Save time and energy getting your idea off the ground. Here are the software platforms, websites, and services we recommend to our entrepreneurs to produce professional quality on a budget.
Create a Website
Not everyone can or needs to build a website from scratch. WordPress can be a lot for novices to the web dev scene. Fortunately, there are great resources to give you a digital footprint for your brand.
- Simple drag & drop websites that have professional templates built on a user-friendly platform:
- Easy Ecommerce
- Shopify can be a bit clunky and difficult to set up at first; but once your online shop is live, you can post products across ecommerce sites (Amazon, Ebay, etc.) easily and quickly. You can also effectively manage targeted ad campaigns from the site, which makes it the clear front-runner for ecommerce in our book.
Design for Dummies
Building a professional brand identity with these easy, affordable resources:
- Software for design:
- Free stock video & photo sites:
Social Media Management
Managing and measuring your digital footprint can be incredibly important for when starting and growing your company. Not all startups need this, but many do. In fact, one of the first things Innovation PortAL recommends when launching a new company is to “create your digital footprint,” or to set up accounts on each major social media platform. The important ones: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Snapchat is also relevant depending on industry; and you should always keep track of newer or niche platforms like TicToc and Twitch. Software that syncs with these social media platforms can make your life easier and can keep a good “cadence” of posts for your digital following. Here are some resources that help:
- HubSpot is a social media management and customer relations management (CRM) software. Pick one of these two functions, and it’s free. Perks include great insights into your online audience, and it’s a platform that has services you’ll find useful when you scale.
- Hootsuite is the original post-scheduling site. Free to use for up to three accounts.
- Buffer is a simple, user-friendly scheduling platform that also has some easily understandable audience analytics.
Sometimes paying for assets or services is worth the money and time-savings. Learning to do everything from scratch can be costly in many ways, so we recommend exploring contracted services through online marketplaces when necessary. These sites also have internal rating systems so that you can get an idea of the quality and reliability of the person or firm you’re working with.
- Fiverr.com is a platform that connects freelancers with individuals seeking services. It is great for getting a quick turnaround of version 1.0 of your logo or website.
- Upwork is another trustworthy freelance marketplace with a variety of services.
- ThomasNet is good for finding industrial or product design related freelancers.
- TaskRabbit.com is where you can find almost anyone to do almost anything. Check out this site if you need someone to pack boxes or cut lumber or mow your lawn or anything really.
Accounting & Bookkeeping for Startups
Understanding financial fundamentals is crucial for gauging the viability of your idea or startup. You can’t scale without insight into your venture’s financial wellbeing. Here are tools that make it easy:
- Quickbooks is the most common tool in the industry. It’s easy to set up and automate, and they have a great app store for additional functionality.
- Xero is a new(er) competitor to Quickbooks, and some Innovation PortAL clients love it.
Customer Relations Managers (CRMs)
Startups seldom need Salesforce right out the gate. It can be like getting a Ferrari for a quick commute. Pick a CRM that is easy to setup and maintain, and make sure that it is useful for your needs. Here are some ones we recommend:
- Insightly is a CRM built with startups. Very easy to setup, and it has proven useful for a number of Innovation PortAL startups.
- Hubspot can be great solution that starts off free.