StartupBros header image ≡ Menu

Secret Weapons

I’ve spent a great deal of time searching for and comparing tools to grow my businesses faster. Here’s the best of what I’ve found.

Domain Names & Hosting

  • BlueHost: 95% of my websites have been hosted on BlueHost. Easy to use, 1-click automatic WordPress installation, and excellent customer service. Highly recommended for your first site.
  • Host Gator: A decent host, if you are for some reason opposed to BlueHost. I’ve heard mixed reviews.
  • ZippyKid: WordPress-optimized host that we use for StartupBros. Consistently quick support and load times.
  • NameCheap: Where I buy domain names. Cheap, reliable, never any problems…

Blogging/Building Websites

  • WordPress: Extremely flexible, popular, and free blogging platform.
  • Woo Themes: The ultimate resource for premium looking WordPress themes.
  • Theme Forest: The ultimate-ultimate resource for premium looking WordPress themes.
  • Thesis Framework: This is the WordPress framework that the StartupBros is built on, along with a skin from Kolakube. Thesis promises awesome SEO, faster load times, maximum engagement, and flexible settings. Kolakube promises awesome styles to guaranteed conversions.
  • StudioPress: Home of the only Thesis competitor I recommend, the Genesis Framework. They also sell some beautiful themes for Genesis.

E-Commerce Tools

  • Shopify: Great e-commerce platform that allows you to quickly and easily launch a scalable e-commerce website. Highly recommended if you’re starting a new e-commerce business.
  • Volusion: One of Shopify’s better competitors, if you have something against them. I’ve never used them, but I’ve heard good things.
  • BigCommerce: Another Shopify/Volusion competitor, I’ve heard good things.
  • Terapeak: Amazing product analytics tool owned by eBay. One of my personal favorite tools, and an absolute necessity for anybody starting out in e-commerce.

Landing Pages, A/B Testing, & Idea Validation

  • LeadPages: My favorite landing page company by far. Build highly professional landing pages that are proven to convert. This tool will save you tons of time, and can make you tons of money. Highly recommended!
  • OptimizePress: Pretty similar to LeadPages, but a little more powerful and complex. I have it and don’t really use it, but it’s a solid tool.
  • Visual Website Optimizer: The best testing platform I know. Run any test you want quickly and easily and get in-depth results. 30-day Free Trial, and it’s cheap after that. Highly recommended!

Email Marketing

  • OfficeAutopilot: More powerful version of any of the email solutions below. Email marketing, contact management (CRM), payment forms/processing, marketing automation, and more! Another one of my personal favorite tools.
  • AWeber: Best email marketing solution I know of, and what I used before upgrading to OfficeAutopilot. Shop around though, every company has a slightly different feature set.
  • MailChimp: Very popular competitor to AWeber, especially in the startup scene. They don’t provide much flexibility though.
  • Constant Contact: Another good competitor to AWeber and MailChimp. I’ve never used them but I’ve heard good things.
  • GetResponse: Fast growing competitor to the above three companies, currently the fastest growing email marketing provider. I’ve heard good things.

Social Media Marketing

  • HootSuite: One of the most popular social media management tools. Makes it simple to share and engage across many different social networks and accounts. Highly recommended! limited-time 25% off coupon
  • Sprout Social: More powerful social media management for larger companies. Very cool.
  • Commun.it: Awesome community management tool for Twitter, I just wish it worked across all my social networks! One of my favorites.
  • SocialBro: The best Twitter following manager I have found. This is how I get my Twitter followers. Allows you to segment people in incredible ways.
  • Qwaya: Best tool for Facebook Ad creation and management I have found.

Tracking & Analytics

  • Google Analytics: Google’s free website tracking and analytics tool. A must have for anyone with a website.
  • Clicktale: Awesome analytics tool that will blow you away. Actually records people using your site, so you can see exactly where things are going right or wrong.
  • CrazyEgg: Another awesome analytics tool I use, mainly for advanced heatmaps made easy.

WordPress Plugins

  • OptinSkin: This is what we use for our static opt-in boxes within blog pages. Super flexible and awesome out-of-the-box plugin. Our conversions shot up immediately after installing this. Even better – it has built in tracking, a/b testing, designs, and email service integration. HIGHLY suggested!
  • Pretty Link: The best (FREE) plugin for shortening, managing, and pretty-ing your ugly links. Also has built in tracking, QR code generation, and more.
  • Gravity Forms: If you are having any issue creating complex forms, this is the form plugin to end all form plugins. Incredibly flexible and pretty easy to use.
  • AA’s Digg Digg Alternative: This is what creates the vertical floating social share bar on the left of our blog posts. FREE and awesome.
  • Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: Provides a way for commentators to subscribe to the comment thread and be notified of new replies/comments. Another free and recommended one.
  • Sucuri: An awesome tool to make sure your websites are always secure from hackers and malicious code injections. Has saved me more than a few times. Free scanning tool highly recommended.
  • WPMU Dev: Wide array of cool plugins that I’ve been happy with.
  • Wishlist Member: The most powerful tool for building a Membership Site with WordPress. Very flexible, but complex.
  • Premise: Simple, pretty WordPress Membership Sites – but not as flexible/powerful as Wishlist.
  • Scribe: Helps you to make your content better optimized and more engaging while you’re writing it. I was skeptical at first, but I’ve grown to love it.

Outsourcing

  • Elance: Post your project, get bids from hundreds of freelancers and other service providers. This is my go to outsourcing tool.
  • Freelancer: A good alternative, if you have something against Elance…
  • 99Designs: This is a unique website that you can use if you need a logo design (or any other design really). It’s in a contest format, so you get TONS of different designs. You submit the description of what you want, and designers will compete against each other to win money.

Legal Stuff

  • LegalZoom: Easy online incorporation or LLC creation.

Learning How To Program

  • CodeSchool: The best online coding school there is. I take courses on here whenever I get the chance, very valuable. You have to at least know HTML and CSS as an internet entrepreneur!

Video Production

Product Distribution/Shopping Carts

  • Clickbank: Another digital products retailer. Probably the most popular. Decently priced, but comes with an amazing affiliate program for your products.
  • Paypal.com: Paypal is just ok for selling your own products through them, but you’ll need an account anyways to configure with and accept payments from the most shopping carts.
  • WP-Ecommerce: Great FREE plugin for selling stuff on a WordPress site (or building out an entire ecommerce store).
  • Chargify: A very nice payment system I’ve heard great things about. Very good for small startups and consultants.

Miscellaneous Tools I Love

  • WiseStamp: Very awesome email signatures.
  • Fotolia: If I have to buy stock images, this is where I buy them.
  • GiftTree: Any time I send a gift to a client or friend, it usually comes from here. They do great gift baskets.
  • Freshbooks: Great invoicing service for freelancers and consultants. I don’t use it any more, but I used to. Solid product.
  • Meeting Burner: Great online meeting/webinar platform.

Books

Audiobooks

  • Audiobooks.com: I’m all about listening to audiobooks at 1.5x or 2x speed – this site lets me do that for pretty cheap.
  • Mindset

    • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie: A must read for any entrepreneur, or pretty much anybody looking to be successful in anything. Time-tested, hugely actionable, and absolutely golden advice from front to back.
    • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill: Another must read for anybody looking to be successful in business. There have been more millionaires who have claimed this book made it happen than any other. The best business mindset book there is.
    • Rich Dad, Poor Dad: One of the only books I’ve ever read front-to-back in one sitting. And man, I was tired at school the next day, but it was worth it. This is an absolute must read, not only for entrepreneurs, but for anybody hoping to live a successful life.
    • The Millionaire Fastlane: On par with Rich Dad Poor Dad, with a very similar message. It describes how people must choose early which path in life they want to take – the sidewalk, the slow lane, or the fast lane. A great read!
    • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss: The super-famous book that taught countless people how to live more productive, wealthy, and fulfilling lives. Any internet entrepreneur should read this one at least once.
    • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: I wouldnt recommend all of the laws this book lays out, but this is the ecyclopedia on becoming powerful and gaining control over others. A bit unethical at times, but a must read.
    • The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy: This book really makes you realize how much consistent action can change your life. Another great one to get out of a rut.
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey: Possibly the most popular book on productivity and taking control of your life. Definitely worth a read, but a little less advanced than most of the books on this list.
    • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne: Yes, I know this book is a little gimmicky, but I still think you can take a ton away from this book on motivation and keeping your mindset in the right place.
    • The Alchemist: While I haven’t read this book yet, it’s one that I have recommended to me constantly. People that read this simple little story tend to come out truly better people on the other end. It’s the first thing I’ll be reading when I get some spare time! :)
    • Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion: Gary Vaynerchuk’s big book on how the internet has made it possible to make a living off of your passion. There isn’t a lot of actionable methods or tactics in there, but it’s definitely a good starting point for people just starting as internet entrepreneurs.

    Business & Entrepreneurship

    • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries: Another must read for every entrepreneur. Tons of valuable, timeless tactics and strategies to make sure your startup succeeds with limited risk. Great stuff.
    • How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis: I was surprised at how good this one was. Felix Dennis dropped out of college with no money and quickly created a publishing empire. He runs you through everything he wish he knew, as well as how to avoid the death-traps after success.
    • How to Be a Billionaire by Martin Fridson: This one is awesome – it is a great read directly after How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis. A comprehensive overview of the strategies and tactics all billionaires have used to get to the top. Really unconventional principles that I havent seen anywhere else in this one.
    • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau: One of the best books there is on validating and launching your startup with limited money and time. Tons of great info in here – a must read
    • The E-Myth Revisited: One of the best books on building a business there is. Michael Gerber delves deep into the life cycle of both successful and failed startups, pointing out what makes all the difference in the process. Another must read for entrepreneurs!
    • The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch: The absolute best book on how to figure out what to focus on in life, and how to get the most out of your time. You probably see 80/20 and 95/5 referenced all the time – this is where it is from.
    • Rework: A great, QUICK and SIMPLE read that will make you ask important questions about your work and your business. We revisited it recently and realized how many of these important ideas we were forgetting.
    • Delivering Happiness: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares what he learned building businesses throughout his life. This book will change the way you see corporate culture and customer service – guaranteed! Highly recommended, and a quick read.
    • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t: Jim Collins answers the question that plagued him for years; What separates the good companies from the great ones? The team was shocked by what they discovered. A must read for every entrepreneur!
    • The Laptop Millionaire by Mark Anastasi: One of the best books I have read on making money with internet marketing methods specifically. Pretty good read.
    • The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki: One of the better startup books I have read. Takes you through all the important things to focus on and what to ignore. I reference this often.
    • The Knack by Norm Brodsky: A really great book on entrepreneurship and business. Will help you be more confident and effective with your decisions. Highly recommended.
    • The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker: Takes all the best management and leadership principles and makes them simple to understand and fun to read. Highly recommended.
    • ProBlogger by Darren Rowse: One of the best books on blogging out there. Helps aspiring bloggers quickly launch a blog and take it to monetization.
    • The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career: Simply the best career-book out there. It takes principles used in the startup world and applies them to your career. And not your job-job career – it treats each person like an entrepreneur. Fantastic advice on networking, risk taking, and gaining a competitive advantage. If you want to boost your professional career then you don’t get better than this.
    • So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love: This book completely altered my thinking on passion. It shows that most successful careers were not founded in passion, rather the passion developed. Cal Newport lays out the roadmap for creating work that you’re passionate about and demonstrates the importance of diligent practice. It helped me get over lapses in passion that I had been suffering. Focus on the work!
    • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbably: You will be smarter as soon as you hold this book. It’s a powerful perspective-shifter that shows us the importance of impact over probability. It also shows us just how bad we are at predicting things – a fantastic read!
    • The Personal MBA  : Simply the best business overview you can get. It’s about $10 on Amazon and a necessity for any person interested in business, productivity, or pretty much anything else. The book’s section on “Working With Yourself” will make working a much more pleasant experience for yourself.
    • Linchpin: Seth Godin’s great book on what is required of anybody doing work today. His insistance that each one of us must be an artist is becoming more and more obvious every day.
    • Purple Cow: You’re either remarkable and unique, or bland and invisible. That’s the message of this enjoyable book by Seth Godin. But, don’t expect many “eureka moments” apart from that. Worth reading though.

    Psychology

    • Mastery: Robert Greene’s latest book, and sure to be another classic. For anybody who has ever desired being the best at something (anybody on this site), this is required reading! It’s been described as the synthesis and application of his 48 Laws of Power. Truly, an awesome book.
    • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: A classic book on the psychology of persuasion. After reading this you will have all the tools you need to be persuasive in business and everyday life. Powerful stuff.
    • Crucial Conversations by A Bunch of Guys: The only book you need when it comes to negotiations. I reference this one a lot.
    • Drive by Daniel Pink: Learn the truth about what motivates people and connect with what drives you again. I reference this whenever I am feeling burned out to get back on track.
    • Get Anyone to Do Anything by David Lieberman: Another book I reference constantly. Instead of giving you psychological principles and letting you figure out how to apply them, this book takes many specific instances and shows you how to apply psychology to get what you want. Highly recommended!

     

    Inspirational

    • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: I really didnt expect to like this one, but quickly got hooked and loved it. More inspirational than anything else.