Technology can be a great investment to streamline and scale your business.
As a Solopreneur, I didn't start out with everything I needed to run my business. I was working with a shoestring budget, so I had to consider WHAT I could invest my money in that would organize me and help me run a profitable business without breaking my budget!
Below are the tools that I either started with or found along the way. If you are just starting a business or have been running your solo business for years, these tools will assist you in organizing your business and that will bring you a return on your investment quickly!
Websites are not just the online storefront for your business. It’s often the first place a potential customer interacts with your business and it’s important that your website properly reflects your business and your brand. There are several elements that make up your website which will allow your clients to more efficiently connect with you and gather information about your business.
Domain: (Google Domains): Get your Custom URL for your business at a low cost. Google provides privacy protection at no extra cost.
Business Website (Google Sites): I previously used a WordPress site where I had to pay for hosting and any additional plug-ins to accessorize my site. However, it does add a layer of complexity to the building a website or your business. That's why I made the decision to start using Google Sites. My entire website is built with a Google Sites file. Using this platform, I am also able to get the required Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or the "HTTPS" for website that most hosting companies charge extra for.
Blogging Website (Google Blogger): If you just want to start writing a blog and want something that is easy to pick up and manage your content, then Blogger is the solution for you. This is also free to use with your custom domain.
Professional Email Address
Every business uses email, regardless of the industry. You need to use a platform that will provide you with all the tools you need to manage your information and your office.
What exactly is a Platform?
A Platform is a group of technologies used as a base upon which other applications, processes, or technologies are developed.
Essentially, a platform is used for the management of email, calendar, and other applications that work in a single ecosystem. Giving you the benefits of centralizing your business information.
Here are some common platforms for professional email accounts:
Google Workspace (Small Business Platform): My business runs on this cloud-based productivity platform. This helps me to stay organized, communicate with clients, collaborate with freelancers and other stakeholders, and basically, accomplish more in less time. With it, I can work from anywhere, on any device without sacrificing my productivity. It’s super simple to set up, use, and manage, so it allows you to focus on what really matters—like growing your business. Your account includes a professional email, file storage, video meetings, online calendars, document editing, and more.
Microsoft Office 365 (Enterprise Business Platform): Working in my corporate job this was the platform we used, however, there was a full IT department to manage everything. Being a small business owner, I wanted something that would be easy for me to manage on my own. Learn More about the difference between Google and Microsoft platforms.
Domain Hosted Email (Not Recommended): Most small businesses choose to use the free email accounts provided by their website hosting services. However, those free email accounts are not fully integrated into any business applications. For example, your email account isn't connected to a cloud calendar services or any productivity applications. Leaving you to purchase lots of applications just to fulfill your need.
Virtual Office Tools (Software)
Every business is different, not just by industry, but by ways in which your business works. With today’s technology, there are all different kinds of applications to choose from but two main types of software.
Client Applications: Software that is installed on your computer to use.
Cloud Applications: Software that you access through a website or mobile app.
Most of my applications that I use are Cloud Based applications, but some do have a downloadable version that allows me to work offline when I want to focus on my work. These are the tools that I recommend and use in my own business.
Appointment Scheduler (TidyCal): Set yourself up for success to book appointments with prospects and clients.
Digital Signing Software (DocHub): Get your proposals or contracts signed quickly.
Productivity Applications (Google Workspace): Take advantage of Google's platform for all Word processing, Spreadsheets or Presentations. The Google Contacts app helps you keep track of all your contacts. Providing you the ability to label your contacts, keep detailed notes, and interactions you have had with each contact.
Project or Task Management (Tasksboard): To keep me on track of managing my To Do Lists. Since I already use Google Tasks this tool takes it to a new level of managing my work. This expands out the capabilities to a full screen board, allowing me to organize based on project.
Printer Ink (HP Instant Ink): Printer ink was not something I thought about getting massive savings on. Most office supply stores have coupons or deals that can save you 10-15% on your purchase. However, that still doesn’t save you hundreds of dollars if you print a lot. This program not only offers ink cartridges that are larger than you can buy in any store but help you budget your printing monthly.
Backup Systems and Storage
Regardless of what you think or believe, you are storing your files somewhere. It’s important that you know where your information is being stored so that you can ensure you are making a copy of it somewhere else.
Storage comes in two varieties, but there are Pros and Cons to each type:
Hardware Storage: Physical external drive, Flash Drive, or NAS drive
Pros: It's portable and capable of access without an internet connection.
Cons: There is an extreme risk of damage by dropping, getting wet during a natural disaster, and loss through a potential fire.
Cloud Storage: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, iCloud or OneDrive
Pros: You can access from anywhere at anytime as long as you have an internet connection.
Cons: Must be connected to the internet, monthly or annual subscription cost for storage capacity.
I recommend using cloud-to-cloud backup system with your Google Workspace. It's safe and economical for ensuring your files are stored securely. Just like you would back up your files stored on your computer you can backup your cloud files too.
Cloud Security and Backup (SysCloud): The interface for this solution is easy to use and set up with your Google Workspace account. Giving me piece of mind to think that if I ever needed to restore from a backup I can choose days, weeks or years after loss with the click of a button.
Keeping your information safe from hackers or viruses is crucial. Just like you invest in locks for your home, this is an area that often gets overlooked. Virtual Scan and Malware Software are some important software to consider for your business. You want to ensure that viruses or malware does not destroy what you have spent hours or even years working on. Here is one of the tools that I use in my business to keep my data secure.
Password Manager (LastPass): It only takes one time to forget your password, sending you down that hole of frustration. I don’t know how I ever lived without this technology tool. I never forgot a password, nor do I ever have to create one. This tool does it all. Allowing me to only have to remember just one to access the vault. Besides storing your usernames and passwords in a secure way, you can access it from any device you use. Learn more about the Free vs Paid Password Managers.
Two-Step Authentication(Google 2FA): Secure what you log into on the daily. If it is easy for you to get into your email accounts, then it's even easier for hackers to take advantage of you. Just like when you gas up your car, you have to 2 steps to verify it is YOU when you go to pay for your gas.
Marketing is not what it used to be. Digital marketing has become increasingly popular as have the types of services provided to those seeking digital marketing solutions. These are the tools that I use for my marketing.
Email Marketing Services (Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM)): Sending out emails to your prospects and clients is always great business practices. You want to be top of mind everytime you send out a nugget of your wisdom. This tool is versite for building a small campaign or just sending out a thank you for someone filling out a Google Form.
Graphic Designs Software (Canva): This is my go-to app for my presentations or graphics that I post on my website. I've been using the Free version for years, but you can make a small investment for your one off projects that will only charge you as you use it.
Your bookkeeper or CPA may be the hub of your financial information but you still need to keep track of your expenses, income, and everything in between. These are the tools that I use to keep track of my accounting.
Online Business Banking (Novo): This is Business Banking that is ideal for my virtual small business. Whether you have just started your business or have been in business for a while, this is a great option for securely managing your money. Learn more about Novo Banking vs Traditional Banking.
Accounting Software (QuickBooks Self-Employed): I have yet to find a better money management tool. Ideal for the self-employed, this budget-friendly tool makes it a breeze to create and send invoices, automate your mileage tracking, maximize your Schedule C deductions, and estimate your quarterly taxes. It saves me so much time year-round, and especially during tax season. Learn More about the difference between using Tech vs Manual Bookkeeping.
Payment Collection Software (Stripe): Money that I collect for booked appointments or recurring membership payment, Stripe is the tool that handle supports my payment collection. This is a free app to sign up for with low-cost transaction fees.
In a traditional business, we think of physical things that we use to communicate in our business. Such as a landline phone system or fax machine. Most small businesses start with using their mobile number as their primary method to connect with their clients, but it can soon backfire on you if you want to disconnect from all things business. These are some tools that will be great starting point that will allow you to scale your business for the future.
Business Phone System (Google Voice): Voice over IP (VoIP) is the technology to use to get yourself a business line that doesn't break the bank. This is configurable and connects to your Google Workspace account. Which allows you to separate your business calls from personal calls.
Faxing System (DocHub): There are still a few business that may want to use a Facsimile system. You don't have to go out and buy any hardware because there's an app that can do this for you.
Video and Phone Conferencing (Google Meet): Why not use what is already on your Google platform. Not many people know that you can use Google Meet to host a conference call with multiple people.
We aren't always friends with Lawyers, and not all Lawyers handle small business affairs. Here are some of the tools that I have used in my own business to legitimize my business practices.
Business Name with an LLC (ZenBusiness): This is the service that I purchased to get my LLC. I didn't start out with an LLC, but I realized I am putting my personal assets in jeopardy. Sure it is not cheap to get started, but it does show you are serious about being in business. They can also get your DBA, which is required under your LLC. I made the executive decision to not use go with a business name, I went with my own name. My LLC name is Michelle Guerra LLC and my DBA is Michelle Guerra. So, you are looking to start a coaching business with your name, that would be the starting point.
Contracts for your Work (ContactsCounsel): This is the website where I hired a lawyer to create my consulting contract for my business. I felt confident in preparing a proposal for my needs and found several lawyers that were interested in doing the work for a price. You can create a proposal for a lawyer to price your request. All lawyers on this site are verified with state license status, education and employment history.
Important Note! Some of the technology tools that are mentioned on this page are affiliate links. Some may provide you with a discount that you can only get based on using my link.