Top Tools For Bootstrapping Your Business

TOP TOOLS FOR BOOTSTRAPPING YOUR BUSINESS

This past week I did a live stream on my Facebook Business Page on My Top Tools For Bootstrapping Your Biz, I shared a ton of tools I used and still use to run my business. To support you 100% in creating a business that doesn't leave you with more cash going out then coming in, I'm sharing all the links with you today.

 It's really easy to get shiny-object syndrome when starting an online business, and end up spending more money than you are making on tools to run your business. I'm sharing the top tools I used for the first 6 months of my business at a time when I needed to bootstrap. These tools are free or almost-free to use and will save you time and money in your business.

Before I dive into my top tools I want to make something super clear. One of the reasons I chose to bootstrap for the first six months of my online coaching biz, is because I recognized the benefits of investing at a high level in personal support. Since day one I have invested in my own coach, either in the form of a group program or 1:1 support, in fact I haven't gone a single day without the guidance, accountability and support of someone who has accomplished what I am setting out to do.

So, when I started my biz and made this decision (which is one of the best ones I've made in my biz to date) I knew I'd have to use free or basically-free resources to ensure I had money in my account. The following resources are what I used to avoid hiring a VA and to automate my business so I could spend more time making sales, creating content and spending time with my son.

**Please note because I've used these tools myself I have become an affiliate for some of these programs. Affiliate links are marked with (**) and I may receive a small compensation if you choose to sign up.

Website - Squarespace

Early on I chose to host my site through Squarespace. Yes, I know there are free version out there, but I wanted something that could grow with me as my business did and allow me to sell products, create a membership site and more. Additional platforms that offer a free option are Weebly and Wix.

Membership Site - Sentry Login

Looking for a cost effective way to host a membership site? Sentry Login allows you to password protect your Squarespace pages (and more) so your customers can have their own individual logins. 

Social Media Scheduling - Buffer

Buffer was my go to for the first year of my business, allowing me to post on my personal page, in my group Authentic Brand Builders, on my business page and more. For just $10 a month it saved me the cost of hiring a VA to handle my social media. Buffer does offer a free option as well.

Instagram Scheduling - Later

I've always loved the simplicity of Later for scheduling Instagram posts. Although you can't post directly to Instagram (with any app at the moment) it allows you to schedule posts from your desktop, search hashtags to repost and more. 

Email Marketing & Landing Pages - Convertkit**

Yes, I know Mailchimp is free and I did use it for the first three months of my business, but as I started offering more live trainings, challenges and free offers I needed a way to collect those leads without paying additional for a service like Leadpages (which I totally use now). That's why I love Convertkit, it allows me to not only email my list, complete with tagging and automation, but allowed me to build landing pages right in my CRM system. Convertkit has been worth every penny for my biz!

Scheduling - Acuity Scheduling**

Before I knew about the power of Acuity I used Calendly (free & $10 option as well), but when I wanted an easier way to reschedule, bulk schedule and accept payments for my intensives I made the switch to Acuity. The Emerging Entrepreneur plan, which I highly recommend, is only $10 a month, BUT if you are using Squarespace it is FREE!

Graphic Design/ Branding - Canva for Work

I've been using Canva since day one through their free version. As my brand started to take off and I wanted an easy way to use my brand colors, personal fonts, logos, and templates I upgraded to Canva for Work. At just $12.95 it makes it super easy for me to create branded images for my blog, Pinterest, webinar slides, course workbooks and more, allowing me to save money on a graphic designer.

Tripwire/ Course Sales - Payhip

This was one of my favorite discoveries because it allowed me to sell my Tripwires (you know those low priced offers on the thank you page of a freebie you just opted into) without having to pay upfront. With Payhip you pay a small percentage per order placed, and they take care of the sales page and delivery of your product to your new customer without the need for a 3rd party tool like Zapier.

Management System - 17hats** or Dubsado**

THIS IS essential if you want to run your business, basically on automate, without hiring outside help. I've used 17hats for my business since day one! It allows me to create lead capture forms to embed on my website, weekly questionnaires for my clients, invoices, contracts and more. The best part is I can save them as templates so it's as easy as pressing a single button when I need to send it. I've heard great things about Dubsado as well, although I love the automatic bookkeeping that comes with 17hats. 

Email - GSuite (Gmail for Work)**

We aren't talking about the CRM here, just you business email. It's important to have a branded email for your business that is part of your domain. Zoho Mail does offer a free option, but I live using Gmail for Work as a way to also keep my client folders organized with Drive. Gmail for work is free with certain Squarespace packages for the first year and then just $5 after that. Grab a 14 day free trial and save 20% off your first year by clicking here: https://goo.gl/8yQ65H and using code GAN96DXFKWM76FL

**NOTE: most CRM systems will require a domain specific email**

Payment Systems - Paypal and Stripe

Using Paypal and Stripe to collect payments is really quite easy and I've used both to sell high-ticket packages, set up recurring payment plans, sell courses, etc.. Using Paypal buttons you can create individual price points for your different offers and simply link them to the buttons on your website (the trick with recurring payments is to choose the Subscription Button to avoid added fees). Stripe works well to integrate with systems to accept payment like 17hats, Moonclerk, Payhip and so much more.

Business Banking Accounts - Capital One Spark Business

There are many options to choose from for business banking, but I love the simple and free offer from Capital One. 

Calls & WEBINARS - ZOOM**

I love using Zoom to hold my client calls (really easy to record these) and webinars. Zoom does have a few paid options, including a Webinar option, but for the first 6 months of my business I just used the standard free Zoom option to host my live trainings. Keep in mind you are limited to recording 45 minutes on the free version.

Email Countdown Timer - MotionMailApp

Urgency when launching a program or selling a course is important! Those little countdown timers do make a difference. Motion Mail is a great free option to use to easily add countdown timers to your emails during a launch.

I understand that when choosing to invest in a coach or program for your biz, you often have to bootstrap in other areas. That's why in my group program Roadmap to Freedom I work with my clients to decide on services and programs that meet their needs. I get it - trust me! You are 100% supported here. Learn more about Roadmap to Freedom (cart closes on October 13) ↠ ↠

Branding and Business Coach
Branding and Business Coach

Michelle Knight is a Branding and Business coach for female entrepreneurs who are struggling to gain visibility and traction to take their business to the next level. She works with her clients to dive deep into their story so they can create a brand and message that positions them as an expert and allows them to create their desired income to free up time in their schedule for what matters most. Learn more >>