Turning a great idea into a successful startup requires a lot of hard work…and coffee. It also means you end up wearing a lot of hats. From finding new funding to signing checks to posting tweets, you’ve got to learn how to multitask when you’re keeping costs low.
Thanks to the wide world of apps and the internet, today it has never been easier to act like a financial whiz or marketing pro until a bigger budget enables you to onboard new talent. Here are our favorite tools and resources for getting your startup off the ground in 2017.
Funding & Capital
Foundersuite provides productivity tools for entrepreneurs. It offers a range of web apps, including Idea Validation (gain instant feedback on your ideas), Investor CRM (track your fundraising efforts), and Progress Tracker (update investors on your milestones). One of its most popular tools, Startup Docs, provides a set of spreadsheets and templates that help startups split up equity, build a cap table, recruit advisors, and create a 12-month hiring plan.
This company’s name says it all. 500 Startups has provided seed funding to upwards of 500 new businesses. It boasts one of the top accelerator programs in the world. As a result, it attracts well-known investors and platform partners, as well as a great deal of press attention. Once you’re in with this company’s network of connected and talented rainmakers, the sky’s the limit.
A women-focused venture capital firm, Springboard has assisted more than 650 women-led high-growth technology companies to raise $7.4 billion in capital. Springboard is a resource hub of investors and influencers who are committed to supporting women-led companies expand and develop. Its annual program provides a range of in-person events and community resources to ensure business owners are successful.
Gust’s platform enables entrepreneurs to source and manage all of their early-stage investment work, from initial pitch to successful exit. Its also connects startups with investor networks by providing a large searchable database of accelerator programs around the world.
Website & Design
Contentlook can help you optimize your website so that you can drive more traffic and increase user engagement. The platform audits your website from a range of perspectives, including SEO, social media, and online traffic. It also interprets Google Analytics data, providing results in a user-friendly console.
While there are several free graphic design tools on the market, Canva is the most intuitive and easy-to-use. Its drag-and-drop functionality, combined with a robust library of free and paid images, makes it a valuable resource for creating professional-looking documents. One of its best features is its large collection of templates, which gives you everything you need to create reports, business cards, flyers, magazine covers, brochures and much more—for free!
Give all your digital campaigns—ads, social media, and email—a boost. Ask Famous Industries to design an “Instant App” for your brand that delivers bite-sized content. Then, use that app to replace key landing pages. According to Famous, Instant Apps achieve a 200% conversion uplift over mobile web apps and landing pages.
Marketing & Sales
If you’re looking for a single platform to manage all of your social media, look no further than Upflow. You can use it to schedule a range of content, including tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn articles. Upflow is great for startups that want to keep their social media accounts filled with relevant content, but don’t have the time to scour the web—it finds that content for you.
Close.io is an inside sales CRM platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Built by sales people for sales people, it is a smaller and more user-friendly alternative to larger CRMs. With it, you can automatically track and log all your customer communication, including calls and emails, as well as all sales activity. Use it if your goal is to spend more time closing deals and less time on data entry.
MailChimp is one of the most popular email and newsletter services on the market, and for good reason. Its platform is so easy to use that there’s no learning curve, making it ideal for people who’ve been putting off launching their email marketing campaigns because they worry it’ll be time-consuming. A myriad of features, including advanced analytics, ensure you’ll always know how to improve your email efforts.
Sumo is a free set of marketing tools that enable startups to grow their email lists and website traffic. It is basically an all-in-one marketing optimization platform that enables you to gather and analyze marketing data so that you can better nurture your leads. It is fully integrated with a wide range of marketing tools, like MailChimp, HubSpot, AWeber, ConstantContact, Infusionsoft, and Campaign Monitor.
Communication & Project Management
It’s easy to keep your projects on track when your team is collaborating on Trello. You can create tasks in various lists, drag-and-drop them from one list to the next, assign them to team members, and manage deadlines. Trello makes it simple for everyone to see at a glance what tasks are assigned to them, as well as what team members are working on. Thanks to built-in messaging, endless project email is a thing of the past.
Slack’s instant messaging platform enables you to organize team conversations. You can create separate private and public channels, as well as send direct messages. Sharing files and images is as easy as dragging and dropping. According to a company survey, Slack enabled users to reduce internal email by 48.6% and hold 25.1% fewer meetings.
Asana’s project management software is ideal for today’s virtual teams. You can create and assign projects/deadlines, match workflows, and communicate with team members in a central location. It’s integrated with various apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, which makes onboarding easy. And it’s free for up to 15 people.
A reliable virtual meeting and screen-sharing tool is essential in today’s remote business environment. What’s especially great about Join.me is that unlike other popular web conferencing tools, it doesn’t require any downloads or subscriptions from either you or meeting attendees. The highly intuitive interface means there’s no attendee confusion at the start of meetings to slow you down.
Finance & Human Resources
When you’re looking to start building out your team, Lever is an excellent recruiting platform. Use it to source, nurture, and manage all of your candidates in one place. Not only can you track the interview process, you can also build reports on which job websites (like LinkedIn, Hired, and Glassdoor) are generating the most results.
Once you’ve made your hiring decisions, you can use Parklet to streamline the onboarding process, including getting documents signed, tracking employment history and equipment assignments, and introducing new hires to the team. Parklet also includes employee tools, such as a companywide directory that pulls profile information from across the web, as well as feedback forms.
Formerly known as ZenPayroll, Gusto streamlines your company’s entire HR and finance, from payroll and tax to health benefits and 401k. Its robust tax functionality includes reporting new hires to the federal government; managing all tax filings to the federal, state, and local government; and automating deductions for benefits and workman’s comp payments. After payments are electronically sent to employees, Gusto sends pay stubs to employees via email.
A free accounting platform, Wave is designed for startups and sole proprietors with nine employees or less. With it, you can track sales and expenses, manage invoices and customer payments, pay employees, and scan receipts. Wave also includes free personal finance software for small business owners who want to manage all of their finances in a single location.
Bonus: Resource Directory
Startup Stash is a directory of curated tools and software programs that help startups build and organize their companies. The website is organized into 40 categories, displayed as a visually scannable grid. Resources are extensive and cover everything from early-stage idea generation to website development and marketing. The list is constantly updated, so you’ll never waste your time searching for your next favorite tool.