by Juan Robin II
I’ve tried hundreds of business tools, software, and services since starting my online company in 2013.
For that reason, I’m incredibly selective with what tools I use and especially what I recommend to you.
The tools, software, and services below are what I use daily in my company. I can’t recommend them enough if you’re trying to grow your small business.
Top 12 Small Business Tools for
Affiliate Disclaimer: I will receive a small commission when you purchase products/services through my links on this page. I only promote products that I actually use and believe in.
I’ve used Gusto to run payroll since June 7, 2015. Back then, they were known as “Zen Payroll.” My company (Gotch SEO) is an LLC, but it’s taxed as an S-Corp. That means that I’m paid a salary (which is tax-deductible). Gusto automatically runs payroll twice a month for my company.
It also files all of my payroll tax forms automatically. You can also set up benefits, time off, and even pay contractors.
The one thing that’s stood out to me over the last five years is the amount of support that Gusto offers. They have detailed documentation about all things related to payroll, and their support team is insanely helpful. Also, they didn’t miss a beat when COVID-19 struck.
Within only a few days, they already had documents prepared if you wanted to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.
All-and-all, I cannot recommend Gusto enough. Especially for the ridiculously low price. It’s rare where the value exceeds the price. This is one of those situations hence why I’ve used them since 2015.
Bench is a bookkeeping service that has likely saved me thousands of hours since I joined in 2016.
Here’s how it works: you link your business accounts inside Bench, then they attempt to categorize your income and expenses. If they’re not sure, it goes into “Uncategorized,” and you’ll have to select the category.
This process trains its bookkeeping team. After you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll likely spend 10 minutes a month categorizing expenses.
Then every month, they prepare a summary, income statement, and balance sheet. You can access all of it from your dashboard. They even categorize your Top 10 Expenses so that you can stay on top of things.
But I haven’t yet explained the most significant value that Bench offers. When tax time comes around, Bench prepares a “Year-End Financial Package” that details all of your financials for the year.
You can send this report directly to your CPA to prepare your taxes.
I’ve done this for years, and my CPA loves what Bench puts together. Overall, I’ve saved thousands of hours, NOT doing bookkeeping or trying to prepare my tax documents. I can’t stress this enough.
I only have to think about bookkeeping for 5-10 minutes a month. Crazy, right?
I can tell you that adding Gusto and Bench into my company’s operations is one of the best actions I’ve taken since starting my company.
Think about this way: how much would it cost to hire a payroll specialist and a bookkeeper?
You can get both with Gusto and Bench for a fraction of that cost.
And trust me: I hired a bookkeeper, and it was a horrible experience. Bench is better.
I’ve used Grasshopper since 2014 because I didn’t want to use my personal phone number for business calls. But I also didn’t want to get a new phone or line just for business. So I found Grasshopper to be the perfect solution.
They’ll give you a local phone number and all the calls are forwarded to your personal phone.
You can also call using the local number (instead of your personal number). That way you can always keep your personal and business life separate.
Namecheap is my go-to source for buying domains. The cool part about Namecheap is that you get free private WHOIS when you buy any domain with them. They also offer hosting and SSL certificates for insanely affordable prices.
That means you can run your website with Namecheap and you won’t need anything else.
I’ve also always preferred their user interface over GoDaddy.
I’ve also had many issues with GoDaddy’s support and their hosting is a nightmare. You won’t have those issues with Namecheap.
I moved to WPEngine back on 3/17/17 and haven’t looked back. I know there are mixed feelings about WPEngine, but I always had an awesome experience. Their hosting is excellent. However, what makes them stand head and shoulders above everyone else is their support team.
Hosting is something that can break down in an online business. But when you have WPEngine on your side, everything is better.
Plus, their hosting is ridiculously fast. Look at Gotch SEO’s GTmetrix score:
Their team is available 24/7. And I’ll be honest: there have been times where I needed extra assistance usually because I broke something on my website.
WPEngine’s team was there to help every single time. I also love their User Interface (UI) because it’s simple, and anyone can learn it quickly. Compare this to Hostgator or other providers, and you’ll realize that WPEngine is superior.
Their pricing is on the premium side, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.
That’s why I have stuck with them since 2017.
There are countless places to buy themes for WordPress, but I haven’t found any better than GeneratePress. I consider GeneratePress to be more of a framework and foundation than a traditional theme. The reason why GeneratePress stands out is because of its lead and extremely fast themes.
I’ve moved all of my company’s websites to GeneratePress because it’s that damn good.
It’s also super customizable. That means you can bring a web design/developer on and they can customize it to your liking. Instead of building a custom theme from scratch which is often a huge headache and waste of money.
If you want better rankings and more organic search traffic from Google, you need to use SEMRush. SEMRush is an all-in-one search engine marketing tool. It can help you optimize both your SEM and SEO performance. I’ve used and recommended SEMRush for years because it’s insanely powerful.
Out of all its capabilities, what stands out is using SEMRush for competitive analysis. You can extract all of your competitor’s keywords, links, and active advertisements within seconds.
You can also monitor your SEO performance directly within SEMRush. This is great if you’re just trying to grow your company. However, it’s even better if you’re working with multiple clients. You can track the SEO performance of all of your clients within SEMRush.
That means you won’t need to pay for various tools at the same time.
I use Grammarly on a daily basis to improve my writing. All I can say is that I wish I had this amazing tool when I was still in school. So the way I use it is simple. I create a draft, edit it myself, and then I run it through Grammarly. I always aim for a score > 95.
It’s hard to say whether or not grammar, spelling, and sentence structure impact SEO performance. However, it doesn’t hurt. After I optimize my content using Grammarly, I then optimize it using Surfer SEO.
Surfer SEO is the most exciting SEO tool I’ve discovered since 2013. In short, Surfer helps you optimize your pages for maximum SEO performance. This is known as on-page SEO.
Here’s how it works:
- You enter your target keyword into Surfer.
- It then analyzes the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for that keyword.
- Then it spits out on-page SEO recommendations based on the competitors.
It gets pretty granular (which I love), but you can see high-level metrics like the total word count.
This alone is huge because it’s a waste of resources to create a page with a substantially higher word when it isn’t necessary.
Canva is a must-have for any business looking to create graphics at a dirt-cheap price. I can tell you from experience that hiring a great graphic designer isn’t cheap. And in some cases, you’ll need to hire one. However, there are countless projects where Canva is the perfect solution.
You don’t even need to be creative or know graphic design. That’s because Canva makes it super easy to create excellent graphics.
11. Fat Joe
Fat Joe provides the best white SEO label services on the market. I’ve spent millions of dollars on various SEO vendors through the years, and Fat Joe stands above the rest. There are a few reasons.
First, they produce quality work. Second, if the work isn’t quality, they are always there to remedy the issue. In other words, they put their clients first. Lastly, their support is phenomenal.
They aren’t some sketchy link building company that you can’t reach when you have a question.
Their support is always available and helpful. I can’t recommend them enough.
Now I will say the key to success working with them is to understand A) how to build backlink and B) how to create solid SEO content briefs.
One of the dumbest things I’ve done in my business was to build a membership dashboard from scratch. I spent a fortune developing it for my training course, Gotch SEO Academy. And let me tell you this: it was NOT worth it. I eventually said enough was enough and signed up for Kajabi. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I moved all of my course material to the Kajabi platform and haven’t looked back since.
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform for hosting, marketing, and selling your online course. I can’t recommend it enough.
You don’t need to use all of these small business tools I’ve mentioned. However, I will tell you from experience, that they can save you thousands of hours of work. So ultimately, it’s decision-based on how much your time is worth. To me, my time is the most valuable thing in the world because I can’t get it back.
I can always make more money, but I can never get more time. These tools and services are an investment (not an expense).
TL;DR: Top 12 Small Business Tools
- Gusto = Automated Payroll
- Bench = Affordable and Semi-Automated Bookkeeping
- Grasshopper = Business Phone Line
- Namecheap = Domains (and Affordable Web Hosting)
- WPEngine = Web Hosting
- GeneratePress = Lightning Fast WordPress Theme
- SEMRush = SEO and SEM Tool
- Grammarly = Copywriting
- Surfer = On-Page SEO
- Canva = DIY Graphics
- Fat Joe = SEO Outsourcing
- Kajabi = Online Courses