These are the tools that I rely on every day for my own business and/or frequently recommend to my clients. I look for solutions that make me more productive, are easy to use, affordable (or free), and offer the ability to integrate with other software. Every business has their own needs and preferences so these might not be right for everyone so I strongly recommend you to do your own research and make an informed decision. I have tried to provide a few alternatives when possible.
Please note that some of the links on this page include a referral code enabling me to receive a small incentive if you sign up through my site. In some cases this may also entitle you to a discount if you subscribe to the service. In no way does this affect my recommendations but I always believe in providing full disclosure.
Your domain is the heart of your online presence so having your domain hosted with a reliable registrar is essential. NameCheap has been my long-time preference thanks to reasonable prices, reliable service, and no aggressive marketing tactics. Google Domains was launched more recently (January of 2015) but has a clean interface and includes some helpful extra features at a great price. I do not recommend GoDaddy due to their aggressive upselling or Network Solutions because of their inflated prices.
Once you own your own domain, the next step should be to setup your business email address: email@example.com. Google Workspace (formerly G Suite or Google Apps for Work) is what I use and recommend for the majority of my clients. If you are more comfortable with Outlook then Office 365 might be worth considering, but I prefer Google's better usability and flexibility.
Website Builder Tools
Weebly has been my preferred Website Builder Tool for many years. It is easy to use, lets you easily switch themes at any point and is very affordable. They continue to roll out new features and add more modern, responsive layouts.
This Website was built using Weebly. You can learn about the services I offer and see more examples on the Website Services page.
Squarespace has the most attractive themes of any of these services. They are a great choice for photographers or anyone displaying portfolios, but they are more expensive and their interface is not as intuitive as Weebly.
Wix is also a solid option worth considering. Until recently, I have not recommended them due to their unconventional URL structure, but I was impressed to see this has been addressed. Keep in mind they don't have an option to switch themes or offer an export feature, but all of these services include their own trade-offs.
While WordPress (WordPress.org) can offer far more functionality and flexibility than these website builder tools, but it requires technical expertise to get professional results and needs regular maintenance to keep it updated. WordPress.com is a simplified version that is comparable to other website builder tools, but lacks many of the features and ease-of-use of those listed above.
For certain types of businesses, such as Real Estate, Photography and Restaurants, it may be worth investigating industry-specific software that caters to the unique needs of that industry.
CRMs for Small Business
Customer Relationship Management software (CRMs) enables you to create a database of contacts, log interactions, manage a sales pipeline and much more. Insightly has been my preference for many years based on it's range of features, affordable price, and integrations with services like Google G Suite and MailChimp.
Capsule CRM, Zoho CRM, Highrise, Nimble, and Nutshell are just a few of the many other CRMs oriented towards small business. Base CRM and Pipedrive are tailored towards sales teams with an emphasis on pipeline management. Salesforce is the gold standard by far, but it requires an experienced professional to be implemented, can get very expensive, and may be overkill for many small businesses.
While there are many different options available, keep in mind that the best CRM is the one that you actually use.
Asana has been my choice for project management software for the last year. I use it to manage tasks for my different projects and collaborate with clients when needed. They have an excellent free options that includes up to 15 team members or you can upgrade for additional features.
There are many different project management solutions depending on your needs. Some of the best known are Trell0, Basecamp, TeamWork, Wrike, and ProProfs Project (formerly Project Bubble). Keep in mind that many are designed for large organizations and the pricing models vary with some being based on users while others go by number of projects.
Social Media Tools
LastPass had been my preference for Password Management Software for many years but unfortunately I can no longer recommend them after several highly publicized data breaches.
Accounting and Finances
Wave Apps (previously Wave Accounting) is an excellent online solution for small businesses that need basic accounting and invoicing services. You can easily create professional invoices and receive credit card payment at reasonable fees. The best part is that it's free so it's worth giving it a try.
Expensify provides a free and easy way to keep track of expenses and mileage. The Individual version is free and is probably enough for solo business owners but they also offer Team and Corporate levels that include additional features and are priced per user. Wave also has an app for scanning receipts, but does not include the option to track mileage.
Talkroute is an easy to use and affordable virtual phone system. They make it simple to have your own business phone line, create menu options and route calls to existing phone lines such as your cell phone. There are many other options available depending on the level of service that you select. An added benefit is that their service is not subject to the various taxes that are required with more robust options like Grasshopper, RingCentral or Vonage Business.