As a startup, you are already prepared to make success a DIY project with a little help from others along the way, including those willing to invest and others that serve as subcontractors to handle those aspects you are not qualified to handle. To help you build out your startup, you can pickup quite a few tools to add to your toolbox that are free or low-cost like these 8 highly recommended tools:

  1. Alibaba: Forget warehouse clubs for equipment and supplies when you can reach out to the rest of the world through Alibaba (an incredible startup success story in its own right). You can buy pretty much anything on this site that was once primarily focused on manufacturing equipment. Now, there are numerous categories for all types of products at competitive wholesale prices, including clothing, electronics, packaging, office supplies, sporting goods, lighting and more. In addition to the incredibly competitive pricing from verified suppliers and numerous trade and inspection services, you can also tap into e-credit financing to cover the cost of these items while you leverage the products to build out your business.
  2. CoFounders Lab: There may be a point where you decide it is not better to go it alone. Instead, having someone there who has the capital or skills to help make the startup what it has the potential to be may be the best path to take. That’s where a tool like CoFounders Lab comes in handy because you can look at all the available profiles first to see if you find a candidate that would make a great co-founder. The profiles offer information that tell you if someone is a good match or not in terms of their experience, background, and philosophy. You can contact them online or attend one of the many events that provide a way to meet in person and further discuss co-founding opportunities.
  3. Wrike: When you do start hiring some freelancer developers or marketing staff, you may find that your virtual team is spread out. With the physical distance, there needs to be some type of place to meet, collaborate, check progress, answer questions and essentially keep the workflow moving effectively despite not sitting in the same room. Wrike offers that solution by providing an online work management platform that can be accessed through multiple devices no matter where your various team members are working. It serves as your command center, integrating all types of applications like Word, Excel, Dropbox, Google Drive and more so you can upload and share documents and ensure that everyone is in the loop without investing in expensive project management software. Instead, Wrike is free for small teams of five or fewer people that just need the task management feature. For larger teams and more functions, there is a low-cost monthly fee to enjoy complete collaboration and work management.
  4. Brand24: If you are not able to hire a full team to handle social media and track online coverage, you may be missing opportunities to build on existing traction or your customers and prospects could conclude that you are not interested in what they have to say. Little do they know that you just don’t have the resources to stay on top of all those online mentions. Now you can stay up with it all with Brand24, a solution that helps you to personally see all the mentions on social networks and among influential publishers. These listening tools then speed your response time to what is out there, including following up with both happy and dissatisfied customers. The solution also gives you sentiment analysis to track overall perception about your startup as well as through data that compiles competitors knowledge and social searches. The cheapest monthly rate is $49, which is intended for one user and delivers up to 50,000 mentions per month.
  5. Fiverr: While you may not have the need yet for full-time talent, you do have projects that come up as your startup grows where you will need the assistance of someone who has certain skills that you may lack. Fiverr understands that you need a way to find this talent so it is an online resource that connects you and talent to complete short-term projects across a number of areas, including graphics and design, online marketing, writing and translation, video and animation, music and audio, and programming and technology. This talent is often willing to do many of the smaller projects for just a fiver while larger ones are also value-priced so you can get everything from marketing and public relations tasks to programming projects done with limited resources. Even if you need translation services, this is your go-to resource.
  6. Mailchimp: In focusing on getting the traction you need, an email campaign is still a marketing tactic that has been found to deliver considerable return for the investment made. Mailchimp provides a number of features that help you create more targeted campaigns that also deliver the kind of intelligence you need about your customers and prospects to further engage with them and even know the optimum time of day to send them an email campaign. You can keep all your contacts in one place and see their engagement level as well as keep notes on the results from each campaign and send automated emails based on customer behavior and preferences. For the entrepreneur level, you can have up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month for free. You can also discover similar subscribers to add to your contact list and embed sign ups with WordPress and Facebook to enhance these email marketing efforts.
  7. Payfirma: The more ways you can accept payment and the forms of payment, the more likely you are to attract a larger audience and keep your cash flow at peak levels. However, the transaction fees often associated with doing so can put a real dent in your profitability. Payfirma is leveling that playing field and providing a way to make accepting payments less painful and more lucrative. Its payment solution, known as PayHQ, lets you accept any kind of payment in your store location, online, and through a mobile device as well as provides other features that include securely storing credit card information, setting up subscription billing, and viewing real-time sales data. The transaction fees are low: 1.99% plus $0.25 per transaction. The lowest monthly plan is $25 per month for five users and a majority of the features, which provides a way to get all the benefits of accepting all types of payments without the tremendous cost of doing so.
  8. Termsfeed: You want to make sure that everything you do with your startup is aligned with legal requirements, especially if you are going to collect data from customers and prospects, sell anything, want to protect your intellectual property, or collection geolocation information from visitors to your site. Termsfeed offers a way to create instant legal agreements, such as terms of service, terms of use, return and refund policy, terms and conditions, and privacy policy that you can place on your website or any other type of online presence. To protect yourself and your startup from the beginning of operations, this service offers free legal agreements up to premium legal agreements that are a one-time fee. Overall, you will be able to access many free to low-cost legal documents that have been developed by attorneys so you know that you are using content that has been verified.

While there are many more tools to add to your startup tool belt, these eight tools will get you started and cover nearly every basic building block of your business.

I'm Max and I love helping businesses we work with to expand their businesses online. I help with invoicing, time tracking and overall business needs for business owners. If you need help contact me today.

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