Thanks to an easily accessible global talent and a constant flow of startup investments, it has never been easier to build a startup in a cost-effective way than today. But, launching an online business is one thing and launching a successful online business is an entirely different beast. Startups fail for a number of different reasons:
- lack of market need
- burning through funds
- not having the right people
and a dozen others. Operating a startup is a challenging and highly demanding effort that can be eased and streamlined through the use of startup tools. The tech-driven nature of business today can help startup founders avoid unnecessary costs, minimize operational risks, save valuable time, and generally accomplish more with less.
I’m presuming that you already have an idea and basics such as a website ready. For easier browsing, I have sorted these into separate categories.
Let’s start with startup validation tools that are also largely market research tools and startup planning tools – depending on how you want to label them. Idea validation is critical to startup success because it’s the closest thing to a guarantee that your grasp of the niche, knowledge, skillset, and network connections are enough for a shot to actual success. When talking about startup idea verification, I mentioned a few tools such as:
- The Validation Board – a free tool for testing startup ideas based on the famous lean startup methodology by Eric Ries which I’m a fan of.
- Validation Canvas – a neat tool to test your idea and track the progress over time.
- IdeaCheck – a more interactive approach to idea validation by creating a “professional, scientifically validated questionnaire” based on your idea.
- Germ.io – a more encompassing tool that streamlines the validation process into an actionable project plan.
as well as other potentially useful resources you might want to check.
Naturally, market research is an essential element with broad application to gain invaluable customer feedback and evolve. For this, you can also use:
- SimilarTech – dubbed as a sales insight platform, SimilarTech tracks real-time technology adoption and usage, providing insights you can use to spot trends, research markets, as well as generate leads and prospects.
- AYTM– a platform that allows the creation of surveys and targeting based on specific demographics.
- Facebook Audience Insights – a completely free targeting tool to build a marketing audience based on a wide range of targeting options such as region, age, gender, interest, likes, and so on.
Communication is the backbone of every healthy business, especially with remote working now in full force.
- Slack – a mainstay in the majority of offices across the globe, Slack facilitates easy communication whether in a group or one on one.
- Zoom – the undisputed king of communication during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a video conferencing software suitable for internal (e.g. team meetings) and external use (e.g. investor meetings).
Startup management tools come in various shapes and sizes, from fundraising software to CRMs to project management tools like:
- HubSpot for Startups – designed specifically for startups, this is an all-in-one software suite for marketing, sales, and customer service needs, with a free CRM at the center.
- FounderSuite – perhaps not a management tool per se, FounderSuite is a comprehensive fundraising platform (especially useful if you are a first-time founder) with management-like features that simplifies tasks like raising capital and investor relations through its own CRM and a database of investors and documents.
- ContractZen – an all-in-one turnkey cloud solution for managing contracts, meetings, sensitive documents such as Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) documents, as well as secure storage and sharing via a virtual data room. Basically, everything a startup needs to be ready for the due diligence process.
- Asana – a project management tool with tons of options to set up projects, add tasks, create checklists, and collaborate between multiple team members.
Startup marketing tools for managing social efforts are inevitable because you need to create traction, and a well-executed social marketing strategy will do the trick. Here are a few other tools you can try:
- Hootsuite – one of the most popular social media management tools for startups which enables users to manage multiple networks and profiles and measure performance.
- Buffer – like Hootsuite, it’s a social media management tool that perhaps has a more streamlined functionality, albeit less powerful analytics.
- SentiOne – an AI-powered social listening and customer automation platform that practically monitors the online world for your brand mentions, upon which you can engage with and automate your responses.
Ever thought about the legal side of startups? According to CB Insights’ data, 8% of startups fail because they had legal challenges they couldn’t overcome. It might look like an insignificant percentage but if we account for the 2,290 startups that were founded in 2019 alone, we get to the conclusion that more than 180 startups failed because of legal complexities past year. Changes the perspective, doesn’t it?
So, what tools can you leverage? How about:
- LegalZoom – legal services and solutions primarily aimed at people looking to start and run a business.
- Rocket Lawyer – pretty much the same as LegalZoom with a bit more flexible pricing model.
- KISS – free legal documents for both startup founders and investors.
- FormSwift – offers online legal document templates with lots of free resources.
- Docracy – a place where startup founders can use contracts and other legal documents for free, thanks to a broad community that curates them.
- WhiteSource – not strictly legal in nature, this tool identifies open source components in your software, including dependencies, and then takes care of the security and compliance issues across a variety of programming languages.
I wouldn’t consider these mandatory but rather as a nice addition to the overall startup tools selection:
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator – arguably the best way to leverage the world’s largest database of professionals and companies and their employees, you can use this tool to create lists of leads and prospects based on numerous relevant parameters.
- Prospect.io – a multichannel sales automation tool that helps client outreach and sends them some cold emails, with the option to integrate with the tools you already use.
- Freshteam – a great tool to manage all of your HR needs (hiring, onboarding, employee data, etc.) in one place.
- Clarity – a platform where entrepreneurs can browse through a community of experts and connect directly for advice and/or mentorship.
- Sisense – a business intelligence software that sifts through complex business data and uncovers insights unified in a single, accessible repository,
- Wave – a free online invoicing and accounting tool so you easily manage your expenses.
Hopefully, this post managed to shed light upon some of the tools (or necessities) you were previously unaware of. Some of these tools overlap into more categories, while some offer free versions (you have to keep an eye on your budget!) that might be enough for the time being.
I don’t presume these are the best startup tools you can find, nor do I claim they are absolutely the best in their respective categories. There are plenty more I could have mentioned – consider these as examples of necessary startup tools to advance from humble beginnings and create a successful business. The path will be much easier to navigate.