Starting a business is hard, especially when you don’t have the right tools. But how do you knows which tools are the best to use?
Ask someone smart, efficient, and experienced–like Rob Fitzpatrick, a serial entrepreneur, author of a great book on how to talk to customers, and a partner at Founder Centric, designers and teachers of top-tier startup education.
Rob put together a brain dump of tools he frequently turns to for his projects. Some are more obvious, others fairly unusual, but each can be extremely useful for startups:
Intercom – Tasteful chat and help widgets for your site, plus good automated email triggers.
Drip – Email courses and signup widgets for your site.
Mailchimp – Newsletters and decent signup widgets.
Buffer – Easier way to run your twitter and facebook accounts.
Slack – Chat and messaging to reduce internal email load, with one room per major project.
Github – Repository for your source code plus task lists and collaboration with your developers.
Dropbox – All company files should be here, not on email attachments or personal folders.
Streak – Simple CRM plugin for Gmail to manage and share your sales leads.
Trello – Digital kanban board for project management.
Basecamp – I use it for project management with external teams who don’t know our Trello workflow.
Stormboard – Digital sticky notes for remote brainstorming and workshops.
Meldium -Team password sharing and management.
Lean Domain Search – Suggests all available .com with a given keyword somewhere in the name.
Instant Domain Search – Quickly check specific domain availability.
Namecheap – Register your domains without getting screwed.
Stripe – Best payment processing online.
GoCardless (UK) – Accept direct debit payments.
Gumroad – Easily sell digital files like PDFs, videos, and links.
Google Analytics – Free and good enough for all your analytics needs.
Google Keyword Planner – See how many people are searching relevant terms.
Facebook Ads – Use the targeting options to compare the approximate size and location of various interests and demographics.
Createspace – Upload a PDF, sell a printed book via Amazon.
Newspaper Club – Ever wanted your own newspaper?
The Game Crafter – Prototype and sell your board and card games.
Shapeways – High quality 3d printing in a wide range of materials including gold and silver (for jewelry) and ceramics (for household goods); great for prototyping and market-testing physical products.
Alibaba – Cut out the middle man and buy anything you want directly from the manufacturer; if you’ve ever wanted a 40′ shipping container full of go karts, this is the place for you.
Squarespace – Visual site builder with good themes and integrations with stores, payments, newsletters, etc.
Strikingly – Easy site builder for nice single-page sites like manifestos, personal/company pages, or landing pages.
Shopify – For eCommerce and online stores.
Themeforest – If you need something custom, start by buying a $30 theme and editing it.
Glyphicons – Icon set
Flickr Creative commons – Search for photos with the appropriate usage rights.
Subtle Patterns – Pretty much what it says on the tin; for backgrounds and textures.
Fiverr – Pay $5 (or a bit more) for tasks ranging from logo design to copywriting.
99designs – Crowdsource design tasks (especially logos) for a few hundred dollars.
Dribbble – Browse designer portfolios, many of whom also freelance.
Clarity.fm – Pay-by-the-minute advice from various startup specialists.
elance – Various freelancers (assume you’ll hire several for trial projects before finding good ones).
CallHippo – The phone system for startups, small business & enterprise. Set up your support center in less than 3 minutes.
TextIt – Create SMS applications without programming (e.g. for the developing world).
Twilio – Makes phone calls and SMS as easy to program as websites.
Docracy – Open source legal documents.
Companies Made Simple (UK) – Set up and manage a UK corporation for 19.
Duedil (UK) – Nice interface over companies house interface to research industry and competitors.
Formswift– Free legal forms library.
Paul Graham’s Essays – Read the whole archive.
Tropical MBA – 250 podcast episodes comprising the best source of knowledge on location independence and manufacturing businesses.
Seth Godin’s Startup School – 15 audio episodes covering a Seth’s take on getting entrepreneurial.
Moz Learn – Solid knowledge base on inbound marketing.
Hacker News – Daily news for startup folks and hackers.
Product Hunt – Daily new products.
f6s – Listing of all accelerator programs (and lots of other info) and a social network for startups and angels.
AngelList – Social network and funding platform for startups and angels.
Capitallist – Like Angellist, but focused on London and the UK.
The Funded – Reviews and testimonials of investors from the founders’ perspective; do your investor due diligence here.
Indiegogo – Crowd-fund via donations with a focus on arts and creative projects, including some which aren’t allowed on KickStarter.
Kickstarter – Crowd-fund via pre-selling your products.
Seedrs (UK) – Equity crowd funding.
Crowdcube (UK) – Equity crowd funding.
SalesHandy – Data Analytic’s and communication tools to help inside sales team become highly productive. Features like Behavior Tracking, Share Files, Email Tracking, Focused Live Meeting, Sales Performance Tracking, Lead Tracking etc.
Boomerang for Gmail – This handy little tool allows you to write and schedule your emails for a more “appropriate” sending time.
Streak – This tool will suit a wide variety of businesses. Use it to manage the hiring process, to keep track of investment and fundraising projects, to manage deals, and much more.
Trello – It’s a great tool for listing out stock you need to buy, for prioritizing tasks with your team, and for playing around with ideas, thanks to the super easy drag-and-drop functionality built into the app.
Asana – It’s still a useful tool that is taking strides to become ever more elegant and relevant!
LastPass Password Manager – You can also create folders and share them with other LastPass users—giving access to only those passwords you want to share, and keeping the important stuff private.
Google Dictionary extension – If you’re working on important documents and don’t want to get spelling wrong (especially if you’re working in the cloud), this handy extension is for you.
AdBlock extension – AdBlock gets rid of everything—Google ads, banner ads on websites, YouTube video ads, you name it.
Evernote Clearly extension – Evernote Clearly extension, which will strip the page of all elements except the body content and body images, letting you read entirely without distraction! This is especially useful if you’re working through a dense document.
Google Keep – It probably works best on your mobile device but, if you have a smartwatch (in my case, the Moto 360), you can even use it on that, recording notes by voice, or just swiping through your saved notes.
List.ly – Collect content from all over the web and organize it into lists.
Goodreads extension – Goodreads is a lifesaver as it allows you to unload your brain and toss the Post-it notes reminding you to buy this or that book.
Hiveage – It is to create invoices, learn how to use the application with the dashboard and Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable graphs.
MailChimp – It’s the easiest email tool out there. With drag-and-drop features, dozens of free templates, and the ability to send drip email campaigns, this tool with revolutionize your marketing.
LinkedIn – It’s simplest, it’s a great place to manage and make new connections, to find and hire employees, and to build a portfolio that showcases your skills, experience, and abilities.
Canva – It completely free (you only need to pay for any stock photos you use), but it also requires minimal learning, has a number of templates, and is chock-a-block full of free graphics, icons, and shapes.
About.me – About.me page is your online business card. Beyond putting a face to your name and your credentials, this is a great place to collect the links that are relevant to you.
PicMonkey – This tool makes online photo editing easier than you’d believe.
Infogr.am – Infogr.am is a whole lot easier to use than Excel. Change colors, input data, and publish your graphic online all within minutes.
Google Alerts – Google Alerts will allow you to monitor any mentions of your brand, your own name, your competitors’ names, and anything else you wish to keep track of.
HARO – HARO will send media coverage opportunities directly to your inbox, filtered by category.
Twitter Lists – It’s a great way to “collect” all those people whose thoughts, links, and commentary you want to stay on top of.