• Brian D. Evans Brian D. Evans Founder/CEO, Influencive.

There are successful online business owners and there are not so successful online business owners. What makes the difference? Things like attention to detail, persistence, strong negotiating skills and knowing what you’re worth are qualities that usually make a great online business owner. However, there’s a lot more to it than that.

As someone who has coached and mentored hundreds of online entrepreneurs, I’m in a great position to see the difference between the uber successful and the ones that barely get by.

The software and tools that these freelancers and small business owners use make a huge difference.

First, you need a website and that website needs to stay online.

Often times I hear from people new to online business that go through the dreaded “website crash.” This happens when you don’t “plan ahead” for increased traffic to your website, and your server crashes.

Also, if your website is slow, nobody is going to stick around to find out what you or your company is all about. Research shows that slow loading times are the number one cause of site abandonment.

When you run a website, in fact, the goal should be to get as many people to your site as possible. If you don’t plan ahead for a lot of traffic, you are going to be in boiling water when you succeed.

The trick here is to set yourself up with a solid hosting company. Preferably, one that can help you build and host a site if you are new to it.

BlueHost has been around for as long as I can remember and is a solid choice, for a very reasonable price. You could also go with Storm On Demand, Hostgator, or Rackspace if you want to get really fancy. But I would recommend BlueHost for something affordable and solid for the beginner.

Second, you need to present your business professionally.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs sending a self-made invoice, that doesn’t look clean or professional. It makes it look like you don’t really know what you are doing, and haven’t done it much.

You really need an invoicing hub for your business; somewhere you can see all your invoices in one place. Something that I really recommend is Viewpost.

With Viewpost, you can send professional invoices and also sync accounting software. Put simply, Viewpost allows you to present your business in the most professional way possible.

If you look like an amateur, people will treat you like an amateur. Don’t look like an amateur.

Whether you are freelancing graphic design, coding, marketing or selling other services, invoicing professionally is a big thing. You need to look and act like a professional business, no matter what stage you are at.

The best part about a service like Viewpost is that it’s basically free. It’s a great way to put on an A+ presentation without paying ridiculous fees or monthly costs.

Third, you need to build a social media presence.

I strongly recommend a tool to schedule your social media posts such as Hootsuite. It’s a tool that allows you to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a lot of other top-tier social networks.

This will become your social media scheduling hub. You can schedule several posts at the press of a button right from the Hootsuite dashboard. They even have a browser extension that allows you to schedule posts on the fly.

“Super important in my mind, because social media doesn’t have to be hard and those tools allow anyone to start developing a following by dedicating themselves to posting etc.” —Clinton Senkow from SocialBare.

By posting regular content and using related hashtags, you will start to build an audience. Make sure to engage with that audience regularly by liking and commenting.

Having the right tools gives you peace of mind, and results.

Your website will be set up on a solid host that won’t crash when you get a surge of traffic. Your invoices will be received and paid promptly without astronomical fees, and your payments will get to your bank faster. Finally, your social media will be performing well and your brand (whether personal or a company) will be growing at a rapid rate.

The last step is to take action.

Nothing in life just falls into your lap without lifting a finger or getting off the couch. Even to find a pile of cash on the sidewalk, you have to get up and move.

Here are the steps you should take today to get your freelancing business or small business on the right track:

Step 1: Buy a domain, and web hosting at a site like BlueHost.
Step 2: Setup professional invoicing platform, such as Viewpost.
Step 3: Build your social media presence with a tool such as Hootsuite.

Brian D. Evans
Founder/CEO Influencive and BDE Ventures. Inc 500 Entrepreneur. Advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. Columnist at Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post, Forbes and others.