The Top 5 Tools I Rely on to Run My 6-Figure Online Expert Business (..working only part-time) -

The Top 5 Tools I Rely on to Run My 6-Figure Online Expert Business (..working only part-time)

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to complete a job with the wrong or missing tools.

…ever tried cutting grass with dull mower blades?  Neither have I. 🙂 But I bet it’d be a pain in the ________.

In this post, I’m going to share the top 5 tools I rely on to get more done, with fewer headaches….and on a shoestring budget.

So, instead of chasing after every shiny new piece of software that comes out or tool that the Gurus tell you that you need…you’ll have a clear understanding of the fundamental tools to make it all work.

…and when you use these tools, you’ll go from feeling overwhelmed to being able to handle business faster and more smoothly.

Now, depending on what stage you’re at in your business, you won’t need all of these now…I’ll tell you which ones apply to what stage…

Essential Tool #1: ActiveCampaign (autoresponder)

You probably already know that you need to build an email list.  The best time to start was yesterday.

Despite new communication tools and among all the hype that Facebook messenger is more effective than email:

Email is still king.

Plus, your email list is something you own, whereas FB messenger is built on someone else’s platform.

FB messenger definitely has its place but your focus should be on building your email list first and use messenger as a supplemental channel for reaching your audience.  Not the other way around.

One of the biggest mistakes I made, in the beginning, was using MailChimp.

I wish I would have just ponied up the measly $17/mo and gotten ActiveCampaign earlier.

There are other good options but I like AC’s clean interface and visual automation builder:

Essential Tool #2: G Suite

Yes, I know this is technically a bundle of tools but let’s not split hairs here 🙂

I probably use this free suite of tools more than anything else.

When I started I tried using the Microsoft toolkit (word, excel, outlook, etc.).  This is a nightmare compared to using Google’s tools.

The main reason G Suite is better: Everything is in the cloud.

Everything is organized, nice and neat in Google drive and I can quickly access any file from any computer.

…and it’s all synced with my phone and iPad.

I use these for everything: outlining and collaborating on projects, creating lists (semi-embarrassing admission: I love lists), writing scripts, taking notes from courses I’m learning from…

…and the search functionality in Google Drive is only designed by the creators of the best search engine in the world!

That goes for Gmail too.

Nothing beats being able to search my inbox or drive for a file quickly.

And Google Calendar is excellent also.

Essential Tool #3: Plutio

Plutio’s slogan is: “One app to manage your entire business”.

They offer robust functionality in one place:

  • Project Management
  • Proposals
  • Invoicing
  • Timesheets

I use other solutions for proposals and invoicing but I do love Plutio for project management.

Honestly, I’d go cuckoo if I didn’t have this to keep everything organized, broken down into sub-tasks and all in one visual display.

I literally have EVERYTHING, business and personal in there.  Project task lists, master lists of ideas, content details and plan…lists of books I want to read, places I want to visit.  Everything.

Before this I used to try to keep everything on various google docs…essentially a million tabs open all the time (yikes!).

Bottom line: Plutio keeps me sane and has improved my productivity.

When you’re just starting out, you may not need a full-blown project management tool, but this is more like a life management tool for me.

Essential Tool #4 Thrive Themes Membership (page builder + plugins)

Before settling with Thrive I tried several different solutions:

  1. Clickfunnels
  2. Iglooapp
  3. Leadpages
  4. Instapage
  5. Builderall
  6. Squarespace
  7. Convertri
  8. Layers
  9. Live composer
  10. Landingli
  11. Optimizepress

…and a few I’ve forgotten.

I’ll spare you the side by side comparisons.  At the end of the day, thrive has the perfect combination of usability, existing templates, intuitive design and price point.

I wanted to keep things on WordPress and purchase my own hosting because that gives you the most freedom.

I didn’t like the idea of having everything on someone else’s platform (clickfunnels, builderall, etc).

One of the most common annoyances with other providers was obvious features missing – like no “undo button”.

Who doesn’t put an undo button on a page builder?

No, they expect you to look through a list of revisions and try to pick the one with the right timestamp (eye roll).

Others would have way too many steps (clicks) needed to achieve simple tasks.  Many were clunky and not user-friendly.

Thrive is very intuitive and easy to use for a beginner.

Their templates are designed with conversion in mind, which means more leads, more appointments, and more sales.

Their membership, which runs about $19/mo, includes not only their page builder but several WordPress themes and plugins you would need to create good looking web and landing pages quickly.

Plus their support is rock solid and they have an in-depth library of videos and support articles to help you do just about anything you’d want to do with their tools.

All of these tools are bundled in the membership:

Essential Tool #5: Zoom

Zoom is a web conferencing tool I use for, well, web conferencing (smirk…where are my emojis?  I guess I’ll kick it old-school).

Why do I like Zoom?

Two words: Stability and Quality.

When I use it, it works and the picture quality is good. Nothing worse than choppy images or lag when video conferencing.

Since I spend most of my time outside the US, I do web conference calls with potential and existing coaching/consulting clients.

I hold small meetings on Zoom for some of my existing students and record those and share them.

I meet with friends and business associates…what I don’t do is worry about it not working right.

When I first launched my business I even did full-blown sales webinars and dropped the links in the chatbox 🙂

The price is good too, I think it’s like $15/mo.

I’m sure there are alternatives that might be as good, but I haven’t found them.

I trust their service and when I find a service I like, I stick with it.  I want to focus on my business, not shopping for new tools all the time.  Sheesh!

Don’t be a penny pincher

It’s cool to bootstrap early on and focus on free tools…keeping your expenses low (which I’m always a fan of).

But at some point, if you want to have a real business instead of a hobby, you need to invest in the right tools. 

Once you get some steady income rolling in, don’t be afraid to re-invest into your business.

You don’t want to step over a dollar to pick up a dime.

The right tools help you keep everything together and really magnify your efforts as your business grows and becomes more complex.


In addition to the tools I’ve listed, there are many others I use, but the ones above are the must-haves.

They’re the foundation that everything else is built upon.

So, what’s currently in your toolbox?  What might you need to add?

Ready to convert that idea from a hobby into a real business?

Click here for a free 45 min consultation to see if you qualify for my coaching program.

I only work with a hand-picked group of private clients every month due to my limited availability:

  • Ken
  • June 29, 2018