Getting Started: The Best Tools for Launching Your Business

Like Ferris on his day off, once you hit your groove, things can go swimmingly. But getting there is an uphill battle.

The same can be said of launching a startup. Every day we hear from entrepreneurs who remind us that every startup with 40K twitter followers at some point had only one... that every startup with a website at some point had to choose a domain and point a DNS... and that every startup with a product in the market at one point just had an idea.

And fortunately, there are a number of awesome, affordable and vetted tools out there to make getting started easy.

Is this list for you? That’s a good question. This list is for companies in the nascent stage, at the very beginning.

  • If you have 1-3 employees, this list is for you.
  • If you are bootstrapping and you need money, this list is for you.
  • If this is the start of your long journey, this list is for you.

Download our Launch Tools Spreadsheet with a 100+ tools for getting started!


Hello World

When starting from scratch, it is important to establish your place on the web so that you're searchable and identifiable by potential customers, employees, investors and all those people you pitch to at cocktail parties and meet-ups. Here are the basics for locking down a digital presence.

Launch your website

  • Finding a domain: Domize is a great way to help you find available domains
  • Hosting: AWS is a powerful tool to host your website
  • Turnkey site launch: CMSs like Shopify for e-commerce companies and Squarespace for all others
  • Sharing content: Medium is a great site to put your content in front of a large audience

Meet your customer

  • Email marketing: MailChimp is an email marketing solution that helps you run effective email campaigns and send newsletters
  • Developing a social presence: Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social media accounts in one place, so you can schedule posting for optimal times

Lay the groundwork for a digital presence

  • Creating content: Get help from freelance writers on sites like Ed2010
  • Publishing content on-site: If you're not using a CMS (see above), we recommend WordPress for the teams without easily available tech talent and Ghost for teams with in-house developers
  • Sharing content: Medium is a great site to put your content in front of a large audience


Build

99% perspiration and what not ... it is important to build! Build a brand, build a team and, most of all, build a product! These are tools that help you brainstorm, design, build, and launch.

Build the product

  • Wireframing: Balsamiq is our go to wireframing tool
  • Finding affordable design help: Behance helps you find top quality design work
  • Designing your product site: InVision and Adobe Creative Cloud help you make the best looking product you can
  • Making graphics on the site: Behance for freelancers and Canva for DIY

Develop your brand

  • Making quote cards for social: Pablo by Buffer is great for content you plan on sharing
  • Generate press: HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources
  • Become a thought leader: Medium is where your articles and content can go viral on a global scale, leading to more traffic back to your site
  • SEO: Positionly is one of the most powerful SEO tools out there
  • SEM: SEMrush provides competitive data for a digital space

Team communication

  • Chat and video: One of the oldest and most familiar communication tools on the market, Skype offers free instant messaging, audio and video chat, so you can even talk with your remote coworkers
  • Collaborating on documents: Google Drive makes real-time collaboration a breeze and works across multiple programs. Google Drive is bae. Quip is great for collaboration as you grow bigger

Project management

  • Project management: Extremely user-friendly, intuitive and great for nontechnical audiences, Trello allows you to create lists and cards to manage projects
  • Processes and workflows: Asana is a comprehensive project management tool that allows you to create lists and task boards to manage projects, making sure you get through every step of your workflow


Grow

Expanding your market and consumers is crucial to the success of any startup. Not only do you need to sell more, but you also need tools that facilitate growth. Stagnation is not an option if you want to succeed. It’s time to grow.

Selling the product

  • Finding clients and customers: SnapEngage allows you to locate and target potential employees
  • Building a pipeline: Zendesk is a standard when it comes to managing customers
  • Managing a pipeline (CRM): Manage your pipeline on Google Sheets until you burst. Then move to Streak
  • Getting paid: Stripe for B2Cs and FreshBooks invoicing for B2Bs

Understanding the customer

  • Traffic analytics: Google Analytics is a free and the industry standard
  • Customer behavior: Mixpanel is a great tool for understanding customer behavior
  • Customer support: Zendesk is a standard customer support pipeline
  • Testing and user feedback: Intercom for user feedback, reading this like customer service feedback on site experience

Foster a digital presence

  • Creating content: Contently and Ed2010 help you optimize high-quality content strategies
  • Publishing content on-site: WordPress for the teams without easily available tech talent and Ghost for teams with in-house developers
  • Sharing content: Medium is a great site to put your content in front of a large audience

HR

  • Recruiting full-time employees: AngelList has access to a huge number of potential employees
  • Recruiting freelancers: Upwork is the go-to place for freelancers
  • Employee benefits: Zenefits provides your employees with good options for benefits
  • Managing personnel and HR compliance: Justworks and TriNet help you better manage issues with employees
  • Paying employees: Justworks makes payroll simple

Office space


Keep the Wheels on the Bus

Infrastructure essential but is probably least glamorous part of running a startup. You need to constantly be raising money, keeping the books and making sure you are legally compliant. Check out these tools below to help you put the plane on autopilot.

Raise money

  • Crowdsourcing: Kickstarter is a great crowdfunding site
  • Researching VCs: AngelList has a huge number of VCs on their site
  • Building a pitch deck: LivePlan helps you plan and execute your pitch deck
  • Managing a cap table: Capshare is built specifically to help with managing cap tables

Keep things kosher

  • Incorporating: Incorporate.com is the best place to look for help incorporating at the outset. If you think you're going to raise venture one, be sure to consult an attorney to make sure you select the best
  • Standard legal docs: Shake provides boilerplates to save you hassle
  • Getting affordable legal advice: Priori Legal is great legal advice on the cheap

Keep the books

  • Keeping the books: Xero is loved by startups. QuickBooks is loved less by startups but loved more by the accountants who eventually manage the books
  • Banking: Bank of AmericaIt’s better than other banks’ online tools.”

Be efficient

  • Scheduling meetings: x.ai if you want the personal touch, Calendly if you are comfortable sending a link
  • Managing your inbox: Google Inbox is another great tool by Google
  • Other: Zapier is one of Stacklist's favorite tools! It's like a carabiner to connect and make the most of all of your other tools

Download our Launch Tools Spreadsheet with a 100+ tools for getting started!