One of the biggest benefits of an Internet business is the ability to run it regardless of where you are. That’s one of the reasons why you’re in this business, right?
The problem is most people starting out aren’t doing it right. What I mean is, they’re creating jobs for themselves instead of creating a business. I won’t lie to you though — I was in the same position.
A few years ago, I read a book called ‘The E-Myth: Revisited‘ by Michael E. Gerber, and in his book he emphasizes that most small business owners are working IN their business instead of ON their business.
To elaborate further, Gerber says that most business owners are doing too much of the “technical” work — they’re wearing all the hats in their business. They’re doing all the research, writing, creating, designing, fixing, maintaining, emailing, customer support, and it doesn’t end there.
Does this sound familiar to you?
It’s a position you didn’t expect but feel obligated to do because you want to make sure your business runs smoothly. What first was meant to give you more time, money and freedom is now something you can’t let go of and feel responsible for.
You’ve heard of the concept of outsourcing to leverage your time and effort, and that’s what any business owner should do, especially an Internet business. The truth of the matter is, you only have 24 hours in a day, and there’s only so much you can do until you get burned out.
This post won’t teach you how to outsource, but instead you’ll learn the exact tools, sites and techniques you can use to build a proper Internet business without slaving away. These are tools my team and I use ourselves to work more effectively and efficiently. I won’t be listing every single tool and gadget, only those which in my opinion would greatly benefit your business and productivity.
And just to note, this post is not intended to be biased in any way. I’m simply listing the tools I use in my business.
1. Market Samurai
Market Samurai is a great market research tool that’s helped my staff and I research new niches to approach and more keywords to expand on. As you might know, research is crucial before anything else. You simply type in a keyword and within an instant, this software will uncover related keywords, the number of searches, competition, commercial intent and more valuable data. In essence, this software will determine whether to go for it, or not.
I’ve tested other research tools, but this one’s got to be on top of the list. You can try it out for free, here.
Whether you’re selling marbles or air conditioning services; every business needs to collect details of their prospects and customers. You’ve already made the effort to get people to your site, so why not collect their name and email so you can send them free tips, updates, offers and more.
I’ve been using AWeber since 2005 and I’ve generated over 30,000 subscribers as a result. If you don’t have an autoresponder yet, get AWeber today. It’s the smartest investment you’ll ever make.
Most of us have this already, but I’m listing it down here since it’s an everyday tool. I use Skype everyday to keep in direct contact with my staff, business associates, and of course friends and family. I also use it to make conference calls which lead to lots of great ideas.
Dropbox is a handy file storage service which enables you to sync files in one location. It’s free to download and you get 2GB of storage.
It acts like another storage drive on your computer, so it’s really easy to use. I use Dropbox as a quick & easy way to share documents, presentations, website files, and ebooks with my staff and associates.
I upgraded to the ‘Pro 50′ account which gives me 50GB of storage for just $9.99 a month because I also like to keep backup and sync files from my computer, too.
You probably don’t need that much space if you’re starting out. When you download it using this link, you’ll get a bonus 250MB of space added to your account, giving you a total of 2.25GB of space. You can also refer your friends to earn more Dropbox space, just like what I’m doing.
When you want to sync and backup all your browser bookmarks, Xmarks does it for you. You can sync bookmarks from one computer to another using this handy browser plug-in. It does it automatically for you.
The best part is, it’s free. However I heard that they’re stopping their service from 2011, but you can continue using it for a very small fee. This tool proves to be invaluable if you use more than one computer but want have the same bookmarks on all. You can still get it for free – www.xmarks.com
Select an area, choose whether you want a screen shot or recording, and out pops your screen shot/video. It’s a useful tool when trying to illustrate your point to someone, instead of typing step-by-step how to do it. I use it everyday in my business to explain a new concept, share an idea or an update with my staff. It’s hassle-free, and it doesn’t cost a thing. Get it at www.techsmith.com/jing
Screenflow is a software I use to record professional screen recordings. This is a Mac software, so if you’re using Windows, I’d recommend Camtasia Studio. It’s really easy to use and produce screen recordings. You can record tutorials and presentations of anything so you can get demonstrate your idea, educate your customers, create promotional videos and more.
Once you’re done recording your tutorial, you can upload it straight to YouTube using their built-in tool. You can get Screenflow here.
We use Basecamp as our main project management tool. Creating, assigning, and tracking projects is easy with Basecamp. The guys at 37Signals (the creators) like keeping things simple, and that’s what Basecamp is — simple to use.
Whenever I have a new product to create, I login to Basecamp, create a new project, create some “To do’s”, and then assign tasks to the appropriate staff. So if one of the to-do’s requires website design, I assign that particular to-do to the designer. The designer will then get notified via email that there’s a new task to fulfill.
As an administrator, you can control who sees what. John may see Project X but can’t see Project Y. You can set it all in the control panel. Ever since I’ve used it, productivity in our company has increased dramatically. No emails going back and forth, no miscommunication… everything’s in one central hub — the scope of the project, milestones, tasks, and messages are in one place. You can try it out free for 30 days – www.basecamphq.com
Outlook is the old way of managing email. It’s now easier and faster to handle email using Gmail. You can create “labels” which works like folders. I personally have somewhere around 200+ labels to organize different types of emails.
You can set filters to filter emails from different senders. You can add more functions using Google “Labs”. One of the most powerful features is it’s spam filter.
It filters out spam so you don’t have to see it in your inbox. I’ve tweaked my Gmail account to the point that by the end of the day, there’ll be zero emails in my inbox.
This product is what the name suggest. You’ll no longer need to remember passwords. If you’re still remembering passwords or using one password for everything (bad idea), then it’s time to let go and let LastPass handle all your passwords. I’ve tried many password managers and nothing comes close to this.
I used to be a long time fan of RoboForm but I shifted to LastPass a few months ago and never looked back. Unlike traditional password managers where you actually need to be on that computer where it’s installed, LastPass stores all your passwords on their secure server. So it doesn’t matter if you’re away from the office, overseas or a friend’s place. You can still access all your logins using LastPass. Download LastPass — it’s free.
WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform, it can be used to create sales pages, landing pages, membership sites, and any site you can think of.
This blog you’re on right now is powered by WordPress. I also use WordPress to centralize staff documentation and training because it’s easy to post, comment and share information.
With the amount of Wordpres plug-ins and themes out there already, you can control how you want your site to function, as well as how it looks. You can install it quickly & easily using Fantastico Deluxe in your cPanel account or download it from WordPress.org.
12. Storm On Demand
I use a special kind of web hosting service called “cloud servers”. For the typical webmaster, this would probably be out of the range. However, if you’re planning a big launch or generating lots of traffic then this would be of value.
You get the same or better performance as a dedicated server. The major difference is that you can scale up or down real easy, to accommodate the traffic. For instance, if you’re planning a big launch next month, you can upgrade to a more powerful server without transferring files from your old server to the new server. That’s why they call it cloud servers. And you only pay for what you use.
At the time of writing, I’m on the Bare Metal Intel Dual Xeon E5506 plan with a fast SAS drive for better performance. Yea, geek talk, I know.
You can learn more about Storm On Demand by clicking here.
13. MacBook Pro
Yes, that’s me on my 17″ MacBook Pro, working outside, enjoying the weather and fresh air.
That way, I can take it around anywhere and not feel restricted to sitting in my home office.
It took a while to adapt to a Mac. I hated it the first week, but then got used to it. I love it so much now!
I use this laptop as my main computer after retiring from a Windows PC. I don’t think I’ll ever return to a Windows system.
It’s probably one of the best investments I had made to date.
It’s saved me lots of time and hassle because it doesn’t crash, even when I have dozens of programs running.
Send me away from the office and I bet I’d still be able to run my business using my iPhone. With the vast amount of apps for iPhone, you can pretty much do anything. I’ve got apps for to-do lists, managing finances like Paypal, checking emails, keeping track of projects, communicating with staff, checking the currency rate, and more.
15. Rescue Time
Ever thought to yourself at the end of the day, “Where did all that time go?”. Well, here’s the tool which tracks exactly where time’s spent, which sites you spent most on, which applications you used, and more. It’s an application that runs in the background, so you don’t need to touch anything.
At the end of each day you’ll receive an email which gives you a detailed report of your productivity. Using the data given, you can manage your time better. It’s free to use for personal use. Just head to www.rescuetime.com to download it. It works on both Windows and Mac.
Who ever said creating sales pages is difficult? Not anymore. My good friend, James Dyson, created a genius piece of software called OptimizePress.
OptimizePress is a WordPress theme which enables you to create stunning sales pages, squeeze pages, launch pages and more — all without design and programming knowledge.
It has built-in templates you can easily customize so you can simply pick and choose the one you like. You can easily add web page elements like order buttons, arrows and testimonial boxes using OptimizePress. It’s all built-in. Check it out OptimizePress here.
Well, that just about wraps it up. There are dozens of other tools I wanted to share with you, but these are the important ones which I think you should add to your toolbox.
I’m sure they will save you all that pain when trying to find the best solution. I’m confident these tools will increase your productivity and in turn, your business growth.
Now it’s your turn. What tools and gadgets do you use to run your Internet business?
Let us know by posting your comment below. I’d love to know!
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