60+ DIY Business Tools for Building a Sustainable Business

Are you unsure of which DIY business tools are right for you?


I feel ya.  

I spent a lot of years jumping around trying to figure out which SaaS (Software As A Service) products worked best. 

There were many frustrating days wasted on books and online programs that don’t deliver on their cookie-cutter promises.

And, let’s not talk about the five years I spent driving 30+ hours per week working FOR FREE for a networking organization based on the lie that trying to wrangle hundreds of micro-business owners to follow a rigid system would somehow manifest as marketing for my baby business…

Imagine that, a full-time job’s worth of hours just on the road that magically might be marketing?!

Eeek, I sure was gullible (and tired!).

Like most owners, I didn’t know what really worked for my business. My marketing budget was practically nonexistent, so all I knew how to do was give it all my time.

Illustrated person walking while wearing stuffed backpack and headphones, juggling various DIY Business tools

Maybe you've been where I was: Trying to figure it all out.

At that time, I was 26-years old and a newly single mother to two toddlers. I wanted my time, energy, and extra cash to go towards being a great Mom. Instead, I was wasting all my resources on products, programs, and promises that didn’t do what they said they would. 

Over time, I found myself almost surprised when a tool, system, or book actually delivered on its promise. So much so that I started writing them down. Many of the DIY business systems and tools that worked for me were surprising. Some were not strictly “business” tools at all. But what they all have in common is this:

They worked for my business and for the businesses of many Realign Consulting clients.

What follows are my favorite DIY business tools and resources. Bookmark this list and check back often for updates.

Click below to explore DIY business tools in each category:

productivity

PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS FOR KEEPING YOU AND YOUR TEAM ON TRACK

I like to think of these tools as guardrails for micro-business owners, work-at-home freelancers, or other leaders who want better control over their day-to-day output.

Some meetings could just be emails–and others don’t need a computer all. Spot is specifically designed to support walking meetings so your team can get their creative juices flowing and their bodies moving even in the middle of the workday.

Centered uses the Pomodoro Technique of time-blocking to help you manage your time more efficiently without working yourself to exhaustion. It comes with a variety of supporting features, including science-backed focus music, verbal prompts for taking breaks and refocusing on work, and even a co-working feature that lets you work virtually alongside other app users. 

The Forest AppForest App logo helps avoid distracting apps on your phone when you’re trying to stay focused on a task. Set a timer for how long you want to work, choose a virtual seed to add to your virtual forest, and watch your tree either grow and thrive or wither away if you navigate away from the app!

Some questions need more detailed answers than an email or text is capable of. Enter Loom, which makes it easy to create and send videos right from your desk. We use this to streamline training, review tasks, or show each other exactly what we’re having trouble with while the app records our screen. With Loom, our remote team can communicate better than ever.

Google Workspace (formerly G-suite) is the ultimate affordable business tool kit with a program to manage email, block out your calendar, collaborate on documents, save important files, and video chat. We run our whole agency on it and literally couldn’t live without it.

Todoist logoTodoist is a lightweight task management app that helps you stay on track by managing your to-dos. Add a task to your list and add a due date, notification, priority level, and other features to help you take on the day. The basic layout is based on the Getting Things Done methodology. I’ve been using this app for 10 years and it’s still my favorite task management platform for individuals.

Moonsight Planner logo

The Moonsight Planner is a lunar-based calendar app that alerts you to important astrological shifts and the best ways you can harness that energy. Never miss an opportunity to take action during periods of Sagittarius fueled fire energy; set intentions to align with the full moon; or take the time to slow down during retrogrades.

Calm logoCalm is the #1 app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation. We’re happy to share a 30-day free guest pass for you to find out if Calm’s library of guided meditations, sleep stories, and relaxation sounds work for you as well as it has for us. I use Calm’s Nap Stories to take a mini-break in my day and get back at it refreshed after lunch.

Clockify is a free app that does more than track the time spent on different projects. It also has data visualizations and reports that can help you track the progress of a project, provide insight into sticking points of a team member, and more.

Workflowy is the ultimate to-do list for fans of the old-school, pen-and-paper, bulleted lists. The difference is, the app lets users to easily keep track and navigate through all of their lists by simply clicking to see more details, e.g., Personal>Errands>Groceries.

Divi logoDivi is an incredibly popular WordPress theme that makes website building fast, easy, and intuitive. Divi allows you to drag and drop page elements, integrate responsive design, and fully customize your web page all largely without coding. We’ve placed it under productivity tools for this reason: Most small businesses fall down around website awesomeness because their site’s backend is too difficult to use. Divi makes it wicked simple to work on your own WordPress site, no design or dev knowledge required.

Elementor is another WordPress theme plug-in that helps you customize your WordPress site without needing to know code. You can drag and drop sections, fully customize them, and save your favorite templates. Plus, its free version has a lot to offer.

digital marketing

DIGITAL MARKETING DIY TOOLS

These resources run the gamut from website builders and image libraries to SEO help and marketing how-tos. Effective marketing isn’t out of reach with the right tools in your toolbox.

Ahref's logoThis blog post makes learning about Keyword Research for SEO a breeze! Each step is neatly labeled and walks you through the basics of what a keyword is to actually doing the research yourself. We still reference it at least once on all our keyword strategies.

This platform equips WordPress users with site-building and management tools that encourage creativity and functionality. Using WPEngine will provide you with the tools to build a better WordPress website in an efficient manner. WPEngine users receive the fantastic Genesis Framework free of charge, which is a great website solution for websites of all sizes to grow from.

WiseStamp logoWiseStamp is a free formatting resource that allows you to make your own personalized email signature. It provides you with all the necessary fields and can be directly uploaded or copied to your email account.

NameCheap is a trusted, high-quality domain, and website hosting service where buying your domain is easy! They make the process easy and affordable, all while offering security and other services you may require for your domain. If you’ve been frustrated by domain registrars whose websites feel like something out of the Y2K era internet, NameCheap will be a refreshing change of pace.

Kajabi logoKajabi is my choice for online course creators without a lot of resources for customizing platforms. Between Kajabi University and their phenomenal customer support, Kajabi is the easiest tool I’ve found for newbies to the online business space.

Shopify is the #1 ecommerce platform that makes it easy to start, run, and grow your product-based business.

SEO That Works logoSEO That Works is a training course designed to help you get higher rankings and more traffic to your website. This step-by-step method will incorporate link building and content promotion to get you to first page rankings. Many of our systems are based on methodologies we learned from Brian Dean, the creator of this course.

For Local Business Owners who, by choice or circumstance, want to DIY their digital marketing–I’ve created Local Rock Star Alliance. This online community walks you, on-demand, through everything you need to know to win in local search for a community-based company.

 

Free online courses through Hubspot that will take your professional skills to the next level. Their courses cover numerous business topics and will reward you with the knowledge or comprehensive certifications you need to be successful.

Google Business Profile logoA free business profile connecting you with your customers via Google Search and Maps. Customize your business interface as it shows up on Google Search and receive insight into the customers interacting with your business.

Databox is the one-stop website that collects all of your performance data. With your data in one place, you’ll have more time to look at your performance and act on insights.

Moz logoMoz has the world’s most accurate SEO data! The all-in-one SEO toolset that conducts site audits, rank tracking, backlink analysis, and keyword research.

PicMonkey is a user-friendly tool that transforms photo editing and design to scroll-stopping branding. If you’re looking to take your images and branding to the next level, this tool is for you.

Canva logoCanva is a design tool that takes creativity and ease-of-use to another level. Whether on your computer or on the app, Canva makes creating logos, social media content, and branding a simple and enjoyable task.

Unsplash is the website to use when looking for freely-usable images. With professional quality, you will find any and all photo categories your heart desires.

Hotjar logoHotjar is behavior analytics and user feedback service that helps you understand the consumers visiting your website. They combine traditional analytics with various forms of feedback from your consumers to deliver results that matter. Hotjar’s signature heat maps are free, on a limited basis, and a great way to get started with understanding how your customers use your website.

people

PEOPLE TOOLS TO STRENGTHEN AND GROW YOUR TEAM

The true value of any business is its people. When you invest in your team, you multiply your impact.

16 Personalities logo16 Personalities is a personality test that provides a description of who you are and why you do the things you do. It helps you analyze how you work, as well as understanding those around you. I use this with our team members and all our new clients.

Full disclosure, Trudi Lebron is a friend and client so I’m probably a bit biased. Still, her team’s approach to business coaching is something I consider a must-have for anyone who wants their business growth to be in alignment with their values.

Tallyfy logoTallyfy helps keep your workflow organized. This system saves money and time by organizing different parts of your business — like Marketing, R&D, Operations, etc. — and making communication and organization more efficient.

finance

FINANCIAL TOOLS TO MIND YOUR CASHFLOW AND YOUR WORKFLOW

These tools make managing the money side of things a breeze. Whether you’re managing the here and now or planning for the future, these resources have you covered.

Gusto is a complete HR department rolled into one platform. Use it to manage payroll, employee benefits, hiring and onboarding, time-tracking, and more. I love that the time I used to spend on payroll each week is now taken care of in a matter of clicks.

Wave logoWave Bookkeeping and Payroll is an online accounting solution that allows you to manage your income and expenses, create professional invoices, manage payroll, and more. The accounting, invoicing, and receipts features are all free. We ran all our financials through Wave for years.

Both Stripe and PayPal are payment processing companies that make it efficient to create invoices and collect payments.

LivePlan helps you create a professional business plan and then track your progress toward achieving your financial goals. It integrates with popular accounting software and allows for collaboration with partners. 

social media

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS THAT DON'T SUCK

Creating professional-looking posts on social media doesn’t have to be complicated. These tools help you get quality visuals and sound so your message doesn’t get lost in the weeds.

Behind almost every well-filmed smartphone video or photo shoot is the now ubiquitous ring light. The ZOMEI Right Light Kit comes with an 18-inch LED ring light, stand, filter, and phone clamp—everything you need to look your best at an affordable price point. We use this light for 95% of our videos.

Preview App logoThe Preview App is essential for Instagram-driven businesses. It allows you to schedule posts, preview your account feed, and try out more features to keep you organized and your brand optimized.

This mic has landed a 4.6-star rating from over 19,000 reviewers. First and foremost the quality at this price point is unmatched, however, users also rave about the features that make it versatile enough for almost any recording environment. The Small Stage, Big Impact podcast is recorded using a Blue Yeti every week.

Venngage logoVenngage lets you create powerful infographics or compelling data visualizations without the help of a graphic designer. And while Canva is another great choice for template-based graphics creation, we love the collaboration feature on the Vengage platform.

If a digital SLR isn’t in your budget just yet, you can still record high-quality video for less than $110 with this workhorse of a webcam. I use this one myself and loved it so much that I used to gift it to the students in Local Rock Star when they completed the video modules.

ideas

IDEA TOOLS FOR CONTAINING YOUR CREATIVE FLOW

You never know when inspiration will strike. In today’s digital world, you can be prepared to capture that next big idea.

Bear App logoBear App is our go-to tool recommendation great for storing ideas and other notes. It’s simple and intuitive interface is perfect for those looking for an elegant alternative to Evernote.

sales

SELLING TOOLS AND SALES ENABLEMENT HELPERS

Customer experience is everything for a sustainable business. These tools help you build those relationships the create raving fans.

Dubsado logoDubsado is part CRM, part accounting solution, part project management system, part scheduling solution. What else could you ask for? An email automation feature? Yeah. They have that too. It’s the best all-in-one solution I’ve found for creatives and very small companies.

ManyChat is an intuitive chatbot platform where businesses can easily create bots to help field customer service questions, book appointments, qualify leads and more. Their bot-builder’s drag-and-drop format and built-in integrations make it a practical solution even for the less tech-savvy.

Drift logoDrift is another “conversational marketing,” re: bot, builder. However, Drift is a better choice for B2B businesses who would like bot interactions with customers to be collected and used with other tools like Marketo, Hubspot, and MailChimp. We’ve used this tool with several of our clients.

Quality and customer service are the two themes that keep appearing in Moo Cards‘ flood of five-star reviews; but that’s only part of the reasons why this digital print shop is our go-to for sustainably-sourced business cards, stationery, and marketing materials.

Zoom logoThere’s a reason everyone moved to Zoom when everyone moved remote. This video conferencing platform provides reliable quality and simple scheduling for teams to easily meet, record thoughts, collaborate, screen share, and more.

office

OFFICE TOOLS AND SUPPLIES WE LOVE

It’s time to rethink the standard home office. When you’re busy making an impact, your workspace should revolve around you.

With almost 5-star ratings across all Husky tables, this workbench turned standing desk does not disappoint. With the simple use of a crank, you can go from sitting to standing in moments, making this the ideal working situation!

Genius Mat by Sky MatsThe Genius Mat is the perfect addition to any office and standing desk space. This innovative mat provides support, a roller ball to alleviate foot pain, and the details to help you stretch and stay productive!

Love a bold, .07 fine point pen that is lightweight and glides across paper with ease? Here is a 6-pack in black and blue to write your notes and plan your next big business idea!

Setapp logoSetapp is a convenient app that gives you access to apps that solve your daily tasks. Keep your productivity maximized and boost workflow anywhere you go. Most of the tools I use on my Mac are Setapp choices.

Nothing like a good candle to set the tone for a productive workspace. You can find one of these burning on my desk most days. These Chakra soy candles, made in Tampa, are crystal infused and thoughtfully made to enhance your energy.

essential reading

OUR GO-TO LIBRARY FOR BUSINESS STRATEGY

These books and articles have transformed the way I approach business and leadership. If you’re looking to get to the heart of sustainable business strategy, this is the place to start.

Profit First is a #1 Bestseller and for good reason. This book will teach you how to transform your business from draining your resources to profitability. We’ve worked off of this system for several years and it’s helped us build savings, hire more help, and finally figure out cashflow.

Building a StoryBrand by Donald MillerDonald Miller and Building A Story Brand are the go-to resource when it comes to marketing and branding. Miller teaches you to focus on your brand through the eyes of the consumer while teaching you how to effectively deliver your message, products, and brand awareness.

Looking to uncover your talents? Well, Tom Rath created Strengths Finder 2.0,  a new and improved version of his bestseller that will bring you new assessments to uncover your talent and the strategies to apply your strengths. Understanding our strengths and those of our team helps us make smarter decisions about how we grow.

All You Need is 1,000 True FansWe build every one of our client strategies off of the core concepts laid out in this “old-school” theory, 1,000 True Fans. Can you build a business off of 1000 people? Yup. This bookmark-worthy essay explains why.

This post is the content you have been needing when it comes to your schedule. In this piece, you will learn the difference between the maker and the manager’s schedule and the most effective way to build your own schedule!

Brene Brown is a #1 New York Times bestselling author who teaches about vulnerability, courage, and leadership. You can’t go wrong with these three titles (Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness) as you continue to grow your business and learn more about yourself as a leader and/or business owner. 

Whatever DIY business tools you choose, it’s important to remember that the tool can only take you so far.

It’s the way we use the tool that really counts. 

You’re time, energy, and attention is precious. We hope you’ve found something useful here to help you focus your genius with more ease.

Illustrated person throwing DIY Business Tools up on a wall to see what sticks
Go further

GET THE MOST FROM YOUR DIGITAL BUSINESS TOOLS WITH JUST 30 MINUTES A DAY.

The right tool can make a big difference, especially when it’s tied to a proven strategy.

Sometimes even when our toolboxes are full, we can struggle to get the results we want. If you’re looking to dive deeper into your digital strategy, check out our guide to DIY your strategy in just 30 minutes a day.

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