You have more help, tools and talent at your disposal than your partners and first employees bring to the table. Even better, some of the tools are free, and the others come at a fair, competitive price. Not all of a startup's help comes in the form of workers--it might be a website that takes your business to the next level.
Check out these 50 sites that can improve the odds of success for your startup. That's 50 boosts in just a few clicks. If only finding the best employees, investors, and stakeholders could be this easy.
Business.com is no longer a directory of sites. Now you can find all sorts of tips for marketing, office management, human resources, and a ton of other great information that every startup needs when coming up with a game plan to create a company.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has chapters around the country and has been doling out free advice and services for years. From business plan drafting to figuring out tax write-offs, it's an invaluable site and service.
The trouble with, and complaints about, PayPal are mounting. If you don't want to pay a fee to send money to employees or contractors (or force them to do it) and you want payments in the bank the next business day, check out a payment service like Venmo that's free and fast.
"Content is king!" can be heard in every industry. No matter who writes your content, make sure it passes Copyscape. This is an affordable service that instantly checks for duplicate or plagiarized content. Many times plagiarism isn't the culprit, but (especially with technical content) it can look that way nonetheless, which kills your SEO and mars your reputation.
What do SEO, link profile audits, social media marketing, and online reputation management have in common? They're just a few of the must-have services offered by Audience Bloom. Start your online presence geared for maximum results (and so you don't have to fix it down the line).
Seems obvious, right? For an American startup or one that targets US demographics, Facebook is still the king of social media. However, only start a social media campaign after researching the best practices and making sure the SM manager has time to be committed. An abandoned business page is worse than a non-existent one.
Word of mouth remains one of the best ways to make or break a business, but today it's all digital. Yelp is one of the biggest review sites, and it's paramount that businesses keep a pulse on it. Encourage customers to post reviews, monitor the site for new ones, and figure out whether it's better to "bury" negative reviews or address an upset reviewer publicly.
8. Rocket Lawyer
Can't afford to have an attorney on retainer? Rocket Lawyer ponies up a number of easy to understand, fill-in-the blank legal documents for an affordable rate. Virtual, reputable attorneys are also on call who specialize in small business law.
The official, government website for Workers Compensation is a must for newbie employers. The laws can vary state to state, and if this is your first time offering this compensation it can be confusing. Instantly access forms, sort by state, buy insurance directly, or stay informed with local events.
10. IRS Tax Guide for Small Businesses
There's no such thing as "tax season" for small businesses because it's an on-going issue. At the IRS site, startups can get free help on tax preparation, the more current information on new laws and potential write-offs, and apply for payment planning requests.
If you only have time to read one online media giant, choose Forbes. It focuses on business first with an engaging tone, and there's a massive section just for entrepreneurs. A holistic approach to news, downloading the app makes it even simpler for founders to stay informed.
Have enough room to follow two online magazines? Entrepreneur is a close runner up to Forbes. Obviously it's a smaller niche and targets entrepreneurs like you, and the app is equally intuitive to Forbes. If you prefer your news distilled rather than complex, this is the one for you.
Care for some more money for your startup? Grants.gov is the official government site for grant seekers with a special category just for "Business and Commerce." Browse by category, agency or instantly see if you're eligible.
There are countless sites for crowdfunding, but this one is often ranked as the most popular--and the most people on a site, the better your odds for maximizing funding. Crowdsourcing has become a go-to method (or one of them) for funding your startup, and it's worth checking out.
15. Startup Nation
Touted as having "everything you need to build your business," you can take a quick quiz to gauge where you are in the process. Not quite ready? Startup Nation has the tools to get you there. Already started? Find information on angel investing, network, get marketing help and everything else necessary.
Looking for an angel investor? This site is a matchmaking service linking startups with angel investors who are interested in specific fields and passions. When looking for funding, why not shoot for the stars--or the heavens?
17. Google Drive
Cloud storage and technology can save a startup in overhead, total costs and is eco-friendly. It can also allow for telecommuting options. Google Drive is one of the most popular of cloud storage solutions and offers a generous amount of space for free.
Don't overlook one of the most established sites for finding everything necessary from quality candidates to used office furniture. Craigstlist remains one of the best ways to find quality new employees--and after posting your job, you can always start perusing the community section for entrepreneurial events.
Unlike many other social media sites, you don't need to post regularly in order to capitalize on LinkedIn. Build your business' reputation, post jobs, get involved in discussions or join groups. It's the virtual networking site that every startup needs to be on.
20. Idealist (for non-profit startups)
This is the ultimate tool to find your next intern, employee or volunteer. You can narrow down posting to be geo-specific or offer telecommuting options. When a startup is pursuing non-profit status, getting matched with like-minded supporters is paramount.
21. Search Engine Journal
Keeping up with all the latest SEO and marketing trends can be difficult these days. Search Engine Journal makes it easy for users to learn everything about algorithm updates on Google by having some of the top SEO's around the world such as John Rampton, Murray Newlands and Jayson DeMers contributing regularly.
22. Matt Cutts' Blog
The head of Google's Web Spam team, Cutts' blog gives everyone the latest news on SEO and how to follow its best practices. You might not be in charge of SEO yourself (hopefully you hired a firm to do that for you), but it's crucial to stay on top of the trends so your web presence is maximized.
23. The Happy Startup School
If making money is only one of the reasons you created your startup, The Happy Startup School is for you. It's a free online "school" offering a la carte lessons on how to instill happiness along with profits in a new company. Check out their e-book and blog for tips on a holistically healthy company.
24. Blogging Tips
In a perfect world, you'll hire a professional blogger with connections and a penchant for SEO integration. However, for most startups, blogging is a challenge taken on by a founder. You're probably not a pro at it, so get up to speed with Blogging Tips.
If you thought work-life balance was tough when you were an employee, just imagine how terrible it can get as a business owner. However, pursuing this balance is critical for your health, happiness and well-being. This site helps startups stay in check.
26. The Wall Street Journal's How-To Guides for Small Businesses
The Wall Street Journal is a hub of information. However, did you know there's a subset of "how-to guides" and a subset of that subset for how-to's for small businesses? Everything from how to hire your first employee to how to shop for a bank as a small business is covered in a simple, bullet-point layout.
You're required to provide health insurance coverage for your employees, and the latest studies show that Obamacare is especially helpful to small business owners. Spend less and give your workers better coverage.
You're a business and you're going to be dealing with a lot of PDFs. There will (quickly) come a time when you need to convert it to a Word doc. Keep this site bookmarked to make it fast and easy.
Don't let one founder be in charge of picking the radio station--upgrade to a commercial-free Pandora subscription and avoid the same Iggy Azalea song twelve times per day. Shake things up by letting someone else choose the "station" each day for a little camaraderie while you expand your music knowledge while punching the clock.
30. OSHA's Safety & Health Category
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has an impressive library in the health and safety category. Learn the basics of ergonomics, how to shop for back-friendly office chairs, yoga in the office tips or desk workouts. Healthy employees are happy and more productive.
Many startups are on a shoestring budget, but luckily it's easier than ever to create a stunning website (for free). Check out the many free WordPress templates and a program that's so easy even a Luddit could do it. Upgrade to a .com instead of a .wordpress.com for under $20 per year.
Cast a wide net when it comes to funding, especially at sites where setup is easy and management is automated. Try out Funded.com and other reputable sites to find funding matches and to get help with pitching and organizing revenue.
33. Google Analytics
Once your startup's website(s) is up and running, you need to know how it's performing. Many of the tools at Google Analytics are free, the reports are easy to digest, and it dishes up a goldmine of big data that you can use to target campaigns, boost traffic and increase conversion rates.
In a world of mobile readiness, you have three options: 1) Create a mobile version of your website 2) Create an app or 3) Both. When it comes to creating an app, you can do so on even the tightest budget at sites like Appmakr. It's phenomenally more affordable than hiring an app designer.
Often the most despised and skimped-on part of creating a startup is drafting the business plan--but it's crucial for a startup's success. It's where you identify strengths, weaknesses and create a vision. Sites like BPlans.com offer free templates and direction.
Even if Zipcar isn't in your city, there's likely a similar company. All startups (even those without a brick and mortar setup) are going to need transportation at some point, whether it's a truck to haul a conference table or a an for a founder's retreat. Zipcar offers hourly rates at $8 and they cover the gas--it's much cheaper in some instances than a daily rental or paying delivery fees.
One of the most popular analytics tools available, it complements Google Analytics but most people end up preferring one over the other. Try both, giving Piwik a fair chance to take care of all your reporting needs.
There are many HR/payroll companies whom you can outsource to, but Paychex is one of the oldest and most well established. Most startups don't have it in the budget to hire an entire payroll department or HR team and it's very risky to try these tasks yourself, and your employees deserve a quality HR team to lean on. This is one sector that really needs a professional at the helm.
39. Growth Force
Like human services, bookkeeping is another aspect of a startup that demands a skilled expert. While software like Quickbooks makes it seem easy, you're bound to miss things (and mess up) if you don't have a strong accounting background. Try an outsourcing company like GrowthForce.com to take care of all your bookkeeping needs.
Having your accounting outsourced is one thing--it's still your responsibility as a startup founder to keep your receipts in order. Do it in a snap (or click) with Shoeboxed, the easy way to digitally store and sort all those receipts you'll be racking up. Even a few dollars is a worthy tax write-off.
Networking is either your forte or what you consider the worst part of having a startup. With Happening, you'll instantly see all the related events near you. Simply click on the ones that pique your interest and they'll instantly be added to your calendar.
42. Google AdWords
Online advertising made easy? It's possible with Google, and AdWords lets you instantly build ads/campaigns, monitor them, change them and nix them when you're finished. For startups, there's no need for a costly ad team when a DIY approach is on the table.
Hopefully you've made room in the budget to hire an SEO guru, but even so you can help stay on top of keywords. After all, the founder is going to have a better grasp on common keywords than hired help. Use WordStream to drum up new keywords/phrases based on common queries your customers are searching for.
As a startup, you have no reputation--you can see this as a golden opportunity or a huge handicap (actually, it's both). Build the right online reputation with the help of experts. Otherwise, it's like walking into the cafeteria as the new kid without a POA.
Instantly add buttons to make content shareable with viral potential. From Google+ to Twitter and everything in between, if your content isn't shareable it's not valuable. However, stick to a max of five buttons per piece of content.
Use this site only with extreme caution (and only when you can't get a quality writer on board). It "spins" content so that it's not plagiarized and will pass Copyscape or any similar checker. However, when a bot is doing the writing, don't expect Hemingway (but it'll still work in a pinch, like when you want to cover a major time sensitive happening on your blog).
Another fantastic funding website and tool for startups is Fundable. It's also popular, easy to use and has some serious traffic. Dabble in it to discover new avenues for a better bottom line.
48. Google Alerts
No time to scour the web daily for mentions of your company name or keywords related to the industry? Set up a Google Alert so you're emailed any time your chosen key word(s) is mentioned (or on a schedule of your choosing).
Technically a social media platform, it's also the photo storage solution for professional photographers. Capturing and archiving your startup's early days is important, and backing it up on Flickr (in addition to cloud storage) is a good idea. You can then choose any images you want public (if any) as another form of community engagement.
50. Startup Giraffe
Get free help with the trifecta of startup challenges: Strategy, design and development. This site helps with designing a strategy, actually creating mockups of your vision and build real products with useful feedback.
However, the best website of all for startups is the one that delivers for you. Explore, test and ask your peers for input. If you don't, you're signing up for extra work and that's not a move a savvy entrepreneur would make.