A Comprehensive List of Affordable and Essential Tools and Resources for Startups, Small Businesses and Solopreneurs

Jul 05 2012
By: boastcapital
Categories: Business Resources
12 Comments

List of Tools and ResourcesAlmost everyday we’re asked for recommendations on tools and resources for businesses. Over the past few months, we’ve grown tired of emailing people links on everything from accounting software to inexpensive explainer video production resources. Going forward we can just point people to this one link.

The list below is comprised of tools and resources that either we use or our friends and associates have used and highly recommended.

If there is something awesome that should be included, please add it in the comments section.

1. ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

Wave Accounting is a free, simple and easy to use online accounting software. They also offer payroll integration at $3 per employee payroll, which is discounted as your company grows.

Kashoo is another good online accounting software. The pricing includes free (single user), $10 per month (3 users) and $20 per month (15 users).

2. STRATEGY AND EXECUTION

Manifast helps you set the strategic vision and goals for your business, and gives you the tools to keep you on track to achieve them. They’ve just launched a beta and are offering free trials for the software.

3. CAP TABLE MANAGEMENT

Capography replaces Excel as the standard way that startups maintain their cap table. If you’re giving a potential investor your pitch and they ask to share your cap table, this is the best way to do it. Capography is free for up to 20 people (investors, common shareholders, or someone you grant options to) and is $199 per year after that.

4. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEE COLLABORATION

Asana is the best free project management tool on the web that we’ve found.

Trello is a free and super simple collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. Team members can also vote and prioritize projects. This is a great alternative to sticky notes on the wall.

BaseCamp offers a more comprehensive collaboration and project management toolset enabling you keep track of people, schedules, timelines and data. Basecamp offers a free 45-day trial and pricing starts at $20 per month for unlimited users and up to 10 projects at once.

5. CRM

Zoho is an easy to use, customizable CRM tool that helps you manage all your Sales, Marketing, Customer Support & Service, Inventory and Email within from one place. Zoho is free for up to 3 users and $12 per user after that.

6. DATA STORAGE AND SHARING

There are several like Dropbox (2 up to 16GB free), Box (5 Gb free), and Google Drive (5 Gb free) which offer more space than most people will ever need and have great tools for sharing.

7. DATA BACKUP

Backup Box is a great tool to move files and data automatically between online services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, FTP, MySQL etc.

8. EMAIL

Mailchimp provides free email marketing for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month, offers great looking email templates, and provides all the analytics you’ll need.

9. LANDING PAGES

Launchrock is a free tool for testing your product or service before launch to see if there is any interest. You can also incent people to share the landing page with their friends via social media and email.

Unbounce is another great landing page tool with deeper analytics and some more bells and whistles; however, plans start at $50 per month.

10. MARKETING TRAINING

Inbound Marketing University is a great free resource to become proficient in online marketing. They offer seventeen free lectures from leading marketers and the program culminates in an Inbound Marketing Exam.

11. PR

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects you with journalists who are on a deadline for an article and are looking for sources. Getting your story written by a journalist is still the best and most credible press you can get. The free account sends you three media alerts a day with plans starting at $19.99 per month for keyword based alerts and user profiles so journalists can better recognize you for future stories.

Pressitt is a free social media news release platform that enables you to create media rich press releases with images, video, and links, and share it on multiple online channels.

Pitchengine is another social media news release platform. You can create and publish unlimited pitches for free, but they have plans offering SEO, enhanced analytics and distribution starting at $19 per month.

PR.com is a great free press release distribution service. The releases are often syndicated on Google news.

12. REMOTE OFFICE

Levamen helps companies enable their remote employees to work more efficiently and effectively. Levamen is like an online office with rooms, meeting space, kitchen etc., where employees can pop into each others offices, schedule meetings, whiteboard stuff, and have conversations by the water cooler – all online. Levamen is free for up to 10 users and plans start at $30 per user per month after that.

13. SALES PRODUCTIVITY

Yesware is a gmail plugin that enables you to find out who opens your emails and clicks on your links, create email templates for different sales stages, sync emails to your CRM with one click, and get interesting insights on your email so you can optimize them for the future. Yesware is free for up to 100 tracking events per month and $4.99 per month after that. You can also get 100 free tracking for every friend you sign up.

Rapportive is a free gmail plugin that shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox – you can immediately see what people look like, where they’re based, what they do, along with their social media profiles.

Boomerang is a Gmail plugin that enables you to schedule emails and set follow up reminders. Boomerang offers a free 30-day trial and is free for up to 10 messages per month, with plans between $4.99 and $14.99 after that.

14. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT

HootSuite enables you to manage multiple social media profiles including twitter, facebook and linkedin, schedule messages and tweets, track mentions, and analyze traffic. Hootsuite is free for up to five profiles and plans start at $9.99 after that.

Reachli is a marketing automation tool for visual content. Studies show that visual content converts more than text. Reachli helps you take that further by enabling you to easily create visual marketing campaigns across social channels such Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc., get analytics on traffic and best times to post, and optimize campaigns to drive conversions.

Buffer prides itself on being a smarter way to schedule content on social media. All you have to do is add content to your Buffer and it gets posted at the most optimal times throughout the day. The free account gives you one account from each social network plus ten posts in your Buffer with the option to upgrade for $10 per month.

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a trigger and action based automation tool where you can create recipes to automate almost anything. For example, you can create a recipe to text you the weather update everyday, auto-retweet any tweet from @BoastCapital, or auto-save any picture you take to dropbox plus millions of other combinations. IFTTT is free to use for now.

15. SURVEYS

Surveymonkey is an easy to use, web-based customer survey tool that is free for up to 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. Unlimited plans start at $19 per month.

16. VIDEO MARKETING

Virool is a video marketing technology that matches relevant video content with the right audience to produce an incredibly high level of engagement. It works by distributing videos to influential sites, blogs, social games and mobile applications and provides real-time analytics on the campaigns. Virool offers a Cost per View model starting at 10 cents.

Vidcaster helps you create a video site that matches your brand, enables you to share your videos on multiple social media and video channels, and provides you analytics so you can see how your videos are performing. Plans range from free to $249 per month for more advanced features.

17. VIDEO PRODUCTION

Breadnbeyond is the most cost effective resource for explainer videos that are so hot these days, especially with startups. Most sources can cost you upwards of $10,000, but I know several startups that’ve had videos done for under $1,200 including voiceover.

PowToon is a Do-it-Yourself animation platform. Works great if you have no budget, but still want a nice looking animated explainer video.

Jing is an awesome free tool for screen capture, screen recording (great for “how to” videos and tutorials), editing and sharing.

18. VIRTUAL PHONE SYSTEM

Grasshopper gives you a toll free number with unlimited extensions and includes call forwarding to mobile phones, voicemails via email, and a tool to manage everything online without any hardware to purchase. Plans start at $12 per month.

19. WEB CONFERENCING

Google Hangout is the best way to video-conference and screen share with multiple people.  Combine that will all the apps available on Google like Zoho, Yesware, Rapportive etc. and it becomes a winning combination.

Hookflash is a free app that integrates with your LinkedIn directory, giving business users a free alternative for voice, HD video and messaging. Hookflash is on a mission to replace your phone.

20. WEB MEETINGS

Anymeeting is a full-featured webinar and web meeting solution (video, audio, screen sharing, chat and recording) that is free for up to 200 attendees. I haven’t found anything quite like this given the closest alternatives are over $40 per month for far less attendees.

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12 Comments

  1. Ziko Rajabali
    February 25, 2013

    Fantastic post, folks at boast!
    +1 for Asana.
    A few others that I have found useful over the years:

    Twilio with OpenVBX — requires a little bit of configuration tinkering, but for $2/mo and $0.02 per minute you can have a toll-free number attached to an IVR. ($1/mo and $0.01 per minute for a “local” line, which can be anywhere in N.A.).

    FreshDesk is a full-fledged helpdesk system. It has a free plan for three agents, and also has an API in case you want to hook it up to some other tool.

    GitHub, for the software startups, is a fantastic source-code repo with issue management, but it’s only free if you’re developing open-source software (or don’t mind your source code being publicly available).
    Bitbucket by Atlassian is a fantastic alternative that offers private repositories for free (with limited contributors on the free plan, but perfect for an early-stage startup).

    GoDaddy – Buy your domains through GoDaddy for a cheap first-year purchase. This is a good cost-saver when scooping up lots of alternative / test domains before you hone in on the one you love.

    DreamHost — the BEST for hosting domains (hosting being different from purchasing). Unlimited space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains, unlimited users… unlimited everything for a monthly fee of $9 / mo. I currently host 45 domains and 11 sub-domains there.

    Google Apps is by far the best tool for day-to-day business, because it links GMail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, AdWords, etc. to your domain, and you can use your shiny domain-based google account to log into everything else that uses google authentication (eg: Asana). It used to be free for 10 participants, but they just pulled the plug on that plan. Now it’s $5/mo / user, which starts to get expensive for startups, but you can work around that by keeping one primary account while the rest of your team get aliases (eg: picard@ncc1701.com is a proper account, while numbertwo@ncc1701.com is a group account that forwards to ladiesman@gmail.com).

    • boastcapital
      February 25, 2013

      Thanks for your feedback Ziko. And how did we miss Google Apps. Everything we do is on Google apps including email, hangout, Zoho and Asana!

    • January 12, 2015

      You may like to see: http://www.reportally.com – a combination of an Investor Reporting platform (free) and Cap Table builder and manager (free for startups); used by over 2,000 companies worldwide. Enjoy!

  2. February 25, 2013

    SME’s might also be interested in the cloud based social networking tool for e-invoicing from Tradeshift. Tradeshift offers free e-invoicing to all users connected to their network.
    The system is based on top of the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) available since 2004, and now being released as version 2.1. UBL is also free – and royalty free.

    Anyone currently using Intuit products (Quickbooks, etc) – yep – all 5 million of you – will be on this network,,, making Tradeshift the largest e-invoicing product on the market.

    Denmark legislated the use of UBL in 2005; the European PEPPOL project is based on UBL; users in over 190 countries are using UBL. North America has been spectacularly slow on the uptake of UBL. Google “UBL in North America” for NA efforts.

    Sending an invoice to a company not on the network – no problem – the invoice is sent as a PDF attachment to an e-mail – the current situation for many companies.

    For more info on UBL in North America check out http://goUBL.com

  3. February 25, 2013

    Thank you for the great list, much appreciated. Also check out the following that i’ve had experience with:

    CONTACT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
    For a service-based business without cost of goods or inventory, I recommend you check out Jibberjobber.com . It’s a great web based contact management system we a free option and full functionality for $10 a month. Excellent for business development.

    PROJECT MANAGEMENT COLLABORATION
    Basecamp is a little cumbersome to work with and as of last year did not give you great Gantt charts – which is pretty important tool for development projects. However, there are plugins available that can provide that.

    Box.com is great and provides excellent interoperability with LinkedIn and other social media sites.

    DOMAIN WEB EMAIL HOSTING
    You can probably do better than GoDaddy. Several startups I’ve been with started here and regretted it. Maybe okay to grab domains, but do a search on domain names and you will find many as cheap or cheaper for the multiple variations/extensions you will want to grab.

    Recommend go right to Hostgator.com – get your email with your domain name alias right there, great C-Panel interface as well.

    For more enterprise email functionality with enhanced security features – check out http://www.bluetie.com

    ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
    Have had very good experience with Quicken Online and set up a couple of companies with it. Also have pretty good credit card processing modules and payroll apps. Have a network of intuit-certified CPAs at reasonable price I can refer you to as well.

    BUSINESS CARDS
    Excellent quality coated 16 pt color both side business cards 500 for about $40.00 from http://www.businesscardsdiscounted.com – check it out.

    REMOTE COLLABORATION
    Joinme.com has great remote easy to use screensharing (including a free VOIP conference line) even with the free version if you are not ready to invest in a GoToMeeting subscription.

  4. February 27, 2013

    GREAT list!

    I’ll add a category: Password Management.

    A good password-management tool saves time and makes your business more secure. I use Password Wallet, but there are many excellent password-management tools out there.

  5. February 27, 2013

    Great list, I am sure you just saved many entrepreneurs a bunch of time!

    Perhaps worth adding to your list is Fundica’s funding identification tool (http://www.fundica.com/findfunding/) ? It is always a good idea to try and identify new funding opportunities when a company goes through an important transition or takes on a new project and Fundica helps entrepreneurs do this for free! It’s also a great way to find funding to complement SR&ED claims.

  6. Captable
    January 1, 2014

    Here’s another cap table tool: http://captable.io/

  7. Albert pinto
    April 30, 2014

    Much appreciable list! For project management and collaboration you should consider Proofhub.

  8. Diana Lidstone - The Entrepren
    July 6, 2014

    Great list — I wondered if you thought of updating it now that the list is 2 years old. Would you make any changes? Would love to know

  9. July 18, 2014

    Nice list of resources. Although it might not fit into an exact category above our diagramming tool http://creately.com is also a great addition for a start-up or a small business.
    You can use it to create mind maps, business process models, org charts, SWOT diagrams, flowcharts and much more. All of these are useful to visualize your processes and make improvements.
    Plus our real-time collaboration features makes it easy to work together in a same document at the same time from different locations. This is especially useful for start-ups where the team can be distributed across multiple locations. Do consider adding it to the list.

  10. Nandini
    August 11, 2014

    Great list of tools. I would like to recommend Proofhub for project management. Simple, easy, intuitive and feature rich. Have a look at http://www.proofhub.com/

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