When running a global company we need some structure in place for the tools we use for multiple tasks.

There are thousands of tools on the market and you can waste hours finding and testing out new tools or services.

We have collated a list of essential tools for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

These tools can quickly become indispensable and they pay for themselves many times over. We’ve tested hundreds of different services and will continue to test more, but at this time you will find our most used listed below.

Trying to find one central tool for everything would undoubtedly improve productivity, but that “one tool” doesn’t yet exist and I doubt it ever will!

Evernote has become that “one tool” for storing ideas, memorable occasions, images and taking notes when researching content.

But when it comes to running a business with web orders, licensing software, software downloads, membership areas and thousands of customers then you soon start to reply on a number of different programs or services.

Maybe Evernote might branch out one day and take over online marketing tools!

The tools below offer free trials, low-cost entry-level plans and for the expensive ones we have provided some alternatives.

We hope you find this article useful and discover some new tools you may not have heard of and also get to know how we use them.

Customer Support Desk – Zendesk

Tools we use to run our software company | Zendesk

This is the primary support channel for all of our applications. Never a day goes by when someone on our team is not inside Zendesk. James could be checking on service level times or creating new processes. Kevin and Cris will be answering the advanced technical questions or creating new articles with their teams.

Zendesk is a great platform for startup companies offering a low-end price for a single user account. It’s quite a large monthly cost for us with multiple user accounts, but support for customers is something we constantly work hard to improve.

Zendesk allows us to implement systems to filter questions to the correct departments and it integrates into our CRM. Other excellent small business customer service desks are Help Scout and Groove, both offer great features and startup plans.

Inbox Killer & Team Communications – Slack

Tools we use to run our software company | Slack

Communication for a global team is imperative and especially when we work across so many time zones. Slack allows for us to have a central place to discuss everything and there’s no need to use email.

The advantage of Slack means you don’t have a hundred emails flying around each day with an entire team being Cc’d!

Ditch team emails and your communications will improve.

The power of Slack means we can build custom and private channels for different departments. We have open general channels so any team member can ask questions. Channels for announcements or urgent issues which each team member checks daily and we can instantly private message anyone on the team.

Our developers, designers, customer support department are also in there so we can quickly ping questions out to everyone or use private direct messaging without annoying everyone else.

Having this central place for discussion helps us become a closer team. We encourage everyone to post what they do outside of work whether it’s family photos, random snaps from the weekend or new toys…

Tools we use to run our software company | Social Media Facebook Share

…or links to useful content and food.

We can’t forget food can we?

Tools we use to run our software company | Social Media Facebook Share

One thing I’ve been trying recently is to keep all our team communications inside Slack. We do occasional chat on Skype, but there’ll be times when someone shares something and I’ll want to find it later.

Keeping all chats here makes it easier to find shared resources later.

Slack also have a mobile app so team members can always be available if they wanted.

It makes a great environment for staff learning and internal support. The fact that we can post a question any time of the day knowing it’s not going to get lost.

If I posted a question at midnight in the UK, Kevin in the USA may answer it or Cris and his team a little later on. By the time my day starts someone would have answered it. You can often open up Slack and see all the discussions from overnight.

Email Marketing & CRM – InfusionSoft

Tools we use to run our software company | Infusionsoft

We have nearly used every feature inside Infusionsoft, but now it’s primarily used for customer management, email, and our affiliate program. We have built many complex systems and campaigns inside Infusionsoft from tagging customers to onboarding new customers with automated emails sequences and more.

We have configured Infusionsoft to pass data back and forth between iMember, Zendesk, WooCommerce, Amazon S3 and other programs.

We control access to our ClubHouse through iMember from inside Infusionsoft. Zendesk checks Infusionsoft customer accounts are valid, WooCommerce passes order data to Infusionsoft, the MarketPlace integrates and also the licensing system can pick data when needed.

It certainly is a beast that must be handled with care. We use it with complex setups that run automatically.

If you’re looking for an application that has similar features to Infusionsoft then try Ontraport. If you don’t need the shopping cart or order forms, the next best email marketing, tagging system and customer management solution is ActiveCampaign.

The low entry prices give every entrepreneur the power to build automated marketing systems, lead scoring into their business and it integrates with OptimizePress.

Membership Management – iMember 360

Tools we use to run our software company | iMember360

iMember 360 is our chosen tool for managing access to the ClubHouse and the members area where you download OptimizePress. It talks to Infusionsoft to check customer accounts and then grants access to content for that level of membership.

iMember was built specifically for InfusionSoft. We tag leads inside InfusionSoft and iMember controls what content is shown when the user logs in. It has many other neat features like auto login, custom login/logout pages, drip content and the list goes on.

If you don’t use InfusionSoft you wouldn’t need iMember360. If you want a membership plugin that works closely with OptimizePress then OptimizeMember has a wealth of features for restricting content, custom membership pages, drip content, unlimited membership levels and many, many more.  OptimizeMember is included with your purchase of OptimizePress.

Shopping Carts – WooCommerce

Tools we use to run our software company | Woothemes

We have tested many different shopping carts in the past and will always look at new services that launch, but WooCommerce has proven stable for what we need. It has lots of features like multi-currency, software integrations, responsive checkout, PayPal recurring and credit card processing and many more.

The WooCommerce features we use are:

  • Paypal and Credit Card orders
  • Subscriptions
  • Account upgrades
  • VAT calculations
  • Multiple payment gateways

…and it connects to our mothership Infusionsoft where our automated systems take over.

WooCommerce offers a bunch of different paid add-ons to enhance your shopping cart.

Payment Gateway – Authorize.Net

Tools we use to run our software company | Authorize.net

Our payment gateway is managed by Authorize.Net and connects to our shopping cart. They offer comparative rates, easy to use and offer great support when needed.

Until you are processing a high volume of orders, you probably don’t need an internet merchant account like Authorize.Net.

OptimizeMember (our membership platform) allows you to integrate with multiple payment processors like Paypal, Clickbank, JVZoo and the most popular one of all – Stripe.

Tools we use to run our software company | Stripe

Stripe really does make it easy for entrepreneurs and small businesses to process credit cards with OptmizePress and OptimizeMember. If you’re just starting out then, this is a perfect merchant for taking card payments.

Project & Task Management – Asana

Tools we use to run our software company | Asana

If you want a tool for creating and tracking tasks then we recommend Asana. This allows us to brain dump ideas, schedule new ClubHouse templates, track bug lists that have been reported and more.

Asana is fairly new to us and we are starting to use more of the features like calendars and chat. We can comment on tasks, share ideas related to each task, look back over completed tasks, upload docs and other files via Google Drive.

The advantage is being able to keep each task separate and manageable in one location. An example would be working on this blog post; once complete I could share the draft URL with the team and ask for feedback. Other members can jump in share their thoughts of headline ideas, or upload other related images. We can assign tasks back and forth to each other and set deadlines.

Asana also has a mobile app that functions pretty much the same. I use the mobile version to check on my weekly task on a Sunday night to plan my week ahead.

Internal Calls & Customer Interviews – Skype

Tools we use to run our software company | Skype

We use Skype for our internal phone calls and meetings. We schedule a call each week to discuss and plan new content. We record any interviews with customers or have group calls that don’t require more than 5 people.

It really is a useful phone service for any small business, startup companies or freelancers. A small business can buy a phone number through Skype for £41, this gives you a local number for a year and even better it gives the impression to your customer that you have a physical location.

You can subscribe to the monthly international calls, perfect if you have clients overseas who don’t use Skype.

Social Sharing – Buffer

Tools we use to run our software company | Buffer

We have recently started using the paid version of Buffer and this certainly has increased our social engagement allowing us to share a lot more content.

Buffer enables us to schedule snippets of text, images and video from our blog post to be shared on social networks. Here are some of the features inside buffer that we use:

  • Features click share image
  • Highlight text and share
  • Add video
  • Customise different content for each network
  • Bulk schedule the same piece of content

It’s simply the best tool for sharing content online.

Web Hosting (CDN) – Amazon S3

Tools we use to run our software company | Amazon Web Services

When you run a high-end traffic site it pays to have a dedicated server like Kirk Mentioned here in his OptimizePress Customer Success interview. We use Amazon S3 and Cloudfront, it’s not a simple hosting service and requires a good understanding of Amazon’s cloud network to setup.

When your own site reaches a certain level of traffic it pays to have a good host with CDN like Amazon’s cloud. While it’s a big cost to us, it’s still the most competitive price for the volume of traffic we receive. There are many little tweaks you can make to speed up WordPress and OptimizePress before you have to spend a fortune on hosting.

We have multiple servers used for different customers facing areas so we can maintain 99% uptime across the different areas of our business.

Video Hosting – Vimeo Pro

Tools we use to run our software company | Vimeo

Vimeo is where we host all our videos. We have used it for years and never experienced any issues and it’s great value for money. If you plan to use it for commercial use, you need the Pro account.

Yes, that means if you plan to use it for videos on your membership site or blog. The Pro version allows 20GB uploads a week and unlimited HD plays for under $200 (£160) a year.

If you’re looking for a video hosting solution that offers other marketing tools and more advanced user tracking, then check out Wistia. It’s one of the best video hosting services currently on the market.

The only reason we don’t use it yet is because of the 200GB bandwidth limit that we would max out fairly quickly, maybe the Wistia team will read this and crack us a sweet deal…. hint hint.

Team Video Conferencing – Google Hangouts

Tools we use to run our software company | Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is something we tried out recently. As we build our team, it allows us to see each other when we chat, adding a little more personality into our team meetings.

Here’s a quick snap of Ian in deep thought…

team-hangout

We can save the recordings and send those on to other staff members. We can share screens, share files directly from Google Drive and start a hangout from pretty much any location that has adequate internet speed.

Quick Voice Communications – Voxer

Tools we use to run our software company | Voxer

I love how simple Voxer is! You know those times when you can’t be bothered to write text (SMS) messages or you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to make a phone call…?

You know those times right?

Well, this little app helps at those times. It makes sending a quick message very easy. It was introduced to me by Ian and I’ve since invited all my family and friends.

We use it for sending quick messages, schedule calls, send products ideas, reminders to check Asana if something is overdue and also to simply check in with each other.

Basically, all you do is hit the mic and talk.

I know iMessage has this feature, but you need the user’s phone number for it to work. Yes, and there’s Whatsapp and other tools that do the same.

Voxer makes it quick and easy to send a message or get someone’s attention at urgent times.

It takes seconds to ping each other a quick question regarding a project.

Tools we use to run our software company | Voxer

And we can never miss those cat moments that some of us experience.

Tools we use to run our software company | Voxer

BONUS Tools

There are literally hundred of tools, mobile apps and web apps that we use.

Here are just some of the additional tools we use for sharing docs, creating PDFs, recording interviews, editing images, editing videos, site tracking – the list goes on and on.

File Storage – Google Drive

Tools we use to run our software company | Google Drive

Google Drive along with the other Google products suite is awesome. I backup everything into Google Drive. The 100GB of storage for $1.99 is well worth the piece of mind knowing that content is backed up and available ay anytime in any location.

The free version offers 15GB of space. Dropbox is another popular storage service that some of the team also use.

Online Documents – Google Docs

Tools we use to run our software company | Google Docs

Along with Drive, we use Google Docs to share and collaborate on different files or projects. If we’re planning a webinar, we can create a new document to brainstorm ideas, before we bring everything into Keynote and build presentations.

We can create PDFs export files, make spreadsheets and more.

Image Capture and Annotations – Skitch

Tools we use to run our software company | Evernote

Skitch is a program from Evernote for grabbing screenshots and making annotations to images. When you see arrows on images, highlighting and blurring out of private content within screenshots –  Skitch is the tool that’s done the work.

It also syncs with Evernote so your screenshots are available for sharing. It’s nearly identical to the Evernote web clipper but with more features. If you use a PC you might use something like Snagit.

There are so many tools we love, the list can go on and on. Here are some additional ones we use:

A/B Split Testing – Visual Website Optimizer

Tools we use to run our software company | Visual Website Optimizer

Visual Website Optimizer is the tool we use for split testing various landing pages and elements within a page. It can help us produce data for split-tested pages during launches and affiliate promotions.

Blog Comments – Disqus

Tools we use to run our software company | Disqus

To spice up our blog comments, we use Disqus comments. It has built in features like social login, good spam control, and threaded discussions. It’s easy to install on any blog and works smoothly on blog posts and pages.

Video Editing & Screen Recording for Mac – ScreenFlow

Tools we use to run our software company | Telestream

ScreenFlow is a must have tool for any online business. You can record your screen, connect a camera, record the front facing camera and record your phone screen.

You can import video for editing and produce lovely animations, export directly to video hosting services and export to many different video sizes. It’s simple to use and affordable which makes it a winner. The PC equivalent is Camtasia Studio with prices slightly higher than ScreenFlow but has many of the same features.

Email – Google Apps

Tools we use to run our software company | Google Apps

We use Google Apps for our email service. It’s basically all the Gmail features for your business email. We get lots of storage, contact sharing, and all the other tools that Google roll out.

Quick Video & Image Capture – Jing

Tools we use to run our software company | Techsmith

I know I mentioned Skitch above, but Jing is another great program for sharing quick videos or screenshots. The free version limits videos to 5 mins. This is a great tool for sending in quick videos of  your technical questions to our support team

Web Clipping – Evernote Web Clipper

Tools we use to run our software company | Evernote

The perfect browser extension for grabbing, screenshots, articles, PDFs, bookmarks and more is Evernote Web Clipper. Everything you clip syncs to your Evernote account or you can simply share content directly from Clipper.

The tools above are the primary ones we picked out. We hope you get a little insight into how OptimizePress runs behind the scenes and have found a new tool that can help you store content, take web clips or send cat pictures to your family!

Got A Tool You Love? - Share It In The Comments Below!

What are the top five tools you use in your business?


    55 replies to "21 Tools We Use To Run A Global Software Company"

    • Indio John

      Skitch is great tool to capture screenshots and share it to others.

    • Caesi

      Thank you for the updated list. It helps. From what I am hearing from colleagues, Webinar Jam combined with Google hangouts is a perfect (near perfect?) match up with minimal tech issues (like crashing / freezing, etc.) and cost is very low comparatively to competition.

    • Jason Hilkey

      Great list! Surprisingly I use nearly every tool you listed in our business. One that I find particularly useful for Amazon cdn/s3 is Cyberduck. Thanks again for the great list. I’ll put it into Evernote 🙂

    • J Hunter

      Hey @David_Frosdick:disqus I love it. Going to look into a few of these for ourselves and our clients. I Especially like the VWO, haven’t heard of that – I’ve been using a few options including making my own, but I like the flexibility of that split testing. Especially the geographical feature. Thanks again for great stuff as usual! – J Hunter

      • David Frosdick

        No problem! Glad you can make use of the tools!

    • Adam Sawford

      Great list, thanks for sharing!

    • WI FI

      Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run to hire developers to make your own systems.
      We only use slack, skype and xenforo for website hosting and have developed our own backend system to track employees, customer data, statistics and traffic. It can be designed to your needs and replaces a lot of third party programs that might not meet your expectations in turn making you buy other services.

      • David Frosdick

        That’s a is a good point. As we know a lot applications are created out of solving in house problems. If you budget allows for it and it’s a long term project then creating your own software can actually save money. Tread carefully though as development costs can spiral.

      • J Hunter

        Sometimes it’s better to focus on your own business, and let someone handle an aspect of your business that they’re better at. That’s the joy of a free market capitalist society, we all help each other out. The truth is, if I’m spending a lot of time developing tools to monitor what I’m doing, then I’m spending less time on the things that actually create revenue.

    • glenfordsmith

      Hey guys, great list! Thanks a lot! I’m just learning about Asana – and it looks super. I just don’t get it, though – what’s with the exclusion of The Brain? That’s like…doing a roundup of luxury automobiles and excluding Mercedes! That’s my view, anyway, and as Les Brown would say – I’m sticking with it!

      • David Frosdick

        Hi Glen, That’s a good point the brain should be in the list 🙂 but the brain does need to relax and be creative so we use some of these tools to brain dump or ideas.

    • IMSource

      Great roundup

    • Barb D

      This article was timely and helpful in our search for better project management tools at Telestream. Thanks for the shoutout on ScreenFlow–glad to have a great site like this in the Telestream family.

      • David Frosdick

        No problem Barb!! We love your software! Make video editing soooo easy

    • Taillard Silvana

      Danke sehr aus Zurich!

    • David Frosdick

      Hi Ute, I came across Zoom recently after reading how Buffer use it. It does look great and would probably remove our use of Slack.

      They are so many tools on the market the sometime we can’t keep jumping around too quickly as it disrupts team communications. However we are always open to improving productivity and bring everything under one roof 🙂

    • Cat PAYEN

      <3 thanks for the share 🙂

    • Jonathan Gunson

      What a monster knowledge bomb! I’m becoming highly conversant with OP now, and this expands it further. Fact is, OP is so flexible, I’m discovering I can stretch it in ways that may not have been intended – all without breaking it.

      P.S. One other thing James. Do you have list of independent OP developers or experts I can employ (delegate tasks to) ? e.g. Doing an OptimizeMember installation.

      • David Frosdick

        That’s great to hear Jonathan! Some people really use OP in creative ways that we wouldn’t have thought of. The fact you can use custom CSS on rows and elements the design possibilities are endless.

    • James Dyson

      Great work on this article David, and thanks to everyone who has commented. To add a couple of extra tools that I use personally into here:

      – Airmail: this is a great Mac based mail tool which allows you to manage multiple email accounts easily in one tool and has some great filtering and organisational features

      – Ember: As Ian mentioned, this is a great tool for storing a library of website, banner and other image swipes for use in preparation of future marketing campaigns for ideas.

      – TextExpander: A really useful tool for saving snippets of text which you can add through simple shortcuts and shortcodes to make it quicker to answer emails and input information that is regularly repeated on your computer

      • Workout Anywhere

        Awesome tools James! What’s the preferred OP2 tool for managing affiliates?

        • J Hunter

          They’re also using InfusionSoft as outlined.

      • David Frosdick

        Thanks for sharing those. TextExpander looks like a great time saver!

      • huntergatherer

        James: What do you guys use for CRM behind the scenes?

        • J Hunter

          They’re using InfusionSoft, they did outlay that.

    • raspyni

      Great stuff, guys. I’m in on many of these for my business which make me think I should use the others!

    • Workout Anywhere

      Good read and thanks for sharing. So, Optimize Press does not use Optimize Member? Why is that?

      Also, is there a membership management system that allows control over drip delays? For example, someone signups up and has several course options. They click a button activating the course and daily lesson drop.

      Thinking we need an upgrade. Does Stripe handle recurring payments?

      Thanks,

      Jessica

      • rabj

        Skype does recurring, yes.

        • Workout Anywhere

          Thanks. Any thoughts on my other questions?

          I love Disqus, but does it work with pages built in the live editor yet? Had trouble with that early on. Plus, I have BP and BP does not recognize Disqus comments for their Activity Stream.

          • rabj

            Sorry, just re-reading my first answer (which has now been edited) and it should have read “Stripe” does recurring. Don’t have any experience with Disqus myself although I am thinking about it. As far as drip content, I think most of the major membership softwares do it as it’s a commonly-asked-for feature with memberships. I’m currently using MemberMouse which definitely does it although I haven’t actually used it yet. Planning to soon though. Hope that helps!

      • David Frosdick

        Hi Jessica, I explained more detail below to Holly. Basically we had membership transaction in place way before OptimizeMember was released.

        You can managed Drip feeding with OptimizeMember, our knowledgebase has articles on this. Let us know if you need any help 🙂

        Once you connect Stripe to OPM you can handles recurring payments like monthly, yearly etc

    • tweakservers

      We use Wunderlist for task follow up and to-do list. The commenting system for each task makes it very useful like Facebook comment section. This cut down the emails flying around and make follow up much more efficiently.

      • David Frosdick

        That’s interesting to hear how you use it! I downloaded Wunderlist two weeks ago, it’s the best “to-do” app I found as it gives me reminders on my iPhone. I tested a LOT of “to-do” apps including using Trello but the reminders were poor. Maybe we’ll test using it in our team.

        • tweakservers

          Yap, is the best we have used so far.We have previously tried Todoist and came across Wunderlist which help the team to be more collaborative right now without the need to have emails flying here and there 🙂

    • Holly Gillen

      I find it odd that you don’t use OP within your own company for things like the membership site and A/B testing which you market and sell OP to be able to handle. Why is that?

      • rabj

        I don’t think OP is meant to handle the testing. While you can create both versions using OP, the actual tracking software running in the background needs to be another company (as far as I know). The question about the membership software is fair though. Personally I have always used OP in conjunction with a 3rd-party membership software.

      • David Frosdick

        Hi Holly, great questions. Let me explain. We use OP for about 97% of our business.

        We don’t currently have a spit testing feature which is why we use a third party app.

        We use WooCommerce because of the shopping cart features that work with VAT. OptimizePress doesn’t have a fully fledge shopping cart as such, only the ability to take recurring payments using OptimizeMember. Also we have a lot of recurring, instalment transactions and template sales so we need a shopping cart for those.

        Regarding our ClubHouse membership site, we used iMember before we had OptimizeMember. Because we have thousands of customers already integrated with iMember and InfusionSoft it’s too complex at this time to migrate over to OptimizeMember.

        By using a third party for this step we get to see all the feature we would like added to our own membership plugin and one day we might be able to make the switch.

        Other than those we use OP in everything else 🙂

        • Workout Anywhere

          That’s good to hear David? It’s a great plugin and some of these features would make it epic. Before OptimizeMember, I had DAP and then S2member. I know S2Member is almost the same, but I like the layout and ease of use with OptimizeMember. If there was more seamless integration with WooCommerce (or a built in shopping cart), plus the ability to alter one’s registration date and drip delay timer, It would be truly epic.

          • David Frosdick

            Yes the drip starting date or resetting date is on our list. Also making an override option.

    • CoachKaterina

      I love Trello. I use Trello to manage all my projects and simple CRMs, business and personal.

      • David Frosdick

        Excellent! Thanks for commenting here.

    • Roy Ripper

      great article and thanks for sharing David!

      • David Frosdick

        Cheers Roy! Good to see you on the blog!

    • Kevin Fahey

      Excellent list of resources. I use many of them myself and many are free. Zapier maybe another I use to automate more things.

      • David Frosdick

        Thanks Kevin! We have some articles coming out about using Zapier to add leads into OptimizeMember.

    • Warren David Horak

      Thanks for this list David.
      Don’t forget Trello 🙂
      I use Trello for project collaboration it is such an easy and powerful tool.

      • David Frosdick

        Yeah Trello is great! I’ve setup an account recently and it seems to have a lot of features for team communication. Thanks for sharing!

    • Leno Porto

      I use a lot Alfred 2 to open everything quickly.

    • Ian Bass

      Great post David… I am excited to see any additional tools that people share here.

      I would like to share Ember (http://realmacsoftware.com/ember) , a tool I use everyday for swiping and organizing my library of web sites, images, banners, emails.

      • David Frosdick

        Cheers Ian! Ember is great, I may start using it again. Funnily enough the company Realmac Software are based here in Brighton 🙂

Comments are closed.