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The 7 Mission Critical Tools for My Online Business

Coming up with the right technology setup for your site can be tricky! I have been through many many iterations and I think I finally have one that I am happy with.

If you have even thought about starting an online business you know how complicated your tool/service selection can be. The decisions you make when selecting a service can impact your business for literally years!

In this post I talk about...

  • ​My theory on the setup for my business (modular vs monolith)
  • The 7 tools I use now
  • The 7 tools I would use if I was just starting out today

Not surprisingly a bunch of these links are affiliate links and a bunch are not affiliate links. They are mentioned here just like every other post on my site because I use or have used them. 

Multiple Services vs Single Service Running Your Online Business(Modular vs Monolith Construction)

Here is my case why I believe a modular approach to my online businesses infrastructure beats a monolithic solution.

  • What is a Modular Online Business Setup? Modular is when your business runs on multiple different services/tools for example wordpress + aweber + paypal
  • What is Monolithic Online Business Setup? Monolithic is when your business runs almost exclusivey off of one integrated tool. A couple of the most popular tools in this space is ClickFunnels (highly recommend his book) and InfusionSoft.

There is an ongoing debate online (and in my head) about if an end-end solution would be better than the modular approach I now take.

  • Benefits of Modular - You can swap out parts as you see fit to make the system better
  • Benefits of Monolithic - You don't have to worry about the interfaces fitting and often quicker/faster easier to use if you plan to stay within the limits of the system

For me in my businesses right now I am going with the bolted together modular option...

The benefit of this is when I start a new business/project (which I have been known to do from time to time) ie ListingEagle I can simply swap out one of the components and replicate the model.

For example, my ListingEagle SAAS business wouldn't work completely with ClickFunnels (a popular endend solution) due to the complexity of multiple accounts/account upgrades/cancellations/API calls blah blah blah.

So by having my business running off of modular components I can repeat everything but swap out Clickbank for Zaxaa for now to get going quickly and then a more robust solution with Stripe soon enough.

For me it is clear that a modular approach to my businesses infrastructure is my preferred approach!

The 7 Mission Critical Tools I Need To Run My Online Business

There are 7 different types of tools/services most online businesses need to have. This post talks about those 7 tools and what they were when I started out with my online business and what they are now.

First I will list all the tools and what I use them for, then will have a list of all the tools I would use if I was just starting out and finally the setup I now use after 7 years of trying/testing/tweaking...

  1. Email – Like it or not communicating with people via email is a massive part of anyones online business.
  2. Hosting – It is unlikely you are going to have an online business without a host. There are many great sites out there that try to point you in the right direction.
  3. Content Management System – I almost forgot to mention this one as the selection for this is pretty straight forward for most people – WordPress!
  4. Theme – A great looking site is what everyone wants and starting with a great theme is a good way to make this happen!
  5. Lead Generation Plugin – For most people this decision can have the biggest impact on your potential earnings. Cutting corners on your lead gen setup for your site is a huge mistake I see a lot of people making.
  6. Email Autoresponder – Assuming the intent of your website is to provide useful information, build an audience and ultimately make money in exchange for adding value than your email autoresponder will likely be your main leverage point!
  7. Order Fulfillment / Shopping Cart Solution – If you are selling something on your site than you will need to pick a solution that will allow you to sell that product/service.

My Setup I Would Use if I Was Just Starting Out:

If I was starting out today and wanted to keep costs down here is the setup I would work with. It is also very close to the setup that I used when I first got started.

  1. Email – Gmail (Free)
  2. Hosting – Inexpensive Shared Host ($5/month)
  3. Content Management System – WordPress (Free)
  4. Theme – Free Theme (Free)
  5. Key Lead Gen Plugin – SumoMe 
  6. Email Auto responder – AWeber ($19/month)
  7. Order Fulfillment – PayPal Buttons ($30)

After 7 Years My Current Setup for My Main Businesses:

What are the 7 tools you use for the following needs and how do you like them?

  1. ​Email
  2. Hosting
  3. CMS
  4. Theme
  5. Lead Gen Plugin
  6. Email Responder / Marketing Automation
  7. Order Fulfillment / Shopping Cart Solution

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Matthew Allen says June 6, 2016

I’m also on WPEngine and love them and have never had any issues. Just curious – why are you ‘not thrilled with them lately?’

Love my Genesis Themes – LeadPages for LeadGen all the way! – AWeber just because they were my first and I wouldn’t want to hassle with switching – does Amazon count for order fulfillment? 😉 (FBA)…

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