Building a business, whether physical or online, can be done within a really short amount of time. Whether it’s setting up a website with a storefront or creating a physical product, it can be done in a week or less. Yet one of the most overwhelming aspects of starting a business is not about having an idea or vision, it’s often just the simple start.
Why is that?
Because we tend to overthink every little thing. We think about inventory, setting up a website, creating a logo and business cards, networking, finding a co-founder, finances, staying healthy and about a quazillion things more.
Let’s dig in:
Ideas are great (and yes, executing these is essential) but before you start creating or building something, you need to make sure that there is actually a (potential) market for it. These sites listed here give you a great first insight of new, current and upcoming trends and products in various industries.
Product Hunt is a fantastic websites that lets user share and discover new products. The site has as well a comment and voting system, similar to Reddit. The site is backed by Y Combinator.
TechCrunch is a leading online site that reports on tech related news, especially new trends, startups, internet companies, etc. If you’re looking for idea inspiration and up and coming trends in tech sector, TechCrunch is your go-to site.
The Next Web is website and media company with a huge focus on business, new media and technology. It also host a number of annual events with top speakers and industry leaders.
Find a Mentor / Ask for advice
The internet is full of wannabe mentors and coaches. Ugh, already thinking about the word coach makes me roll my eyes (well, except for sport coaches). That’s why it’s important to silence the noise around you, stay sharp and look for people who have a track record of actually being pros in their fields.
Clarity.fm is a consulting service website where you can find highly reputable experts in various fields and request a call at their hourly rate. Get advice on topics like funding, venture capital, eCommerce, management, etc. Tip: Once you have established your reputation in your area, go and sign-up here to get more clients and to have an additional revenue stream.
Build Your Team
Startups often start as side and indie projects, started by just a single person. If you don’t have a cofounder or teammates on board yet, you can use the following sites to find the right people for your growing business. It’s very important though that you not only share the vision but that you are honest and transparent about your business to anyone keen on joining. That includes any flaws, challenges and yes, also the money stuff.
CoFoundersLab has been around since 2011 and is a matchmaking service for founders looking for a co-founder. As with other matchmaking sites, users are required to complete a thorough profile.
AngelList is a great site where you can find tons of great startups, startup jobs but also invest in startups or raise money.
Sooner or later you require professional help as you can’t and simply shouldn’t do everything by yourself. You can of course look for people and agencies in your hometown, but depending on your budget and geographical location you may want to take a look at these sites listed here. Not only may you save some money, you will definitely find professionals who have the required experience you’re looking for.
Upwork is one of the leading online platforms for hiring freelancers. When you post a job, make sure you include all necessary information to avoid any confusion later with the person you hire. Also, make sure the freelancer fulfills your criteria, has experience in the required area and read the freelancer’s reviews.
Freelancer is another international platform where you can hire all sorts of freelancer, from copywriters to video editors and translators. As stated above, post a clear job description, ask the freelancer specific questions before you hire and read the freelancer’s reviews.
PeoplePerHour is as well a global marketplace that connects all types of freelancers like writers, designers, editors, etc.) with businesses.
99Designs is a freelancers platform for solely custom graphic design (websites, logos, app design, etc.).
Venture capital firms and startup accelerators are more and more available in all parts of the world, helping you to fund promising startups. But make no mistake: while seed capital is awesome, you should already have a working revenue generating business that is ready for the next level. The ones listed here specialize either internationally or in certain markets.
Y Combinator is a startup accelerator based in California. They invest $150k twice a year in a large number of companies. These startups will then move to Silicon Valley for three months where they receive mentorships, trainings, basically everything to bring them into shape. Y Combinator invested in notable companies such as Dropbox, Weebly and Product Hunt and has had 200+ exits so far.
Like Y Combinator, 500 Startups is a startup accelerator specialized in early-stage funding. They have so far funded over 2000 companies around the world
500 Durians a subsidiary from 500Startups with sole focus on Southeast Asia. 500 Durians has invested in 160+ companies from around Southeast Asia, including notable companies like Grab, Bukalapak and Carousell.
ImpacTech is a startup accelerator programme based in Singapore and operates in Singapore, Thailand and Japan.ImpacTech focuses on technology innovations. They also offer workshops and inspirational talks.
TLabs is an India based startup accelerator and early stage seed-fund for Indian and mobile technology startups, founded in 2011.
Crowdfunding is a great way to validate your idea or product before production/ manufacturing starts and to generate capital from people (the crowd) instead of giving up equity to investors.
Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding platform. It allows users (founders, innovators, entrepreneurs) to raise money and, in return, provides backers with rewards such as early access to the new product, steep discounts to products, ectc.
Indiegogo is another huge crowdfunding platform that enable creators and entrepreneurs to raise money for their products / innovations. It also feature the Indiegogo Marketplace where entrepreneurs can set-up an online storefront to sell their products (which must be ready-to-ship, no funding), whether they’ve run a crowdfunding campaign or not.
Indiegogo China is Indiegogo’s China branch and focuses on Chinese investors and product lunches.
Organize Your Team
With these handy tools listed here you can easily manage various tasks with your team or even multiple team, regardless whether they’re physically in an office, working from home or even on the other side of the world.
Trello is a popular organization tool where you can organize projects and tasks into boards. It is a web-based application that is extremely versatile yet simple to use for any sort of project management.
Calendly is an easy-to-use scheduling software that allows you and your company to save time, increase customer service and accelerate sales. It offers a range of integrations such as PayPal, Stripe, Google Analytics among various more.
Remember The Milk is a is a cloud-based time- and task management app that erases traditional sticky notes, whiteboards and scribbled papers for good. RTM allows you to work on- and offline on your projects and tasks.
There is an ever growing of smart payment processors that make it easy to send and receive payments, bot online and offline. Like banks and credit card companies, they usually charge a certain percentage per transaction.
PayPal is the biggest online payment processor. It makes it easy to send and receive money as well as paying for goods online.
Stripe is an online processing platform that makes it easier for merchants to accept credit card payments on their apps and websites.
Chargify is an online billing company specialized in subscription payments. A great solution if your business model is subscription based and you need to manage a recurring revenue cycle.
Accounting & Finance
Hate bookkeeping? Don’t worry anymore, take a look at these excellent tools here that will make your business life much easier and let you focus on what really counts – your business:
Exact offers software that helps small and medium sized businesses with accounting and ERP solutions.
Expensify is an expense management software that helps businesses and private people manage their expenses and track receipts through real-time data and reporting processes. You can even take a photo of your receipt and Expensify will automatically record your expense(s).
WaveApps is a finance business platform for invoicing, accounting and receipt scanning. It also provides a tool for collecting money.
Customer Service Tools
Whether your business is 100% online or you have brick-and-mortar business with an online presence, it’s more essential than ever to provide great service to your (potential) customers. The following tools allow you to take a huge chunk of your workload and make it easier to professionally communicate with your customers.
Get Satisfaction builds innovative customer service community softwares that allow you to build important customer relationships and, through its customized data and insights, maintain those.
Zendesk, at its very core, is a customer ticketing tool that enables your team seamless interactions with your customers. It is very versatile and offers lots of features and integrations for customizing.
Don’t spend too much time trying to design something. Yes, there are tons of (free) tools out there and it’s hard to resist, especially when you’re just starting out. Often, especially new entrepreneurs and freelancers, are just too focused on their website, -logo, or business card designs instead of actually working on generating leads and acquiring customers and clients. Let professional do their work and save yourself tons of time. Hiring a professional designer for your logo / website / business cards, etc. is one of the first investments you should do.
Dribbble is an online community for designers showcasing their artwork. Customers can connect with illustrators, web designers, photographers and professionals from many other creative areas.
Canva is a popular cloud-based graphic design tool website with easy-to-use drag’n’drop options that help users to quickly create outstanding designs. It gives users access to over a million free and premium templates, ranging from ebook covers, business cards and brochures to social media banners.
The Dieline is a creative platform with a focus on packaging designs. Whether bottles, boxes or containers, you will find a lot of inspiration for eye-catching packaging designs here.
Productivity Tools help you not only to stay focused but also help you to rest more. Many entrepreneurs, innovators and creators have no problems to focus on what really matters, but often having a hard time to simply rest and unwind for moment, re-charging their batteries before diving all-in again.
Toggl is a popular time-tracking app for teams and small businesses. It tracks your daily activities across different platforms and provides you with detailed insights about your workflow, identifying also areas where you should improve.
RescueTime provides you with a number of tools to stay productive. It measures exclusively computer time and even detects when your computer is idle, speaking no mouse or keyboard activity.
TimeDoctor is a time tracking software with screenshots. It features several integrations and monitors website and apps usage. You can use time doctor even for billing your clients and automates timekeeping and payroll.
Design Your Own Website
These companies listed here make it easy and affordable to create great websites in short time.
Bluehost is a web hosting company and one of the largest ones in the world. They have different affordable pricing options and various tools to build your website, including a 1-click WordPress installer.
Siteground is another great hosting company that offers different tools to build your website, also including a WordPress installer.
Squarespace makes it easy to design simple and appealing websites. It specializes in pre-built website templates with a wide range of drag and drop elements for customizing your websites. I recommend you using Squarespace if you have zero experience in building websites and want to create a simple yet good looking site or blog. If you;re looking for something more sophisticated or plan a eCommerce site, take some time to learn WordPress or, if budget is not an issue, hire a web designer.
Manage Social Media
Yes, social media is unavoidbale. If you want to establish an authetic relationship with your customers, you need to be present on all relevant social media channels. These tools and sites here will hel you with that.
Buffer is a popular app for managing effectively your social media networks. It allows its users to schedule posts as well provides reports and analyses.
SmarterQueue is an app that helps you to ease your social media management by creating, curating and scheduling posts well in advance. Especially as freelancer or small business owner, you don’t want to spend too much time of your day with mind boggling tasks such as social media management.
Use these analytical tools to get insights of your customers and to create a better service.
RankTrackr helps you to easily find keyword rankings across multiple websites and search engines. This data in turn helps you to optimize your site for search engines as well as getting valuable customer insights to personalize your website’s user experience.
Buzzsumo is a popular research and monitoring tool used for finding trending and the most shared content on social media channels. You can even analyze your competitors with Buzzsumo.
Capturing emails help you to market directly to your customers. These tools make it easy to capture and manage emails for you.
SaneBox is for anyone who hates sorting emails. SaneBox helps you to automatically sort your email into several folders based on the importance of that email.
Boomerang is available for Outlook, Gmail and mobile devices and helps you to schedule mails, snooze messages and get follow-up reminders.
Even MORE tools for your startup