RECOMMENDED

Business Tools & Software

This Tips and Tricks Guide shares the key software tools and platforms that we use over at Holly MacCue International and which we recommend based upon our own experience.  I may receive affiliate commission through sharing these platforms, hence only recommending software that I have personally used and benefited from.

Please note that I really believe in keeping things simple and relevant to your stage of business and functionality requirements versus potentially over-investing in software that you don’t really need, so use your judgment as to what makes sense for you and your budget 🙂

Payment Gateways & Invoicing

ThriveCart

Thrivecart offers an easy way to create high-converting checkout pages and one-click upsell funnels. It gives you all the flexibility you need to accept credit card payments, accept payments in different currencies, add bump offers, set up recurring payments so that you can boost your profits in a manageable and automated way.

There is nothing worse than having to chase clients over invoices, so if a client is not paying in full, I highly recommend creating a recurring subscription that automatically charges their credit card each month without either party having to “do” anything.

ThriveCart can also automatically charge the relevant taxes, such as GST or VAT and help you easily see how much you have received, which is great for your quarterly tax returns.

The ability to create checkout payment buttons also means you can easily integrate with the likes of Leadpages/Clickfunnels/Kartra etc or your website if that’s what you decide to use for your sales pages.

There is also a really great customer service team who are really responsive, and a lot of “how-to” resources in their customer vault to get started.

Currently ThriveCart has a one-off fee (as opposed to pretty much every other platform that has recurring subscription payments). ThriveCart is a one stop shop where you can create invoices, individual products to sell, checkout pages and track your income and conversions.

Here is the affiliate link to snap up the one-off payment for lifetime access (available for a limited time only)

Anyone purchasing through my affiliate link will access a 1-1 tech support call to help you set up your very first checkout page with my team.  (Make sure you use the link above and that the url shows “affiliate holly maccue”.

Wise (Previously TransferWise)

Wise is a borderless online banking system that offers  all the features you need to bank in another country — regardless of where you’re located. I use it to be able to send and receive money abroad with minimum exchange rate fees.  A great option if you’re looking to do the equivalent of “bank transfers” with customers in foreign countries. 

Some of the advantages to using Wise Business:

Invoice Payments

Pay invoices with the real exchange rate in 70+ countries from your phone or app. 50% of payments are instant or arrive in an hour.

Debit Cards

Allow your team to spend online and in-store with no foreign transaction fees.

Cash Management

Instantly transfer money between businesses, offices, and more — without involving your bank.

Banking without the bank

Get all the features you need to bank in another country — regardless of where you’re located.

People Payments

Save time and money on international payroll, employee reimbursements, or recurring payments.

Receive Money

Receive multiple currencies without high recipient or conversion fees. Convert or move money within Wise Business or withdraw to external accounts with ease.

There’s only a one-time fee. You can check it all out here!

All-in-One Online Business Solution

My all-in-one business platform is Kartra as it encompasses just about everything you could need for online business management. I previously had 5-6 different platforms all doing different things whereas this gives me a one-stop-shop.

Kartra offers just about everything you need to market your business and build a sales funnel, including tools for email marketing, landing pages, checkouts, forms, membership management, and more.

Kartra lets you turn on a host of automations based on your recipients’ behaviours, such as watching a video or opening an email. Kartra will then automatically send follow-up messages, assign tags, subscribe and unsubscribe to lists, add to marketing sequences, and much more. 

There are a few different Kartra plans you can choose from as a user, and the right plan can vary greatly depending on the size of your business, your budget, and your goals. However, Kartra costs you way less in comparison to if you had to purchase all the needed software separately from different software providers. 

Note- if you are only selling 1-1 in your business I would suggest this is not necessary as an investment at this stage.  Kartra is particularly helpful when you are looking to offer online courses and group programs.

Here is the affiliate link to start your Kartra account (available for a limited time only).

Anyone purchasing through my affiliate link will access a 1-1 tech support call to help you set up your very first email sequence or checkout page with my team. (Make sure you use the link above).

Email Software

ConvertKit

After trying (and hating) mailchimp and aweber, I shifted to Convertkit for a couple of years (before switching to an all-in-one solution with Kartra).  I really loved how user-friendly it was to use for a non-techy person. 

Convertkit also has free landing pages that you can access when you are just starting out and there is a free 30 day trial..

I suggest first having your optin in place before you sign up to the trial so that you can maximise the amount of time you access it for free, as you won’t be getting anyone on your list until you start doing some sort of marketing activities.

Convertkit is perfect if you are earlier stage and not yet needing something like kartra, but you also see the benefit in investing in a platform for the longer term (versus starting elsewhere on something potentially cheaper and then having to switch everything over to email software that has more functionality).

The link to access the free Convertkit plan and trial is here.

MailerLite

MailerLite is another option we often recommend as a startup email software as it is incredible simple to use and cost effective so if you are conscious of budget or starting from scratch with a list, this can be a good starting point as it allows you to go on a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers.  

They provide straightforward and user-friendly tools such as a drag & drop email editor, website builder, and an intuitive subscriber management interface, to help you to grow your audience faster. 

What makes it ideal for beginners is its email templates. There’s no need for coding experience since you can pick from different newsletter designs. And if you do need to make changes, the email editor is drag-and-drop — meaning you can make changes in a matter of minutes.

Also, with MailerLite you can easily track recipient activity, including the number of emails viewed and clicked, the number of unsubscribed recipients, spam complaints and bounce rates. MailerLite also helps you to design workflows that can include custom email addresses, dates and times. 

The great thing about this bulk email software is that the amount you pay will change based on how many subscribers you have in your email list, starting from $10 (1001 Subscribers), and they have 24/7 support via email or chat.

Call Hosting Software

Zoom

I honestly don’t think that Zoom needs any introduction!

But for those who are not aware, it is a cloud-based video communications platform that allows you to set up virtual video and audio conferencing, webinars, live chats, screen-sharing, and it lets you record those sessions to view later.

Zoom has different plans, for different needs. Zoom Core Features:

  1. One-on-one meetings: Host unlimited one-on-one meetings even with the free plan.
  2. Group video conferences: Host up to 500 participants (if you purchase the “large meeting” add-on). The free plan, however, allows you to host video conferences of up to 40 minutes and up to 100 participants.
  3. Screen sharing: Meet one-on-one or with large groups and share your screen with them so they can see what you see. 
  4. Recording: You can record your meetings or events too.

 

Create your account here.

Branding & Design

Fiverr.

A whole world of freelance talent at your fingertips. Connect to freelancers with proven business experience, get matched with the perfect talent by a customer  success manager.

For very simple design needs such as infographics, branded pdfs or booklets you can also hire a freelancer from sites such as Fiverr.

On this site you can compare many different options for a piece of work that you brief in, and choose based upon reviews, price and capabilities. Most freelancers on this site offer unlimited revisions as well which is handy, and I myself have used this for cost effective requests such as making a pdf fillable/editable and , creating an infographic etc. If you’re not yet ready to hire a Virtual Assistant, this can be a great place to source help for admin tasks as well, such as putting together presentations, or transcribing videos and recordings that you can repurpose into logs and social media content/program content etc.

Do recognise however that hiring someone from this site is a little more risky with regards to the quality of work you can expect versus a professional. The benefits are definitely being able to hire from overseas at significantly lower costs, but do check out their existing body of work to ensure it meets your standards. I would not recommend going to Fiverr for logo design or anything where you really do need a more sophisticated and experienced designer ‘touch’, as you may be disappointed. Remember generally speaking in business, you get what you pay for.

You can use this link to check it all out!

Canva

Canva is honestly a gift from God to us entrepreneurs starting out! You can create easily and effortlessly create everything from social media graphics to presentations, flyers and pdf handouts without having to use sophisticated systems like photoshop.

Plus, they have all the correct dimensions ready-made for the likes of facebook posts etc, or you can input custom dimensions too.

There is a lot of flexibility with just the free Canva version as there are heaps of free templates and images to get you started. However, you might want to jump into the paid version when you have very specific fonts in your brand (that are not in the free version’s standard list), you want to save your logos and icons in your Branding Kit, remove the background from the images, and many other amazing tools that make your life much easier.

Let me show you the differences:

Canva FREE

For anyone wanting to design anything, on your own or with others.

Canva PRO

For individuals and solopreneurs who want unlimited access to premium content, to create professional designs with ease and scale their productivity.

Calendar Management

Calendly

Calendly is your hub for scheduling meetings professionally and efficiently, eliminating the hassle of back-and-forth emails so you can get back to work.

Calendly is automated scheduling software that has been designed to make that process of finding meeting times easy. The principle is simple. Connect your calendar to Calendly. Choose the calendars you want Calendly to check. Define the duration of the meetings for people to choose. And, share a link that brings people to your Calendly page.

When they reach that page, they won’t see your calendar. Instead, they’ll be able to choose the kind of meeting they want to hold with you, which will include its duration. Calendly will check your calendar and present the days and times on which you’re available.

It’s like having your own social secretary. But, that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve built a system that can identify the gaps in a calendar, you’ll have a platform that can do a lot more for your business. And, it’s even possible to collect payments with Calendly, which takes scheduling to a whole new level. Now that coach can take a fee when someone books a session. 

The only disadvantage is that Calendly is only available as a platform for a desktop or laptop computer. There is not a mobile app for iOS or Android.

Calendly offers a 14-day trial period where you can check out many of its features. No credit card is required to use the trial period. From there, you can continue with a basic account for free or upgrade to a premium or pro account to use the entire Calendly platform.

AddEvent

It is the easiest platform to share your events and calendars using our amazing add-to-calendar buttons, beautiful embeddable widgets, RSVP, and subscriber tools.

You can create a calendar in AddEvent and add all your events. Add an add-to-calendar button to your website that your users can click to subscribe to your AddEvent calendar.

When a user subscribes, all of the events on your subscription calendar will be added and synced to their own calendar.

One of the main benefits of AddEvent is that if you make changes to your subscription calendar, those changes will be reflected on all subscribers’ calendars. You can also utilise analytics to understand how the audience is interacting with calendars and events.

There is a free plan, named “Hobby” which allows you to share your calendar up to 5 events only. It is however the best plan to begin with and decide to upgrade your membership to a “Professional Plan” later on. 

Social Media Scheduling

Sked Social

Sked Social is one of the most popular tools to create, source, share and cross-post your best Instagram content to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google My Business and more – with only a few clicks.

Sked Social is a social media management solution designed to help agencies and businesses within eCommerce, media and entertainment, retail and fashion sectors. The cloud-based software helps brands automatically schedule, publish and manage content on different social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google.

The inbuilt image editor lets users crop images, apply filters and directly publish posts on various channels. Additionally, it offers an Instagram analytics module, which lets businesses gain insights into performance, peak engagement times, audience intelligence, and more.

Sked Social offers monthly and annual subscriptions. Support is provided via online chat, email, phone, documentation, video tutorials, and more.

Sked Social offers a 7-day free trial for new users, after which the software is available across 3 pricing tiers.

Transcriptions & Captions

Otter.ai

Otter is a great option for transcriptions when you are looking to repurpose content eg from a podcast, live or call and use the copy in your emails or social media content.  It provides real time, accurate notes that are stored in one central, secure, and searchable place.

Otter Assistant integrates with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet while storing all notes in one central, secure, and accessible place so you don’t need to re-watch a call if you needed to refresh on something!

As a guide, Otter.ai takes about five to six minutes to transcribe a 15-minute audio file and the transcripts are pretty much accurate except for the minor details. It’s ideal for dictation, record-keeping, and transcribing meeting recordings.

You can use Otter with a limited number of features for free with the Basic plan, but if you need more, there are two paid plans (Pro and Business).

Filing & Storage Hosting

Google Workspace (Formerly GSuite)

An integrated workspace that is easy to use! All of the Google Workspace plans provide a custom email for your business and includes collaboration tools like Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites and more.

This is the platform I use with my team which has really helped to streamline our operations and ways of working. The user face is much simpler than the likes of Dropbox, and the plans are more cost effective as well.

Benefits:
  • Custom email with your domain
  • Cloud-based, no installation needed
  • Advanced security and admin features
  • Ease of mind with 24/7 support
  • Free 14-day trial, monthly charge after

All plans feature a free 14-day trial, so you can start to see the value of Google Workspace before signing up. Click here to start your free trial!

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