I must admit I am a bit of a techie fan. I go ape over technology like the latest online business tools and Apple gadgets (I admit to being an Apple fan 🙂 ) like some people go ape over cars, boats and fashion. Some people spend their money on fashion whereas I prefer to spend my money on the latest Apple gadget or software that can increase my productivity and efficiency. It is a world of never-ending new products!
Needless to say, this avid interest in technology and online business tools (an unusual interest for a 62-year-old Asian female!) serves me well in my chosen career as a business consultant and entrepreneur. My colleagues and friends who know of my interest in technology often ask me for recommendations of online business tools that will make life easier for them.
I am a great believer that everyone should use the free tools we can get on the internet. However, it is not always going to be possible to get everything free. Many products do not give you access to all their features in the free version and you have to pay to access the “extras”. If paying the extra $10 or $20 saves me an hour of my day every day, then in my books, it’s worth the investment. Most people would not have the time to waste to browse on the internet and test all the products available to see if it is suitable for them to use.
If you have to pay for a product or service, you want to make sure that you invest wisely. There are many products for sale – many promises their product will be THE solution you’ve been looking for. Many that are new to the online business world get sucked into paying for products which often do not even get unpacked or used after they have downloaded it. I should know … I’ve bought enough of them in my early days. Usually, those products would only have cost me $27 or maybe, just $7 (although as the industry matures, $10,000 for a program is no longer unusual). But as we all know, if we pay for enough of those “cheap” software, we could be out of pocket by several thousand dollars after a while.
So, rather than keep answering the same questions all the time, I decided it was time to write a guide to online business tools. I have been very selective in the products that I actually recommend in the guide BUT I have included some products that I have not personally tested – only because I have no need for such a product. However, they would appear to be very useful to some businesses and have been included in other entrepreneurs’ “I can’t survive without this app” list. I call these the Raving Fan Club products. These should, therefore, be investigated if you operate in an industry that can be served by using those particular products.
For me to include it in my guide to online business tools, I decided that if I was going to put my name to it, it had to meet the following criteria:
- VFM (Value for Money) or FREE. VFM is good but FREE is better – provided of course, the benefits are not compromised. You will, therefore, find that I do recommend some products be upgraded to the paid version even though you can get a free version.
- My clients, my close business colleagues and I are using or have used it ourselves – unless they fall into the Raving Fan Club in category 4 below.
- I am happy with the service or support provided by the provider. Having great software or program isn’t worth much if you can’t get hold of the provider or developer when you’re stuck. Having said that, I do sometimes use a product that does not have the best support simply because the product is one that I felt I should use even though their support is not great.
- If I have never used the product myself, they have to have a Raving Fan Club
My guide to online business tools does not include the “common” apps that most people already use e.g. Facetime, Whatsapp, Google Docs, iMessage, etc. Nor have I included the well-known Social Media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, etc.
For those who might say this is a list with a self-profit motivation, rest assured that only some of the online business tools pay us an affiliate fee. The majority do not. Besides, you don’t get a commission for recommending FREE! As a Chartered Accountant, I will NOT list something purely because of the commission. I have my reputation and my integrity to maintain. The list in the guide to online business tools, therefore, include many products where I do not get paid to recommend it.
The service you will receive from the supplier and the price you will pay will be the same whether you purchase the products via our link in the business guide or not. Sometimes (sadly, not that often) you end up paying less through our referral link! Therefore, if you end up buying something because of my recommendation, please use the link I provided in the business guide rather than go directly to the supplier’s own website. The affiliate commissions we earn enable us to continue to keep this business guide updated and feed my love of “wasting time” checking out new resources :-).
Bear in mind, the guide to online business tools will not teach you HOW to use the various tools but rather to tell you which ones have proven useful to us in running our own businesses. The HOW-TO is better done by the vendor themselves. In this business guide, I have simply provided you with a brief description of the tool, what it can do for you and provide you with the relevant links. I have avoided putting prices in this business guide as I would never be able to keep abreast of every price change.
The nature of the content is such that the tools referred to in business guides will keep changing. What worked yesterday will often be superseded by a newer cheaper better tool within a short period. I will therefore only published this guide in soft copy format to make it easier to keep it updated.
The bottom line is, as an entrepreneur, learn to use whatever tools you have available to you. I never had the advantage of these online business tools when I first started a business in 1978 – the internet didn’t exist then. Everything had to be done the “slow” way with those clunky add-listing machines and incredible secretaries typing reports in triplicate using carbon paper. In fact, Excel didn’t even exist until 1985, with Word appearing just 2 years before in 1983. (Yes, I grew up in the age of the dinosaurs!) Today, we take Word and Excel for granted.
The same will hold true for these online business tools. What is “difficult to use” will be taken for granted by the next generation. It has taken me many hours of research and browsing to find these tools that are now used by the Equipped 4 Success team. Unless you are a technology fan like me and you enjoy doing the browsing and research, save yourself the time and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. I will update this business guide at regular intervals as new tools come on the market. New updated versions are announced in our Facebook Group Success Demystified so do please join the group if you would like to be kept informed of any updates.
P.S You can grab a copy of the guide I wrote on online business tools HERE. Full disclaimer here … I haven’t included every single software I have ever looked at. I have also not looked at every single product out there. That would be impossible and I am not even going to try.