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 jobs 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.
Maybe you’ve been where I was:
Trying to figure it all out. At that time, I was 26-years old and newly a 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 Genevieve Digital clients.
What follows is, as of the end of 2020, my favorite DIY business tools and resources. Bookmark this list and check back often for updates.
60+ Resources, Tools, & Helpers for DIY Business Growth
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.
The Forest App 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!
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 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.
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 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.
Workflowly 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 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.
Financial Tools to Mind Your Cashflow and Your Workflow
The Simple Banking App makes banking, well, simple. Users most rave about the customer service, mobile interface, and budgeting feature that makes automatically setting money aside for bills, for example, incredibly easy. Simple Bank changed my relationship with my personal finances forever.
Azlo is a free banking app for small companies and freelancers. It provides an account for business owners that boasts no overdraft fees, no minimum balance requirements, free direct payments, and, on top of it all, free tools to grow your business. If you hate your bank fees, this is the best alternative I’ve found for uncomplicated micro-businesses and freelancers.
Wave 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 run all our financials through Wave and have for years.
Idea Tools For Containing Your Creative Flow
The Bear 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.
Social Media Tools That Don’t Suck
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.
The 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 5-year old Blue Yeti every week.
Vengage 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.
Selling Tools and Sales Enablement Helpers
Dubsado 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 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. Take a peek to the right of your screen and you’ll notice we use Drift right here on our own website.
There’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 Tools and Supplies We Love
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!
The 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!
Setapp 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.
People Tools to Strengthen and Grow Your Team
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 bias. 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 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.
Digital Marketing DIY Tools
This 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.
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 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.
SEO 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 the Local Rock Star Strategy. This program 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.
A 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.
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 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.
Hotjar 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.
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
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 Story Brand by Donald Miller
Donald 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.
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Looking to uncover your talents? Well, Tom Rath created 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.
We build every one of our client strategies off of the core concepts laid out in this “old-school” theory. Can you build a business off of 1000 people? Yup. This bookmark-worthy essay explains why.
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 as you continue to grow your business and learn more about yourself as a leader and/or business owner.
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!
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.
Your time, energy, and attention is precious. So, if you’ve made it this far, we hope you’ve found something useful here to help you focus your genius with more ease.