As a creative entrepreneur, I’ve spent many nights in my eight years feeling trapped, defeated and overwhelmed by yet another element of business.
I share stories in this free 4-part series of my behind-the-scenes I haven’t shared elsewhere.
Mistakes I made, hard lessons learned, and most importantly which tools have saved my sanity (or ones that have driven me insane, and how to avoid it).
Consider this your toolkit to be empowered as a marketer, web developer, graphic designer, project manager, accountant and more -- even though you are in truth none of those things full time.
What you are, m’dear, is resourceful.
And wise enough to use tools that make complex things simple, and get back to focusing on the areas in which you shine and thrive.
Listen in on my own stories here to help yours be just a little smoother.
PS. What sparked this free series and toolkit? Listen to the "I owe you an apology" episode of the You're Welcome podcast here.
Leadpages: Our top recommendation for building any and every type of web page you need: landing pages, optin pages, sales pages, upsell pages, thank you pages...all the pages!
We all focus on building our website (which you can do completely on Leadpages). But the pages that matter most, where people optin, sign-up, and buy, are the ones you want to be most empowered to update anytime you need.
They're also the ones that require knowledge. It's not just about a beautiful page, but one that converts well, seamlessly connects to other technology (webinars, shopping carts, email lists).
Their templates have all the tech hacks built in (things like how to make a page load faster) while being VERY user-friendly.
We use Leadpages every day at Dean Street. In fact, this page was built with it!
ActiveCampaign: If you're just getting started, or not ready for a robust platform such as Ontraport, ActiveCampaign is the best email marketing software we can recommend. It's cost effective, intuitive, and a software you can learn without needing a tech expert on your team.
GoToWebinar: We love GTW and use it for all of our live webinars and workshops. The platform is easy to use and has all of the features you need for a successful event.
EverWebinar: Once you have a great presentation from GTW that you want more people to see, EverWebinar is our resource for automating its delivery so people can watch at a time that's best for them.
SamCart: A great, simple order form for making sales (and upsells). While for simplicity we use Ontraport because of its seemless integration with our email marketing and customer management system, we recommend getting started with SamCart if you aren't yet using Ontraport.
Shopify: This is a very popular eCommerce platform with everything you need to create an e-commerce website with a shopping cart, if you're selling lots of products. Shopify integrates with many other software programs giving you many options for different features and functions.
Ontraport: Ontraport is a full suite of marketing products. It's an automation tool that can take your business to the next level, as it's a full customer management system that allows you to create really intelligent marketing funnels, opt in forms, order forms, and upsells.
However , we do not recommend ontraport for email marketing. We use Leadpages for our landing pages and sales pages, ActiveCamapign for our email marketing, and Ontraport for checkouts, upsells, and customer management (CRM). However, it's advanced, and I highly recommend waiting to move to Ontraport until you have a marketing technician to help you navigate its powerful labrinth of business magic.
Canva: I spent so much time learning how to use Photoshop to make basic graphics for my business. Canva makes it so much more affordable, easy and less technical. Whether you don't yet have a graphic designer on your team, or simply want to be empowered to make your own graphics for less or on a deadline, you can make beautiful designs yourself.
Slack: Slack is our primary communication platform. It’s where we chat, and it’s so well organized! We have topical/product channels, group and individual chats, and can see if someone is online or not while being all remote. We highly recommend it!
Zoom: This is where we hold all of our weekly team meetings, department meetings, and one-on-ones. Being able to see your teammates is so important. It gives back some of the lost connection that comes with running a virtual business. And having dedicated links means all know where to go for meetings or quick "Hey can you hop on" Q's.
Asana: There are many project management softwares out there, but our favorite is Asana. We have several company projects in multiple departments, with almost 20 users including our freelancers, and we use Asana to keep it all organized and clearly assigned.
Sweet Process: The core functions of our business have been systematized using Sweet Process. We’re able to record training videos, include each of the steps, and easily modify as we learn new ways to make our processes more efficient. Sweet Process is an excellent tool for documenting how you do things, so you can empower your team to do it well too. With photos, arrows, check boxes, lots of easy interface elements.
G-Suite (Google Docs, Email, Sheets, Drive, etc for business): Our team emails, project planning documents, calendars, spreadsheets, and marketing content and tracking are all created inside G-Suite. At just $6/person it's an excellent value for having everything exist within one place, and freelancers who have a company email always having access to documents they might need.
Quickbooks: Massive business use this same software that's accessible and affordable for the smallest solopreneur. For any business generating consistent revenue, you can automatically import and tag all of your income and expenses to get clean financial reports to run your company well. For as little as $5/mo for the self-employed edition. Plus, it makes your accountant's life much easier come tax time. If you don't already have Quickbooks, get it!
Evolved Finance: As soon as you reach 6-figures, hire Evolved Finance. They've been on my team since 2014, and we couldn't recommend them more highly. Corey and his team are experts specifically at businesses that sell online products and services. I had no idea how much value the right bookkeeper brought, how many pitalls they saved me from, and how much peace came till I started working with Corey.
Essentialism, by Greg Mckeown: This is one of those books where once I read it, I couldn't stop quoting it for the next year. When I recommended it to him my business partner said: "This is the only book I've ever read cover to cover, then flipped over and did it again." A business and life changing book if you're ready to embrace the beauty of doing less but better.
Traction, by Gino Wickman: Traction is the playbook we use to run meetings, track metrics, and organize our business. This will help you create systems, run better meetings, and your team get more done.
Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman: While this book won't apply to all, I wanted to do snow angels on the cement after I read this, I felt so understood! If you're ready to bring on a "second in command", this explains the relationship between Visionary and Integrator, with examples throughout history that show most businesses don't have just one person at the helm.
Burnout, by Emily and Amelia Nagoski: We all know we're trying to do too much and are likely burned out. Yet this book was eye-opening! Hilariously written and super practical, I had aha's about why I (or Jeremy after a long season of wedding planning!) were burned out, the signs, the reasons, and the solutions.
The E-Myth Rivisited, by Michael E. Gerber: This was one of the first business books I read that made me feel like someone was in my crazy brain, and telling me I wasn't insane in there. I'm just an entrepreneur! The sub-title says it all: "Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it." Written in the 90's it's still so applicable, which is also a comforting reminder that while Instagram may be new, business is not, and many have gone before us.
Team Dean's quick tips on software and services:
1. Don't upgrade too fast to a tool that's too complex. Simple is better!
2. When you make a decision, stick with it! Don't keep looking for a new software to fix things for you.
Notice: Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase something, Dean Street Society may receive an affiliate commission. However, we only recommend products, companies, or services our team use personally. Only products, companies, or services we believe will add value to your business. We disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.