When you’re starting a business, it’s crucial to be savvy, otherwise you run out of money and run into issues.
The good news is that the days needing a $10,000 custom website and keeping a shoebox of receipts to keep track of your finances are over.
There are more affordable options for business owners like us and it's never been easier to start a business on a low budget. To help save money where it really counts, here are the top resources for starting a business you need to know about. While this list isn't totally comprehensive, it's the ideal place to start.
IncFile and Rocket Lawyer are affordable online incorporation services that make sure all the proper documents filed and your business is 100% legally set up. If you are nervous about filing mistakes, these services are excellent.
LivePlan is your secret weapon if you need to develop a solid business plan. It walks you step-by-step through the entire process with video tutorials and example business plans so you can spend less time planning and more time building your business.
Xero and FreshBooks are two accounting software tools that make accounting quick and painless. Transactions are automatically fed into your accounting software, eliminating the need for manual entry. Invoices can be created, customized and sent on the fly. Last but not least, share details with your accountant from anywhere.
A business website builder like Weebly or StudioPress can be a lifesaver, especially if you don't have a designer or are on a tight budget. How else will people look into what your brand is about, where you’re going, and what you’re offering?
Rocket Lawyer has an Online Legal Subscription for all your legal needs. Need to ask a lawyer a critical question about your business? Need to customize legal documents so your business is protected? How about having that legal document looked over by a professional? That’s exactly what your subscription includes.
Create a Business Model
Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool that complements your business plan. It helps you describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model to success. Your business will constantly evolve. Shouldn't your plan of action? (If you want a tool based version of this, check out Strategyzer)
99designs is the world’s leading design contest marketplace, powered by a massive community of extremely talented designers. Basically that means you get a ton of designers from around the world to create different variations for your logo – and you choose the best one. And it’s just for a single flat fee.
Lead Generation & Email Marketing
AWeber is the email marketing service we use and rely on every single day. When you sign up for a 30 day free trial, they have video walkthroughs to help you get set up and growing your list in no time. It takes the confusion out of email marketing - without being expensive.
Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding platform based in the United States. The company’s stated mission is to help bring creative projects to life. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a pledge towards a project unless it reaches its funding goal.
The government is getting incredibly picky about business owners tracking those random expenses for everything from paper for your printer to gas for your car. Rather than using a random shoebox, Expensify lets you to scan or take a snapshot of your receipts using a smartphone.
DIY Tax Programs
While small businesses are required to file a tax return just once a year, business owners are permitted to pay estimated taxes quarterly. TurboTax, lets you file taxes without assistance from an expert (recommended for the very least complicated returns only).
Google Analytics is a free way for you to find out where your visitors are coming from, how long they are staying, and where they leaving. Almost all website builders let you integrate your Google Analytics account for free. Make sure you do it!
Google Webmaster Tools is another awesome free solution for your website to see what technical problems you may have as well as what search terms are bringing visitors to your website. Almost all website builders let you integrate your Google Analytics account for free. Make sure you do it!
Online Marketing & Lead Generation
If you'd like a more sophisticated lead generation tool than GetResponse's built in features, LeadPages is an awesome online marketing tool you can use on any website. This tool you can use it's A/B testing so you can see what's actually working and cut out what isn't.
Help A Reporter Out is an online resource for news people (traditional and new media) to find sources for their stories quickly. By subscribing to their website and receiving the emails for people looking for information in your area of expertise. AKA free publicity for your business.
Google Adwords is a great way to bid and target specific keywords related to your business or product in hopes that people will click through your ad and make a purchase. PPC advertising is something you really want to understand before you invest in - it can get really expensive.
With Facebook Ads, you're able to target exactly who you want to see your ad. For instance, if you just want 30 year old women in Alaska who have one child and a college degree to see your ad - you can do that. It's a little creepy, but very targeted.
Upwork is a freelancer platform that connects you with the right talent for your needs business'. They have a safe and easy to use interface that allows you to connect with your perfect writer, website designer, SEO analyst, and anything else with freelancers from around the world.
We have used their platform multiple times and have had great results.
FreshDesk is everything you need to deliver incredible customer support online. They make it easy for you to talk to, serve, and thrill your customers so they keep coming back. All through a personalized and clean dashboard. The best part? You can get started for free.
Survey Monkey is one of the coolest online survey makers online, thanks to their impressive free option. It allows you to ask many types of questions, including text, ranking and multiple choice. This is a great way to get to know and understand your customers.
Online Security & Peace Of Mind
LastPass is the tool you need to keep all of your passwords safe and simple. 'MyDogSkip' isn't going to ward off those hackers anymore. You're going to take your passwords a step further if you want to stay safe online these days. Only remember one master password, and keep the rest locked up and easy-to-find in the LastPass password manager.
Stay on top of your business and personal brand by setting up Google Alerts to be notified anytime someone mentions your name or your business' name. This is a great way to show your appreciation for a kind review or make it right with a negative one.
Unroll.me is a must use tool for your email inbox. Cleaning out the spam in your life is as simple as plugging in your email address and manually unsubscribing from the random email newsletters that have your information. Give it a shot. It's awesome. (and free!)
Productivity & Collaboration Tools
Evernote is a great app to jot down your thoughts for later in the form of 'notes'. A "note" can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Share your notes with teammates or keep them to yourself.
You should always be learning, but it's hard to keep track of the articles you want to read throughout the day. Pocket is an app that makes it easy for you to save links and articles to one place to read at a more convenient time.
Skype is a free way to video or voice chat with teammates or employees over the internet. You can also instant message and share files. You can use Skype on whatever works best for you - on your phone or computer or a TV with Skype on it. It is free to start using Skype - to speak, see and instant message other people on Skype for example.
Google Drive is like Microsoft Office, but free. (we like free) Plus, instead of having to boot-up your Word or Excel documents through the installed software on your computer, Google Drive is just a click away. Your files in Drive can be reached from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. So wherever you go, your files follow.
Google Calendar is a free web based way to keep all of your important business and life events in one place. You can share your schedule, work offline, and much more. Keep track of your daily to-do list, organize multiple lists, and track important deadlines with Google Tasks. Create and update your tasks from Gmail or Calendar; they sync so your changes automatically show in both places.
How We Give Back
Please note that some of the links in this Business Toolkit are affiliate links we use them to keep the lights on and give back at the same time. For more on how our business model works, check out Our Mission.
We have used and trust all of these resources to help build your business and bootstrap at the same time. If you have any questions, feel free to send us a message. Please do not spend your money on any of these resources if you don't think they will help you build your business. Thanks for your support and stay savvy!