Episode 85 | 21 Free And Low Cost Solutions For Running Your Business

Show Notes


[00:00] Rob: In today’s episode we’re going to be covering 21 free and low cost solutions for running your business. This is Startups For The Rest of Us: Episode 85.

[00:09] [Music]

[00:18] Rob: Welcome to Startups For The Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.

[00:27] Mike: And I’m Mike.

[00:28] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Mike?

[00:33] Mike: I’m drooling over Apple’s new hardware updates. [Laughter]

[00:36] Rob: Yeah, a lot of people are. Did you see the MacBook Pro, the super high-end one that’s thin like an Air?

[00:42] Mike: And that’s the one I’m drooling over but unfortunately it’s three grand and I don’t know as I can justify dropping three grand on that. [Laughter]

[00:49] Rob: Well, it’s yeah. It starts at 2200 but if you want the 16 gigs of RAM and I think that there’s some other like the super fast processor and the 768 gig SSD drive. I like that. They’re raising the bar because everyone will follow and I love those specs and I can’t wait until that’s, you know, half a price.

[01:08] Mike: Yeah, I mean just looking at the price alone, I just — I looked at it and I said wow, that’s about the price of a brand new desktop which of course I was also thinking about of getting the desktop in the near future because I haven’t upgraded my desktop and probably — I think it’s the same processor and mother board and stuff that I bought probably four or five years ago. And it’s — it’s kind of —

[01:26] Rob: Yeah.

[01:27] Mike: … old.

[01:27] Rob: Yeah, I have a desktop with this exactly the same thing where the processor  mother board is — it’s actually probably seven or eight years old at this point but I upgraded the RAM and I got two huge hard drives and I do RAID, software RAID between them and I use it. We use it just to store photos and kind of do a local backup of everything because now, you know, I have a laptop with it only has 256 gig. It’s an SSD drive and even that drive was 500 bucks at that time. And so I’m just realizing that my laptops are not going to have — for a while, they’re not going to have enough storage to hold everything that we own digitally. And so that’s really our backup machine and video editing set up.

[02:04] Mike: I’m looking at the hardware specs though and it amazes me that they’re able to keep it in a package that’s only about four and a half pounds —

[02:11] Rob: I know.

[02:11] Mike: Because I just remember my — my old laptop before I got the MacBook Air, I had a Lenovo but I mean it was — it was a beast. I mean including the power supply and everything, it was a good ten or eleven pounds.

[02:21] Rob: Yeah, I agree. It’s amazing. So hey, we have some software to giveaway. It’s the Diablo III game we mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve forgotten to giveaway at MicroConf. We had a bunch of submissions for ideas for future podcast like we had asked for. And I think that the fifteenth submission that we had said that we’re on the fifteenth one, it’s someone named Andrew and he didn’t give us a last name but I have his e-mail. And Andrew, I will be getting in touch with you probably before this podcast airs and giving the copy of Diablo III to you so round of applause for that.

[02:54] Something else we were contacted by Russell Thackston and he runs — he’s a researcher and he runs the annual microISV survey. And so a lot of you in the audience had probably taken this before. If you have a one-person software company whether it’s web or mobile or desktop, he basically surveys microISV as — it’s the term that Russell uses to kind of head up his research. In any case, he does a survey every year and he publishes the results and it’s something cool. You should be a part of it if you have a one-person software company. So if you go to survey.microisvresearch.org, you can fill up the survey. It doesn’t begin until August 1st but if you and or e-mail there, you know, he’ll pop you an e-mail when it’s ready.

[03:35] And there’s a bunch of giveaways. We’re actually sponsoring it. We’re giving away lifetime membership to the Micropreneur Academy to — he’s going to do just a random drawing. I think I offered five copies of my book. There’s a bunch of stuff. He has about $1800 in prizes and he’s done the survey for two or three years now. If you have a microISV, I’ll definitely be taking — I typically take it for one of my products. I think last year I did it for DotNetInvoice because he has some pretty specific product questions.

[04:02] Mike: That’s cool. I remember taking that last year. That’s interesting to see kind of what the questions are and then what ends up coming out of that survey. So hey, I’ve been working on the AuditShark website redesign and that contractor I had has been working on quite a bit. And he came back with things a lot faster than he thought — than I though he would. So past couple of days, I’ve been building out some of the content. Mostly the basic pages and then the — some of the layout of how I want the pages to be arrange and what links I want to be on the pages. So I’ve got all of the different things laid out but I sort of have to create some of the content for it and I’m pulling in some content from the old website and then there are certain things that I can’t really do much about right now because like for example on the pricing page, I don’t know what the pricing is going be at and I don’t know what the features that I’m going to be heavily marketing armed because I’m still talking to some of the customers or the prospective customers and finding out exactly what it is that they really want and try to use that to incorporate in to the sales website. So still some conversations we have there but it seems to be going pretty well, definitely no complaints on that end.

[05:07] Rob: All right. Now, I’m going to AuditShark.com right now and I’m hoping to see a landing page, collecting e-mails and no.

[05:12] Mike: No.

[05:12] Rob: It’s an old sales website, Mike.

[05:15] Mike: No, it is. I know, I know.

[05:16] Rob: [Laughter] Get it up there.

[05:19] Mike: I think I’m going to try and get this out there probably within the next week or so and I don’t know what’s all hit too heavy on the features for the marketing side of it but I’m don’t really going to put the product out there and start talking. Put a landing page out there that’s specifically starts asking for more e-mails. I’ve gotten some more signups over the past couple of days, not both directly for through the survey and through the AuditShark website. So I’ve been reaching out to people and individually who haven’t taken the survey that are on the mailing list and then asking them to see if they go through and put their thoughts in to the survey as well.

[05:50] Rob: Very nice. So we got an e-mail this week from Rudy at HireFlo.com. And he’s e-mailed us in the past we’ve — I think he’s asked a few question and he was also at MicroConf. And he was just dropping us a line to say that he had a lot at MicroConf. He says, “I think it will have a material impact on my company.” He says “I just put up some website changes putting takeaways from MicroConf in to practice. The big one is that I came clean about being one guy.” So another word Jason Cohen had talked about being honest, honesty in your business and not trying to act like a big company. And so now, on the HireFlo.com about page it just talks about him being one-person. He says, “I also implemented some changes Jason Cohen suggested during a private tear down like using customer testimonials and dividers on the home page, that’s just two things. I’ve got a whole notebook to work through. My time at MicroConf will be paying dividends for many months to come.” So thanks a lot Rudy for writing in. That’s cool for us to hear.

[06:45] So there’s two things there. One, if you like this idea, HireFlo is a pretty cool product. It’s about taking control of hiring for your business and it allows like all of your applicants to instead of you just getting a bunch of e-mails and all goes in to HireFlo, it has a pipeline of people so you can tell where they are in the pipeline. It just helps you manage that process dealing with multiple job boards and all that. So its landing page much, much better than I remember seeing it, you know, about six months ago. So it’s some good improvements there and then of course, microconf.com if you’re interested in MicroConf 2013. We have a little e-mail contact form at microconf.com entered in there and you’ll be one of the first people to hear about it.

[07:20] [Music]

[07:24] Mike: Today, we’re going to be talking about some of the free and low cost solutions you can use for running your business. And we had an episode a long time ago where we basically did this exact same thing and somebody had commented that we should really come back and revisit that because it’s — I think it’s been more than two years since we did that. So looking back on it, there’s a lot of tools that I use now. Some new things that have come out that I had, you know, just didn’t even exist back then or that I wasn’t using. So I thought it’d be a good idea to go and walk through some of the things that we use today and not necessarily contrast them with what we used to use but certainly point out some of the new things that are available that people could be using for their businesses.

[08:02] Rob: Sounds cool. It looks like we have 20 or 21 tools. Why don’t you kick this off?

[08:08] Mike: So I think on the first category we’re going to go through some of the marketing tools and one of the obvious ones is Google Analytics and looking through our previous episode that actually wasn’t on our list. I don’t know why.

[08:20] Rob: Yeah, it’s funny. Yeah, I mean it’s such a staple. There’s a question on query about how many Google Analytics users there are and it’s an egregious amount. I know there are just different estimates but some people were saying like, oh, 50 — 47% of all the websites use it. It’s a — such a prevalent tool that we just — I think of it is like electricity, right? It’s like you almost forget that you use it. It’s more of a utility than anything.

[08:41] Mike: Yeah, sort of like if you have a website you’re using it and if you don’t, then you’re not. [Laughter]

[08:46] Rob: For a free tool, I don’t know if anything that compares but the one thing that I would say is that you need to add in purchase goals or e-mail signup goals in to your Analytics. That is the first thing I do every time I set it up for a new website is I add at least one goal and that’s some type of action they should take. And it’s super simple to do. It’s just takes a couple of minutes. We’ve talked about on the podcast, I’ve talked about it on the blog, if you’re tapping to how to set up a Google Analytic goal in to Google, you can do it in two minutes. You just enter the URL of the goal page and that will provide you with incredible data not just who is signing up but where they’re coming from, right? It’s like it tells you what your most valuable traffic sources are so then as you build that information up overtime, you can later, you know, hit those sites if you want to advertise or just invaluable info to have.

[09:31] Mike: Very cool. So the second one is backlinkfinder.com and opensiteexplorer.org and we’ll link to all of these in the show notes so if people are trying to take notes right now, don’t bother trying to get the spellings right. We’ll just — just check out the show notes and you’ll see them. But backlinkfinder.com shows you all of the sites that are linking back to your website. And the other one is opensiteexplorer.org and opensiteexplorer.org essentially allows you to type in your website and it will show you a lot of the inbound links. It’ll show you, you know, the domains that link in to your sites, some of the anchor texts. It’ll allow you to check the domain authority of your site versus some of the other sites that are linking back to you.

[10:11] It gives you a good idea of how your website ranks in relation to others and this tool is from — is built by the same people who run the company SEOmoz. So there are some pro only features and if you have an SEOmoz account, then you’ll be able to see those things like Facebook likes and Facebook shares and tweets and Google Plus One but there’s a lot of free data that you can get out of this even if you don’t pay for an SEOmoz subscription.

[10:39] Rob: Yeah and so Open Site Explorer really is the best free tool that I know about for looking at back links. And I have an SEOmoz account so I’m able to run a lot of reports. It’s a bit — it’s limiting. I think it can only run three or four a day if you don’t have a paid SEOmoz account but it definitely has information that you can’t really find for free elsewhere.

[10:58] Mike: So the next tool is Wufoo.com and Wufoo — I’ve talked about it a little bit in regards to running my surveys through AuditShark for that but what I really like about it was the ability to see how long people had spent actually filling up the survey and it shows your conversion rate for the number of people who hit the survey versus the people who actually filled it out. So you get to see that conversion rate and I think as I said before on AuditShark I got about a four to four and a half percent conversion rate on it and the people who filled it out spent anywhere from five to six minutes, actually filling it out. So wasn’t as if it was they just dropped their e-mail in to a web page and sign up for some mailing list. I mean they actually had to go through some effort and give some thoughts of the questions that we’re asking so — I think it’s a little bit more of a qualifier than just, you know, signing up for mailing list.

[11:48] Rob: And congrats to the guys at Wufoo they — I think — I’m pretty sure they were YC company, Y Combinator and they sold to SurveyMonkey sometime in the last eighteen months or so. So they built up a good business. So hey, I’ll take tool number four, marketing tool. It’s called HitTail. So by now most people in the audience probably know what HitTail is. It’s a tool that helps you mine the keywords in your existing traffic. So it helps you expand your organic traffic by making suggestions for keywords that you should be targeting but aren’t. So if you log in to Google Analytics and you look at all the keywords people found you for, you might have five hundred in a month or a thousand in a month and HitTail as an algorithm, it’s sifts through all of those and it’ll suggest the best twenty or thirty or forty that you should target. You have the highest chance of ranking high for.

[12:34] And you know, if you’ve been listening to the podcast within the last month I launched a new feature that basically allows you to do one-click articles. And so now, you don’t even have to write a full blog post. You can just make a click, pay a few bucks and in a couple of days, you’ll get an article back based on those keywords so you can keep your SEO going even when you don’t really have time to do it.

[12:53] And tool number five, we have two tools. The first is a free tool call Google Website Optimizer and the second is paid tools called Optimizely. And so Google Website Optimizer is actually being deprecated. Google is shutting it down and they are moving their split testing in to Google Analytics. There’s just going to be like a content split testing area of Analytics. So even more things are being — being move in to Analytics. But basically Google Website Optimizer and Optimizely are just A/B testing or split testing engines that allow you to put out two versions of the same page, split the traffic that goes to each and measure people’s behavior to figure out which version of that page works best for you. So I’ve used actually both Optimizely and Google Website Optimizer. Optimizely makes it super fast, super simple, has more capabilities but and it get starts at around 19 bucks a month.

[13:45] Mike: So number six and seven both provides some pretty similar functionality but they are CrazyEgg and Inspectlet and both of these are JavaScript snippets that you can embed in to your website and what that does is it tracks the users who come to your website and allows you to see what they’re looking at. So you get to see what they click on, where they’re looking on the site. You can just kind of track them through the website and it can help you to figure out if there are things in your UI that people simply aren’t looking at. So you might think that for example there’s this giant button just below a banner that it should be obvious that people should be clicking on and you know, something like CrazyEgg or Inspectlet can show you that people aren’t clicking on it because they just don’t even see it. They’re not even putting their mouse over it or even making an attempt at it. It’ll use heatmaps to helps show you that information.

[14:35] Rob: Right. So CrazyEgg can also tell you if you have an image on a page that you haven’t link to anything and you’re getting a bunch of clicks on it. So it tells you should like link it to something whether it’s a surprising page or whatever. CrazyEgg is kind of a 900-pound gorilla in the space. They’ve been around for two or three years now. Hiten Shah and Neil Patel founded it. Hiten Shah spoken at MicroConf several years in a row.

[14:57] Inspectlet is new on the scene. They’re definitely lower priced. I have not use them for their heatmap but I’ve used them for the screen recording. So I’ve used it within HitTail to be able to watch people’s mouse movement and then actually see their cursors. I’ve used it with a couple of new features that I’ve launched to try to figure out if they’re having problems getting things done and so I can just, you know, evaluate kind of the UI and figure out if I need to make improvements to it. So that’s CrazyEgg.com and Inspectlet.com.

[15:24] Mike: The next one that on our marketing list is KISSmetrics and KISSmetrics is also from Hiten Shah. And I’ll be honest, I really like KISSmetrics. I love being able to basically set up all of these goals and things in there where you’re trying to figure out what the path for people going through your website is and essentially constructing your website in such a way that it guides them through it rather than giving everybody an option because everyone likes to think that they know exactly what they’re doing and when they go to website, they have all these different options but the reality is that if you construct your website in the right way, people will [0:16:00] walk through your website in the way that you want them to see it and they’ll do that because of these calls to action and they’ll click on them and go through them and you can start measuring how many people go through those calls to action in the order that you want.

[16:14] And because of the way that KISSmetrics is set up, it’s just a little JavaScript snippet that goes on to your website and all of that data gets fed back in to KISSmetrics and then several hours later, they aggregate it and put it in to some fancy back end data structures that make it easy for you to build these reports. You can get good information on where people are going and whether or not they’re going through the website in a way that you want them to.

[16:38] Rob: Right. So I think you might describe it as funnel optimization.

[16:42] Mike: Yeah, that’s probably a better — [Laughter] a better way to describe it.

[16:45] Rob: So that’s the difference between it and say CrazyEgg and Google Analytics because it’s not like full analytics but it does provide you with a visual look at your funnel and it can also provide you — if you give it the data, it will provide you with your lifetime value customers, your churn rate, stuff like that. So it can be also be use as a dashboard. I know a lot of people who do that. I had it working for HitTail and it provides some good info. I also have a home brewed one page dashboard that I use — I pull data out of my database. I see the value of both and you know, I’ve been a long time KISSmetrics customer as well. As you said it from Hiten Shah and it is also a paid tool.

[17:21] Mike: So the next category we’re going to look at is for domain names and there’s three different tools on this list. There’s leandomainsearch.com and that one — the person who wrote that was actually at MicroConf this year. He built Lean Domain Search just to help him find his own domains for products that he was looking at and then ended up putting it out there and it’s also a real great tool. You plug in a couple of keywords and it will split back, you know, a list of hundreds and hundreds of domain names which are available that you could then purchase.

[17:53] Rob: That’s cool. Another related tool is nameboy.com and it’s similar. You can plug in a primary word and optional or secondary word. You can check allow hyphens or not. You can check rhyme or not. It’s just more options so it’s just gives you options and all of the things that are not already registered which is cool. And then the third one in the domain list is called HotNameList. So the way I’ve used this in the past because I’ve registered domains through this is several days a week, the owner puts out a new list of available domains that are kind of like generic domains. So today, he has a category of apologetics and he has all these dot com domains that are available like biblicalcommands.com, bakerencyclopedia.com and he has the exact monthly searches and the numbers of letters in the domain.

[18:38] It just has kind of this — there’s a list of things to get your mind to going. And so who covered different topics and so that’s what I like kind of sifting through it. And then he also has a service where you can give him a topic and he will present you a private list. You pay and you get a private list of domains around that topic that are available. And if you don’t like the list, I think he has a money-back guarantee.

[18:58] Mike: So one of the categories that I don’t think made it in to our last list was projects and customer management tools. I think the two to come to mind for most people are Basecamp and Highrise. And I would look at those as more on a free side than necessarily low cost because even though they are fairly competitively price but each one I think is $24 a month on their own but they also have free plans that are available. So if you’re not — as long as you’re not uploading files or, you know, need to do anything beyond what that free plan offers, you can definitely use, you know, both of them for quite some time before you need to start paying any money for them.

[19:34] So the next one is Trello and this one is from Fog Creek Software. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times in the past. You can essentially use it to manage just about any project that you want. And it’s nice to be able to drag and drop things around on the UI and as I said before it’s a free tool. You can use it for bug tracking. You can use it for project management. You can use it for prioritizing of new features. You can use it for marketing list, just about anything. It’s a very horizontal product. It doesn’t necessarily have to be use for software tasks.

[20:04] Rob: And also from Fog Creek Software, I use FogBugz for my project to management and my interactions with customers. It’s really a bug tracking softwares how it started but it kind of morphed in to some project management software. It’s not super feature rich for project management and I will think that if you’re get — just getting started, Trello might be a better way to manage to do list and features and I think that’s why they developed it. But FogBugz is definitely where I have a lot of my support going through and where I keep track of new features and bug requests, bug mentions for existing software that we have.

[20:37] Mike: The next category that we have is e-mail management. And with an e-mail management, there is Rapportive which allows you — it’s a Gmail plugin that allows you to see information about the person who either has e-mailed you or that’s you’re about to send an e-mail to. So if you have an e-mail address, you simply mouse click over the top of that e-mail address and over on the right hand side bar, it shows you information about that person, anything that’s links to that e-mail address through either Twitter or LinkedIn or a couple of other sources of information and if they have like a gravatar out there, it will show the picture of them as well that they have linked to that gravatar. And it’s really helpful for just kind of getting a mental picture of who it is that you’re sending an e-mail to and it allows you to get some sort of contacts about the people who are sending e-mails to you.

[21:29] Rob: I use it multiple times per day. I’m connecting with people via LinkedIn, Facebook, following me on Twitter, doing something the Rapportive is suggesting. I love this tool. It’s free which is crazy. The LinkedIn just bought them in the past couple of months. It’s definitely a good tools and no brainer for Gmail. I don’t know if it works with any other e-mail client but it’s a no brainer for Gmail.

[21:50] Our next tool is Boomerang. We’ve talked about this before. I originally heard about it from Dan Andrews on the Lifestyle Business Podcast. And Boomerang is also a Gmail tool. It allows you to schedule e-mails to be sent at a certain time in the future. So if you’re working at three in the morning, you don’t want people to know that, you can send it — set it to send at 10 a.m. the next day. It also allows you to check your boxes. Say if no one replies to this e-mail, put it back in my inbox at any specific time you can just say one week out, you can set a specific date and specific time, tons of configurability there.

[22:22] Now Boomerang is free for thirty days and then it’s five bucks a month. This has replaced my tickler file. I used to go in to a Google calendar when I needed to remember something a month from now and I would enter appointment at 10 a.m. that day and then it will pop up in my e-mail but now if I already get an e-mail that I needed to then remember a month from now, I just boom, you know, send this back to my inbox in one month. And that’s my follow up on it. So it’s been invaluable and saves me a lot of time.

[22:48] Mike: The next e-mail management tool is PostMarkApp. And there’s a few different things they do. They provide functionality similar to PostMarkApp but what I like about PostMarkApp is that it allows you to use them to send out e-mail. And you might think that you’d use like an e-mail service provider or something like that. It’s really not meant for bulk e-mails. It’s meant for individual e-mails that you want to send out. So if you have any sort of automated tool or an application where you want to be sending out e-mails, I highly recommend using something like PostMarkApp because it keeps a record of whether or not that e-mail was actually sent because basically you make a call to their API and it says whether or not they got it or not and then you continue on with your curved path. And if there’s ever a question about whether or not that e-mail got sent or kind of what happened to it, then you can go in to PostMarkApp and you can look up that e-mail, find out exactly what the contents of that e-mail were and then figure out whether or not it was delivered or not and it will tell you whether or not that e-mail got delivered to the person and was read.

[23:49] Rob: And in addition, PostMark puts tons of time in to making sure that your e-mails get delivered. So they connect with all of the spam filters and Yahoo and AOL and Gmail and Hotmail and all those places have this crazy spam requirements where you have to like be registered with them or to have something in your this record. I mean it’s just — it’s complex. It’s like an entire job on to itself just to make sure your stuff gets delivered. So if you are just on your server at your house or at DreamHost or something trying to send e-mails, you have much, much lower chance that your e-mails are going to get through to people. PostMarkApp is jumping to all the hoops and everything so that their servers can get through to these, these kind of limited accounts that tend to block people from spam. So it’s definitely worth it. We’ve talked a lot about it in the past and it’s a bulk 54,000 e-mails and I can continued to add more and more apps through my PostMark account just because I like all the features that it offers.

[24:41] Mike: And I think the important thing to keep in mind about that on the technical side is that even if you send an e-mail locally and let’s say you have an SMTP server locally or through your hosting account, just because you send it over to wall, doesn’t mean that it’s actually getting delivered. PostMarkApp will keep track of all of that stuff for you and because it does keep a record of the transaction log for that e-mail being sent, that’s what makes it valuable. It’s not that, you know, they’re delivering e-mails and making sure that they’re getting there. I mean don’t get me wrong, that’s important too but it’s the audit trail to be able to track down exactly what happened for an e-mail once you’ve tried to send it.

[25:19] Rob: I log in to my PostMark account at least two to three times a week to check to see what’s been sent or maybe based on that support request to verify something’s been sent. And our next tool also related to e-mail management is MailChimp. So MailChimp is an e-mail marketing, e-mail newsletter management tool whereas PostMark is use typically to — it’s not use for marketing e-mail, right? It is for transactional e-mail, forgot password stuff, notifications in your apps, stuff like that. MailChimp is use to manage new e-mail newsletters maybe manage marketing list and that kind of stuff. If you haven’t heard of the MailChimp, it’s a good tool. You can — there’s a free forever plan up to 2000 subscribers. So it’s definitely worth trying out. If you’ve heard its competitors or things like AWeber and to a certain degree or something like Infusionsoft, MailChimp does offer you a lot of capabilities to split test e-mails. It has auto-responders follow ups, easy download of like a snippet to put the signup form on your website. So I’ve used MailChimp for, I don’t know, two or three years now and I’ve been quite happy with it.

[26:22] Mike: So the next category is server monitoring. So the next one is Verelo and Verelo is one of the tools that you can use in a variety of ways that — it’s very similar to things like Pingdom. But what Verelo can do is it will monitor your website to see if it’s upper down and it can send you little things like SMS or e-mail messages to let you know when it’s down or when it’s back up. They actually just recently integrated some malware scanning which I thought was interesting. I don’t know or quite know how they do that but I did notice that they started including that.

[26:52] One of the nice things that they do is they do sub-minute checks as regularly as every five seconds to make sure that your website is up. So if you’re really kind of paranoid about having your site go up and down and you really need to know when that stuff happens, go sign up for a Verelo account. They do offer a variety of different ways to be notified when any sort of problems come up. And then if you check out some of the reports run on their main page, they actually have a list and they have some of the reports that show you graphically how well your websites respond overtime from different parts of the world. And it’s not just websites, they actually track DNS servers as well.

[27:28] Rob: Yeah, I love their tag line. Right on their home page it says, “Nobody loves you when you’re down… Use Verelo to track your site’s performance, keep malware away and make downtime a thing of the past. Website, SMTP, FTP, SSH we do it all! Because everyone just wants to be loved.” It’s cool that they have a nice big graphic. I’m sold.

[27:46] Mike: And the next one is CopperEgg. And Verelo works from their servers to yours whereas CopperEgg, you have to install CopperEgg on your server. And what CopperEgg does is it provides server performance monitoring metrics and it will capture those metrics and then send them about to their server and using those metrics, you can start drilling in and seeing information about your server about things like the processor load, the memory load, disk I/O, things like that.

[28:15] And if you just go in and you start looking at their dashboards, it will show you a list of all the servers that you — where you have this installed. It works on virtually every platform. There were a bunch of different Linux distributions. You can install it on Windows. You can install it on the — on the Rackspace cloud servers. You can install it on the JIRA servers. So if you have JIRA application, you can have it automatically get installed in those when a new virtual server gets to plod for you. And then they also have a mechanism for getting in to the Amazon web services servers to any of the clouds servers that you have that come up and Amazons cloud, they can automatically be installed on those as well.

[28:53] Rob: And our last tool is in — it’s own section, it’s the accounting section. And it’s the tool that for — small business accounting and aggregation of a bazillion PayPal accounts.

[29:04] Mike: [Laughter]

[29:05] Rob: inDinero and they are a YC funded company. Basically, they’re like Mint for small businesses. So they’re A, they take the place mostly of kind of having a small business accounting up. They aggregate different bank accounts and credit card accounts and PayPal accounts and that kind of stuff and they give you, you know, an aggregated view of it and you can also categorize transactions and get an actual like a P&L Profit and Loss statement. And that’s what I use for all of my businesses. In 2011, that’s the report that I give to my accountant to run my numbers off of.

[29:41] I kind of have a love-hate relationship with inDinero. I love that they’re adding new features all the time but they’ve also had a few bugs enter the system now and again and those bugs wind up costing me time. They never loss my data or anything but I’ll go in and my rules that I’ve set up are not working and so I have to handy categorize some things. So the nice part is they have tended to be pretty responsive and fix the bugs quickly. Since I have so much data in there, you know. I’m totally going to stick with them but I do hope they get that sorted out here in the next few months.

[30:10] Mike: Yeah, I have to say the same thing. And I don’t know if it’s just strictly limited to inDinero. I think that any sort of accounting tool that you use if there’s a problem with it, you don’t necessarily want to have to start digging because it’s financial information, it has to be right. I forget what it was. There was something that was wrong in my books this past year and I told my accountant and he’s like “Hey, can you track this down?” I’m like no, it’s — there’s just way too much stuff in there to try and track down plus a hundred dollars. I just paid — whatever the taxes I’m earning a hundred dollars whether I earned it or not. [Laughter]

[30:41] Rob: That’s totally done that. Problem is that when you get that many accounts going in to one place, it really is a pain to chase it down and from what I’ve heard and seen because I tried out a number of these different aggregators like Mint.com and there’s one called Outright less accounting does it there’s several. What I noticed is that the PayPal integrations tend to have a weird side effects like I think there’s a problem with the PayPal, frankly. When they export their transactions they’re like double — they’ll double count some refunds and they’ll double count some of the fees that they refunded. So I don’t know if it’s the actual providers the problem as much as it is PayPal just has a weird — a weird way of doing things. So I think until the providers actually wind up, they’re kind of have to hack around maybe some of PayPal’s code in order to make everything balance out and look right.

[31:27] Mike: Yeah and that’s kind of unfortunate for them because it’s — it looks like they’re doing something wrong when the reality is there’s just not anything they can do about it.

[31:34] Rob: Right.

[31:34] [Music]

[31:38] Rob: Well I think that about wraps us up. We’ve ran through, well, somewhere in the low 20’s, 22, 23 free and low cost solutions for running your business.

[31:46] Mike: So if you have a question or comment, you can call it in to our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can e-mail it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by searching for Startups or via RSS at StartupsfortheRestofUs.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of every episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.


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11 Responses to “Episode 85 | 21 Free And Low Cost Solutions For Running Your Business”

  1. Rob & Mike
    Outstanding Episode!! thanks for the transcription. I was in a parking lot writing them down in my notebook when Mike thoughtfully reminded the listeners!

    Appreciate the List!


  2. Christoph Engelhardt June 22, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Hi Mike,
    Hi Rob.

    Thanks for the show. It was awesome as ever.

    I got a quick question for Rob, concerning HitTail.

    Google started to hide the search keyword from the websites. This is currently done for logged in users only.

    I already see about 15-20% of keywords in Google Analytics as “(not provided)”.

    How much does this affect HitTail’s algorithm?
    Do you already see a decline in suggestions?
    Are there any ways to counter this, should this become the standard policy?

    • We get this question so often at HitTail that we have an email snippet for it, and I’m adding it to our FAQ later this week. The answer is:

      Google’s move dropped the number of suggestions we can provide by 10-15%. The nice part is that we updated the algorithm in September to fix a bug that had been plaguing it for well over a year (since before I acquired it), and we tripled the number of suggestions we were able to offer, without sacrificing quality. So a 10% decrease against a 300% increase doesn’t have me too worried at this point.

      After this move by Google we are able to offer a suggestion with every 25-125 visits to your website (depending on how concentrated your search traffic is). So at this point, almost any site with 1000 visits per month can pretty easily get $9.95 worth of value per month out of HitTail, even with the Google changes.

  3. Sean O'Connell July 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Such a great episode 🙂 Now I am obligated to stay up all night exploring all of the apps on this list I haven’t heard of yet. I’m especially eager and excited about Optimizely, Inspectlet, MailChimp and Rapportive.

    Thanks and keep up the excellence.

  4. Great episode. The thing about PayPal is definitely a PayPal issue, I’ve been using the Xero online accounting system and the PayPal feeds are a mess. Great tool but the PayPal issues kill me.

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