Startup – Free tools

Startups are often cash constrained in the early days, before the products ship and you build a market.  Luckily, there are many tools available online to help you set up a professional business from day one, allowing you to invest when you have actual money coming in the door.

This is my ‘go to’ list, not a comparison of options, and all of the tools/ services listed here are free, at least for a useful period of time.  Note that I’m not affiliated with any service provider listed and I don’t get any referral or commission from any of them.

Simple Website – Wix

For those companies looking for a simple website, that non-technical people can create and manage, Wix makes a good first consideration.

This online service has a free tier that is perfect for startups looking to build an online presence.  You can select from a good selection of templates and then it’s a matter of producing your own content and publishing it.  Most of the templates also present well on mobile devices (tech speak: responsive design).

Professional images

The online world is very visual and finding good images that look professional and can be used commercially can be a challenge.  In this area I have three preferred resources: Pixabay, Unsplash and Flickr.

All Pixabay and Unsplash images can be used for commercial sites, however for Flickr you’ll need to set the search filter to show only images that can be used commercially.

Also – when it comes to simple editing of images (resize, crop, rotate, rename, etc) I can’t recommend Faststone Image Viewer highly enough.  Go get it… now.

Online Support Service – FreshDesk

Once you start selling your products and services you’ll want somewhere to co-ordinate support for your customers and partners.  FreshDesk is a solution that can grow as your business does, starting at their free tier.  Configuring it takes a little trial and error, but with most technology like this I suggest you just tinker and give it a try.  There are tutorials if you need more help.

Within the free tier you can also customise the Freshdesk portal with your logo, a custom URL (e.g. yourcompany.freshdesk.com) and add FAQ for people to help themselves so that you don’t have to spend time answering the same question to lots of different people.  You can also manage a small team of support people – up to 3 within the free tier – as well as set-up SLA (service level agreements – how quickly you respond and aim to fix issues).

CRM – Insightly

Having a place to track and manage your sales pipeline and partnerships is very useful, and larger companies tend to spend a lot of money on large Customer Relationship Management system, such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.  For a startup, Insightly offers a great free tier that you can scale up as you grow.

You can setup a memorable URL (e.g. yourcompany.insight.ly), customise the fields for customer and companies, set up campaigns and manage tasks.  There are some limits within the free tier, such as how many records you can keep, but this is a good place to start and pay as you grow.

Hopefully this list is useful in getting you going.  Please do share any other useful resources that you think could make a difference to cash strapped startups.

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