The Resources We Use To Build An Online Business

I’m Often Asked About The Essential Tools To Run An Online Business

resource checklist to build an online business

So I decided to create this resources list with all the information in one place. Every tool here is currently used by me or was crucial to helping me grow my business to where it is today and I highly recommend all of them.

As you are probably finding out there are literally 1000’s of apps, plugins and platforms to choose from. So many in fact it can become incredibly overwhelming.

When you’re reading through this guide and you know of some other product or service that would be would be worth adding to the list then please let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it in!

We’ll just keep on building this guide until it becomes a rolodex for anything and everything one could need!

Now please note, as this is going to become my main resources page, here at BPA, some of the links I have used are affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the fees of these resources have been increased to compensate me.

So on with the check list!

The Online Starter Kit 

In order to get started with the Business Planning Academy, you need to have certain basics in place. Namely:

1. A Domain Name and A Web Host...

2. A WordPress Website...

3. A WordPress Theme...

4. An Email List...

5. A Way To Make Landing Pages...

Resource List Rolodex...

WordPress Logo

WordPress

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog and manage your online content. The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine.

Please note however, there is a difference between wordpress.com & ordpress.org. WordPress.com is hosted on their servers. This means that you don’t own the space on the web, they do. This is a great option for getting off the ground fast and cheaply, but is far less flexible and as your business grows you will want your own self hosted site.

That’s where WordPress.org comes in. This requires setting up on your own server and is then hosted by the hosting company you’re using.

Thrive Themes Logo

Thrive Themes

Thrive Themes is an absolutely incredible system for creating very professional landing pages, squeeze pages – or pretty much just any kind of page, on top of WordPress. All of my on-site landing pages are built with Thrive Themes. In fact, this very page was built with Thrive Themes.

  • Great Looking Themes
  • Landing Pages made quickly and easily
  • Helps you create better content and page layouts

Optimize Press Lead Pages Logo

OptimizePress

To create an easy way for entrepreneurs, coaches, online marketers, small businesses owners, speakers and professionals around the world to build marketing pages.

Elegant Themes

ElegantThemes

Elegant Themes are great to work with. But, the truth is I have switched to Thrive Themes. Their themes are beautiful, and the deal they give you is awesome. So, I still hold them as a viable option for my readers.

LeadPages Landing Pages Logo

LeadPages Landing Pages

LeadPages is the easiest way to create beautiful landing pages, launch pages, sales pages and squeeze pages for your website that actually convert. I think the team at LeadBrite have changed the way in which we do online marketing, by making this software so useful and so simple to use as most of the time it is as simple as drop and drag.

Wufoo Forms

Wufoo Forms

Wufoo lets you create customized and branded professional feedback forms and surveys. Google Forms does the job too but with less whistle and bells. When you design a form with Wufoo, it automatically builds the database, backend and scripts needed to make collecting and understanding your data easy, fast and fun.

Deadline Funnel

Deadline Funnel

Deadline Funnel is by far the best countdown timer you can use to employ urgency in your marketing. Have deadlines which are REAL deadlines, where they can’t just clear their cookies and reset it. Works beautifully for evergreen scarcity, and integrates with email so custom deadlines can appear in your autoresponder.

Google Analytics Logo

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is great for tracking critical website and traffic data. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.

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HootSuite

Hootsuite made my life on Twitter immeasurably easier. It’s my number one most used tool for managing my Twitter accounts but also post to LinkedIn, Facebook – both my page and my profile and even more. With my Pro account, I can manage multiple accounts, set up columns for keyword searches plus see and track all mentions of my twitter handle or my blogs so that I can easily respond back to those people. It’s so useful for sorting your DMs from your RTs to your list and top people to follow plus much more.

Audacity logo

Audacity

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. It’s great for making audio giveaways.

jing-logo

Jing

Jing® is a computer service that lets you capture basic video, animation and still images and share them on the web. Great for recording 5 minute online screen-sharing or use Skype call conferencing or GoToMeeting.

Camtasia

Camtasia

Camtasia (PC) takes you from screen recording to finished video

YouTube

YouTube

YouTube allows you to upload original content and share it directly or from your website.

Easy Video Suite logo

Easy Video Suite

EVS lets you easily embed and play videos.

123RF Logo

123RF Stock Photo’s

We all need access to royalty free stock photos at some time to enhance the website or even a report. There are plenty of sources but I tend to stick to 123RF

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Membermouse Membership Sites

MemberMouse provides all member management, the purchasing of courses, and access control is ALL controlled by Membermouse. It is a really solid membership plug-in. The most robust I’ve ever used.

Wishlist Member Logo

Wishlist Member

WishList Member™ is a powerful, yet easy to use membership solution that can turn any WordPress site into a full-blown membership site.

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E-Junkie

E-junkie – is my recommendation to people starting out on line who want to set up shop quickly and easily. For $5 a month e-Junkie lets you sell your digital products simply by creating a new product, uploading a digital file or pointing to a page on your site for a program and naming your price using Google Checkout or PayPal and embed that code straight into your blog or website page to ensure people can `buy now’. It also has a simple affiliate program you can set up.

WP Courseware Logo

WP Courseware

WP Courseware controls the organization of courses, including member progress tracking. This is a learning management system specifically for WordPress. Also contains quiz functionality and other things I’m not currently using.

Lifter LMS Logo

LifterLMS

LifterLMS is a WordPress learning management system plugin that allows you to build engaging online courses quickly where student engagement is key. Right out-of-the-box, LifterLMS gives you the power to easily build courses with drip content, quizzes, achievement badges and certificates, automatically triggered email engagements, student analytics, and built-in eCommerce and membership functionality.

ContestDomination

ContestDomination

Contest Domination offers a step-by-step solution to generate a contest that converts. To make a great looking contest, you need not be a designer. All the things are automatically track. It even helps you pick winners.

MailChimp Email Marketing

MailChimp

Mailchimp makes sending out a newsletter amazingly easy – design and send beautiful emails, manage your subscribers and track your campaign’s performance. I recommend it to anyone starting out in email marketing because it’s so simple to use, and easy to navigate. You can create campaigns easily and set up autoresponders to go out automatically each time you get a new subscriber to welcome them.

AWeber Communication Email Marketing Logo

AWeber Email Marketing

Aweber is an awesome company and my absolute first-level recommendation for any Academy member (or reader) whose business is not yet at a point where a full CRM is required.

InfusionSoft Email Marketing

InfusionSoft Email Marketing

InfusionSoft is the solution to turn your business into a serious and sales and marketing machine. From here you can take email list building and lead generation to a whole new level, in terms of sales funnel optimization and affiliate marketing, plus it’s an all-in-one CRM system too.

WiseStamp Email Signatures

WiseStamp Email Signatures

WiseStamp email signature tool that transforms your boring email into clever branding for your business. You can link your social media profiles, blog feed, videos and more into your signature or sell products.

rapportive logo

Rapportive

Rapportive is a handy app that works right inside Gmail, giving you a real time report of who the person is who’s emailing, including their name, picture, location, company and social media accounts. Great for networking, marketing and customer service needs.

Boomerang

Boomerant

Boomerang is a life-saving email tool that allows you to answer an important email straight away, but send it a day or so later so people don’t think you’re too accessible. Plus you can ‘boomerang’ emails for another date, so you don’t lose track of them, but you can read and action them when it’s really necessary. I certainly think this tool has revolutionized my inbox. Lastly in the getting started section, it’s important that you invest in an auto responder. You’ll want to start building lists of potential customers as soon as possible, so don’t wait around with this.

sanebox logo

Sanebox

SaneBox takes unimportant emails out of your inbox, puts them in a separate folder and aggregates them into a daily summary so that you can focus on what’s important. One-click-unsubscribe, follow-up reminders, sending emails later, and deferring non-urgent emails are great features too.

WP Curve WordPress Support

WPCurve

WP Curve gives you unlimited WordPress support, maintenance & small jobs 24 / 7* for just $69 per month which is unbelievably affordable. If you are sick and tired of trying to figure out how to use WordPress, fix any bugs or errors, update plugins and get the right formatting then let me introduce you to your new best friend.

If you consider how many hours you’re probably spending right now, on niggly little issues, you’d be wise to check them out.

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ZenDesk

Zendesk is a cloud based customer serviced software that takes customer communication from anywhere—your website, email, phone, Twitter, Facebook, and chat—and turns it into a ticket for you and your support team to deal with. Get started today with a 30 day risk-free trial.

Asana Logo

Asana

Asana is my favourite project management tool. Asana is free. It’s as easy as ‘type in your task and hit enter’. You can create specific projects and assign tasks to yourself and your team very quickly. You can manage due dates, leave notes, links and upload documents so that anyone using it, better understands the task. Better yet you can look at a comments thread live on the specific project or task from your team member. This makes it much easier to communicate on the priorities and the task at hand.

Evernote Logo

Evernote

Evernote allows you to organize your thoughts, web clippings and notes into an handy cloud storage system that syncs across devices. As one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet, and computer, Evernote is the place you write free from distraction, collect information, find what you need, and present your ideas to the world

Lastpass Logo

Lastpass

LastPass allows you to store all your passwords safely and securely in one location, as well as important data like bank accounts with just one password.

DropBox Logo

DropBox

Dropbox has to be my favorite tool for syncing documents across multiple computers. And since everything is saved to the cloud, your data’s safe from hardware failures! Their free account is great – it gives you up to 2G of space, and allows you to earn up to 6G more through referrals. Dropbox’s paid versions give 50G and 100G for $99 or $199 per year (respectively). 

MindNode

MindNode

MindNode is mind mapping software which produces a visual representation of your ideas, starting with a central thought and growing from there. This allows you to brainstorm & organize your thoughts in an intuitive way, so you can focus on the idea behind it.

shoeboxed logo

Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is a really great service for those of us who keep all those pesky receipts we want to use to claim expenses. Rather than letting them build up in your wallet or some envelope like I used to, Shoeboxed lets you send receipts, business cards and documents to them via postage-paid envelopes or camera-equipped smartphone for a really low monthly fee. They scan and data-enter every document, then organize everything in a secure, searchable online account. All of the receipts you send to them are also accepted by the tax man, so if you are ever audited, just show the images of your receipts from your account. The bottom line: no more crinkled, unorganized receipts, no more expensive scanners, no more data entry or lost documents, and best of all, no more stressful tax seasons!

chrometa

Chrometa

Chrometa helps you become more productive as an entrepreneur by showing you exactly where your time goes. It’s the ultimate time management tool, as it “passively” records where exactly your whirlwind workday goes. At the end of each busy day, you’ll have an accurate picture of where you spent your time – so that you can continue to improve how you allocate your valuable (and limited) time going forward.

ourdeal logo

OurDeal

OurDeal is great for creating, sending and electronic signing of agreement and contracts within seconds. OurDeal allows freelancers and businesses of any size to securely customize, store and share legally binding contracts. Their platform ensures that the right contracts and expert guidance are available every step of the way

Bidsketch Logo

Bidsketch

Bidsketch allows you to customize proposals for clients (especially freelancers), cutting down the time you spend preparing them and using digital delivery and signoff. Quickly create proposals by reusing fees, content, and designs to save hours.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts are a great way to hold live group calls with customer and clients for tutorials, Q&A or focus groups. Hangouts brings conversations to life with photos, emoji, and even group video calls for free. Connect with friends across computers, Android and Apple devices.

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GoToWbinar

Go To Webinar are the market leader but pricy. Google hangouts are amazing, but if your internet is in the slightest bit weak, you won’t get a strong enough signal to run them and your event is hosed! GTW.

Webinar Jam Studio

Webinar Jam Studio

Webinar Jam works with hangouts and although I haven’t tested it properly yet, early feedback is very good. Their registration forms also hooks up to your auto responder.

Skype Logo

Skype

Skype is my number one go-to software. It lets me stay in touch with not only family and friends, but also with my colleagues and team worldwide. It’s the one tool that allows me to communicate with anyone, worldwide, for free. Just add a decent internet connection and a headset, and you’re set to go! It even allows for video conferencing and screen sharing, which is super helpful when you need to get things done. If you don’t already use Skype, start using it now!

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Grasshopper With the tagline of “The Virtual Phone System Designed for Entrepreneurs” how could you not love Grasshopper, a service where you have complete control of the experience you give your callers. You can set up multiple extensions, adjust voicemail greetings based on time of day, have your voicemail transcribed and sent to you, and more. It’s also been proven that having your phone number on every page of your website increases sales.

scheduleonce logo

Scheduleonce

ScheduleOnce is a meeting and appointment scheduling software that increases customer satisfaction, creates a smooth process for clients, and saves you messing with international time-zone confusion.

PayPal logo

PayPal

PayPal – Simply set up a free account, link it to your bank account and then you’re off and running. You can accept payments via email or through creating email links directly to a PayPal checkout page. Or you can embed simple `Buy Now’ or `Add to Cart’ buttons on your site or blog. With a free Pro Account you can then offer recurring payments (great for memberships or group programs) or subscriptions and free trial periods.

Stripe Payment Systems Logo

Stripe

Stripe acts as a merchant account without the fuss, requires API integration on your site.

SendOwl Logo

SendOwl

SendOwl lets you sell digital products and programs through their software which acts as a payment option on your site to collect credit card payments; you don’t even need a website or PayPal account. Plus they have an affiliate program inbuilt.

Xero Logo

Xero

Xero online accounting software is a full-featured web based system for invoicing, accounts payable, bank reconciliation & bookkeeping. Xero is making small businesses better by saving time on back-office processes and giving their advisors the ability to provide higher-value, higher-impact services.

Freshbooks Logo

FreshBooks

Freshbooks is built for small business owners to get organized and get paid. You’ll be tracking time on project, logging expenses and invoicing your clients in no time. Plus you can use it to track your contractors, invoice on their behalf and allow them to bill you. It has a great interface that makes it incredibly user friendly. I really like the handy ‘time-tracking’ tool which I use to track just how long I’m spending on a project. Sometimes it surprises me.

Wave Accounting Logo

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting is a free and easy accounting and invoicing app with a real-time dashboard for your business and personal finances and goals. Wave exists to liberate you and your small business with smart, integrated small business software that saves you time and money, helping you run your business better and freeing you to do… whatever it is you’d rather be doing.

Fiverr Logo

Fiverr

fiverr.com community of freelancers doing small tasks for $5. A service offered on Fiverr is called a Gig. Gigs on Fiverr are offered for a fixed, base price of $5 (also referred to as one Fiverr). Whenever you see ‘I will _for $5″, it means the seller is offering a Gig for the fixed price of $5.

99 Designs Logo

99Designs

99designs is a community of talented freelancers who bid for your project. Small businesses and startups everywhere use their service to get graphic designs for logos, business cards, t-shirts and websites.

Upwork Logo

UpWork

Upwork is my preferred online freelance community of choice. They let entrepreneurs like you and me hire, manage, and pay remote contractors as if they were in our own office. You can choose from a talent pool of nearly one million contractors and they make it easy to search for the right people, post jobs, interview your potentials and hire someone within minutes. You select your budget, contractor rate and whether you want someone on an hourly or project basis. They even take care of automatic billing.