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Your Ultimate Toolkit

What is the Ulitmate Toolkit

Every entrepreneur needs some tools to help them get the job done. Dentists have stethoscopes, Dexter has secret laboratory, and you have the internet with tons of resources at your disposal to harness your inner power as well. Here are some of the tools I use in my business that I think you might find useful too.

Note to reader: I’m constantly updating this list so check back periodically.

1. Accounting

Yes, yes, this was not my favorite class in college either but it turns out you can’t run away from accounting. It further turns out that it’s SO important to your business that’s why I made it #1. Right off the bat, you’ll want to establish a solid accounting system. There’s ton’s of applications out there that you can use like QuickBooks, Quicken etc, but my personal favorite is Wave Accounting. The guys at Wave Accounting let you easily create your company’s profile. Set up vendors, clients/customers, integrate your bank account, paypal and more.

With wave, you can send out Invoices quite easily and as of last month, they teamed up with Stripe letting you receive payments directly through your invoices. The only drawback of that is you have to wait 7 days to receive your payment- hence why I disconnected my Stripe option with them.

Update: As of July 2015, Wave Accounting now has their own payment system that allows you to disburse funds to your bank account within 2 days of payment. I still use the & love it!

Other cool things you can do with Wave is create Income statements, Balance Sheets etc, all with a click of a button. So cool!

2. Online Payment

There’s tons of ways to get paid online. The most reliable and easiest- you guessed it PayPal. If you have a bank account and a debit/credit card (or ATM card) you can open your Free PayPal account today. Since you’ll be doing a lot of transactions online to get your hustle up, I suggest you get a PayPal account- if you don’t already have one. Other platforms worth mentioning are; Stripe, Braintree, Square, Payoneer (especially if you’re in Kenya), Amazon Payments, Google Wallet.

3. Domains

You’re probably aware that you can start a free a blog at Blogspot.com or WordPress.com, but having a domain of your own looks way more professional and it’s not that expensive. It shows potential customers you’re serious about your business.

They say east or west, home is best. Your domain name is your internet home. In my case, my (home) domain name is timothymaina.com. When establishing your online brand, I suggest you secure a domain name with your full name. Don’t worry about changing your name (in case it’s hard to pronounce) for you to effectively brand yourself, your target market needs to know how to spell it.

Now the only problem you might encounter is that most domain names are taken- don’t be disappointed if your name is not available- get creative. E.g. if Timothymaina.com was already taken, I would have maybe gone with timmaina.com, timothymainaonline.com, timothykmaina.com (k is for my middle name) and so forth.

The site I use for all my domain searches and registration is Go Daddy. You can usually find a great coupon offer to get your first year of registration for less than $10. Note: they’ll try and upsell you the world during their checkout process. You don’t need any of that crap.

4. Hosting

Hosting is what lets other people view your site on the Internet.  It is space on the internet where you store all your web files. Hosting also helps you get your email address through a mail host (yourname@yourdomain.com) There is an abundance of affordable hosting companies, with rates starting under $5 per month.

When you are just starting out, shared hosting is the best way to go. That means your site will be housed on the same server as several other sites, but it’s OK because your traffic numbers will probably be pretty low to begin with. You might as well start cheap and upgrade later when you need extra capacity for your growing traffic.

GoDaddy and Bluehost are very popular shared hosting companies, however, I’ve personally ran into issues with the my sites going down at times. It was frustrating because their service was normally very good but since they’ve grown to huge companies, they tend not to offer the best support to the little guys like us.

So after hoping from one hosting company to another, I decided to run my own servers. This has been rewarding for the past 2 years because I’m able to control everything about my host (because it’s mine :))

Working with many small businesses and individuals, I know what’s needed. I’ve put together 4 packages one of which is a special package for someone like you. It has everything Bluehost and GoDaddy offer, but you get personalized support and I’m with you every step of the way. You can review all the plans I have- they start from $10 but the one for you is special at only $5 maina+hosting plans.

As of 9/11/2/15 I’ve put website hosting on hold for a while. Check back later as this might change.

5. Building a Website

WordPress is the best way to go right now. It’s free, there are thousands of beautifully designed themes (both free and paid), it’s easy to use/edit (even if you don’t know web design or programming) and it is infinitely customizable. It started out as a blogging platform, and most “serious” companies shrugged their shoulders about it but now WordPress is an extremely powerful content management system that can power virtually any kind of website.

Most shared hosting companies including my web agency maina+studios offer an easy 1-click installation of WordPress to your domain so you can be up and running in no time.

6. Analytics

google_analytics_dashboard

 

Google Analytics is the gold standard in tracking software. With it, you can find out how many people visited your site, where they came from, and what did once they got there. It’s useful, powerful, and best of all — it’s free.

7. Email

get_response
I’ve been using GetResponse to manage my subscriber list and have been very happy so far. Their interface takes some getting used to but their support has been really helpful, especially for me being a newbie to running an email newsletter. If you want to see how it looks in action? Join my email list in the sidebar and see for yourself 🙂

The disadvantage of GetResponse is that it costs $15 a month (FREE for your first month, then $15 a month for up to 1000 subscribers). If you don’t have anything to sell to your list, it can be hard to justify spending money on it.

Before I started using GetResponse, I used Mailchimp, which is actually free for up to 2000 subscribers! The also have an beautiful interface and are good at what they do. The only reason I switched was the free plan was lacking some key features I was looking for like Autoresponders etc.

8. Cloud Storage

When you start your business, you will realize that you will need to store your files somewhere on line. I love Dropbox and you will too. You can easily upload documents for your new clients and have it synchronize with your desktop and smartphone. I use it to backup important files and also to easily and securely share documents without dealing with email attachments. You can get 2 GB free storage and earn more space for signing up your friends.

I also use Amazon S3, although paid, I find it very reliable and the great thing about it is that you only pay for what you actually use.

9. Outsourcing

Over the years, I’ve had the most success in finding long-term virtual help on oDesk, but have tried several other outsourcing companies as well like Elance, Freelancer.com. For small stuff, I usually start at Fiverr. If you have any questions at all about virtual assistants or outsourcing, just send me a quick note and I’m happy to help in any way I can.

10. Incorporation

Ready to make your side hustle official? The team at LegalZoom will take care of all the red tape and paperwork for you

11. Password Manager

Soon, you will realize that you will have tons of passwords to manage. This can quickly become overwhelming even get in the way of running your business successfully. When you are constantly digging for passwords to access your best online tools, it’s no fun not to find them. When I started out (I gotta confess, till now) I use an excel spreadsheet. However, I recently discovered an awesome tool which I wish I knew about when I got started. It’s called Roboform. Roboform helps you save all your passwords to your browser, desktop or flashdrive. It’s secure, and it lets you create a master password. Don’t make a mistake of forgeting it though as that’s your only access to all your passwords.

I’m all about saving time and this tool helps me do just that. You can download it directly by clicking here. There are others out there like LastPass but after their security breach sometime last year, I didn’t want to use them anymore.

Always keep copies of all your passwords somewhere secure locally, label the file something no one would guess. I think that’s the only way to ensure that you always have a backup. At least that’s what I do 🙂

12. SEO & SEM Tracking

traffic-travis

If you want to know how well your site and even your competiors’ is doing, then you need to check out Traffic Travis. I have been using Traffic Travis for over 2 years now and it’s so cool see my websites ranks, research keywords, monitor PPC and much more. When you download and install the software, it has training videos that when watched, will help you get very familiar with SEO in general. So don’t worry if you don’t know much about SEO yet, you soon will.

 

13. Filezilla

Whether you want to be a developer or not, starting your side hustle will mean wearing many hats- one of which will require you to sometimes upload your web files to your server. There are many tools out there, but Filezilla is my favorite. Download it here.

 

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