Most of the questions I get from online CEOs are about which business tools they should be using. It’s common to worry about missing out on the perfect tool or using the wrong tool for your business.
I get it! There are soooo many business tools available to us, and they keep making more. You don’t want to waste time and money on tools… so, how do we choose the right tool?
- Does it fit your budget?
- Does it have the main features you need?
- Do you like how it looks?
- Does it integrate with your other tools?
- Is the business ethical? Do they share your values + beliefs?
Another good way to choose tools is to get recommendations from people you trust.
That’s why I’ve put together this blog post for you, which outlines the tools I actually use, not just that I’m an affiliate for.
I’ve also included alternative options for some business tools I’ve used in the past or with clients. Some are affiliates, some aren’t, but they are all tools I’ve tried and love.
The Best Business Tools For Online CEOs
HoneyBook is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that helps you schedule appointments, onboard clients, send invoices, and automate all of your client processes.
How I use it: Organize new leads, send contracts and invoices, and communicate about projects
Alternative 1: Dubsado. Also a great CRM, but overly complicated in my opinion.
Alternative 2: Calendly. If you don’t need a full CRM, but still need to schedule meetings with clients, I highly recommend Calendly. They have the best scheduling system of any software, and they have a free version!
Convertbox is a lead capture tool that integrates with your website to connect with your audience in a more targeted way. I really like that there are no monthly fees and I can do so many different things with it.
How I use it: Countdown timers for sales, pop-up boxes, and inline forms for freebies in blog posts
Alternative: There are some alternatives, but I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t recommend them.
Courses + Cart
ThriveCart helps you create sales pages, checkouts, upsells, and funnels for your products and services. They also have a course platform included called Learn. My favorite part is that you pay once and get it for life. No monthly payments!!
How I use it: Checkout pages and cart functionality, Learn+platform for courses and digital products, and affiliate marketing program
Alternative: I would probably use Teachable if I didn’t have ThriveCart, but I don’t exactly recommend it. It gets really expensive over time.
Databases / Content Organization
Airtable is like spreadsheets on steroids, and I can’t get enough! The features on the free plan are very user-friendly. It’s definitely my favorite tool.
How I use it: I have bases for my newsletter, blog posts, my products, Pinterest pins, social media posts, website URLs, affiliate marketing, tool tracker, course tracker, and metrics.
Alternative: I guess you can use Google Sheets or Excel, but they don’t even come close to the features you get in AirTable.
Google Workspace is absolutely worth the small investment each month. I wish I had started using it as soon as I started my biz!
How I use it: Extra cloud storage space, domain email addresses and aliases (like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com), and office tools like Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.
Alternative: Dropbox. I actually use this one also. It’s a great, all-around business tool for everyone and one of the first cloud storage systems released.
ConvertKit has been my favorite email marketing tool for several years. It has everything you need without going overboard and being difficult to use. I love their visual automations, email templates, and simple metrics.
How I use it: Send my weekly newsletter, deliver freebies automatically, tag and organize subscribers and customers, and send sales emails
Alternative: ActiveCampaign is a more robust email marketing tool for businesses that need serious customization and analytics. It’s a bit pricey, so I only recommend it for bigger businesses.
The Business Finance Tracker is a tool I built so that I could have more control over my business finances than if I used one of the popular (and expensive) online tools.
It will help you keep track of every dollar you earn and spend for your business. I even teach you the how and why so you’ll finally experience clarity with your business finances.
How I use it: Track income and expenses as soon as I get an invoice or receipt, set financial goals, easily complete taxes, and track recurring expenses
Canva is the only graphics tool I use. The pro version makes organization easy with the ability to save your branding elements and keep everything stored in folders.
How I use it: Logos, headers + banners, social media graphics, Pinterest pins, blog images, course mockups, workbooks, checklists…
Alternatives: Nothing compares. Hire a designer maybe?
Stock Photos + Templates
Pixistock is fantastic for stock photos, but they also have a ton of Canva templates and one of the best social media calendars I’ve ever seen. AND their members-only Facebook group is one of my favorites.
They even include courses to teach you social media strategy (and they are really good courses!). I couldn’t manage my social media without their membership, which is why I invested in their lifetime membership and highly recommend it!
How I use it: Learn about social media, inclusive stock photos, gorgeous Canva templates for anything and everything, and help from their FB group when I need advice
Alternative: NONE. Get Pixistock!!
The Contract Shop is my go-to for all the legal resources I need for my online business. Just one contract template purchase was enough to make me a customer for life. I feel confident that my business is safe and secure with their contracts.
How I use it: Website policies and terms, affiliate marketing terms, and client contracts
Alternative: I’ve heard good things about Contractista but never tried them myself.
Trello is a visual organization tool. Think of it like index cards. You can write stuff on the front, write more on the back, organize them, move them around, etc.
How I use it: Organizing business details, ideas, inspo, to-do lists (just general items, not scheduled tasks because those go in Asana), content calendar, blog editorial calendar, and resources
Alternative: Most popular project management tools can do what Trello does.
Passwords + Security
LastPass stores all your passwords securely and allows you to share them (without showing them!) with team members, contractors, and clients. Just download the browser extension and let LastPass take care of the rest.
How I use it: Auto-fill passwords on my laptop and phone, share passwords with contractors and clients, and organize sensitive information and documents
Alternative: 1Password is also a great option for passwords. I’ve used it on my phone for years (I even store my LastPass master passwords here!).
Asana is my favorite project management tool because of its simplicity and fun visual style. It works amazingly well for collaborating with small teams and keeping track of all the details.
How I use it: Primarily for task management, especially creating recurring tasks and making sure I don’t forget anything, and goal tracking
Alternative: ClickUp is a new-ish business tool but quickly becoming the most popular among online businesses. It has a TON of features so I recommend it for bigger businesses with complicated launches.
Social Media Scheduling
Tailwind is an official partner with both Pinterest and Instagram so you never have to worry about using it. It helps you schedule content, increase traffic, and automate your social media. (Get $15 off with my link!)
How I use it: Schedule Pinterest pins and Instagram posts, Tailwind Communities, organize drafts and hashtags, and Smart.bio IG links
Alternatives: Later and Buffer aren’t bad (they have free plans), but I don’t exactly recommend them. I just really love Tailwind and their customer service has been exceptional.
SiteGround is the best website hosting with stellar customer support! If you can afford it, sign up for 3 years at a time. It’s MUCH less expensive when you first join. I’ve been using them since 2018 and couldn’t be happier.
How I use it: Just website hosting
Alternative: If I ever change hosts, it will probably be WPEngine. I think they are a solid step up for higher-traffic sites.
Bonus Business Tools
These are the other business tools I use, but you may not need or want them. I’m just including them here so you can see my full tech stack.
Amberscript - Generating transcripts and subtitles
Interact - I use Interact to create fun online quizzes. It’s a great way to generate leads for your email list!
Namecheap - Buying and organizing all of my domain names
ProveSource - Handy little tool for adding social proof to your sales pages
ScreenPal - Recording and editing videos (super affordable!!)
UberSuggest - This is Neil Patel’s SEO tool, and I’ve been quite happy with my lifetime investment.
Updraft Plus - This is a plugin I use to automatically back up my website daily.
Vimeo - Hosting videos for my courses/digital products/website
WP Rocket - This is a plugin I use for my WordPress site to improve speed.