up my iPad written notes with it and I share access to project files with my team using it.
It's pretty much my virtual dumping ground for EVERYTHING, I even planned this post out using it and synced it across all of my devices instantly.
I'd be completely lost without it. Really.
I'm a sucker for procrastinating at times. I get distracted by Superman news and end up down the rabbit hole of YouTube, argh!
Rescuetime keeps me accountable. It's a free tool that sits quietly in the background of your computer and sends you reports on exactly how you're spending your time online.
It's amazing for focus and allows you to even blacklist websites that you want to avoid for a while!
The free version is excellent.
Because I am prone to a little procrastination, I try to schedule the time to read things that I want to read online, rather than simply hop on to them as they come up.
To do that I use Instapaper. Instapaper acts as your own personal “save it for later” filing cabinet and gives you the chance to come back to articles or tutorials later, at a time that suits you.
Unlike browser bookmarks, Instapaper will allow these pieces to be downloaded for offline browsing on all of your devices, too – perfect for travelling!
Get started with Instapaper, it's free too!
If you're like me, you'll sometimes find yourself burning the midnight oil and working on your computer way past dark and right up to bedtime.
Flux works silently in the background of your computer to shift the colour tone of your screen based on time of day and thus, daylight, meaning that your eyes don't become strained and so that when you do finally switch off your computer, you're not wide awake and unable to sleep.
And Flux is totally free, too.
Geek warning! I love a simple, powerful tool that just does what it's supposed to do and does it WELL!
Scannable is just such a tool. Built by Evernote, Scannable turns your smartphone into a portable and super smart scanner that syncs anything that you scan with Evernote.
For travelling or accounting, it's an absolute must have!
Grab the free Scannable app now.
I like reading. The trouble is that outside of my morning routine I don't always get the chance to read the personal development books that I want to read, and if I read them before bed then my brain won't shut off.
So, in-between podcasts, I consume personal development and “business” books using Audible when I'm walking, driving or at the gym.
It's the best few pounds I spend every month – and you can try it for free if you like.
I started writing a few years ago and found it hard to focus.
And then I found Writer.
Writer is a simple, elegant writing tool that syncs across all of your devices and allows you to write distraction free using a really clean and friendly interface.
With multiple export options and so many simple yet useful writing features, Writer is the only tool that I use to craft and finalise anything that I author, including this post.
It doesn't matter how much you write, no one is perfect.
Grammarly is a simple and free online tool that analyses your writing and highlights critical and other “mistakes” or suggestions to make your piece better.
Acting not only as a spell checker and thesaurus but also as a virtual editor, Grammarly should be a part of any entrepreneur's toolset especially when you consider the browser extension that turns Grammarly into your own personal email proofing assistant, too.
In fact, every single piece that I author gets run through Grammarly before being published.
Sign up for a free Grammarly account, now.
I travel a fair bit and sometimes, it's pretty last minute.
Hotel Tonight is my go to app for finding last-minute hotels and crazy prices, in the place that I find myself.
As the name suggests, you can find a place to stay on the day that you arrive and be sure that the hotels featured are safe, quality and guaranteed to save you a little of your hard-earned cash.
Download Hotel Tonight for free.
The last tool on the list is a life saver!
When travelling, getting around using anything except taxis or Uber can be a serious problem, especially if it's your first time in a new place.
Citymapper makes it super-easy to get anywhere in any of the major cities in the world, giving you complete step-by-step instructions on how to get from where you are, to where you need to be – even mixing up travel options to get you there in the most optimal way possible.
And Citymapper is totally free, too.
Have I missed anything?
What are your “go-to” tools? What do you use to make your life easier as an entrepreneur?
Let me know in the Facebook Group!
Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!