Free Tools and Resources for First-time Founders/College Students/Small Businesses/Make Money Online Folks.
I will keep Updating this page as I continuously keep learning and testing other tools and resources.
These are all tools, resources, books I like, recommend, and trust. Movies, TV shows and some inspirational videos made me focus and kept me motivated from time to time. Everything here will help you become a better, smarter and productive startup founder or an online business person.
If you feel you need more detailed info on tools and resources that most entrepreneurs and professional use see my blog post on 40 Free Tools used by Successful Professionals.
Without Keeping You Waiting:
Here we go…
The only resources and tools you need at this point in time to start and grow your Business.
Hosting & Websites
Go with GoDaddy Domain Name provider
A website is the key to any Business and finding the right name (domain name) is a must to let know your services to find potential customers.
GoDaddy has great plans and discounts that are what Startups need when they are just starting up with little investment.
If you’re starting a self-hosted WordPress blog, website or even e-commerce platform consider Siteground for your web-hosting needs. They’re reliable and secure, and they have great customer support team for all your technical questions.
Choose Siteground if you are willing to count on secure and reliable quality services from day one for a premium price.
If you feel you can always upgrade or move to quality services later once the business is making transactions you can start with GoDaddy budget plans.
Very cheap with high discounts for starters. It’s Ok to start with Godaddy services for the first six months as you can always shift to quality providers in Hosting space such as SiteGround.
I used Godaddy WordPress managed website Hosting for the first 6 months and moved to SiteGround. You no need to worry about installing, DNS settings and other stuff. Simply you will receive your basic website set up when you sign up for Godaddy Managed Hosting Services. Also, they have a modest support team who can help 24/7. Some say their support sucks but I found they are ok to start. Maybe it works for newbie’s and it may be a different case for some experienced professionals who run websites with good viewership and clicks.
Note: If you buy a self-hosted WordPress website from GoDaddy they provide you Free Business Mail and One Domain Name per year. They also run up to 40% promotional discounts for small businesses. [Always ask discounts from sales team you will end up with some bonus deals]
WordPress for Your Website
I have worked in a Website and App development company in 2012 and introduced to WordPress for the first time.
As part of the Product development team: I used to work with developers on Magento, PHP and Android platforms.
WordPress was never our choice. But when I realized the importance of blogs for Business than I seriously looked into WordPress as CMS platform.
Since then, I love each detail and community help that shaped WordPress has the most used CMS platform by online businesses all over the world. Although I hate coding I personally learned how to set up WordPress and making passive income building WordPress websites for local business.
If you want to set up an e-commerce website to sell products, launch an app with one-page app description website, information about your consultancy services, restaurant with a food menu and online booking, an educational portal or simply personal website or a professional blog. WordPress has covered everything for you and professional theme development companies such as StudioPress, GeneratePress and Elegant themes who provide stunning designs, mobile and SEO friendly websites. These companies also update themes regularly and provide excellent support for all your technical requirements.
I have personally asked one of my friends who is a professional WordPress developer to compile the ultimate WordPress themes for 2017 Online Businesses exclusively for you.
You can check the detailed blog post on best free and premium themes here.
Following are the Tools I use regularly and these tools may be a great help to you.
Powerful Google Tools for all Business Sizes [Analytics, Console, Keyword Planner, My Business]
Google provides access to the best Tools for Free to Grow your Business Online.
If you use all these tools you have an absolute advantage over your competitors.
Google Console: Formerly known as webmaster tool is a great SEO tool with which you can effectively monitor website performance. It provides detailed reports on your search traffic, click-through rates and mobile vs. desktop traffic.
Google Adwords (KeyWord Planner): I use this tool to analyze the keyword volume for the Search Engine Ranking purpose. There are now many alternate and more focused Keyword tools available such as SEMrush, MOZ Keyword explorer etc.
Google My Business: If Your Business not only has an online presence but also a physical store, for example, a restaurant or fancy store. You have to submit your business to Google to get some great leads locally.
I was introduced to SEO at my first job position as a sales executive in Hospitality Industry.
I worked with SEO analyst. We pretty ranked No.1 for few keywords and got some good clients who paid a premium for our services. (I was amazed when I saw results with SEO even though it took some time to build the online presence)
Bonus Tool: Sumo has a set of great tool list that includes email list built tool, where I am able to set up a share social links bar on the side of my blog posts and also track how shares, likes, and connections are helping me to boost business. This tool was introduced to me by SEO expert friend in late 2015 while I was working for my second startup.
For Email marketing
For the most of the time, we used only MailChimp. Also, we experimented with Mailerlite and other Email tools such as Aweber.
Never thought Email would be such a powerful channel (according to Neil Patel Email Marketing is still a powerful marketing channel and the cheap one to that should be given its preferences even with the advancements of social media channels)
For the same reason, I am building Email List from very begging. You can see pop up email list builder and OptinChat tools that I am using here in FreshersBuddy.
Canva I have no design skills or Photoshop skills. So, I discovered Canva tool some time back in 2015 and I totally fell in love with which now I can easily design social posts and some other blog post featured images using this tool.
Now, I have in-house designer who is helping with quality marketing collaterals. But still, I use this for quick and easy design tasks.
For Social Media Management
Although want to use ever free Buffer tool for social media management I still prefer Hootsuite. Maybe I am used to it and comfortable with it.
One of my colleagues who is a marketer introduced this tool to me. Although we have some problems scheduling social posts using Instagram we are still using it simply, for its user-friendly dashboard.
Here, is the quick snapshot of Industry Social Media preferences of different social media marketers that are published by HootSuite.
Slack is a powerful project management tool that will help you collaborate with others and get things done fast. I use it to manage my business plans, strategies and go to marketing plans to work with my team and co-founder.
I use Google Drive to collaborate with my team and co-founder all day.
It is easy to use and works anywhere desktop or mobile and all the work is saved automatically in case of power and other technical issues. I use the Google Drive storage to back up my blog post writings, source files, images, videos and more. And, I can access all the work on the go, make changes, edit and update using the mobile app.
I write down everything on paper and I prefer carrying a notebook and a pen while traveling and meeting new people.
But due to so many tasks and so many things that I involved in. Now, carrying notes every time is not possible.
So I decided to use Evernote, where I take notes on mobile (when I am in my apartment, late nights, free time etc.) and one way this tool help me in getting all the notes written on Mobile on to desktop for me to review and edit as it is synced across all devices.
Resources for Images:
Unsplash, I love this wonderful image platform source that I have found when reading some guest bloggers posts in Your Story. They have used the images from Unsplash collections to support their writings.
You can also use these images for free without worrying for credit and license.
Pixabay and Freepik are also good to find high-resolution images and vector images for some inspirational writings and other marketing collaterals purpose.
Quotes used as Monday Motivational Posts
I use Monday Motivational quote posts as part of my Social Media Strategy to engage users. All the quotes keep users engaged and connected. Most of this kind of posts get like and share tractions.
Books to Read:
My cousin, who is also an entrepreneur have bought this book to read.
I have found in his workplace and grabbed it and quickly glanced it for few minutes. For the next 6 hours, I hook up to the Book and found myself on the last page. Read all the chapters at one stretch and completed the Book in one go.
Such was the presentation of thoughts and easy to digest information which is well organized and very useful for startup entrepreneurs who live with so many myths and afraid of actually start doing business.
I was able to relate to every lesson as Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson from 37 Signals team truly disrupted the way work has to be done by start-ups or any business.
It was all Apple and I Phone 5 in the UK during my post graduation days in 2009.
There was all talk about Steve Jobs in one or the other form in our Business School too.
A simple search on youtube about Steve Jobs keynote presentation landed me on a different section of videos where I stumbled upon Guy Kawasaki videos on how to give presentation video and other great videos.
I loved the way Guy uses 10 slides rule for presentation of any pitch deck or any other info.
He always speaks about his admiration and learning’s that he gathered from Steve Jobs.
So, I found myself comfortable to read his Book as I am aware of the outcome and how it can help me in my Startup Journey.
How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban
Again my search interests in Youtube made me discover the “Shark Tank”.
I soon became a fan of Mark Cuban. How he quickly take decisions, trusts entrepreneurs and his way of approaching why to invest in a particular Entrepreneur. His Technical Knowledge, negotiation skills, never miss an opportunity attitude and sales skills made me buy into his Book. How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It.
In this Book, he narrates his story and takes us through very important business decisions and opportunities he created and grabbed. All the pages in the book are a compilation of his blog posts. The book is simple to read and takes us (the readers) through Mark Cuban way of non-formal storytelling approach.
Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich is a step-by-step blueprint to living a relaxed luxury life. This book by Tim Ferriss tells us how you can skip the 9-5 day job and still love what you do. Monetizing the work you love to do on the web is explained.
This is the talk of the startup world and many gurus and professionals recommend it. So do I have taken it seriously and read it. Find a good way to be Lean with the insightful and thought-provoking strategies by an American entrepreneur, blogger, and author Eric Ries.
Blogs to Read:
I started to read blogs very late. Never thought blogs will give me such knowledge. Never thought true people share knowledge free on the Internet. Never thought if I could learn things better way if I could not make a habit of reading blogs related start-ups, tech, and my other interests.
So, it is always a good idea to find great sources in your Niche and in your industry that helps you in understanding the nuances of doing business.
I have found the following blogs useful. My reading Interests were Internet Business, Startups, Online Marketing, Growth Hacking and Content Marketing.
Top Blogs on SEO, Digital Marketing, and Startups
- Neil Patel
- Seth Godin
- Tech Crunch
All funding related posts, tech news will inspire me. All Bootstrapped success stories will inspire even more as I relate to this type of content.
Every Story, every piece of advice and even more every failure story inspires me to keep motivated.
I update myself with the news and events happening around startup world. I also, find good trends, tips, tricks and know what’s working for other founders and learn from them.
I also, find business insights, way to do things the right way. Also, Blogs introduces so many disrupting, innovative and other tech startup news and their stories. I look into their website, apps and social channels for inspirations and business hacks.
Movies to watch:
- The Social Network
- Boiler Room
- The Wall Street Journal
- Pursuit of Happiness
- The Shawshank Redemption
I was a business graduate and so is the people around me at Aston inspired me to watch great Business movies, sometimes forced me to watch a few great Movies which I never could. (I am South Indian and somehow brought up to see the same kind of movies involving dance, comedy, and all that Mass Masala kind ones. You know what I am saying all Rajinikanth and Chiranjeevi Fans)
But, I truly watch and get inspired by watching the above-listed movies even today. Because I relate to the situations easily and deeply connected to The Shawshank Redemption and The Pursuit of Happiness now and then.
Paid tools are not required at this moment of your journey.
I wontedly skipped a few of the premium tools. As my focus is You the college students, frustrated employee and Mompreneurs who are just starting up.
If you have an online business with more than 50K visitors per month and want to improve your website and business two-fold.
Here is the list of few Paid Tools for you.
Some TV Shows:
The Shark Tank
The Dragon Den UK
You may also refer to Some Inspirational Talks from Successful Entrepreneurs which are available on Youtube.
and Bloomberg TV.
If you want to build a tech startup company watch this otherwise you are good to skip and focus on building your Online Business.
In the end, you can watch hundreds of videos read thousands of blogs and info available on the internet. But nothing will help you unless you take that one step to start a business and learn one by one on your own.
The above-mentioned tools are a great start to your Online Business and Tech Startups for those who are willing to take action and implement the business idea step by step from idea to product prototype to market to scaling to growth.
These tools are particularly useful for College Students, Side Business Folks and First Time Founders, Mompreneurs, Small Business Owners, Freelancers, Bloggers, and Agencies. And equally important to internet marketers and online entrepreneurs.
My list may be different and may not suit if you are building an Offline Business and Non-Internet Businesses. But, most of the tools, books, blogs, and resources will be helpful and transform you even if you have any kind of business who is looking for some online presence and social media marketing. So, do follow, implement, learn and read and explore each of the tools and resources that might help you in your business growth some way or the other.
The key is I want You to understand that I am a Normal person like you and started learning things one by one. Discovering information, Resources, knowledge available both Online and Offline, Exploring the business skills and feeding myself with other entrepreneurs mistakes and success.
Develop Reading Habit and Believe that all your efforts will help you in connecting the dots as Steve Jobs says at some point in time in your startup journey.
With this, I have shared how I discovered, stumbled upon and introduced to all the mentioned tools, resources. I hope this page will give you enough information.
Disclaimer: This page contains some affiliate links