You’re only as good as the tools you use. Here are a few of my favorites, things I use to maximize productivity and get things done. I hope they will be helpful to you.
Fetch: Fetch, from Fetch Softworks, is an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) tool specifically designed for Macintosh. FTP is older than the Web, but it continues to be important, especially for uploading files to websites. This is especially true when you have files too large for WordPress’ upload tool to handle. Fetch has an efficient, simple interface. I’ve used it since the 1990s. It’s still the best.
Jetpack: Jetpack is a free plugin made by Automattic, the folks behind WordPress; and if you are self hosting on WordPress, you really need Jetpack. Jetpack is a suite of over 30 tools, including site stats, custom content types, tiled image galleries, social media sharing, a carousel, custom CSS, contact forms, and so forth. When you have a feature you want or need to add to your blog, start with Jetpack. It’s probably already done the work for you.
Liquid Web: The choice of web hosting company is one of the most important decisions you will make for your web site. Liquid Web is competitively priced, their uptime is great, and their customer service is excellent.
WordPress: WordPress.org is open source, free software used to create websites and blogs. WordPress makes your ideas come to life and look professional. Yes, it’s blogging software, but major websites like those for BBC America, the New York Times, Sony, and Xerox are hosted on WordPress now, an extraordinary testimony to the power of the platform and the excellence of the team behind it. WordPress is fully customizable through themes and plugins, both free and paid, so you can build the exact site you need. It’s also dead simple to use, so being “a techie” is unnecessary, and staff members or volunteers can learn it and use it effectively and quickly.
CapLinked: Whether negotiating an investment round or sharing documents related to litigation, CapLinked provides simple, streamlined, and secure management for complex transactions. My friend Eric Jackson is the founder and CEO, and I’m happy to serve on the board of advisors. It’s clearly not something everyone needs, but if you need this sort of thing, CapLinked is the best.
The Company Corporation: The Company Corporation provides what is probably the easiest way to form a company: LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, whatever. They provide a range of services to support your corporation, including Registered Agent services, annual report filings and more. The Company Corporation has been in existence in one form or another since 1899, and has helped form over 750,000 corporations and LLCs throughout the United States.
PayPal: Obviously I’m a fan of PayPal. PayPal is the best way to make or take payments online, period. And increasingly, it’s pretty great in-store, in competition with services like Square, and in a lot of other ways not traditionally in its wheelhouse. If you haven’t checked it out in a while, you should.
PowerPay: If you need a merchant account, PowerPay is unbeatable. They are especially strong in understanding and working with the unique needs of online businesses (which is a bigger deal than you might think).
iContact: iContact is an easy to use email marketing tool which allows you to contact and maintain communications with your customers. With hundreds of templates available you can customize the look and feel of your emails to send exactly the right message to your customers and followers. This software is designed for folks with no HTML experience, but has advanced tools for the advanced user. A great tool that I highly recommend.
Infusionsoft: Infusionsoft is advanced sales and marketing software for small businesses. Companies need contact management, a way to track their communications with contacts, and the ability to communicate with them effectively. Infusionsoft packs this all into one amazing package. Keep up with which staff member talked to a customer last, track who spends the most money with you, market to your base to keep them engaged, and manage your online store in one place. This is great software for serious businesses.
TweetDeck: Twitter is a necessary tool for engaging your audience, and you don’t have hours every day to post and monitor tweets. Enter TweetDeck. The multiple timeline interface allows you to manage multiple accounts simultaneously. Schedule tweets in advance to optimize your time, create filtered timelines to see what’s working for you, and place alerts on keywords to stay current and on top of emerging issues.
Yammer: Whether your team is in cubicles in an office, or spread across the globe, you need instant communication. Yammer is a private social network designed for your team. Collaborate instantly with one coworker or with a team. Share documents in real time. And do it even if you’re on the move – Yammer’s mobile app is second to none.
Creative Cloud: Creative Cloud from Adobe is a game changer for your business. Once upon a time you had to hire outside help for design work, to edit photos, to build a website. And if you didn’t hire outside help, you could buy the Adobe Suite, at great upfront cost, and the software was tied to your desk computer. No more. Adobe Creative Cloud gives you more than 25 of their best tools including Acrobat, PhotoShop, DreamWeaver, InDesign, and PremeirePro; many of them also available to you on your mobile device, and all for an exceptionally low monthly subscription. You can’t afford not to have Creative Cloud.
Dropbox: Dropbox is a secure file sharing program that allows users to share documents, photos, and more. Folders in Dropbox can be shared with your team, making this a great collaboration tool, especially for large files.
Filemaker Pro: FileMaker Pro, a subsidiary of Apple, makes it easy to create custom solutions for managing your business. Streamline the way you manage contacts, track inventory, organize projects, create invoices, and more. This highly customizable database software comes with ready-made templates, or dive in and create the interface that works best for you.
Skitch: If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much an annotated picture conveys. Skitch by Evernote is a fun software that does that for you easily. Need a map that marks the spot? Add pop to a presentation? Skitch is for you.
TripIt Pro: TripIt Pro is a personal travel organizer that consolidates all of your trip details in one seamless itinerary. Tripit Pro organizes your flights, hotels, car rentals and more, and includes detailed directions, maps, and weather. Your itinerary can be viewed on any device and also offline, so you don’t have to rely on spotty signal strength and bad wifi. Whether you travel once per year or once per week, Tripit Pro is a must have.
Evernote: Evernote is your workspace. It’s your notepad, your swipe file, your brain on your computer. Need to reduce clutter? Scan your handwritten notes into Evernote. It’s searchable – even your handwritten text. Collecting ideas for a project? Clip webpages, attach photos, and notate all of it from any device so you are getting things done whether in the office or on the move. I especially like Evernote Business for the collaboration tools. My team can work on projects simultaneously, no matter where they are. Evernote is a vital part of my workflow.
Microsoft Office Suite: The Microsoft Office Suite includes Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, and Outlook. I use this software package daily in concert with our other tools. We create various documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with ease, and because they are virtually universal, we are able to collaborate with any number of people easily. Microsoft Office is a staple in any business venture.