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.
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 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 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.
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.
As a remote team, we’ve tried a few different communications tools over the years. Slack has been the best fit by far, allowing us to keep our messages organized with group and private channels, cutting down on the need for video meetings. Plus, we can easily upload links to tasks, documents, videos, and even GIFs to ensure communication and clear and everyone’s on the same page.
LastPass has been essential for our remote team to ensure everyone has secure access to our various accounts and our clients’ without having to track down someone for a password.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Intent App is hands-down the most useful and intuitive family meal planning app around. When you’re trying to run a business and take care of your family, meal planning can be an energy-consuming hassle. Let Intent make it easier.
Sunsama is a great way to pull together your plans, project management tasks, and personal obligations into one dashboard that predicts where you’re likely to be overloaded and helps you rearrange priorities. Our CEO has found it to be transformational in understanding how she’s spending her time and how that aligns with our larger company goals
Momentum turns your new tab into a next-most-important thing reminder to stay on task with a daily inspirational quote, gorgeous photo, and prompt to add your most important task for the day.
The 5-Minute Journal, as the name promises, takes no more than five minutes and is a useful bookend to the start and finish of the workday. Instead of being faced with the dreaded blank page, the provided prompts reduce the intimidation factor and make it easier for you to enjoy the many benefits of journaling.
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.
DIGITAL MARKETING DIY BUSINESS 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.
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 more efficiently. 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 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.
Shopify is the #1 ecommerce platform that makes it easy to start, run, and grow your product-based business.
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.
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.
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 has the world’s most accurate SEO data! The all-in-one SEO tool set that conducts site audits, rank tracking, backlink analysis, and keyword research.
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 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 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 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.
The Medley Makers Program is an accessible, remote, group-based leadership coaching program that puts diverse perspectives at its core. Check it out if you’re looking for access to high-quality leadership coaching without the inaccessible price point of private coaches or the lack of diverse perspectives common in the most popular corporate programs.
Use this in-depth survey to better understand your individual strengths and the strengths of your team as a whole.
Danielle Rush, owner of Red Life Yoga, has a playful and accessible style to help you find balance in your day-to-day. Pre-recorded classes, workshops, books, courses, and even a few covet-worthy art pieces are available on her website.
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 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.
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. This ring light kit comes with an 18-inch LED ring light, stand, filter, phone holder, and carry bag—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 Blue Yeti every week.
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.
Canva is a popular and easy-to-use graphic design tool that is now even more robust. With its intuitive interface and large library of templates, users can create graphics (including logos), infographics, GIFs, print media, and even light websites.
As the name suggests, ReStream specializes in supporting brands with live streaming. We’ve seen it work particularly well with YouTube and LinkedIn. You can stream on multiple platforms, automate your recorded videos, chat with your audience, and keep track of how you’re doing all with one platform.
Bento puts a fun, interactive spin on the traditional resume. Visually showcase your professional CV, creative cred, or resume without building a new or separate website from your company. Bento uses a beautiful one-page format that you can personalize to best display all the content you’re most proud of, all in one place.
IDEA TOOLS FOR CONTAINING YOUR CREATIVE FLOW
As a DIY business owner, you never know when inspiration will strike. In today’s digital world, you can be prepared to capture that next big idea.
Used for years by product designers and engineers, we’ve recently fallen in love with using Figma for documenting the breakdown of big rocks for teams. It’s easy to create visual process maps to help everyone understand what needs to happen at a high level. We use it for brainstorming, process design, and visually interactive plans.
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.
Imprint turns your phone into a quick and beautiful learning zone while you’re in between other things (available in the App Store and Google Play!)
SELLING TOOLS AND SALES ENABLEMENT HELPERS
Customer experience is everything for a sustainable business. These DIY business tools help you build those relationships to create raving fans.
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. 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.
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
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!
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!
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 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.
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.
Jim Collins updates his leadership guidebook Beyond Entrepreneurship with fresh perspectives and new research to bring us Be 2.0. If you’re looking for all the essential building blocks for a business that lasts, start here.
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.
We 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.
This book helps shift the narrative around what it means to live, work, and lead in a world where “growth” only means dollar signs. If you’re ready for a fresh perspective, this is a good place to start.
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.
GET THE MOST FROM YOUR DIY 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 marketing strategy in just 30 minutes a day.