Best Free and Low-Cost Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs

All builders need good tools. Whether you are a carpenter building a home or an entrepreneur building a business, quality tools will make all the difference in the final outcome.  Also, the right tools will make tasks easier, more fun and you will accomplish more in less time – an entrepreneur’s dream!

Here’s a list of the best startup tools that you should have in your toolbox to start, build and grow your new company. I have rounded up this list, and links,  of the best software and services, most which are free, others are low-cost and high-value to become your business resource reference.

This list is categorized by business need and includes my notes about my personal experience of using these tools in my entrepreneurial ventures.

Entrepreneur Startup Tools by Category

Business Planning

I agree with this business quote, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”!  I have found that my time spent planning saves countless hours, money and frustration during my workweek. As such I highly recommend creating a business plan with the online free service called Live Plan. Read my review of this great free business plans software.  Work out all the details of your business model and ideas in this software before you start to launch.

Design and Branding

Good design is the secret to a great business. In today’s hyperactive and media-intense world, visual messaging cuts through the clutter and establishes your brand strongly in your marketplace.

Team Communication

I’m sure you use heard or use Slack. While many entrepreneurs swear by it I have no experience with it so I cannot comment. My team is small and we find tools that combine communication and project management to be more effective for us such as Trello and Basecamp.  For international communication and instant messaging, I find Skype which is a free tool to be effective for my purposes.

Project Management

Many online businesses have picked Trello as their top choice for project management tool. I agree it is easy and intuitive for new users, is also free and has great communication and team management features.

I have also used Base Camp base successfully for many years and highly recommended it for those companies who will be managing multiple projects with different clients and need to store and access documents and images.

Email

As a G Suite user, Gmail is my main email platform. I found its usefulness expands dramatically with add-ons. My newest favorite is GMass which is a bulk email sender that will personalize and send emails on schedule. I use it to outreach to other blogs and industry professionals for collaboration.

Documents

For years I used Microsoft Word and loved it for all my business word processing needs. However recently I’ve gone to the cloud with the G Suite of tools including Google Docs. I found the transition easier than I originally thought. The key is finding add-ons, just as Gmail add-ons expanded functionality for email, for the specific tasks that you utilize. In my case, I use the add-ons for Change Case and Word Count amongst others most frequently.

Sales Presentations

My colleagues have been raving about Pretzi and it’s modern movie like presentations – check out the video example below. There is a free version available.  Another good choice for PowerPoint users is Keynote, because it has many good-looking themes, supports multimedia including video and animations well.

Calendar Scheduling

As I mentioned earlier since I become a G suite user I love using the Google Calendar because it syncs across all my devices; my desktop, iPad, and iPhone. It always reminds me of upcoming appointments and allows me to enter new meeting in any device.

Social Media Management

Depending upon the level of your social media activity checkout Buffer or HootSuite, both of which are excellent in their own way. HootSuite is a more full-featured tool that allows you to see analytics of your visitors on social media sites, while Buffer will allow you to schedule posts and set it and forget.  Both offer free plans.

E-commerce Online Stores

Having set up many online stores for my clients and myself over the years I can confidently say that Shopify is amongst the best e-commerce tools online today. They offer a good combination of features, pricing, and ease-of-use for most online e-commerce selling needs. It’s very easy to build a great looking website and manage your customer orders and even sell on Facebook from the easy-to-use dashboard.

For larger stores that require more features, I recommend Woo commerce which is an extension for WordPress.

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