Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide it is a good purchasing decision for you. I’ve only listed companies that I have first-hand experience with and would recommend to my own VIP clients whether or not any of these companies sent me a small commission. I trust that you will only buy any of these products if you are certain they will fulfill an operational need and will help you reach your personal goals.
Before I dive into my toolbox, I want to hugely thank the following businesses for helping me create a website that represents the true Amber Hurdle. Thank you for my 5-star experience!
Website Design by Marketing Access Pass
Photography by Jessica McIntosh Photography
Hair & Makeup by Katie Vellman, Ecco Salon
Wardrobe by Primarily Cache, White House | Black Market, and Buckle
Video Production by Jesse Santoyo
Photo Locations: My main photos were taken at Flyte World Dining and Wine in Nashville, Tenn. Thank you to Scott and Will for allowing me to capture these photos in a place that has so many special memories for me. And thank you for all of the years of fabulous food, wine and even better experiences!
Google Apps for Work – Get email, cloud storage, collaboration tools and other business apps with Google Apps for Work. Consider it your small business’s own fancy schmancy enterprise system like the big guys have, only you pay next to nothing.
Google Drive – Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more. Consider this your Microsoft Office suite of programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc…) only “in the cloud.” Plus, there are more tools AND the ability to collaborate with others in real time on the same document. This is a part of Google Apps for Work, but you also automatically get a free Google Drive if you have a free Gmail account. I live in Google Drive to the point people tease me. 🙂
DropBox – Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. If you need to share a really ginormous file that won’t send as an attachment or if you don’t want to store huge files on your harddrive, this is a must-have-resource.
Evernote – There isn’t enough space to describe Evernote. You can store files, ideas, web clippings, ANYTHING in organized folders to reference later or to collaborate with others. I look at it as a dashboard for projects in motion.
Insightly – A simple to use yet powerful CRM system for small business. With integrations to Google Apps, Office 365, MailChimp, and major social media sites; great mobile apps for tablets and smart phones; and easy access to a REST API for custom integration, Insightly is the leading small business CRM. They also have an widget that allows you to convert any email into a task and even assign it to another team member RIGHT IN THE EMAIL ITSELF. Truly, what more could you ask for?!
*Freshbooks – If I didn’t have this I would epically fail at accounting. Not only does it produce professional invoices and accepts payments, it can automatically populate your expenses from your business account(s), track time connected to a project AND it’s CRAZY EASY to use. It even has an app that allows you to take pictures of your receipts and record expenses that way, too. Quickbooks who?
Paypal – From accepting credit cards on a website to online invoicing, you can easily manage all your business payment needs with PayPal’s merchant services. I like this option over Square or others because it is FDIC insured and FAR more secure with people’s banking information. My banking friends give Paypal two-thumbs up, so that’s good enough for me!
Stripe – With clean, composable, and complete APIs, Stripe’s thoughtful interfaces and abstractions can handle your company’s needs — from storing cards and processing subscriptions to powering marketplaces and everything in between.
LastPass – Only remember one password – your LastPass master password. Save all your usernames and passwords to LastPass, and it will autologin to your sites and sync your passwords everywhere you need them. Stop the insanity, for realz.
Schedule Once – Your customers schedule appointments via a calendar that syncs with your Google Calendar based on the availability that you allow. No more emailing back and forth to find a good time for all parties. Just send a link and everyone gets email reminders and follow ups for the appointment that was scheduled! This automation cuts both me and my assistant out of the scheduling process, saving me time and money.
*Convertkit – ConvertKit helps you manage emails lists and drip campaigns to increase reader trust, which directly increases sales when you launch a product or service. Not only is it SUPER easy to use, the interface is lovely and inviting and you can even RESEND an email only to those who didn’t open your email with one click of a button. I cannot brag on this company enough from the culture to the die hard commitment to creating an affordable product that truly meets the needs of its customers without overcomplicating things. I HEART Convertkit!
*InfusionSoft – Use Infusionsoft to map out each step of your sales and marketing strategy and automate repetitive tasks like follow-up. With Infusionsoft, you can nurture leads, scale personal relationships with customers, and so much more. Their powerful tagging process automates the sales funnels your customers should go through based on their interests and actions. This is what you move up to when you’re ready to stop doing so much manual work with your email lists. Personally, my onboarding experience was worth every penny of the start up fee that keeps several from taking the InfusionSoft leap.
Mailchimp – This is a beautiful, fun online email marketing solution to manage contacts, send emails and track results. If you need an attractive user interface and a no-brainer solution to send newsletters and sales emails, this is it. I love Mailchimp, I just outgrew it. There is a free version and then super affordable packages you can upgrade to as you grow.
*Aweber – Aweber is a more powerful tool than Mailchimp and allows you to better segment your lists and track affiliate sales. Oh, and I should mention it has AMAZING customer service. You can even CALL THEM. You read that right. The user interface isn’t as “pretty” as Mailchimp, no monkey is going to high-five you when you successfully send a broadcast, nor are the features as robust as InfusionSoft; however, it is the perfect solution if you want to get started right (and don’t “need” pretty like me) or if you need a next step up from Mailchimp.
*Leadpages – Software is the world’s easiest landing page generator. It’s the easiest way to build conversion optimized & mobile responsive landing pages. Seriously, if I can do it, you can do it. I’m not sure I could run my business without it because I’d poke my eyeballs out messing with my website and plugins far too much.
*Shopify – Use this link to try Shopify for FREE and create your online store in just 60 seconds. Shopify is everything you need to sell anywhere!
Canva – Canva makes design simple for everyone. Yes, everyone includes you. You can create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and more. You can even see how I quickly made a picture quote via THIS free tutorial.
Adobe Creative Cloud – If you have some design experience or are taking courses to help you learn for realies software, then this is the ticket, AKA what I learned in college on route to my PR degree, AKA what skilled designers use.
Jing – Captures anything you see on your computer screen, as an image or short video, and lets you share it instantly. And it’s free. I use it like daily.
Screenflow – With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, iOS device, microphone and your computer audio. I use this to record training presentations and to edit video. (For Mac)
Camtasia – I did test-drive Camtasia, which is also easy to use and available for PC. However gives you the tools you need to record on-screen activity, edit and enhance your content, and share in high-quality to viewers anywhere. (For Mac or PC)
*Wishlist Member – WishList Member™ is a powerful, yet easy to use membership solution that can turn any WordPress site into a full-blown membership site. I had the privilege of getting to break bread with the founder when he was in Nashville and can say that anything he touches I want to be a part of. He has one of the best servant’s heart mixed with crazy super smarts that I’ve ever seen.
*JigsawBox – Is a new system to package up your expertise and TEACH your clients, then COACH them to apply their learning to their own situation so you can start to sell more than your 1:1 time. This was my first one-to-many solution that I really loved. It’s easy to use, both my one-on-one and group coaching clients found it user-friendly, and it was created by a woman, which is a total bonus.
Teachable – Create and sell online courses. Build a beautiful course website and control your branding, student data, and pricing all from one place.
*Fascination Advantage – You know how much I preach that you truly have to understand yourself so you know how you come off to others and best position your strengths to market and network. Well, a couple of years ago I found this awesome assessment and if you want to get a scary accurate assessment of how the world sees you and why in just minutes YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS ASSESSMENT!
*Bluehost – Is a dummy-proof hosting company that offers exceptional customer service to those setting up a WordPress website.
Virtual Assistants & Vendors
Upwork – Formerly Elance-oDesk, Upwork is a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely.
Priority VA – Trivinia Barber, founder of Priority VA, has to be one of my favorite online business women, and her husband, Chris, is pretty dope, too! Their boutique virtual assistant staffing firm “prioritizes” YOU to ensure that you get the best possible virtual assistant for your personality and business operations that you can possibly find in the United States. They are expert recruiters who also slay it on customer service by managing your VA relationship on your behalf. Their passion is contagious, which is probably why some of the biggest names in online marketing use their services.
Virtual Staff Finder – Is a one-stop hub for outsourcing a virtual assistant or virtual staff from a worldwide selection. Founded by my friend, Chris Ducker, author of Virtual Freedom, the VSF team takes the recruitment process off of you, and then allows you to take it from there with your new, perfectly placed general VA.