Additional business resources for the Road Ahead
Helpful Tools for Small Businesses and Startups
If you’ve made it to the end of this guide, you’re set up for a great start. But, this is just the beginning- It’s going to be a long road ahead.
We want to make sure you’re set up for success, so check out our favorite tools:
Cloud or shared infrastructure
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) - Delivers a set of services that together form a reliable, scalable, and inexpensive computing platform “in the cloud”.
- Ruby on Rails – An open-source web framework that lets you write beautiful code.
- Engine Yard – Leading Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform for PHP and Ruby on Rails that allows developers to build, deploy and scale.
Web sites and development
- Heroku – Heroku supports Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Python, and Java so you can use the languages you already know to build and deploy apps.
- GitHub - Powerful collaboration, code review, and code management tool for open source and private projects.
- Squarespace - A super easy way for anyone (not just coders) to create a beautiful website for ecommerce purposes or otherwise. Aesthetically-pleasing templates and easy to use.
- Shopify - Shopify is a powerful ecommerce website solution that allows you to sell online by providing you with everything you need to create an online store.
- BigCartel – Much like Shopify, BigCartel hosts your website and online store, boasting an easy to use, built-in shopping cart.
- Google Apps for Business – Email, calendars, spreadsheets, and documents—all in the cloud. Plus, your team already knows how to use it.
- Dropbox – Save and access your stuff from anywhere using Dropbox. Share with friends and coworkers.
- Box.net – Lets you store all your content online and can be integrated with Google Apps and Salesforce.
- Evernote – Take and share notes using Evernote’s tools. Sync and save your favorite web pages and collaborate with colleagues.
Communication and project management
- Basecamp – Keep track of every file and discussion to easily manage and collaborate on projects.
- Campfire – Campfire has group chat rooms that people can drop in and out of depending on the project. Frictionless chats. Can be made public.
- Skype – Chat, video, and telephone calls—Skype can keep you connected to employees and customers wherever you are.
- join.me – If you have remote team members, hold meetings with join.me. Join.me allows for screen sharing, video chat, and conferences.
- Grasshopper – Get a toll free or local number to make the world your office. Connect your employees with unlimited extensions. Hey, wait, that’s us!
- Trello – As simple as can be, Trello lets you organize projects into “cards” so people can hop on and off cards as projects get completed.
Sites for freelancers
- Global Digital Community ─
- oDesk ─ Find logo designers, WordPress experts, developers, SEO specialists, and personal assistants using oDesk.
- dribbble ─ Some of the best designers congregate on dribbble to show off their projects and find more work. Take a look around to find designers and illustrators.
- Behance ─ Much like dribbble, Behance allows you to peruse portfolios in branding, graphic design, UI/UX, web design, and more.
- Forrst ─ A community where designers post their stuff for feedback and advice.
- Coworks ─ Find high-caliber freelancers in all types of areas on Coworks. Unlike a lot of other platforms, you pay a monthly fee, rather than a cut off each project.
- Contently ─ If you’re looking to be connected to freelance writers with a refined editorial process complete with pre-vetted writers and editors, Contently is the platform for you.
- Elance ─ Like Craigslist, Elance requires wading through the muck, but prices are reasonable and there’s a wide range of talent.
- PeoplePerHour ─ If you’re looking to complete a specific task—whether it be menial or sophisticated-- post it on PeoplePerHour. You can probably find someone to do it.
- LinkedIn ─ The professional networking site is popular for a reason. Visit freelance groups, make searches, and see who your connections know.
- Amazon’s Mechanical Turk - Get your tasks done easily and quickly with on-demand scalable work. This is especially good for menial tasks you’re not that into.
- Craigslist ─ It might take you a while to find who you’re looking for, but many freelancers can be found on Craigslist at inexpensive prices.
- crowdfunder – At the forefront of changing laws around equity, crowdfunder connects entrepreneurs with investors and provides fundraising education.
- Kickstarter – The most famous and well known crowdsourcing platform out there—with reason. Creative projects raise funding in all sorts of areas.
- Indiegogo – Indiegogo is a bit less strict than Kickstarter in what it will accept. Virtually ANY project (including one to help you pay off your personal credit card debt) can be put on Indiegogo.
- RocketHub – A unique platform because it allows you to collaborate with marketers to figure out how to best promote your campaign.
- SoMoLend – Need to borrow a little money to get things started? Business borrowers set their own loan terms and get connected with institutional lenders.
- AngelList – Publicly fundraise, post for startup jobs, find investors, all with total transparency.
- Quirky – If you’re an ecommerce store or are selling a funky product, consider putting it on Quirky, a network that connects you to consumers.
- Ultra Light Startups – Pitch your product at an Ultra Light Startup event, or simply attend. These events are great if you’re looking to get venture capital or angel funding.
- Lean Startup Movement – This movement, led by Eric Ries, means minimizing waste and maximizing success. Don’t waste money or time. Instead, go lean.
- Meetup.com - Meetup groups have popped up in cities across the country for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and other professionals looking to connect.
- Startup Revolution - Startup Revolution is a website filled with information about startups, including tons of good stuff on communities and events.
- reddit Startup and Entrepreneur Threads – The reddit community can be ruthless, but there’s a lot of constructive feedback, especially if you’re looking for honesty.
- Moz – Moz provides analytics software to help you understand your SEO and content marketing efforts. They’ve also got a really healthy and engaged community with tons of tips, tricks, and insight.
- Scribe – Scribe Content can help you manage your content marketing by optimizing keywords so that you can get more social sharing and higher search rankings.
- HubSpot – HubSpot provides an all-inclusive marketing software suite to help small businesses manage their leads to ease prospects down the sales funnel.
- WordPress – The industry standard for blogging—all the features a content marketer could want plus customization for developers. The best. Period.
- Crazy Egg – Heatmap software that helps you understand what people are doing when they reach your website. A color-coded map can help you optimize what’s working.
- Optimizely – Optimizely helps you A/B test various parts of your website to increase conversion and click-through rates.
- Unbounce – Test your landing pages with Unbounce—see which are the most successful and learn why.
- MailChimp – build email campaigns easily and automatically with MailChimp and its arsenal of tools.
- BuzzStream – Find out what the press is buzzing about to find opportunities for PR and link building.
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO) - Reporters looking for information post their queries on HARO so that companies can jump on press leads.
- Argyle Social – Keep track of your social media postings with Argyle Social. Schedule them in advance, keep track of what’s happening in your industry, and stay organized.
- Buffer - Buffer is a little like Argyle Social, but is also good for personal use. You can queue up Tweets and posts in your buffer while you read, making it super easy to schedule and share.
Invoicing and payroll tools
- Xero ─ Lots of options for online accounting and solutions tailored specifically for small business. Your software can grow as your business and needs do.
- FreshBooks – Secure accounting in the cloud makes billing painless. Work from anywhere, save time billing, and get organized.
- Expensify - Filing expenses can take forever, but it doesn’t have to be a process. Just get Expensify for you and your employees—it’s free.
- Chargify – If you need to charge your customers on a monthly basis, using Chargify will make it easy for you.
- Billings Pro – Billings Pro provides you with professional quality invoicing specifically for Mac products. It will work great on your laptop, iPad, and iPhone.
- Stripe – Need to process credit card payments? Use Stripe. You don’t need a merchant account or payment gateway—Stripe handles everything.
- Wave Apps – Need help with payroll, invoicing, payments, and other accounting needs? Wave Apps makes it easy for you.
- PayPal – Receive payments with little effort using PayPal. It’s an industry standard and super reliable, though a bit outdated when compared with Stripe.
- Square - Get paid by mobile device, particularly good if you have brick-and-mortar locations.
Support and customer management tools
- Zendesk - Customer service software with 24/7 support that’ll help you manage your tickets and your help desk.
- HelpScout – HelpScout provides scalable customer support for small businesses that is easy to use, invisible to customers, and helps you boost team productivity.
- Salesforce – Salesforce offers a ton of apps that can help with customer service, sales, marketing, and more.
- SugarCRM – Need a customer relationship management (CRM) tool? SugarCRM is an industry standard, allowing you to keep track of your customers.
- Batchbook – A social CRM for small businesses. Cloud-based so that team members can use it from anywhere.
- LegalZoom – Get legal advice quickly and easily. If you have legal questions or are confused about options, LegalZoom can help you decide.
- Rapid Formations ─ Rapid Formations provides services to meet all of your needs as a business owner who is just getting started. They provide awesome support at every stage with a goal of helping new entrepreneurs along the way.