As a startup, you are prepared to make success a DIY project with help from others along the way. This includes those willing to invest and subcontractors to handle other aspects. To help you build out your startup, you can pickup quite a few tools to add to your startup belt that are free or low-cost like these 8 highly recommended tools:
The first tool to put in your startup belt is Alibaba. Forget warehouse clubs for equipment and supplies when you can reach out to the rest of the world through Alibaba. 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. This includes 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.
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. You can look at all the available profiles first to see if you find a candidate qualified to be a 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.
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, and check progress. Wrike offers that solution by providing an online work management platform. It 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. You can upload 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.
The next tool to put in your startup belt is Brand24. Let’s say 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. Your customers and prospects could also 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. It’s 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. This includesfollowing up with both happy and dissatisfied customers. The solution gives you sentiment analysis to track overall perception about your startup. It also gives you 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.
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.
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. These features 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. Additionally, you can keep notes on the results from each campaign and send automated emails based on customer 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.
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. This can be in your store location, online, and through a mobile device. It also allows you to securely store credit card information, set up billing, and view real-time 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. This provides a way to get all the benefits of accepting all types of payments without the tremendous cost of doing so.
There are many more tools to add to your startup tool belt. However, these eight tools will get you started and cover nearly every basic building block of your business.