tell me more
I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
Important Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you purchase or sign up through my link, I’ll receive a commission on the sale – at no extra cost to you! This post reflects my honest opinion based on my experience as a small business owner and online course designer & strategist.
After years of running my own business, I’ve tested out literally dozens of tools to help me stay organized, market services, and create a fantastic client experience. This post contains all the details on the best-of-the-best business tools I use behind the scenes for everything from client management to finances.
Whether I’m setting up a personal site, setting up a client’s course, or I’ve just had a light-bulb moment and want to grab the perfect URL while it’s on my mind, I buy domains on Namecheap. It’s super easy to search for what’s available, and it usually costs less than $10 to grab a custom domain.
Showit is the incredibly user-friendly website building and hosting tool I use for my own site. Their site builder is entirely drag-and-drop and intuitive to use, so you don’t have to be a website designer or spend hours Googling to make your site look professional.
Elizabeth designs Showit templates specifically for service-based businesses, and I love her designs so much that I’ve purchased two templates from EM Shop over the course of my business! My current site is built from the Gabby template. I actually just wrapped up some fresh updates, and I’m planning a dedicated post later this month with all the details. Stay tuned!
Thrivecart is an online shopping cart and checkout page builder, and it’s my go-to for hosting and selling digital products. You can also create sales pages and marketing funnels for your product with a drag-and-drop page builder. I also recently moved my online courses over to Thrivecart learn (Psst! You can read my complete comparison of online course platforms here.)
After years of testing out every email, I think ConvertKit is the easiest to use and has all the features established business owners need. But if you’re just getting started with email marketing, then Flodesk is a great choice for beginners.
Struggling to stay on track with client communication and incoming leads? Try Dubsado! I use it for tracking new leads and inquiries, invoicing, and making sure I’m following up with people, no matter where they are in the pipeline. You can read the full run-down of Dusbado here!
I like using Ubersuggest for market research and to figure out which keywords are the best for SEO and driving organic traffic. It’s a great way to get ideas for content and find target keywords for my on-page copy and meta descriptions.
Google Workspace is like Google Drive and Gmail, but for your business. It’s just a few dollars a month to get more storage space, set up custom emails at your business domain, and get 24/7 customer support. This is what you need if you want an email like firstname.lastname@example.org instead of having to use an @gmail.com email.
Instead of emailing or texting back-and-forth with clients to set meetings, set up a Calendly with your availability, customize the meeting types and lengths, and send the URL to clients. Once they’ve clicked through, they can browse your availability and sign up for a time that works for them.
We’re all probably familiar with Zoom by now, but it’s still excellent for entrepreneurs! It can also integrate with Calendly to automatically generate and send a new meeting link each time someone books a meeting with you.
Novo checks off all my must-haves for a business bank account. It’s simple to get everything set up in just a few minutes, there aren’t any fees, and it plays well with payment tools like Stripe and Square. You can also set up several Reserves, which you can use like digital envelopes to set aside money for profit, expenses, and taxes.
Profit First was a game-changer for managing my business finances and prioritizing profit and my paycheck while keeping a close eye on expenses. You can get a copy of the tracking template I use here!
I don’t use official accounting software to keep track of everything. Instead, I track my income and expenses in a spreadsheet as they happen. As long as you stay on top of recording everything once a month or so, you won’t have to search for anything at tax time!
I’ve tested out a ton of different project management tools, and Asana is my favorite! I use it to keep track of all the tasks, due dates, and big-picture details involved in a project.
This is the pen-and-paper planner I use to set yearly goals and break them down into actionable items that help me stay on track in the day-to-day. Each day has a space for setting your “big three” goals, which forces me to focus on what I really need to get done.
Do you keep a Bullet Journal? I love this method for keeping track of each week’s to-do list, mapping longer-term personal goals, and jotting down random snippets of information, so I don’t forget anything!
I’ve used Plann and Later in the past, and both worked well, but ultimately I didn’t need a dedicated third-party scheduling tool. Now, I use Meta’s Business Suite to plan posts on Facebook and Instagram.
Why not outsource one of the most monotonous and time-consuming housekeeping tasks to a robot? My favorite is this one. I set a schedule for it to automatically run twice a day, which majorly cuts down on dust, dirt, and dog hair.
I highly recommend a meal kit delivery service if you’ve never tried it! Eating something healthy at home feels so much more doable when I know the menu is set, the ingredients are already in my fridge, and all I have to do is cook. Getting to go to the grocery store less and not waste time making decisions on what to eat helps me save so much time!
Running your own business can be time-consuming, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming to figure out the best tools to help! As you’ve read my list of favorite business tools, I hope you’ve found some new resources to try out.
If you’re looking for the complete list of business tools I’ve used as my business grows, head over to the Tools and Resources page. You’ll find all my favorite websites, software, courses, and books, plus some amazing freebies!