start a business

Five Tools I Use to Start A Business and Brand (By Myself + On the Cheap)

I’ve been building Bravely as a team of one since it’s conception in January 2017. It’s been a rollercoaster of trial and error, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my abilities as I’ve done this. If you’re ever looking to se how strong you are and how much anxiety you can deal with, start a business!

I’ll get into the mental and emotional side of starting a business in another post. Today let’s focus on the tools that are invaluable to me as I’m on this journey. I mean, I would be lost in the wild without the help of other people and systems that I use every day. (Shoutout to my friends and my boo for being my event helpers!)

As one person, there is only so much I can do day to day. And I’m not quite at Oprah-empire level yet, so there’s still a lot to do.

PS- I’ve compiled every lesson I wish I knew before starting my own business in our Small Business Starter Guide!

Building a Brand

First of all, let’s explore the wild and wonderful world of brand building. You and I have both probably heard the phrase ‘building a brand’ enough times to make our ears bleed, so sorry for adding another.

Starting a company from scratch- meaning I had no investors, grants, and no built-in audience– is a hard thing to do. It’s certainly slow going, especially because I’m an online and offline presence. I host monthly events and produce weekly online content.

When you’re a one-woman show it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. In today’s world, you have to be everywhere all the time: you should have a thriving blog, as well as a Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts. Not to mention video content, online courses, speaking engagements, conference appearances, and year round networking events.

The key ingredients to start a company, whether by yourself or with a partner, are as follows:

-be clear on your services and/or product

-spread your business name as far as you can in your niche

-provide consistent value to your clients

-do as much as you can with what you have for as long as you can

It’s a lot of hard work to start a business. You’re trying to give life to an idea, and there’s generally no road to follow. That’s no reason not to go for it! But go after your dream with a plan and a clear head.

The Five Tools I Use to Start a Business

A DSLR Camera- I bought a Nikon D5500 in the fall of 2016 and it’s been worth it’s weight in gold. I use it both personally and professionally and I love it. It has Wi-Fi connections, so I can send photos I take directly to my phone. I can use my phone to take photos on the Nikon, which comes in helpful when I want to be in the photo. It has video capabilities, which I use to make videos in my products and writing.

I bought mine used for $575 on Amazon. They’re a little more expensive now, but still pretty affordable for a DSLR. I also have two Nikon lenses, one of which I purchased with the camera body and one of which was a gift from my mother.

Multiple Calendars- I have a large desk calendar that I got at Staples for $10. You can find a similar one here. I love it and it is invaluable to me as I go about building my empire. I write down everything I’m doing month-to-month on my desk calendar, and back it up with the same appointments on my iPhone calendar.

Having two calendar’s helps me keep track of everything I’m doing, from scheduling time to write, to time with friends, to taking work meetings. I’m very visual, so I also color code both calendars. I was always one of those people who was perpetually late until I started getting more organized with my calendars. It’s also let me do more, because I can see clearly when I have free time and I can choose to fill it.

WordPress and Siteground- I run this website on WordPress and host it on Siteground. I’ve been very happy with both services. I have very basic web skills, so using these two platforms takes a lot of the guesswork out of running a website.

Tripod and Lavalier Mic- To make really quality videos I bought a lav mic and a tripod. (I tried balancing my camera on top of a stack of books beforehand!) Let me just say: I love my tripod. I flipping love it. It’s much better than my stack of books, and it’s super light weight.

I also bought a Sony hands-free mic, which I use for videos and for podcasts. It has upgraded my sound quality quite a bit, and it makes me feel cool when I clip it onto my shirt.

Laptop and Monitor- I use a 2013 11′ MacBook Air and a HP S2031 monitor. The monitor has been a game change. My computer is teeny-tiny and the monitor has opened up a whole new world for me. I feel very Jasmine on the magic carpet when I use it.

Honestly, I’m beginning to feel pretty meh on Apple products. I plan to run this laptop into the ground and then branch out beyond Apple for my next one. I’m hopefully two years away from that point though, so I’ll let you know when I get there.

This is all the hardware I use daily to create Bravely’s website, products, and events. Part of the reason I took a leap and decided to start my own business was because the start-up costs were pretty minimal.

Software To Start a BUsiness With

I also would be beyond remiss if I didn’t tell every single new business owner to START AN EMAIL LIST. It’s so important because you have a direct line to potential customers and you are not at the mercy of an algorithm.

I use ConvertKit, which is really user friendly, has great customer support, and is FREE for your first 1,000 subscribers. Love a free to start service!

Interested in other tools I love and endorse? Hop over to the Resources+Freebies page to find my recommendations.

You can also enroll in the Small Business Starter Guide right here! We cover the practical and financial side of starting a business, not just the “find your why” side of it.

Other entrepreneurs, let me know what you’re using! I always love a peak behind the scenes. 🙂

This page contains some affiliate links. It also contains things I endorse wholeheartedly. I would never partner with a company or person that didn’t provide valuable, helpful products that I myself have never used. 

1 thought on “Five Tools I Use to Start A Business and Brand (By Myself + On the Cheap)”

  1. Hi! I’m a freelance graphic designer and I’m always interested in how others are building their businesses 🙂 Totally agree on the calendars and monitor – I borrowed my boyfriends monitor while he was gone for a few months and then realized I couldn’t work without one! Definitely a game changer.

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