A List of Business Resources I’ve Personally Used Or Can Confidently Endorse
I’ve compiled and organized a list of resources I have found useful for my own business as well as products and services I’ve recommended for clients – past and present. Some of these links are affiliate links where I do get a commission if you sign up through my link. Where I can, I offer some form of support to help you along the way. You don’t pay more for signing up through my site. Please let me know if there are resources you’ve been looking for and would like to see added or if you have something you’ve used and want to share. You can use the form I created at the bottom of the page.
Web Hosting & Domains
HostGator is a web hosting (and email) platform that I personally use for all my sites and always recommend that my clients use. Why? Because they have great servers and exceptional up-time, they have very responsive customer service and they are extremely affordable. You can also purchase your domain from them and get a package deal. For less than $10 a month, you can get your site up and running. BONUS: Sign up through my site, email a copy of your receipt (minus CC info) and I’ll talk you through a few of the basics of using the C-panel, setting up emails and forwarders etc.
Go Daddyis a domain registration, hosting and website company. They’re known for their racy ads and cheap prices. I’ve only used them for domain registration because of the prices and have had positive customer service experiences with them. New customers get 25% off for a limited time. If all you’re looking for is to register your domain for as little as possible, catching them on a sale day will likely work out.
Small Business Marketing Tools
Dibs Rewards is an alternative to the daily deal sites like Living Social and Groupon. Unlike those companies, Dibs is a software product that doesn’t share in your revenue. For a monthly fee you get access to their software that helps you capture customer emails, setup and send promotions and fosters the sharing of those promotions with your customers’ friends. They even offer a demo or a free trial. Worth a look to get away from sharing the bulk of your profit and not keeping customer information. Learn more at DibsRewards.com
eFax is an electronic fax service that allows you to receive and print faxes from anywhere. Basically, you set up and account and get a virtual fax number that people can use to send you faxes that show up in your email. Using their eFax Reader, you can view them easily on your phone, tablet or computer. They offer a 30 day trial. I’ve been an eFax customer for a very long time. I don’t get many faxes, but when I do, this service works perfectly and it was a snap to setup.
ShoeBoxed is a brilliant product that allows you to manage your receipts and business cards online. Started by a very smart DUKE University alumni, ShoeBoxed helps you reduce the clutter of paper in your office. It’s a no-brainer. If you’re like me, you lose the receipts and cards pretty frequently. They’ve been around since 2007 and have been mentioned in The New York Times, Forbes and Tech Crunch. They already integrate with programs like QuickBooks and Evernote and you can Try It Free. Disclaimer: I don’t currently use ShoeBoxed, but plan to try it myself soon.
USA RingCentral Office is an all-inclusive VoIP telephone service that includes both desktop and mobile app so you can make and received calls wherever you are. It’s one monthly fee with no long distance charges and what I use for Mixed Digital’s telephone system. I can’t offer tech support on this one but I can say that I switched to them from 8×8 and I’m happy I did.
Social Media Tools
HootSuite is an essential tool for managing your social media content distribution. It’s difficult to keep up with all the content you push out across multiple social media profiles. HootSuite allows you to organize, schedule, track and analyze your efforts. It even has a great feature called auto-schedule that sends messages out at the optimal times based on past history. There are free and paid versions and honestly, if you’re going to leverage social media for the long haul, you may as well sign up for the Pro version at $9.99 per month. You get more features including analytics and the ability to add team members. BONUS: Signup through my site, email me proof and I’ll include a quick start session to walk you through the basics of setting up your account, adding profiles and scheduling messages.
Design & Printing Services
www.99designs.com is a logo design company that works in a contest format where multiple designers vie for your approval. You submit project details and creative direction and they work to draft a logo you’ll be pleased with. The beauty is that you get as many revisions as necessary until you’re satisfied. www.99designs.com is what we used to design the Mixed Digital logo and we’re pretty happy with the end result. BONUS: Sign up through my link and I’ll provide some helpful guidance for describing your project to the designers.
OvernightPrints.com is the preferred online printer of business cards, postcards, brochures, and other printed materials. I’ve used them many a time for my business cards and I get complimented on both the design (which was us) and the look and feel of the actual card (them). They are affordable yet if you provide a high quality JPG, they will shoot out great looking materials. Currently, they have a 50% Off sale.
Search Marketing Resources
Google AdWords is the leader in keyword based search advertising. This marketing channel allows customers to find you when they search using relevant keywords. You only pay when someone clicks on your ads and can use text, image, video and mobile formats. There’s really too much to explain here, but it’s a powerful marketing tool. BONUS: Contact me for a promo code to get $100 when you spend $25 (new accounts only).
Bing Ads is the #2 search marketing ads platform. This also now includes Yahoo Search Marketing to reach a very different audience from Google. It’s normal to run campaigns in both Google and Bing. I don’t have any offers available from Bing but you can learn more here from Bing or contact me for my perspective.
LinkedIn Ads is the advertising platform for LinkedIn that allows you to create and manage ads based on the demographic information in members’ profiles. A powerful tool for B2B marketing. Feel free to contact me for my perspective.
Facebook Ads allow you to reach the facebook audience through highly targeted ads that include both images and text. The important tricks here are effective copy writing, smart image selection and continuous testing. Feel free to contact me to learn more.
Financial Management Tools
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting system aimed at helping small business owners stay on top of a very mundane, but crucial task. They’ve been around for 10 years, have over 5M customers in 120 countries and they’ve been reviewed in TechCrunch, Bloomberg, Fast Company, Mashable and USA Today. They’re the real deal and even offer a a Free 30-day trial. Check ’em out and see if it’s for you. Disclaimer: I’m not a Freshbooks user. I actually use QuickBooks only because that’s what my bookkeeper suggested.