Whether you're just getting started or have been in business for years, running a startup involves a tremendous amount of work. Yet never before have there existed so many inexpensive or free websites, apps, and online tools to help. Take it from Josh Inglis, founder of the PR firm Propllr. Since his company specializes in startups and fast-growing tech companies, he makes it a point to test and evaluate online platforms whenever he can. Here are some of his favorites (in his words).
I love, love, love this Gmail plug-in. Streak helps corral together emails relating to anything your business does that occurs in stages. We used Streak to create a CRM for PR. At the push of a button, it gives us the ability to show our clients who we have contacted, the stage of contact, the pitch topic and any relevant notes. This powers one of Propllr's biggest differentiators--transparency--without requiring hours of reporting time. We also use it for other things, like hiring and event management. It's ridiculously wonderful.
Price: Plans range from free to $89 a month.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Insureon is a client, but a stop at this site is a must. Small-business insurance is very complicated, but Insureon makes understanding and getting it very simple. They also have deep expertise in hundreds of industry verticals, so they'll know exactly what coverage a small business should have and which carrier or carriers would be the best fit. And if you're not sure what kinds of coverage your business needs, Insureon's Policy Buddy is a good place to start.
Price: Free as a research tool.
There are lots of tools you can use if you need to record something on your screen to share with others, but none are as simple as HyFy. HyFy is a simple browser extension that lets me record not just everything on my screen but also my voice, so I can narrate what I'm showing, as well. Once recorded, I just shoot a link to whoever needs it. This is so powerful. Think about a legal contract where you want to explain a particular clause, but where you can simply say what you're thinking versus having to write the perfect email. And for designers, it's a much more natural way to present ideas or to discuss revisions. It's a fantastic collaboration tool.
Price: Plans range from free to $10 a month.
I never had occasion to use Fiverr until recently, when we decided to host "Here's How," our first-ever startup marketing conference, I knew I wanted it to have a logo. I also knew that the logo I wanted would be text-based, so artistic creativity wasn't quite as important to me. For $10 I got exactly what I wanted. We may have to tweak it over time, but for $10, I was very pleased with the result.
Price: Gigs start at $5.
Slack is a great way to collaborate internally and externally, particularly with distributed teams of freelancers or with clients. It allows messages to be grouped by category, so it is much easier than email searching to quickly get up to speed on what's happening within a specific "channel." It's also helped us get more tightly integrated with our clients, as several of them have added us to their own internal Slack channels.
Price: Plans range from free to $15 a month per user.
6. How to Start a Startup
This series of recorded seminars offers practical advice on every facet of launching and growing a business, and it features the insights of some of Y Combinator's most successful alumni and advisors. What I love most about it is that it avoids platitudes and generalizations and instead offers very real, very actionable advice. While everything's available online, I recommend listening via the podcast option.
7. 99 Designs
99 Designs was one of the very first tools I turned to when I launched Propllr five years ago. I had a basic sense of what I wanted from a logo, and had a limited budget, so 99 Designs made sense. It allowed me to write up a creative brief to guide designers' work and set a budget with the knowledge that if I didn't like what I got back, I wouldn't have to pay for it. You'll get a fair amount of designs that are derivative or too-familiar, but if you take the time, you'll get some fantastic options.
Price: Varies according to project. For example, a Facebook cover starts at $79, whereas a logo design starts at $299.
Most people feel they are in too many meetings, but I think the bigger problem is that they are in too many bad meetings. Do.com is all about making meetings better. Agendas, to-do lists, takeaways, and so on are all covered automatically. And then there's also reporting and analytics, so you can see how much time your team spends in meetings and how productive they are. Super cool and worth a look.
Price: $10 a month.
I think this is a great resource when you just need a quick design for something like a blog post, a Facebook ad or a PDF brochure, and you know exactly what you want. Canva has a ton of great images and tools that make it easy to create marketing pieces that combine cool art and creative text. Word of warning: It's very fun to use, so it can be a bit of a rabbit hole if you're not careful.
Price: Plans range from free to $12.95 a month.
When you're online and find an amazing article but don't have time to read it, Pocket saves it for later, even if you're offline. As an entrepreneur, my mental clock is always ticking when I feel I'm doing anything not related to running and growing my startup PR firm. This is a big issue because I live my life online and there's so much content that really doesn't need or deserve my immediate attention.
Price: Plans range from free to $4.99 a month, or $44.99 a year.
11. Talkwalker Alerts
Talkwalker Alerts is a great replacement for Google News alerts, but more robust and comprehensive. It sends email or text notifications any time there's an online mention regarding your brand, competitors, or any other topic you designate.