Wednesday, January 13, 2016

13 Online Tools Used by Successful Entrepreneurs



BY NEIL PATEL Co-founder, Crazy Egg +Neil Patel 

Today's tech-driven entrepreneurs know how to get stuff done. In the current entrepreneurial culture, it is essential that any successful entrepreneur understand and use online tools, apps, programs, interfaces, and systems to increase productivity and efficiency. What kind of online tools do these entrepreneurs use?
  • The online tool solves a real problem.
  • The online tool automates a business activity.
  • The online tool enhances productivity.
  • The online tool contributes to business expansion.
  • The online tool is scalable.
  • The online tool is simple to learn and use.
Few tools meet these qualifications. To make matters easier, I've rounded up a list of the top tools used by entrepreneurs all around the world, including some of my own entrepreneurial colleagues. Here are the tools we use to build our businesses.
  1. Google: I don't mean to be simplistic, but I want to make a point here. Entrepreneurs use Google. Of course, everyone uses Google. Entrepreneurs, however, depend upon Google as a source for answers, solutions, hacks, tips, and information, and for finding other systems. Google is the first stop for any entrepreneur who needs to learn anything, hire anyone, or find something.
  2. WordPress: Most businesses need a website, and there's no better CMS than WordPress. Themes are inexpensive. Developers are plentiful. Customization is simple. And it's easy to create and publish articles. Using WordPress, you can have an impressive website up and running--bells and whistles included--within just a few hours.
  3. Google Analytics and Google Search Console: You're going to need data, lots of it. Google Analytics is the source for the most reliable insights into your traffic and website performance. To interpret the raw stream of data and convert it into actionable insights, you can use additional analytics, SaaS, such as KISSMetrics, CrazyEgg, Mixpanel, and Chartbeat.  Google Search Console is the back door to your website's functionality. By using Google Search Console, you will be able to run diagnostics on your website, analyze backlink data, and take a look at under-the-hood SEO issues like your sitemaps and rendering.
  4. Grasshopper: Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that allows you to manage your startup via the phone. Grasshopper sets up an 800 number in order to produce a professional image. Plus, you can integrate mobile phones, get multiple extensions, and use the handy app to make and receive calls using your office number.
  5. Google Alerts: Google Alerts is your own free brand-monitoring system. Although it lacks the bells and whistles of paid services like Mention.com, Google Alerts is sufficient for most startups. To use Google Alert as a brand-monitoring service, simply set up an alert to notify you any time your brand is mentioned online. You should also set up a Google Alert (mentioned above) to notify you any time your own name is mentioned online.
  6. Evernote: Evernote is a widely used note-taking app, though to call it a "note-taking app" is a bit of an insult given its power and applicability. Evernote allows you to gain control of all the paperwork coming into and flowing out of your business, to organize your lists, to store your memories, to archive your files, to research your business, and to browse the web. Evernote does it all--and then it does even more.
  7. Trello: Trello allows you to ideate, plan, and engage projects with complete mastery. It's not a workflow tool as much as it is a project visualization tool. Trello's interface is inspired by a board and organized with cards. Think Pinterest, except that it helps you get stuff done, not waste your time. Many startup teams, including large and distributed teams, use the power of Trello to take ideas from conception to completion with surprising efficiency. Trello alternatives: Stormboard, MeisterTask, Casual.pm
  8. Upwork: No entrepreneur is an island, accomplishing tasks by him or herself. Successful entrepreneurs access the best talent when they need it. In any startup, you're going to need that talent quickly and inexpensively. Where do you get it? Many entrepreneurs turn to Upwork (formerly Elance) to find solutions toany work problem. Regardless of your niche, need, or wacky request, there is probably an Upwork contractor who is able, experienced, and willing to do the work for you. Upwork alternatives: Fiverr, Growth Geeks
  9. Boomerang: Any Gmail ninja knows the game-changing power of Boomerang. Boomerang allows you to schedule messages for later send dates, pop messages out of your inbox to be returned in the future, respond to messages when you choose, and create reminders for mission critical emails. If email is your nemesis, Boomerang can help you tame the foe.
  10. Basecamp: As your team grows, acquires clients, or uses employees, you're going to need a way to manage projects and personnel. Basecamp is a well-known and widely used workflow management app. Basecamp alternatives: StrideApp, Asana, Slack
  11. InfusionSoft: Take your email marketing to the next level with InfusionSoft, a nuclear tool. The primary focus of InfusionSoft is email automation, which allows you to create drip campaigns, schedule emails, produce click-based emails, and accomplish other email processes. InfusionSoft alternatives: ConvertKit, Constant Contact, MailChimp, Marketo, Pardot
  12. Dropbox: What do startups do with the crucial files that they must share, edit, send, and work on? They use Dropbox.  Dropbox alternatives: Google Drive, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive
  13. Buffer: If you aren't careful, social media management can drain your time and suck your soul dry. There's never an end to the possibilities for growing your audience, customizing your approach, and engaging with your fans. Clearly, you need a solution that will automate your social media efforts and concurrently save you time. Buffer's response to social media management can give you back hours. Simple scheduling makes it easy for you to turn it on and forget about it. Meanwhile, your scheduled social media posts are earning you fans and rewarding you with engagement. Buffer alternatives: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Sprout Social

Conclusion

Solving problems, automating processes, improving productivity, and growing business. None of these happens without the right tools.Regardless of the nature of your business or your industry focus, you'll find that at least one of these tools will provide game-changing benefits for your business startup. What online tools are you using as an entrepreneur? 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com

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