017 5 tools needed to run an online business

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Why This episode is for you

You’ve got a fabulous idea for an online business, and whether you’ve already ditched the 9-5, or you’ve just got one foot out the door, you know it’s going to take more than just ideas to see this thing through!

It’s going to take courage.

Determination.

Sacrifice.

Blood, sweat and tears.

Oh, and it’s going to take some serious software!

No matter the type of online business you plan to build, there are a handful of tools and tech that you’re going to need in order to get the thing up and running!

In this episode, I’m sharing which key tools you need, and the bts of how I use them in my business!


5 tools needed to run an online business

1. A project management system

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good planner. There’s something so intentional about writing things down on paper, and it’s exactly how I got started when first planning in my business.

But, as your business grows, so does the list of tasks and things to remember. There soon comes a breaking point where the ol’ pen and paper route is no longer going to serve you the way some newfangled app might.

Time quickly becomes your most valuable resource when scaling your online business, so anything you can do to maximize efficiency and productivity is a no brainer IMO.

So which Project Management System do I use and love? You can probably guess based on this post, this post, and this post, but just in case I haven’t made it clear…

I love Asana!

It’s freaking fantastic (and did I mention it’s free.)

Take this podcast episode for example. Scribbling “Record episode 017” on today’s date in my planner simply wouldn’t cut it, because within this to-do, there are many many (many) steps to remember.

If I was still using my paper planner, I’d have to write out every single step, every single time I went to record an episode. (That’s a lot of writing, because I plan to record quiteee a few!)

In Asana, once I’ve recorded my process for creating a podcast episode once, I’m able to duplicate that template for every episode thereafter!

If you think of a new task to add to your workflow, or you need to change the due dates of a particular project, there’s no having to erase and re-write tasks in order to shuffle things around! You can easily add to your template as you go, or drop and drag your tasks and subtasks to better fit your schedule.

Are you a service-based business? Make a template for your client on-boarding process. Planning to launch a course or digital product? Getting ready to hire and train a new team member? Asana is the perfect tool for that too! (More on how I prepared my business to bring on a new Virtual Assistant using…you guessed it! Asana!)

Ps. Need help building out your processes? Great news! In the future, I plan to offer my exact process templates for purchase! If you’d like to be notified, hop on the waitlist by poppin’ in yo deets below!

2. A website

Besides the obvious fact that you need to be online to have an online business…your website can immediately make or break how legit you appear to your visitors. You seriously have about .02 seconds to make a first impression (and once it’s made, there no do-overs.)

It’s your digital storefront, your one-stop-shop for all your potential customers, clients and followers. It needs to super clear to visitors where they can find what they came for. Otherwise, they’ll be heading straight for that back button on their browser.

Before you can build your website you will need to decide which website building platform is right for your type of business.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m clearly team Squarespace forever. (That’s an affiliate link!)

What you might not know is that I use Squarespace for more than just my website. It can be used for:

  • Domains: aka the dot com address to which you send visitors. There’s no shortage of places to purchase your domain, but I always purchase directly through Squarespace. Why? To keep all my website bills in the same place!

  • Hosting: Think of this as the rent you pay for your home on the internet. Often you pay for this separately from your website, and it can even require updating from time to time. With Squarespace, your hosting is included, and they do all the work.

  • Templates: Many platforms require you to purchase custom templates, but Squarespace includes this too. Thoughtful, no?

  • Support: No more sifting through irrelevant, outdated forums for your fix. If you’re finding yourself stuck, Squarespace has got you covered with their live support. Free of charge.

  • Blogging: In case you haven’t noticed, blogging is sort of the backbone of my business, and Squarespace couldn’t make it more simple. (More on my exact blogging process here.)

  • Sales Pages: No more annoying integrations, or paying for third party software to create less than inspiring sales pages. Squarespace allows you to build completely custom, on-brand, information-packed sales pages to show off your product, course, or service.

  • Landing Pages: A bit different from a sales page, a landing page is used to sign up for your free offerings, such as live trainings, freebie downloads, and other opt-ins!

  • Surveys: Rather than having to use a service like Google forms every time I want to get feedback or testimonials for my business, I just pop a simple form block into Squarespace, and voila! A Beautiful custom submission form that completely matches my brand! (More on using a form block to collet testimonials here.)

  • Portfolios: If you are a service-based business, you are going to want to show off your fabulous work! Squarespace makes building and updating your portfolio a breeze!

  • E-Commerce: Want to build an online store? Squarespace has e-commerce built right in! Head over here to read how it compares to other popular e-commerce platforms.

  • Webinar Registration: I love hosting our webinars on Crowdcast, and while their cookie cutter registration pages will work in a pitch, it’s not exactly the on-brand experience I want for potential participants! More on How to register Crowdcast webinar participants through a Squarespace page here.

Ready to give Squarespace a go? You can sign up for a free trial of Squarespace here and I also got ya a little off the price, use code PAIGE10 for 10% off your first year. (Yes, that's an affiliate link!)

3. An Email List

Oh, Email List, how I do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Want to know how passionate I am about building an email list?

Try multiple 6-figure income level passionate! (So passionate, in fact, that I created an entire podcast episode about it.)

This simple but effective tool can be used to sell your products, completely book out your services, courses, and group programs (like the Online Business Besties’s Retreat I’m planning), and get whatever else you are offering into the hands of the right people!

I manage my email marketing using a software called ConvertKit. (For why I chose ConvertKit over MailChimp, Squarespace Campaigns, etc., check out this post!)

There are two main options for sending out emails via ConvertKit:

  • Broadcasts: Sending a weekly newsletter, highlighting a recent post, or announcing a new product or service in your business? With broadcasts, you can schedule these emails ahead of time, specifying who should be sent that email according to how they are tagged in ConvertKit so that subscribers are only receiving the content which is relevant and useful to them. (Check out my post How to correctly tag your subscribers in ConvertKit for more on this).

  • Email Sequences: When a subscriber signs up for a specific opt-in, or someone purchases a digital product or course, you are going to want to give them access right away, and unless you want to be glued to your computer all hours of the day and night, you will want a way to automate this process. Email sequences are designed to do just that! These can be a single email, or a series of emails set to a pre-determined interval, and they are triggered only when subscribers take a certain action, rather than something that is scheduled ahead of time.

Want to get started with ConvertKit? You can find those deets here. (That’s an affiliate link!)

4. Some way to sell your thing

Super technical title, I know. But never mind that! Let’s talk…

  • Selling your services. In order to book a client, you need to be able to manage inquiries, sign contracts, send proposals and invoices, accept payments, and deliver client on-boarding materials, etc. You can attempt this through email, but it’s going to be an awful lot of back and forth which you simply won’t have time for once you have more than just a client or two on the books. Set yourself up for client handling success, and get yourself a solid CRM (customer relations management) software.

    I personally used Honeybook, when selling my custom web design services, and though I’ve moved from 1:1 to the “1 to many” business model, I’ve chosen to hold on to my subscription. You never know when I might need to start using it to accept sponsors for the show! Not to mention they are now the parent company of the Rising Tide Society, who are known for their support of creative entrepreneurs!

    Ps. If you’d like to get 50% your first year of Honeybook, you can do so here. (Yes! That’s an affiliate link!)

  • Selling your online course. Can’t you just use your website? Technically, yes. But no matter how much I really really love Squarespace, there’s a reason I do not recommend it to host your course. (Check out this post to see why choosing an all-in-one course hosting platform is totally worth it.)

    Take Teachable for example (which is what I use for my courses btw). In order to sell your course, you must be able to advertise it using a sales page, accept payment using a checkout page, automatically enroll the student in the right course to give them immediate access to the materials, and oh yah...host the actual course content!

    Teachable does all that, and more, including failed payment reminders, a built-in affiliate program, and individual student progress reports to see where students might be getting stuck or maybe even losing interest.

  • Selling your digital or physical product. So Squarespace may not be the right fit for your online course, but when it comes to selling your digital or physical product (or selling out seats to your fabulous retreat) Squarespace is back to being #1 on the leader board! Their build-in e-commerce allows you to set up shop, easily add and update your listings, accept payment, track inventory, send shipping and order confirmation emails, and in the case of digital goods, deliver them straight to the customer’s inbox!

5. A Payment Proccessor

Hold up. Didn’t we just cover that?

We did! (Sort of.)

While many of the fabulous tools listed above will do the work of accepting payments, a completely different system is required in order to process those payments (ie. take the funds collected by your online shop or course platform and get that money into your actual business bank account.)

Besides being 100% necessary, a payment processor is generally just a pretty handy tool to have around. It can show you your sales history, giving you valuable insight into your business’s earning trends, which means planning and goal-setting in your business just got a heck of a lot easier (and more accurate)!

If you have yet to settle on a payment processor, I’d def recommend checking out Stripe. It’s the least complicated and has the least fees (and anything that makes numbers easier is a win in my books.)

So there you have it! The 5 tools you need to run an online business!

Still not sure which business idea is right for you? Check out my free Online Business Matchmaker training by clicking on the image below!

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