Below you will find my list of recommended business tools, many of which I use myself. I would not operate my business without them! These tools will help you and others you work with to maximize productivity and grow your business. I have either personally reviewed or used these tools, and I share them to save you many hours of research. These third-party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. Although I take no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of other business websites, I seek to protect the integrity of this list of recommended resources and I welcome your feedback—positive or constructive.

I have established an affiliate relationship with a few of the companies listed below. This means that I receive a small referral commission when you purchase something using my affiliate link. I ONLY make referrals for pre-vetted resources that I would recommend whether they compensated me for doing so or not…and I donate all affiliate payments to charity.

Here are the categories you will find below:

Audio & Visual
Conference/Teleseminar/Webinar
Client Care
CRM & Database Management
Email Marketing
File Sharing/File Management
Graphics
Legal
Marketing
Miscellaneous Resources
Online Business Magazines
Organizing Tools
Payment Processing & Merchant Accounts
Project Management
Reference Library
Scheduling
Social Media
Time Management
Virtual Assistant Resources
Website Development

Audio & Visual

JING – Skip the written list and video-record your instructions or online demo. With Jing you can record your desktop for up to 5 minutes and then share your video with others.

JOIN.ME – Offers free screen sharing and internet calling as well as the ability to chat, send files and share keyboard and mouse control. This program is also compatible with tablets and phones. A paid version is available for larger groups or for a dedicated link that you can send to participants ahead of time.

SKYPE – The go-to website for free video and internet phone calls also offers free instant messaging as well as pricing plans that offer your own unique phone number. Skype offers a very inexpensive way to call an international number, or you can talk for free over the Internet when both parties have a free Skype account.

AUDIO ACROBAT – Record, upload, download, and customize. You can also publish video players and themes, record conference calls, interviews, etc. Share your RSS feeds anywhere you would like, and escalate your online visibility!

EASY VSL – Visit this site to learn the secret to creating a high-converting video sales letter or video message in less than 10 minutes.

HEADSET – I highly recommend a great quality headset so you can work hands-free when doing your virtual work.  I love my Plantronics headset, which I have had for nearly 20 years and it still works well. Invest in a good quality one that will last for years. Some are corded and some are cordless. Be sure you read the fine print to get what you want.

COMPUTER MICROPHONE – I love my Blue Snowball iCE condenser microphone, which also comes with a screen filter.  I use it for all of my recordings, and the sound clarity is excellent.

PRESS PLAY – This powerful video landing page software and app will give you the ability to create high-converting video landing pages, squeeze pages, sales pages, and a customized “smart video player” that enables the viewer to resume where they last left off. It includes timed call-to-action links, and much more.

Conference / Teleseminar / Webinar

INSTANT TELESEMINAR –  This is an easy-to-use platform for conducting teleseminars. I have been using it for years, and it makes delivering and recording teleseminars so easy. Up to 1000 participants can call into a bridge line from a telephone, while unlimited numbers of people can also listen either live or to a Webcast replay via the Internet (no phone or long distance call required).  Playback is available instantly (no download needed), using the same link used to access the webcast.

WEBINAR JAM STUDIO – Create your webinars “on the spot” for unlimited attendees, or schedule them for a later time. The system will automatically open the webinar room and notify all registrants, via email and/or SMS, at your appointed date and time. All webinars are instantly recorded for playback and are stored on Google Hangout. Or, record elsewhere and easily load it into EverWebinar (part of WJS) for playback, as I have done here.  Try it for 30 days and get your money back if it does not meet your needs.

SCREENCAST-O-MATIC — RECORD & EDIT WEBINARS WITH EASE – Screencast-O-Matic Pro version enables you to do the following:  record any length of either a screen or webcam recording (audio and visual is on one track), edit what you have recorded, and publish to Google Drive, Vimeo Pro, Dropbox, YouTube HD, or a hard drive. It is very easy to use. They offer a free version for short webinars (under 15 minutes), although that version contains a watermark and does not offer editing capabilities. The Pro version is well worth the small cost for those who record webinars. All of my webinars were recorded using Screencast-O-Matic Pro. Use the link above to receive a 20% discount on your subscription.

GO TO MEETING & GO TO WEBINAR – This program is expensive, and it is top-of-the-line for those who teach interactive webinars. It enables you to show your screen and work face-to-face with video conferencing. Pick between VoIP or telephone audio, you can also join from a Mac, PC, or nearly any smartphone or tablet.

FREE CONFERENCE CALL – Need to put on a teleconference or just want to have a quick conference call with the ability to record it? Free Conference Call is your best bet and the name says it all – FREE!  Accounts include free video conferencing with up to 1,000 participants. Connect face-to-face with friends, family and colleagues across the globe. This is the only free international service with in-country dial-in numbers for 58 countries, and growing!

INSTANT CONFERENCE – Web-based moderator controls provide the conference call organizer with tools to manage the call in “real time.” They offer free and fee-based packages.

MAESTRO CONFERENCE – Social Conferencing sets the stage for a new era in communication, where the traditional, passive teleconference is transformed into an active, engaging experience where inspiring conversations happen. You control the format: one-to-one, many-to-many or one-to-many.

Client Care

SEND OUT CARDS – Stay top-of-mind and express gratitude with clients, prospects, and referral partners by sending a real greeting card in the mail, without ever leaving your office. You can create a customized card with your own photos, type your message and select your own handwriting font, and the company will print, address, stuff, stamp, and take it to the post office for you, for as low as $1.17 per card.  Send one card or hundreds of cards with one click of a mouse. Schedule a time to speak with Kathy for a free test drive. Watch my free Relationship Marketing webinar here.

CRM & Database Management

This is one area where I do not have expertise. These are recommendations from a Customer Relationship Management expert I know and trust.

HIGH RISE – CRM software for small business. Save and organize notes and email conversations for up to 30,000 customers and contacts. Keep track of proposals and deals. Share status with your company, department, or team.

ZOHO – With Zoho, you focus on your business while we take care of the rest with apps that help you get more sales, get paid, support your customers and make your business more productive.

BIG CONTACTS – Don’t let another customer relationship slip through the cracks! Get your entire team on the same page. In real-time information from any Internet connection. Stop wasting time with outdated or complicated systems.

Email Marketing

10 BEST EMAIL MARKETING SERVICES — Determine which one is right for you by reviewing this illustrated article that gives a detailed overview of ten email platforms and their usability for different marketing strategies.

File Sharing / File Management

DROPBOX – Access your files anywhere with Dropbox via your computer, tablet or phone. Dropbox offers a free service to store photos, videos and documents that you can easily share with others. There’s a fee if you need a large amount of storage space. Although Dropbox may be the best known, there are some competitors worth looking at. Before you get a Dropbox account, click here to read about some alternatives and why you may wish to consider going with one of them.

CARBONITE – Don’t lose all your important documents if your computer fails. Carbonite automatically backs up your photos, business docs and your other files online and encrypts them for your privacy. You can then access your files with any computer, tablet or smartphone.

GO TO MY PC – Work on your Mac or PC from anywhere with free apps for iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Android devices.  Access your files, network, email and programs – even ones your device doesn’t usually support.

LOG ME IN – With remote access from LogMeIn, all your computers are just a click away! Securely connect to your PC/Mac from any computer or from your iPad/iPhone, also access everything you need, from applications to files. Discover the freedom and flexibility to leave the office, without leaving anything behind.

TEAM VIEWER – Remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds or use TeamViewer for online meetings.

Graphics

COLOR COP – Use Color Cop to identify the hex color code for any color on your screen.

PIC MONKEY – Your all-in-one editor with a free trial! Add picture frames, photo filters & effects, high=end image editing,make a collage, do touch-up, and give your photography a perfect finish.

QUOZIO – Turns meaningful words into images within seconds. Then share them on Facebook and Pinterest

PHOTOFUNIA – If you like to get creative with photos, this is the place to go!  It’s a leading free photo editing site packed with a huge library of picture editor effects & photo filters. Edit pictures with online pic editor.

REDKID – Create your own free customized signs, labels and cartoons that you can save and load into a greeting card. For example, I had fun putting my name on an airline, trophy, and billboard!

FIVERR – The largest marketplace for services, starting at $5. There are many graphic services available here, such as logo design, web design, book cover design, and much more.

FOTOLIA – More than 20 million cheap royalty free images, vectors, videos, providing an image bank for your publishing and marketing projects.

SHUTTERSTOCK – Search millions of royalty-free stock photos, illustrations, and vectors. Get inspired by ten thousand new, high-resolution images daily.

MORGUEFILE – Looking for high resolution stock photos for your illustration, comp or design needs? Search MorgueFile for free reference images.

PIKTOCHART – An easy infographic design app that requires very little effort to produce beautiful, high quality graphics.

Legal

LEGAL SHIELD Have you ever wanted legal advice on a credit matter or legal assistance with the purchase of a home? How about for writing or revising your Will? For just pennies a day, you can protect your legal rights. Legal Shield offers great legal service plans designed with the cost-conscious consumer in mind. I have been a member for the last 20 years and have found it well worth the monthly fee.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE  – Nolo’s mission is to make the legal system work for everyone. Nolo helps people handle their own everyday legal matters—or learn enough about them to make working with a lawyer a more satisfying experience. Everything they publish is regularly revised, updated and improved by their staff of lawyer-editors. They pay attention not only to changes in the law, but to feedback from customers, lawyers, judges and court staffers. Check out the hundreds of forms and other tools they offer.

FREE PATENTS – This site has sophisticated patent searching, PDF downloading, alerts, and work-flow functions, all for free. It is an excellent resource for intellectual property professionals, students, small businesses, and anyone who needs legal or scientific information.

Marketing

VISTAPRINT –Vista Print offers an extensive array of affordable products including business cards, bumper stickers and banners to help you market your brand.

SEND OUT CARDS – Stay top-of-mind and express gratitude with clients, prospects, and referral partners by sending a real greeting card in the mail, without ever leaving your office. You can create a customized card with your own photos, type your message and select your own handwriting font, and the company will print, address, stuff, stamp, and take it to the post office for you, for as low as $1.17 per card.  Send one card or hundreds of cards with one click of a mouse. Schedule a time to speak with Kathy for a free test drive. Watch my free Relationship Marketing webinar here.

SLIDESHARE – Offers users the ability to upload and share publicly or privately PowerPoint presentations.

LEAD PAGES – Lead Pages software is the world’s easiest landing page generator.

SCRIPTLY – Have you ever wanted to have a professional write your copy for your autoresponders or for a webinar to promote a product or service you sell?  Scriptly does that for you. Click here to learn more about the Email Autoresponder Series and click here to learn about the Webinar Wizard. The creators will be adding additional copywriting modules like sales copy and telemarketing scripts soon. Try it for free for 14 days.

CURATELY – This tool makes it so easy to publish your own blogs, sourcing information available to everyone on the Web.  You simply search for websites or add in individual RSS feeds, and Curately will index all published content from those sources to give you a basis for writing your own blog posts! Once you select the content that you want to include in your own article, you assemble your content, do final editing, and publish!  No more starting from scratch and spending hours to create a blog.  Try it for free for 14 days.

FREE CONTENT FORMULA – Offers a simple and brilliant road map for how to attract new people to your website while providing great value through content provided by others. This is an easy way to share other people’s blogs as part of your own content marketing program.

FEEDLY – Arranges content you rely on into easy-to-read collections.  Tag articles to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more with Hootsuite.

GREAT FREE MARKETING RESOURCES – Get Robert Middleton’s free Marketing Plan Workbook and sign up for his free More Clients eZine. Robert’s expertise is in helping service professionals develop effective marketing plans. Both of these tools helped me take my business from fledgling to fantastic. When you’re ready for more, you may wish to consider getting Robert’s InfoGuru Online Marketing Manual.

MARKETING COACHING  – Learn how to get paid well for doing what you love. My Marketing Coach, Kendall SummerHawk, has taught me much of what I know about effective marketing.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING – My Social Media Virtual Assistant is Jaimie Skultety, owner of Upscale Your Business. She and her team are so helpful in keeping my name in front of people in a way that provides value and builds relationships.  To learn more about what she does, I suggest you register for her free webinar.

GROW YOUR MAILING LIST EXPONENTIALLY — Content Upgrades provides an easy way to build your list using their white label value-packed resources and proven methodology.

Miscellaneous Resources

FOLLOW UP THEN  This easy email reminder service will help you clear out your inbox, shorten your to-do list, and never forget to follow-up. Type [any time]@followupthen.com in the “Cc”, “Bcc” or “To” fields of your email. The email will come back to you when you schedule it to. Try it for free. Send an email to 1minute@followupthen.com. Check your inbox in one minute and see what’s there!

FIVERR – AFFORDABLE DIGITAL SERVICESCheck out Fiverr, an online marketplace that connects you with talented freelance professionals all over the world. I have had a couple logos created (see Laser Coaching logo)–each for only $5–and I was very happy with them, two transcriptions (one was 20 minutes and one was 5 minutes long…both transcribed for just $5 each), and I had an ebook cover designed and formatted for me. Be sure you read the online reviews before hiring a freelance person.

PREZI – Design and create a presentation software that is helping millions become better presenters by using motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to bring your ideas to life.

VISUAL BEE Free PowerPoint plugin that creates impressive and powerful presentations.

TIME ZONE CONVERTER – Find the time difference between several cities with the Time Difference Calculator. Provides time zone conversions taking into account daylight saving time (DST), local time zone and accepts present, past or future dates.

FEEDLY – This is a free service that arranges content that you rely on into easy-to-read collections.  You can then tag articles to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more using Hootsuite or Buffer to automate this for you. This helps you read and organize content from your favorite blogs.

EBATES – Earn cash back for every purchase you make online. Depending on the retailer you can earn up to 25% cash back while shopping from home.

CARING BRIDGE – Provides a free online service connecting patients to friends and families.  When you don’t have time to update friends and relatives about a loved one’s medical condition, you can rely on this free web service as a “check-in” place to get the latest update about their condition and any family needs.  It also offers a guestbook page for people to leave messages on.

FEDERAL INCOME TAX DEDUCTIONSKeep track of your charitable donations so you can get a tax deduction. For years, I have used a free online program called ItsDeductible to keep track of my charitable donations. It has saved me thousands of dollars on my taxes, because I donate a lot of in-kind as well as cash contributions.  When it’s time to prepare your tax return, you must purchase TuboTax Deluxe–even if you have a CPA doing your tax returns for you–as the software will generate a Form 8283 (the Noncash Charitable Contributions IRS form that must be attached to your return if you claim more than $500 in non-cash contributions).  The number of hours it would take for your CPA to manually create this form would be astronomical, so it is well worth buying TurboTax Deluxe each year if you have in-kind contributions in excess of $500.  Your tax savings will more than pay for this software.

ASSESSMENT TOOL GENERATOR – Create unlimited assessment tools in 10 minutes or less! Design custom self-scoring assessments to attract more prospects and give better value to existing clients. Their Basic Plan monthly subscription–offering up to 5 different assessments–is $19.95/month.

EMAIL STRIPPER – This is a free program for cleaning the “>” and other formatting characters out of your emails.  It restores forward or replied emails back to their original state so they’re easier to read.

HOW TO CLEAN ANYTHING – Offers a wonderful stain removal guide for common stains you might find on upholstery, carpeting, car interiors, and clothing.

Online Business Magazines

BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK – A weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg.

FAST COMPANY – Fast Company inspires a new breed of innovative and creative thought leaders who are actively inventing the future of business.

SUCCESS – Success Magazine is your leading source for news and information for the entrepreneur, small business, and home-based business owner.

INC. – Get advice, news and tools to help your small business grow.

Organizing Tools

EVERNOTE – Similar to One Note (MS Office), but better. Evernote keeps all your “stuff” in one spot. They even have a mobile app!

ROBOFORM – Trust the #1 rated password manager for organizing and storing your usernames and passwords. RoboForm remembers your passwords so you can easily and securely login to your favorite websites.

THE PAPER TIGER – FIND ANYTHING IN 5 SECONDS  The Paper Tiger program allows you to organize your entire office and home in one place. You will have one screen to search for all of your information, whether that be in PDF format from the paper you have scanned, or in paper format in your file cabinets, or in numbered containers. The combination of Paper Tiger and Digital Tiger makes it possible to find anything in just a few second with a keyword search. This is what I have used for my own filing and “finding” system since 1996. In addition to using it for paper, it also can be used for tracking items you store in boxes or containers. Watch my free demo webinar here to learn more.

CHECKLISTS & FORMS FOR ALL OCCASIONS  – Check out Real Simple magazine has created checklists, templates and worksheets to tackle whatever life throws your way. Just click, print, and start filling out or checking off. For example, they have things like a babysitter information form, wedding plan worksheets, and a vacation packing checklist.

EASY MINDER REUSABLE LISTS – Extremely useful and practical laminated lists that have been designed and developed for many situations and for use by a wide-range of people. Examples: grocery list, medicine minder, babysitter information sheet, habit builder, homework & activity planning sheet, pet sitter list, and more. Comes with a pen that is guaranteed for life.

COLLECTIFY MY STUFF – This will help you get ORGANIZED in a snap! It is cataloging software for people with collections of things you cherish or value, whether sentimental or monetary — memorabilia, antiques, glass, etc.  Sotheby’s says, “We are delighted to recommend Collectify My Stuff to our clients, a software tool for all their cataloging needs.” Anyone using the link provided will receive a $5 discount

ORGANIZE YOUR CORDS & WIRES A practical solution to the endless rat’s nests of cords and wires! The easy-to-use Cord Control Kits and accessories immediately transform the appearance of any office or home entertainment center by systematically labeling, bundling and concealing all electronic equipment cords and wires.

ORGANIZED LIVING FOR HOME AND OFFICE – This company stands for quality, and has been in business since 1919. Their products provide superior performance. Check out this site for products to organize your closet, pantry, garage, or business.

LIFESTYLE SYSTEMS – Offering “do-it-yourself” drawer dividers in black or white polystyrene or clear acrylic to organize a drawer, anywhere. You will love the ease of installation, durability, and versatility of these drawer organizers. Use these in your Home, Office, Clinic, School, or Workshop.

Payment Processing & Merchant Accounts

ONLINE SHOPPING CART & MERCHANT ACCOUNT From merchant accounts to shopping carts to innovative marketing tools, you’ll find it all here at DirectPay. Their integrated eCommerce tools allow you to sell products, services and communicate with your clients through your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, automatically!

PAYPAL – Accept all forms of payment, anywhere you do business, with a low U.S. swipe fee of 2.7% and no long-term commitment or set-up fee.

Project Management

ASANA – This project management tool helps me keep track of all the projects I have assigned to my assistant or to contractors I work with. I can upload unlimited files here, assign them to a specific person for a specific task, and also assign a due date. All communications through the system arrive via email and all correspondence about each task is captured in one place. When a task is completed, it is checked off and archived.

CENTRAL DESKTOP – Social collaboration software, online project management, and sharepoint alternative for businesses.

FOLLOW UP THEN  This easy email reminder service will help you clear out your inbox, shorten your to-do list, and never forget to follow-up. Type [any time]@followupthen.com in the “Cc”, “Bcc” or “To” fields of your email. The email will come back to you when you schedule it to. Try it for free. Send an email to 1minute@followupthen.com. Check your inbox in one minute and see what’s there!

HIGHTAIL – The professional way to securely share your files and folders with anyone from any device.

WUNDERLIST – Is the easiest way to share your to-do lists. Whether you’re planning an overseas adventure, sharing a shopping list with a loved one or running your very own business.

Reference Library

ONLINE LIBRARIES & REFERENCE DESKThis site offers local libraries online from all around the country. It also has a reference desk which offers your answer for acronyms, almanacs, calculators, and specialized legal and medical information.

MEGA REFERENCE DESK Here you’ll come across everything from encyclopedias to international phone directories to a roster of the FBI’s most wanted, and Internet reference sites ranging from the U.S. Census Bureau and Gray’s Anatomy to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. This site helps visitors sort through the millions of resources on the Web, including books, artifacts, images, documents, and maps.

WEB-RELATED QUESTIONS – This site contains a collection of tutorials that can answer most Web-related questions.

FREE VISUAL THESAURUSTruly a unique resource, this free web site offers a complete thesaurus in a graphical interface that is easy to use and remarkably extensive in content.

FIND GREAT QUOTESUse in public speaking or in your writing. This site offers the ability to search for the perfect quote by topic or author. You can also do a search to find out who the author is of a famous quote. Another great site for quotes is Inspiration Peak.

FIND GREAT ARTICLES Search this site by topic or author through more than 300 magazines and journals dating back to 1998. Each search result gives you the author’s name, date of the article, length, source, and first two sentences. You can then print out the entire article.

Scheduling

TIME TRADE – Never miss another appointment again. Time Trade lets you identify available times for potential appointments so your client can select and schedule the time best suited for them. This hassle-free program integrates with Google, Outlook, iCal, and any calendar you have synced through Exchange, Google, iCloud and more.

TIME SLOTS – This appointment scheduling software is like TimeTrade on steroids!  Although it costs more than TimeTrade, it is much more robust. This software enables you to create a questionnaire and ask all the questions you want someone to answer before you have a conversation with them. This helps you (and your caller) to be much more prepared when you speak. Imagine the power of knowing something about your caller and their needs before you begin the conversation. That’s power! Try it for free for 14 days.

CALENDY – Say goodbye to phone and email tag for finding the perfect meeting time with Calendly. It’s 100% free and super easy to use

Social Media

HOOTSUITE – Schedule your social media updates in advance with this site. You can use multiple accounts across multiple social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can program your tweets or status updates around the clock for months in advance.

TINY URL – Offers free URL redirection service that you can customize.

GOOGLE ALERTS – Provides email updates to help you track mentions in news stories and blog posts of your name, your business name, and specific keywords related to organizing and productivity in your geographic area.

RAFFLECOPTER – Allows you to create and launch effective giveaway promotions & sweepstakes across your website, blog, and Facebook page in under 5 minutes.

Time Management

TODOIST – Get your to-do list done. This quick, user-friendly task manager features calendars, reminders, mobile access and Gmail integration.

MY CLIENT SPOT – Do you need an easy way to track time and manage budgets for your clients? My Client Spot can do it for you! File sharing, calendars, and the ability to post comments on projects are some of the many features that will keep your projects on time and billed correctly.

NOW DO THIS – A one-at-a-time to-do list.

TIME AND DATE CALENDAR – Create your own customized calendar with important dates on it.  Find the duration between two dates, the countdown to the New Year, when you will be 20,000 days old, and other date-related information.

WATCH MINDERA watch/device invented by a psychologist to help you remember what needs your attention next. If you find yourself getting distracted and you want to teach yourself to stay on task, try WatchMinder for 30 days. If it doesn’t help you to improve behavior and form new habits, you can get your money back! WatchMinder comes with over 70 pre-programmed messages, 16 daily reminder alarms, silent vibration, and multiple fixed/random interval training alarms.

Virtual Assistant Resources

ACA (ADMINISTRATIVE CONSULTANT ASSOC.) – A support Association for Virtual Administrative Consultants to gain better ideas and information for their business.

IVAA (INTERNATIONAL VIRTUAL ASSISTANT ASSOCIATION – A non-profit organization dedicated to the professional education and development of the Virtual Assistant Community.

TAWNYA SUTHERLAND – When people want information regarding any topic within the Virtual Assistant industry they turn to one of its pioneers, Tawnya Sutherland.

Website Development

WIX – Create a free customizable website with dazzling flash templates. Publish quickly and update easily anytime. WIX is user-friendly and perfect for amateurs. You don’t need to program or write code to build your own website with Wix.

WUFOO – Create contact forms, online surveys, collect online payments and much more. Try out Wufoo for free and discover its easy-to-use features.

POWTOON – Cut your development time and budget, increase engagement, boost your SEO, and stand out from the crowd with PowToon’s quick and powerful animated videos editor. Some learning curve involved.

GO DADDY – Offers a wide range of internet services, from domain names registration and web hosting (from $3.95 per mo.) to email hosting and more.