Tools For Growth

What Are the Best Tools for Building My Online Business at Each Stage?

One big misconception I hear from entrepreneurs just starting their journey is that they need the right tools to succeed. On the surface, that seems like the right kind of thinking. However, I would add: an entrepreneur needs the right tools at the right time in order to succeed. Adding that little phrase makes all the difference.

When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to see all the people at the top, with the shiniest toys, and get the wrong idea. It’s easy to make the logical leap: in order to be successful like them, you need all the same stuff

You don’t.

This leads new business leaders to either wait until they have the capital to invest in advanced tools, or worse yet, they get the advanced tools and realize they don’t fit the current scale of their business.

Try this recent podcast episode to find out what you really need to start your business.

Why The Best Toys Are Secondary

It’s like buying a top-of-the-line digital camera, believing that it makes you a good photographer. In reality, knowing how to take good photos with the camera you can afford makes you a good photographer.

Your venture will go through phases: First, there’s the scrappy startup phase. Then, there’s an adolescent stage where you start to see success. After this, there’s an established stage, where you have regular cash flow. But don’t put the cart before the horse: tools for the later stages probably won’t apply to the needs of your startup.

You don’t need the fancy toy… yet. You’ll get there. The focus right now is becoming the kind of business leader who can get the most out of what they currently have. Eventually, when you have a huge R&D budget, you can experiment and have fun with top-of-the-line stuff.

Let me share a bit about the tools we used for our funnels at different stages on the journey:

How Our Tools Changed Over Time

  1. When we started, we used ClickFunnels. It generates a basic funnel, custom-tailored to your business, saving you precious hours on web design. We used it for our sales pages and membership areas.
  1. For communicating with our audience, we used aWeber for email campaigns. They have pre-built templates and automated campaigns, so we could write up a campaign, load it in, and let aWeber do the rest.

These were fantastic in the beginning. Using something more complex or expensive would have been a waste of time and money, the most valuable resources you have to work with. Never underestimate the value of one focused hour of your time, especially not now.

  1. As our business and audience grew, we ran up against the limits of ClickFunnels. It didn’t support unique URLs for content, but rather one continuous page in the members’ area. Once we had enough content for members, we migrated to WordPress. This way, when someone requested a specific piece of content, we could send them a direct link.
  1. When we started rolling out courses of our own, we integrated Learndash. It had a ton of options for teaching and monetization. You could use it for one-time purchases, subscriptions, bundles, you name it.
  1. With a bigger audience, we ran into the issue of diverse customers at different points in the funnel. To solve this, we used ActiveMember360. This plugin lets you tailor customer experience to their place on the journey.

Again, don’t be fooled: You don’t need to start out with an eCommerce-level WordPress, running multiple paid plugins. You need the tool that fits your business right now.

  1. Once we reached the “established” stage, we had an exponentially larger audience. It was time to start segmenting, and crafting different messages depending on the customer’s origin point, and their point on the journey. For this, we integrated ActiveCampaign. It has a visual automation builder that looks like a flowchart. It was user-friendly enough to get value from it quickly, but powerful enough to handle diverse messaging.

I recommend you check out some of these tools, and choose the ones that make sense for your current stage and cash flow. And don't forget to subscribe to “What's The Secret?” for more straight talk on what you really need to start an online business.

Don’t fall for the lie that you need the “2021 Ferrari” of B2B marketing tools just to get started. A cyclist, pedaling their butt off, is going to lap someone who camps at the starting line, daydreaming about the fanciest bicycle shorts. 

Pick something that works right now, and get going. Eventually, you’ll become the person who can handle complex problems and tools. And then … you’ll have good reason to buy top-of-the-line stuff.

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

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