Software, tools and books for business builders | Blaze Your Own

Don't waste time. Use what works.

When it comes to Web technology, I've experimented a lot. These days, I value what works far more than what's new

It might be fun to fiddle with ideas in an effort to create something unique or different. That's fine for your work – your content, or your offer to the world. But when it comes to the tools you use to get your thing out into the world, fiddling is for hobbyists.

This is a list of the software, the tools and also the books I've used to help me do my work. Each of them I've selected after years of experimenting, learning, testing and applying them in my life.

If you want to play scientist and make all your own mistakes, go right ahead. But if you value your time and just want to get shit done, try these. Each of the products, services and books listed here have helped me develop my independence, build dependable revenue and maximise my time.

By the way, feel free to contact me with any questions about these services. I'm always happy to help.

Important disclaimer.

WEB HOSTING

Quality hosting is really important.

Cheap hosting is possible without sacrificing quality. By ‘quality', I mean reliable, well-supported and easy to manage. Your hosting is like the utilities in a bricks-and-mortar store. The last thing you need is for the electricity to go out and the rain to leak through the roof. You want to be able to set up the hosting for your site quickly, easily and for someone to be on the end of a phone or email if things go south.

The two hosts I recommend below have the runs on the board and deliver on their promises. I've used Digital Pacific for many years and for Australian-hosted sites, they are outstanding. BlueHost is the go-to host for sites hosted in the USA and I now use them, too.

Quality Australian Web Hosting - Digital Pacific | Blaze Your Own

Digital Pacific Australia

Australian hosting from less than AU$5.00 a month.

Quality US Web Hosting - BlueHost | Blaze Your Own

BlueHost USA

US-based hosting from less than US$6.00 a month.

WORDPRESS THEMES

Get a kick-arse look with a pro-quality WordPress theme.

I used to create Websites using HTML. The thought of it now makes me cringe. Everything took a million hours and the learning curve was so steep I kept slipping back down again. Then came Microsoft Frontpage, Macromedia Dreamweaver (later bought out by Adobe), Microsoft ExpressionWeb (which I kind of liked); then finally, WordPress. I was in love.

Sure, there's still a bit to learn but because more sites are built with WordPress than anything else, help is available everywhere. And now, thanks to the rise of commercial-quality theme developers, you can pay a small fee to use someone else's design framework (‘theme') and make a Website that's genuinely slick; and mobile-friendly, too.

There are two places I go for quality WordPress themes – Themeforest and Elegant Themes. Both are fantastic.Themeforest is a marketplace offering hundreds of themes from developers all over the world. I've bought seventeen different themes from here over the years – two of them multiple times (‘The Ken' and ‘Jupiter' – both from the guys at Artbees). In fact, the BYO site is built with The Ken.

Elegant Themes are different in that all their themes are designed and maintained in-house. All of them are exceptional but the one that really stands out is the DIVI theme. If I ever migrate the theme on this site to another, it'll be to the DIVI theme. It's gob-smackingly good. They also have some outstanding plug-ins. Plug-ins extend the functionality of your Website. If there's something you want your Website to do, chances are, there's a plug-in for that. WordPress has thousands of free ones and some are very good, but where possible, it's safer to find a paid plug-in that includes ongoing product development and tech support.

Elegant Themes WordPress Themes | Blaze Your Own

Elegant Themes
All their themes (87 and counting) and plug-ins for as little as $US69 a year

Themeforest WordPress Themes | Blaze Your Own

ThemeForest
Pro-quality themes for less than $US60 each

Codecanyon WordPress Plugins | Blaze Your Own

CodeCanyon
Pro-quality plug-ins for usually less than $US30 each

ACCOUNTING SOFWARE FOR NON-ACCOUNTANTS

Just the thought of paperwork and tax makes me want to stab myself.

Doing paperwork is like eating your veggies when you're seven. You'll do anything you can to avoid it but once done, you feel much less stressed about it. I've finally realised this, so with every expense I pay, I print out a copy and sit it on my desk. Then each quarter, I take an hour to enter them in XERO, my accounting software. It's really easy – supplier, date, item, amount, next.

XERO Expense Entry | Blaze Your OwnThen, when it's time to do a quarterly BAS statement or my annual tax return, everything's already there. My accountant can log in whenever he likes (because it's cloud-based and I've created an Adviser log-in for him) and everything complies with local laws so I know I'm safe on that front.

XERO Add User | Blaze Your Own

I've used XERO for over four years and it's been a flawless experience. Most switched-on accountants are now using it, too.

If you want to learn more about XERO and why I recommend it, read my review.
To start a free trial of XERO, click here.

BOOKS FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Live and learn from multiple lifetimes.

Few things will influence and guide you like a quality mentor. But mentors are hard to find in the flesh because they're usually too busy building their empires or travelling the world to coach you one-on-one. However, the next best thing is to develop the habit of reading about those you admire. A single book can change your life. A habit of reading can re-write your life.

Behind almost every great success story is a library full of wisdom. I know some people who read a new book every single day. If you read just one a month you'll be so far ahead of the crowd you'll marvel at the things you can do, and the things you believe you can do (even more important).

I maintain a list of my favourite books at the bottom of the About page. Check it out and start reading today. The difference they'll make in your life will surprise and delight you, I promise.

Books Worth Reading