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How to pick the RIGHT tools to run your business

Business tools

How do you pick the right tools to run your business? Does it matter what tools you use? Are you using too few? Too many?

Check out my roundup of what worked, what didn’t, and what’s changed going into a new year.

Running a business requires you to make tough decisions every single day.  You decide what to keep, what to scrap, what to revise in every area of your biz…

December marks a nice and tidy way to go through your systems to see what worked and what didn’t…

But before we get into that – let’s address the bigger question about “how” you run your business.

Does it matter what tools you use to operate your business?

The answer is simply, NO.

[enter soapbox]

No matter what tool you’re talking about – or see other’s using – or keep being told you should use – the tool is not what matters AT ALL.

It’s how you use it – it’s why you’re using it – it’s if it’s useful for your business.

Working with the team LKR has taught me this about social media.  It ain’t about the social media tool, my friend, it’s how you use it – it’s your ability to market yourself and share the right message on each platform.

Same here – behind the scenes.

Basecamp or Asana or Wrike or just plain ‘ole Google Calendar. Does not matter.

Paypal or merchant account or another type of payment process. Does not matter – they all have their pluses and minuses.

Hootsuite or Buffer App. Again, definitely doesn’t matter – there are reasons to use both even!

Tools are just your way of organizing your business, so you can do any number of the following tasks with ease:

  • Scheduling clients
  • Keeping track of your to-do list
  • Managing your team
  • Automating or scheduling your social media messages in advance
  • Marketing your business
  • Writing your newsletter
  • Communicating with your mailing list
  • Tracking your business expenses
  • Delivering content

Now that we’ve got a clear view of the usual business tasks we need to handle – let’s talk about what tools we actually need.

Beware of the “Too Many Tools Trap”

Let me ask you – how many of you think you’ve got too many of the following:

Random domain names.
Multiple hosting accounts for various domains.
Several premium WordPress themes.
Too too tooo many ways to schedule your tasks and manage your projects.
Tons of social media scheduling tools.
Options up the wazoo to optimize your optin forms.
Wordpress Plugins that were supposed to streamline something, but you can’t remember.

What happens when you decide to try every tool that crosses your path?

Well, besides going a wee bit INSANE (I can say this – because I’ve been a tool junkie in the past), you’ll also be wasting your time and missing the point of even using the tools.

You’ll get caught up in learning how to use them – be in constant test and experimentation mode – and in the meantime you won’t be doing what you SHOULD be doing if you’re in business – creating offerings, making sales, and building your prospect + customer lists.

Sad truth – I find most people who are struggling to get their businesses off the ground are people who are in a constant state of reviewing tools, finding cool new systems, and in addition – publishing their findings on Facebook.

Waste. Of. Time. People.
(Unless your business is teaching people how to use said tools)

So please – I beg of you – shut down your tools laboratory this year.

Simplify + Consolidate or Drown (Your Choice)

I got caught in this trap of too many tools and it took me more than 2 years to see that I was addicted to learning about things that would streamline my business or help me discover new ways to grow my business.

But – all I ended up with is a TON of trial accounts with services that I wasn’t using. I didn’t even have a clear system for deciding what I did and didn’t need.

I just had tools sitting in a pile inside the interwebs – useless really.

So I had to have a come to Jesus meetin’ with myself (sorry if this phrase offends – if you know me, you know I like to use it and well – deal).

I asked myself the non-fancy questions – that you can ask yourself too – about all these fancy or useful tools and systems.

What activities must happen in your business for you to make money?

What tools accomplish these activities without spending a dime?

What tools REQUIRE me to spend a little cash to accomplish those activities?

Am I using the tool and if not, do I need to use it? Is there another tool that does more than one thing – and perhaps I’ve got tools that do duplicate tasks?

Am I using too many different tools for certain activities that could be consolidated under one roof?

Are there any tools I’m using just because someone said I should, but that I secretly hate?

Can I really afford [name that tool] right now? If not, is there a tool I can use UNTIL I can afford it?

See – nothing fancy here.

I just needed to be honest about what I needed and what I didn’t need.

That one step is what led me to shed a ton of the tools I was using in 2011 and 2012.

Buh-bye Dupes

First let’s look at some of the tools that left my lineup…and why.

Systems and tools that got shelved…for the following primary reason – too many separate tools working on the same system or systems.

Another reason for my cuts? Cost. Even small costs add up when you’re running a business, planning your launch, creating an online product.

If you don’t need something – if it’s not increasing the value of what you are offering – if it doesn’t have a part in your reaching your business goals – it’s gotta go.

Anywhere I could – I simply stopped using systems that were dupes of other systems.

Paid tools that were downgraded to free or completely removed

Here are the paid tools which I knew I needed to replace – I’ll be honest – mostly because I saw how much Infusionsoft was going to be AND the fact that I truly did not need them.

Jury’s still out on me needing these, but for now – I do not need them.

  • Aweber:  solid email marketing – but I wanted an all-in-one solution
  • Basecamp: project and task management – clients invite me to theirs, I don’t personally need it
  • Dropbox: downgrade to free – keep most everything in Google Drive and now use Evernote too
  • Ejunkie: info product housing + affiliate program – don’t need since I have IS
  • Hootsuite: no additional team members – downgrade to free
  • GoDaddy: move everything to Hostgator STAT > consolidation is the key here.

Final list of paid tools I use to run my Online Business

The following tools require a monthly or regular payment to keep them going. These are not one-off purchases. They incur monthly or yearly charges.

  • Infusionsoft: email marketing, online ordering, affiliate program, payment processing
  • Paypal – fits nicely with IS and is just easy to deal with – I know there’s better
  • Gotowebinar – love it but depending on my webinar schedule – this might be out the door soon too!
  • TimeTrade – to book my launch intensives and launch ready sessions.
  • Hostgator – moved everything into one host – originally had GoDaddy AND Hostgator.  Now – only Hostgator.
  • Dynadot – I buy all my domains here. Period.

Final List of One-Off Tool Purchases

Here are tools in my arsenal that I use regularly AND only required the 1-time purchase price.

  • Screenflow – handles screencapture on Mac
  • Wishlist Member – keeps my membership area neat + tidy + easy to customize
  • Optimize Press – sets up a simple, easily customizable home for my program
  • Thesis – my theme – easy for ME to use and make minor adjustments too when needed
  • Lead Player – new tool – adds optin form to my videos – we’ll see!
  • Market Samurai – long time friend that helps me track ranking of posts, keywords, and also find resources for posts!

Choosing what you pay for and what you don’t pay for…

Email Marketing

Don’t upgrade to Infusionsoft or Office Autopilot until you have at least 1500 people on your list AND have products and services to sell.  Period.  Even though I have surpassed my own list size criteria – I did feel a lot of crazy panic switching… now, instead of the easy to handle $30 a month – I pay out quite a bit more with my package at Infusionsoft.

Until you are ready to handle $199+ in monthly fees – don’t switch.

Aweber and MailChimp are both ace companies and will do you well even longer than I stayed with them, but there were so many disjointed companies and systems that I used – it made sense for me to switch.

If you need help deciding, let me know and I’ll give you my detailed decision making process.

Schedule/Task Management

If you do not have 2-3 people working with you consistently, you probably do not need the paid version of Basecamp.  I work with maybe 1 or 2 people who help when I need it… They work through Odesk or I know them personally – and we start a google doc when they start to work on something. Simple.

And the great thing is my clients always just add me to their Basecamp, so I kinda don’t need my own EVER.

If you have 1 or NO team members – you can survive and be totally fine using a combo of Google apps – calendar and spreadsheet or even calendar and simple document.

Client Billing + Scheduling

Do you offer coaching or consulting services via Skype?  If so, you need an automated system to let them choose a time, submit any pre-materials, and then a way to bill them AND add them to your list.

Ideally, this process happens without your fingers pushing go on every single step.

What needs to happen: Accept payment > Pick time in schedule > Add person to email list for communication.

My own system: Infusionsoft > Time Trade

Product Creation for Info Products

*This area of your business can start extremely pared down – and then build up as you increase you start making sales-slash-establishing yourself as an expert and teacher.

Instead of housing my program videos in a password protected page on my site, I decided to make a real membership area, use Optimize Press to make the product easier to navigate.

The truth though, is this:

You can always start simple and then scale when you are pulling in $$ for your amazing content.

Amazing content doesn’t require a specific magical piece of technology or fancy pants design.

Get it up on a site – make it easy to read/watch/download.


Bottom Line

Notice something similar about all of the tools I spend money on every month?
They help me grow my business, connect better with my customers, and create better relationships with people I hope to be my customers.

I know there’s more to business than your bottom line – but the money is why you call it a business.  The income. The revenue. The bottom line matters when you’re calling something your business.

Yes – you’ll want to take courses here and there for helping you define your customer, to clarify business and life desires, to get re-inspired about your business, to generate new exciting ideas.

Yes – you’ll want to spend money on things that don’t grow your business…that just make your life better! I say do that if it makes sense for you.

But – If you are ever trying to decide if you need a tool or to keep walking – and all the questions are still leaving you waffling over the decision – ask yourself one final question:

Will this help me bring in the moolah for my business…and can I afford it right now?
(okay fine – that was 2 questions, but I think you get me here…)

Your Turn

Maybe you’re already doing this…

If so, list any tools that you’ve dropped and why…PLUS tell me what tools work for you!

p.s. You’ll notice I DID put links (affiliate or otherwise) to products in this post. But remember… I want YOU to do some research, analyze the tools yourself and make the decision…The tools you decide to stick with must be relevant and necessary for your business (not MINE!).

Photo credit: florianric

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Leave An AWESOME Comment

{ 62 comments… read them below }

  1. Erin January 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    This turned out AWESOME. Thanks for sharing these tips and tools!

    • annesamoilov January 3, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

      hahah thanks Erin! I have to edit it some more – was given some great advice today that made me question another tool that might end up on the chopping block!

  2. Steven Stuart January 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    Wow! What a great article. I shiver to think of how much money I’ve spent on tools that I’ve never even took the time to use. One of my goals this year is to learn how to set up Thesis on my blog (I bought it several months ago and am still using a free theme). I also got an iPad recently and it will be much easier to use if I weed out a lot of complicated tools. Thanks for giving me a lot to think about.

  3. Nikole Gipps January 4, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    Funny that you mention having a business of teaching people to use tools … I nearly bought 5 different microphones tonight just so I could use each of them to test and make comparison videos for my readers! lol

    I dropped Basecamp, because I didn’t want anything that was “in the cloud” anymore, because “in the cloud” is short for “never gonna use it”. Now I use an iPad app called todo that is so so so so simple and no extra work on my part.

    I have been letting a bunch of domains go unrenewed in the past year – ideas that I never brought to market.

    Classes or services I thought about purchasing but passed on it.

    I think InfusionSoft was my one splurge, but honestly it was worth it because I have higher expectations than most. It was hard to keep switching back and forth, using my client’s account and then going back to my own mailchimp account … I was frustrated. I don’t mind using other mailing services for other people, because they don’t have those expectations, but I have really demanding standards for how I want it.

    No theme purchases, no recording software (I use Quicktime and whatever else came on my mac to do screen recordings). I probably do need a new mic now, but I may not go with the top of the top this time.

    And thanks for the reminder to can my ejunkie account! 🙂

    I don’t use any of those social media automation things. And I have the same hostgator account that I have had for ages.

    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

      Sounds like you’ve got it down…Do you feel like you’re using all of Infusionsoft’s capabilities? Or maybe only part of it? What made you crazy about mailchimp?

  4. hillary rubin January 4, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    great inventory – love the pics Anne! Curious your thoughts on Vimeo pro vs free?

    I love Asana instead of Basecamp for my team.

    Going to go through a again and trim the fat.


    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Hillary – I love Vimeo pro and do have that but honestly don’t use it for my business too often. I use Youtube Unlisted way more often and am happy with it!


  5. Kathy January 4, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Great choices Anne and excellent intel from someone who has used all of these tools. Your one time purchase tools are all of my favs!

  6. Iviana Bynum January 4, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Thanks for the great article. 🙂

    I actually just picked up Satori. Very useful with my coaching clients. I also decided not to get Screenflow yet because I discovered that Quicktime on my Macbook already has the ability to record my screen. Thesis theme has never let me down and definitely looking forward to purchasing Wishlist member and Lead Player.

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Never heard of Satori – what is it?

      • Marta May 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

        It’s a scheduling and billing system for coaches that I’ve just discovered too and thinking about signing up for my next service coach.

  7. Sunanda Bailey January 4, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    A really valuable post – one – to know you’re not alone having Toolitis – a common, but often overlooked condition and – two – to get the lowdown on what works for you. I love that you remind us that they ALL have their pros and cons – so stop testing, start using and if it’s not working fix it – if it is write about it!

  8. Jenn McGroary January 4, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Excellent tips and suggestions Anne. I’m working through my plan for 2013 and simplifying as much as possible.

    I too, have signed up for multiple types of sites to try to manage things, but like you, they sit there unused. I don’t have a team of people to manage so there’s no need to keep things so cloud based other than Evernote, Dropbox and a couple of other apps that are convenient for me to have access to on my iPod.

    Not ready to move from Aweber to IS yet. Maybe some day in the future, but for now I’m good.

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      Great Jenn! I love that you’re doing the simplifying thing too. I just like the cloud – and am so used to using certain tools through LKR, that it makes sense for me to use them too.

      My brain doesn’t have to switch gears.

      I use the same cloud “tools” at my job, in my offline life, and in my biz. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Shanna January 4, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Anne, you are living in my head! Great list, great process.

    The on-going question, “should I use this tool instead?” was left behind in 2012. I am continuing to simplify (my life life’s mantra) and use only what works–for me!

    Thanks again for a stellar post!

    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it Shanna! It was fun to write!

  10. Kat January 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Great post.

    Tools I use not on your list (except Evernote)

    1. Free project task organization: Asana. Doesn’t have the project timeline tool I love but it’s terrific and free and easy to use and collaborate with others.

    2. Evernote for all notes pertaining to client work, studio forms, and everything else i may need to share with others (among other things)
    I can fwd notes to people from anywhere with a tap.

    3. Bamboo paper app (for any tablet). Take digital (but hand written with a stylus) notes instead of lugging a paper journal around. Syncs with Evernote.

    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Kat – I’ve started playing with Evernote and almost put it here on the list – but I haven’t successfully integrated it with my workflow yet. Love to hear more on how you use it. Also – gimme the lowdown on Asana girl!

      mwahhhh to your morda,

  11. Zainab FH January 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for sharing the tools you use and the thought process behind keeping/eliminating them. Just this week I was wondering which social media scheduler I should go for! Funny, how blog posts always show up when I am pondering over something. 🙂

    I can’t seem to ever stick to using an online/app based to do list. I still prefer using pen & paper – helps my thoughts flow better. When I have too many I type them up in Word to keep track.

    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

      I still have days – many days – where I have to write down my top 3 things for the day. Just depends on my mood, but in general I keep everything really lean. Thanks Zainab – love getting you input here!

  12. Jane January 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Great post Anne – I use a lot of these tools too, except Infusionsoft which is too pricey for me right now!

    I recently discovered Asana, and now that it links with Dropbox, those are my two favourite (free) tools.

    All my hosting is with Hostgator, but I like to keep my domain registrations separate, so they’re with GoDaddy or went I want a I use Crazy Domains – but those are the only two, otherwise you could have domains registered all over the place and have no idea where they are. I also keep track of ’em in a spreadsheet.

    Interested to hear an updated post on what tool your considering giving the chop and what the outcome is!

    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      I’ve been dying to try out Asana in depth and now that I see many of the commenters are using it – I guess I need to do a trial! Wait till you hear the verdict of what I’m cutting and why. 🙂 Thanks Jane!

  13. karen January 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    one word.


    Ok, three.

    Thank You!!!!! Mwha!!

    Or is that four??

    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      Haha Karen – you crack me up. Thanks for stopping by and showing me love!

  14. Laura January 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    “Sad truth – I find most people who are struggling to get their businesses off the ground are people who are in a constant state of reviewing tools, finding cool new systems, and in addition – publishing their findings on Facebook.”


    • annesamoilov January 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Why do I feel like I need to say “word”? It’s so true!!!
      Thanks for “assigning” me to do this post! xoAnne

  15. Kristen January 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Sometimes I feel like I’m standing on the sidelines while you all do a complicated double dutch jumprope routine. It’s fascinating, but I feel like if I jump in I’ll get tangled in the ropes. So for now I’ll continue practicing my single rope jumping (I may try a few single leg jumps, but nothing more for now). It is fun to watch you all banter and jump and twirl. Thanks for letting me watch your exhilarating and inspiring feats of entrepreneurship!

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Kristen – that’s why you use what you want. Tools that don’t work for you are ones that take too long to learn!

      And you don’t have to use any of the tools I mentioned! I used email/aweber/paypal for eons!

      It’s all about layering what works and not getting too convoluted – think about how you break the work down with Pilates… it’s the same thing.

      xo to you Kristen!

  16. Anna@Green Talk January 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Great list. I have many of the same things you have except InfusionSoft. I didn’t like Asana because I wanted a contact management system and billing capabilities too. I hate using my gmail for contacts since there are so many. I am using Apptivo right now. I toyed with insightly due to integration with google apps but I don’t own the business apps.

    I have a PC so I don’t use screenflow.

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Tell me about Apptivo! How does that work for you?

      • Anna@Green Talk January 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

        I have a hard time with contact information so all the programs I looked at didn’t have both project management and contact information. Apptivo offers a lot of apps such as leads, customers, and project. I have a partner (Karen above) so I think it easier for both of us to know what the other is doing. I do wish it was seamless with google gmail but the more expensive version offers more functionality such as integration with google drive.

        I also looked at podio and insightly. What I was looking for was contact management, invoices, project management, etc. Plus, it is free for a certain amount of people. I do wish I could find an all in one like Infusionsoft meets apptivo with gmail and calendar integrated. It is too much for a girl to ask for?

  17. Alba Figueroa January 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Anne, you pulled at my heart string with this post. I couldn’t agree more with you. This is the #1 thing I talk to my clients about when we first start working together. I personally run my business with very little monthly expenses and truly its the best way to go. Invest only when necessary and invest in quality tools and systems that will make life easier. Like Laura said, looking for the “next best thing” only takes your focus on what’s really important: working on your craft and getting clients.

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      I know you get it Alba! Keep spreading that message.

      You know – I always think of this too when I’m thinking of buying a tool that’s on some super duper special – “it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!”

  18. Jennifer Scribner, NTP CGP January 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Thanks Anne – I love the behind the scenes of what others are doing!

    The one thing I added about 6 months ago that has rocked my world is online scheduling through Genbook. Before that I was manually scheduling my clients and sending reminders. Now I open up my computer and people have scheduled themselves and reminders are automatically sent to them. Saved me from getting a VA for this task!

  19. Cindy January 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Oh my goodness you made my year! I have been struggling with which-service-is-better-itis for a long time.

    Seeing you say just go with what works rather than worry which is best — is just what I needed to hear. Considering we’re currently using Aweber, Mailchimp AND Myemma for emails… I thought we were a lost cause.

    I so want to move to Infusionsoft but I worry about the cost. $199 a month isn’t that scary if it replaces some of the things we currently pay for but I’m not sure since I don’t know all that IS can do. Can you really help me figure it out?

    I love evernote — it helps me keep track of important thoughts/notes that don’t have a real home in a folder on my harddrive and I LOVE being able to access everything from any of my Mac devices. Lifesaver for sure. I rely on it more than Dropbox. And I use it for my To Do list so that it’s always up-to-date on my computer, laptop, ipad and iphone. But sometimes my trusty notebook is better than everything for keeping lists and important factoids in one place. I start a new notebook every Jan. and it acts as a phone log, diary and list keeper all in one.

    Hootesuite makes me happy — haven’t tried the others in a long while.

    Kudos to you for the sage, practical, down-to-earth wisdom you’re sharing.

  20. Desiree East January 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Well, I just totally Evernoted this article! LOL. Thanks for sharing how and why you use the systems you do…it’s very helpful to hear other people’s opinions about things. I love to experiment with diff tools to see how they ‘feel’. If I’m not jiving with it, it’s a no go. Haven’t been on Hootsuite in awhile, trying Buffer out here and there, but prefer to just log-in at each site…I don’t know, maybe that will change this year. And actually, as far as organizational systems go, I tend to do things old school — like with pens, pencils, and markers and cute little notebooks…I feel more inspired and motivated, for some reason. I think it forces me to slow down, too, but in a good way:)

    I am very, very grateful, but I kind of have this on-going love-hate relationship with technology — LOVE, because it’s amazing to connect with people from around the world and, yes, there are incredible cool apps/tools/etc, that can catapult your business to the sky; on the opposite spectrum, it’s overwhelming to have to take the time to learn about the greatest new thing, not to mention the costs that add up, and then add that to your list of log-ins…it could be very overwhelming, especially if you are not yet at the point where you have a team to support you. So THANK YOU, Anne…I love the idea of trimming the fat:)

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      Desiree, if I could I would use even less tools… and the less I use – the more I like running my business!

      Expect some cuts soon – this last one is causing me some grief and I’m not sure why!!

      BTW – I love the non tech tools, like my moleskine, a blank sheet of graph paper, and the dry erase board… those are ones that help me feel more creative and more visionary about my biz.


  21. Kim January 5, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    hi Anne, This was such a useful and timely piece..thank you! I’m in the middle of a career re-vision, adding services and trying to get up to speed on all the technology.
    I’m not ready to invest in Infusionsoft, and recently Paypal has made my life difficult, (plus I’ve heard some horror stories) so billing/payment processing/scheduling sessions is now a big mystery to me. At the moment I’m just billing by email and and asking for bank transfers…(here in Thailand this is often the easiest way.) But I’d like to be a bit more professional about it. Any advice?

  22. Zach January 5, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Thanks for this! It really opened my eyes to Mailchimps potential after thinking infusionsoft was my only move.

    • annesamoilov January 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      I’m making this decision right now – so curious – what factors are you looking at to decide between IS and Mailchimp?

      • Zach January 6, 2013 at 9:23 am #


        Just like you said, don’t jump to IS or OA without a list size greater than 1500. For me that was an eye opener and the cost factor. I have been gearing toward IS for sometime but was abale to shift back into MC and look at the platform in a whole new way. I love their drag and drop design (BETA) and I am building out my auto-responders. I also think that any business can start by building out their campaigns low cost and then move to IS when appropriate.

  23. Forest January 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Awesome post, Anne. Totally agree with everything you talked about.

    Thought I would mention a great, free alternative to Basecamp or using Google Docs for project management: Asana.

    Since I’m a one person team too, I didn’t need most of the features of Basecamp to I ditched it and started using Asana (I love Basecamp, but found I was really only using the to do lists.)

    At any rate, I love Asana. Crazy that it’s free for teams that have lesas than 30 people. There’s also a great mobile app for Asana that lets you add to dos to any of your projects/task lists easily from your phone or tablet.



  24. Jen Vertanen January 6, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    ALLCAPS LOVE this so much! Evernote is a godsend, I needed your advice on IS vs. Aweber (and got it, ty), and as a tech-head, I definitely suffer from tool-itis which is great for clients (so I can help recommend tools for their needs) but not so great when applied to my own business.

    I read through all the comments and didn’t see Trello (for project task management) mentioned. I have corporate clients who love it and have played with it a bit myself but just curious if people have used it and pushed it aside for Basecamp, Asana, etc. and if so, why.

  25. Dmitry January 9, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    You are right, Anya, BUT

    There are a class of tools (like Bitrix24 or like Google Apps or even PayPal) that really do change how you do your business. I could not run my business without those.

  26. Jennifer Lyle January 31, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Loved this article. Yes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the possibilities of tools, especially at the very beginning when you don’t know what you don’t know.

    I stick with free whenever possible & will continue to do so until we grow more.

    In the meantime, I have a question. I’d never heard of Office AutoPilot until a few days ago, when I noticed that a marketer was using it. And now you’ve mentioned it. Did you evaluate OAP and InfusionSoft before deciding on IS? If you don’t mind sharing, how did you decide to go with IS? Hopefully one of these days I’ll be working on this decision myself. Thanks for any thoughts that you’re comfortable sharing here.

    • annesamoilov February 1, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      I have never used Office AutoPilot and for me a switch to a platform that I’ve never tried and has a big cost – did not make sense. Since I’ve spent the last 3 years using Infusionsoft with Laura Roeder, it was a little easier to justify there cost – which is still high.

      However – I’m always open to the possibility of changing that if I feel like it’s just not making sense for my business. I’d say the best way to know what’s right for you and when a change is necessary is when you find yourself running around between all your systems. Now – everything’s under one roof for me. That’s worth the cost alone!

  27. Bonnie February 2, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this. It’s so helpful to get real-life feedback on what works or not. I personally have started using (free version) for project management and centralizing info. I like it better than basecamp, wrike, asana, trello, etc. I am very interested in infusionsoft, but, cannot justify the cost quite yet. I look forward to using an integrated solution like they offer. Again, thanks for being so helpful and generous with your insights.

  28. Jadah | Simple Green Smoothies March 7, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    We use MailChimp (we have a list size of 30,000+), we thought of switching to 1SC or IS, but we just love the design capabilities in MailChimp. Mailchimp was great when it was free, but it gets pricey as your list size grows. We currently use ejunkie and paypal, but plan to switch to woo commerce and, which integrate well with MailChimp. Not sure what we will use for affiliate management as I’m not a fan of ejunkie’s interface.

    It’s just me and my website partner, so we use google docs, and we just started using for check lists. We also started playing with google hangouts for our meetings, so we are on video. It makes it easy for us to work hands free while talking to each other. And you can add up to 10 people in video chat.

    We use Media Temple for hosting. And dropbox for sharing photos since we share a lot of green smoothie recipes and photos between a lot of platforms (instagram, facebook, pinterest, blog).

    I need to start using evernote. But I kind of want to go old school and go back to a Franklin Planner. 🙂

    Love your site!

    • annesamoilov March 8, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      I really appreciate your comments here and on the Problogger post! I love your site too and was lurking last night looking for some new smoothie recipes!

  29. Carlie Hamilton June 9, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    I am going through the process of my first launch, and so I find I am wasting a lot of time trying out all these products – but I think it is somewhat necessary because I am trying to find products that will fit well with my business.

    Sometimes, however, I really am wasting my time. For instance, I really want a great product to quickly create an optin box for my website. I have paid for (and asked for refunds) for 3 products now, but none were exactly what I wanted. I am just going to take the time to create an optin by myself for now! All well.

    But yes, I am doing productive things besides trying out products 😛

  30. Dan June 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    I would recommend checking out Gtdagenda for an online task & project manager.

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

    • annesamoilov June 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      I got your email and I’d love to check it out!

  31. Toni July 16, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    OMG! I was actually looking for someone today to ask this burning question. I am listening to you on Amy’s podcast right now, so I will probably get the answer there too. But, I will come back to check out this post and your website. But, the question I had was…

    Why do so many online marketers use Infusionsoft when I am able to get my WordPress website to do what IS does and then some?

    I’ll be back later and hopefully the answer is here. 🙂

    • annesamoilov July 17, 2013 at 6:50 am #

      I hate to be a total tease, but I’m including a “why I use infusionsoft” post – so stay tuned!

      • Toni July 17, 2013 at 7:38 am #

        That’s cool. I can wait. Based on what I read here i don’t need to be too concerned since I only have 3 people on my list. 😉 My current system is perfect for where I am. Your website ROCKS.

        • annesamoilov July 20, 2013 at 5:56 am #

          Yeah – I’d say wait on infusionsoft but understanding what it can do for you is great. And it’s not the only way to set things up. I’m always on the lookout for an even more simplifed system.

  32. brandi December 26, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Great article, and I can tell it is already going to save me a lot of energy!

    I see a lot of people talking about Basecamp and Asana, and I’m wondering if any of you tool testers have tried Bitrix24 and how it compared to those two.


  33. Brianna Nash March 22, 2014 at 6:26 am #

    I love that you said to NOT get Infusionsoft until you have 1500 on your list. Now the key for me is GETTING 1500 on my list.

  34. Deborah Longworth April 6, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    My name is Deborah and I am a tools and information junkie! I’m always looking for a bigger and better way to streamline the process that I lose focus of where I should be in my product launch and services and it takes me 2 to 3 times as long as it should to accomplish what I want. I totally relate Anne. Great article and I’m about to do some spring cleaning now!

  35. Jan April 10, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    I have been using Dropbox, but am seriously thinking about shifting over to Google Drive. Especially as I literally just spotted that I can have storage for a tenth of the cost of Dropbox!

  36. Stephan Zwanikken April 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Awesome, simply awesome blog post. I find my self in the middle of this IT-hell. Autoresponders (2), affiliate program (1), helpdesk systems (2), ecommerce (1), hosting provicers (4), domain registrars (5), domains (80+), websites (10+).

    I was looking for a reason to switch to a total solution. Got 10,000+ on my mailing list and making money from it. So yes, switching is legit now 😉

    Transfering all my domains to 1 registrar and all my sites to one webhost and make the switch to Infusionsoft or Ontraport.

  37. Cheryl November 2, 2014 at 1:07 am #

    Hei Anne,
    As part of my annual business review, together with my team we trimmed of 5 items. Now I have most of my activities on infusionsoft, kajabi, megaphone and wistia. I do my recording on Quicktime and my only splurge was on my Yeti microphone. I now produce my videos using my iPhones, edit on iMovie (or Youtube) and use a lapel mic that’s still working great after 18 months! Using Webinar Jam for my webinars and interviews. Skype is useful too. Was a tech junkie for 3 years and lost of $$$ down the drain. Not anymore. Tech and platforms need to serve us efficiently and effectively. Any others to consider trimming or serve as an alternative? I welcome any ideas.