The Entrepreneur’s Business Resource List
Authors and entrepreneurs often ask me what tools I use to run my business. So I thought I’d share some of the easiest, most effective online resources I’ve found, those which are trustworthy, effective, and efficient. These business tools in this Entrepreneur’s Business Resource List are among my personal favorites for growing a small or mid-size business.
They’re economical solutions from some of the smartest entrepreneurs around, and have been vetted and used by my technical team.
In the spirit of full disclosure, some have affiliate links embedded, which is how we pay the people who help us run this site and share the knowledge. There is never an additional fee to you, and many offer free trial periods or discounts we’ve negotiated for readers, such as the current $3.95/month web hosting deal from BlueHost, which is what we use. If you decide to click through any of these, I thank you for helping to support the team so we can continue sharing more information.
If you arrived here looking for help on how to set up and start your business, create a business plan, and set up your financials, then check out my course on Udemy, called How to Jumpstart Your Business. It’s a 16 session course that will give you the confidence and tools to start your business, with answers to many questions entrepreneurs hate to ask. Regularly $297, it’s now just $97 with a money-back guarantee. It’s what we use ourselves, and a proven course I’ve taught for a whole lot more in consulting. Since you stopped by, click here for this special reader’s discount on the course.
Bookmark this Entrepreneur’s Business Resource List page and check back. We’re adding to this list often as we discover and test new resources for you. Feel free to share this article and share the knowledge. (On a PC, simply click Ctrl D on your keyboard.)
My Favorite Tools
To run your blog or website, my favorites for daily use — hands down — are Bluehost for website/blog hosting, WordPress for blogs, LeadPages for easy templates, and AWeber for maintaining email lists. To manage social media, I turn to SocialOomph for scheduling, and ManageFlitter to streamlining twitter maintenance.
My Top Must-Haves to Run Your Online Business Brand
Bluehost – Fast set up, cost-effective, and excellent customer service. One-stop shopping for domain name, hosting, and WordPress or Weebly. Set up a site in minutes. (So EASY even a right-brained author can do it!)
This site is hosted there, and I’ve moved other sites over, too. One of my absolute favorites. Click here for a special web hosting signup offer for our readers.
AWeber – A simple, yet powerful, tool to manage your email lists. What the pros use; it grows with you. Easy to use!
LeadPages – The easiest way to get up and running with excellent lead pages, opt-in signups, pre-launch pages, webinar sign-ups, and more.
By far the EASIEST templates I’ve used. Super easy integration with AWeber, MailChimp, and others. Seriously, save yourself some time and hassle and start here.
OptinSkin – Easily embed opt-in forms on your website or blog with style.
Another one that we use here on this site and others.
Tools to Build & Manage Sites
WordPress Blogs & Websites
- WordPress – The most versatile way to set up a blog or site. Bluehost has a direct WordPress set up. This is what I use. (Note: WordPress.org allows ads, WordPress.com is limited.)
- WPEngine – A very stable hosting solution with excellent service. A good choice for growing businesses. Special plans for new entrepreneurs. For WordPress sites, and an alternative to Bluehost.
- LeadPages – The easiest way to get up and running with excellent lead pages, opt-in signups, pre-launch pages, webinar sign-ups, and more. By far the EASIEST templates I’ve used. Super easy integration with AWeber, MailChimp, and others. Seriously, save yourself some time and hassle and start here.
- DIYThemes – Easy to use WordPress themes. The home of the popular Thesis theme.
- JustAddContent – Just like it says, all you add is content. Simple to use, good support.
- GoDaddy.com – Ease of use, frequent discounts, and great customer service makes this a favorite for many folks.
- AWeber – A simple, yet powerful, tool to manage your email lists. What the pros use; it grows with you. Easy to use!
- OptinSkin – Easily embed opt-in forms on your website or blog with style.
- MailChimp – Easy to use, with a free option. (You might start here, but if you can afford a low monthly fee, begin with AWeber. Transitioning valuable email lists can be tricky, and it can be more costly to lose valuable clients.)
- NameChk – Amazing tool to check available social media names across platforms.
- SocialOomph – This is the tweet scheduler I use that saves me hours a week, and builds my Twitter following. And I love their new redesign. Social media tasks were killing me until I discovered this gem. Also schedules blog posts.
- ManageFlitter – An incredibly easy way to follow and unfollow on Twitter, find out who is inactive, and gain statistical insights. Founder Kevin Garber dropped in for lunch one day (all the way from Sydney), and I have to say, what a super guy! Great customer service. A tool I can’t live without. The Pro plan is great for individuals, for business, go Business. You’ll shave hours a week off of your social media guru’s time.
- Schedule Max – For podcasters and local service businesses alike to schedule appointments online with ease. Manage time zones like a pro with ease.
- HootSuite – A good scheduler, one that I’ve used in the past, too. Many people swear by this one. Good for teams to use. Can use with Facebook (Groups and Pages), Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. Works with mobile (iPad/iPhone, Android).
- Tweepi – A good tool to manage Twitter.
- JustUnfollow – Another good tool to manage Twitter and Instagram.
- Dropbox – Can’t live without this! Access documents anywhere. Great for writers!
- Evernote – Great for organizing and sharing documents, notes, photos, and webclips.
- UberConference – Great for teleconferencing online. Free for up to 10 people.
- Bitly – A link shortening service.
- 99designs.com – Need a logo, banner, or ad designed? Crowdsource designs in as little at 24 hours. A design you love, or 100% of your money back. Love this site. Had my Rich Ideas logo designed here.
- Fiverr – Unbelievable array of talent on Fiverr for short gigs on your to-do list. One of my favorite sites that I use almost every week.
- Incorporate.com. – Makes forming your company easy. LLCs for all 50 states, and c-corp incorporation. Click through on this site for $50 Off The Essentials Package at Incorporate.com. I’ve used these folks for years.
- WordSwag – One of my favorite apps in the Apple Store. Exports images to social media or by email.
- MorgueFiles – Handy place to obtain license-free, quality images for blogs.
- Market Samurai – Ever try to make heads or tails of Google Keywords Tool, now known as the Keyword Planner? I spent hours trying to crack the secret code until I discovered this handy tool to determine the right keywords to generate more of the right traffic. Surprising, to say the least. Videos step you through it. Improved my ranking five-fold in a short period of time.
- PRWeb: Download free expert guide to writing great online news releases plus get 25% off your first news release – Create instant publicity, online visibility & increase your web traffic with this easy online tool. Set up a free account, or pay for additional exposure. My team and I have used this for years, and it keeps getting better.
- HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a free service that connects journalists with experts. I’ve booked interviews with major magazines and news sources using this. Read this Heroic Serach blog post for tips on how to use HARO.
- Marketing Lab – Kim Roach knows her stuff when it comes to online marketing. Worth taking a look around on a 14-day $1 membership, and continuing as well. Her instructional webinars for members are super. She delivers tremendous value.
- CreateSpace: – Set up your book here, and publish on Amazon U.S. as well as international Amazon sites when the client places the order. Can also order print-on-demand copies at wholesale prices as you need them. Decent royalty structure. This is what I originally used to publish Scent Triumph, and they did a beautiful job. No more books in the garage! For a good comparison between Createspace and Ingram’s Lightning Source, check out this print comparison article.
- Silver Starlight Designs – For book covers, social media branding, business cards, and marketing material. High quality reasonably priced designs for all types of books and book campaigns. (I can really recommend this great team—in full disclosure, Ginna Moran is my daughter-in-law, and she’s designed my Love, California series.)
- Audible – Create an audiobook from your book. Free 30-day membership and a free ebook to get you started.
- Fostering Success & World Literary Cafe – Before you pay big money to have a Word file converted to an ebook and distributed, check out these resources from the World Literary Cafe author/founder Melissa Foster. Save your budget for marketing. Find beta readers, reviewers, editors, proofreaders, and more.
- Bowker for ISBNs – Planning a series? Buy your ISBNs in bulk and save.
- Copyright.gov – Remember to copyright your work to get statutory copyright coverage, which is important to establish monetary damages if copyright infringement occurs.
- IBPA – International Book Publishers Association. Good trade discounts on NetGalley and other marketing, plus educational offerings.
- NetGalley – Good way to get reviews from media and bloggers. Ease of use. See IBPA above.
- Read Freel.y – A good book promotion service (and a great place to find new books at deep discounts).
- QuickBooks – Robust professional bookkeeping software; an industry standard.
- FreshBooks – Easy online software for startups.
- SCORE.org – Cashflow template for budgeting and forecasting.
- SCORE.org – Free online templates for financial business planning.
- SBA.org – Small Business Administration. Good advice on cash flow.
Project Management Tools
- Trello – Simple, easy to use. Start for free.
- Redbooth – Online collaboration.
- Asana – Teamwork made easy.
- Basecamp – Good for teams and multiple projects. Monthly fees.
- FranklinCovey – The original daily planner.
Tools for Membership Sites
- Member Mouse – Easy to configure and use. This is the one we use.
- WishList Member – Many virtual assistants are trained on this one.
Where to Sell Online
- Etsy – The place to sell arts and crafts online, and so much more. Good place to test products.
- EBay – Another good place to test concepts and sell products online.
- Organize your life with FranklinCovey. Get organized! The original daily planner I began using years ago. Created by Stephen Covey, bestselling author and forward thinker.
- Harvard Business School – List of entrepreneur resources from my alma mater.
- Everything You Should Know – Arielle Ford is the amazing PR force behind some bestselling authors, including Tim Ferris (4 Hour Work Week), Jack Can field (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Deepak Chopra, and Marianne Williamson. A top-notch course for people who are investing in a long-term, multifaceted career. Get her free book here: How To Start Writing Your Book: Bestselling Authors Reveal Their Secret Systems.
- SBA.org – Good resources from the Small Business Administration of the United States.
- Amy Porterfield – Facebook Advertising guru. Highly effective training designed to save a fortune in costly mistakes.
- Kim Roach, BuzzBlogger – Good reviews and targeted traffic training at a good price.
Some of my favorite books for entrepreneurs and authors:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey – Excellent business classic that every entrepreneur should read. Covers self-mastery, proactive behavior, and beginning with the end in mind.
- The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick – Concise guide to best practices in social media strategies for entrepreneurs and authors.
- The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris – Chock full of resources and ideas. The section on idea (muse) testing is worth the cost alone. I gave one to each of our kids.
- The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau – Stumped? Dozens of easy startup ideas.
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries – How to test your ideas before committing funds, and so much more.
The ones listed below are mostly U.S. based, although some list chapters in other countries. If you’re outside of the U.S., look in your country for similar organizations
- The Author’s Guild – Offers reviews of U.S. book contracts to members, as well as medical and liability insurance and other services, including an informative publication.
- RWA – The Romance Writers of America offers excellent training, support and career guidance for romance writers. (In the Uk, visit the RNA site, and in Australia, the RWA)
- MWA – Mystery Writers of America.
- Sisters in Crime – Women mystery writers (also in Canada).
As we test new instructional courses, we’ll add them here:
- LinkedIn Training: LinkedInfluence
Have some favorite tools or books you’d like to share? Add them to the Comments section, thanks! Please share this Entrepreneur’s Business Resource List with others.
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About this author: Jan Moran is a serial author and entrepreneur. She founded Scentsa, a touch-screen technology sold to Sephora in a venture capital deal. Her self-published novel was bought by St. Martin’s Press (2015). Sign up for Rich Ideas, her new program for entrepreneurs, on sale for a limited time only through this special link. She’s a Harvard MBA, native Texan, and lives in San Diego, California, where she is at work on new books and a new technology company.
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