So you have a new business or startup idea and based on your analysis and research you have conducted, your confident that there is a market for it. Ok, now what?
You need to possibly find a cofounder and team to start planning, seek funding and successfully execute the plan for a pilot or full launch.
There are so many resources and tools out there that can assist you in managing and excuting your startup or new business idea more eficiently and effectively.
As a result, I have produced a list of my favourite tools and applications covering the various disciplines you will need to undertake in order to successfully execute and launch your startup or new business.
Here are just a few tools and applications that I have used over the years in managing and delivering small to large projects. I hope you find them useful for your business and startup.
Brainstorming Ideas |
Simple online application that helps you create colorful mind maps that you can print and share with others and it's FREE.
Mindmanager is a software application that helps you create mind maps, tasks, process flows, site maps etc. Great for scoping out projects at high level.
Creately, another great online application for creating flow charts, wireframes and mind maps.
Springpad is an online application that lets you easily save ideas, information and organise and share. It's FREE.
Evernote is a extremely versatile online application for capturing, collating, organising, saving ideas and notes. Great collaboration tool and best of all its FREE for single user license. If you wish to share your notebooks with others you will need to go to the premium plan which costs USD$5 per month.
99designs is a crowdsourcing market place for getting your graphic design work done, from logo and branding through to business cards and website design.
You create a contest, freelance graphic designers from around the globe create their designs and pitch for the job.
Designs are presented to you on the site, you nominate the winning design and pay the designer. Very cost effective way in getting your design work completed.
User Experience (UX) & User Interface (UI) Design |
Great online tool for assisting UI designers in obtaining client feedback on designs.
Avoid paying for licensed fonts, your designer can choose similar open source web friendly fonts from Google Web Fonts, it's FREE.
CheckDog is an online application that checks your copy text for spelling errors.
Mokk.me is a web based application that helps you create simple mobile application mockups. Once created, you can share it with your team and provides the ability for them to edit and provide feedback. The application is optimised for iPhone but you can also test Android and WebOS. Its currently in beta and best of all the online version is FREE.
Cacoo is an online tool for creating site maps, wireframes and network charts. It also allows for several users to collaborate in the process.
Mocksup is an online application for creating desktop, smartphone and tablet prototypes and also allows others to provide feedback on your prototype designs.
Mockflow is a online application for creating, designing and collaborating on user interface mockups for web sites and software applications. Very clean and minimalist interface. Basic plan is FREE but has some limitations.
In order to get you startup and business up and running quickly and hopefully cut some corners with the UI and site development, I highly recommend finding and purchasing existing themed templates that are close to your design and functionality you require.
You then have a great base to customise the site to your design and requirements. Themeforest which is owned by Melbourne's Envato, is a marketplace that allows you to buy premium and stylish WordPress designed theme templates that are not you average stock standard design.
Obviously this option and solution does not work for all startups and businesses, hence total bespoke design and development is required in these situations.
Mock Is an iPad and iPhone application that allows non technically types to create and design actual graphical mockups and prototypes for iPad and iPhone applications. There was an online web application version previously but this is no longer available. iPhone application version coming soon.
Keynotopia allows you to turn your favourite presentation applications such as Keynote or Powerpoint into a UI prototyping tool. Keynotopia provides a library of UI templates for web and mobiles to enable you to create fully interactive prototypes without any coding.
Similar to Keynotopia, Keynote Kung-Fu provides a library of Keynote UI wireframe templates for web or mobile application UI prototyping. It supports hyperplinks, hence you can build an interactive UI prototype in minutes.
Platform and Content Management System (CMS) |
Once you have created your UI design and finalised your requirements for your site on paper, you need to decide what platform will support your website.
There are many platforms out there. Call me biased but I am a great fan of WordPress for a number of reasons.
Firstly its an open source platform hence is FREE and it has thousands of plugins and themes on the web at your disposal. it's very stable and customisable with a great CMS and anyone can update and customise with its intuitive admin and content management system (CMS) panel.
For simple sites that also require a CMS, you can't go passed WordPress. For more complex and larger websites, bespoke development will be more appropriate using other platforms such as ASP.NET or PHP etc.
Slideshare is the worlds largest online community for presentation sharing. Great resource for sampling best presentations, information and ideas. If you search on "pitch", you will find hundreds of pitch samples form varies businesses and startups to assist you with creating your pitch. It's FREE
Visual.ly is a great site and tool for creating and presenting data in a visually appealing way, via Infographics. It's FREE!
Microsoft Powerpoint has been around for years. It has a very intuitive user interface and easy to use for creating your pitch or presentations.
Keynote is Apple's version of Powerpoint, very intuitive and easy to use application for creating a pitch or presentation.
SurveyMonkey is a very easy to use online web application that enables you to create online surveys. Basic plan is FREE
Quipol is an online social voting tool which enables you to insert "one question" polls into your blog or website. Quick and easy way to determine where your audience stands on virtually any topic.
Domain Names and Hosting |
Panabee is an online web tool that checks domain names with a twist. it helps to brainstorm new ideas based on URL availability. It's FREE.
I find these guys very reasonably priced for both domain names and web hosting. If your site is complex, very content media rich and it holds sensitive customer information, I would strongly recommend going with a local ISP with more secure and higher performance infrastructure.
Hostgator is one of the cheapest web hosting ISPs. As per GoDaddy, same hosting recommendation applies.
Business Planning |
This very simple online tool is fantastic for creating a basic "no frills" business plan and model for your new business or startup. it allows you to capture your business model all on one page. Ideal for lean and agile projects that need to hit the ground running. It's FREE for one user.
Project Management & Collaboration |
Basecamp is an online project management and collaboration tool Eg: File sharing, milestone tracking, tasks, resource management and messaging.
Redmine is an online open source project management tool and it's FREE
Online project management and collaboration tool for software development.
Jira is popular online collaboration tool for tracking stories, tasks, bugs, resource allocation, file sharing, Ideal for lean and agile development.
Goplan is another online project management and collaboration tool.
Mavenlink is another online project management, collaboration and file sharing tool with a nice user interface.
Mingle application is an agile project management online application which replicates the physical card walls and scrum task boards. It provides great views of the various agile disciplines in an intuitive and well presented user interface.
LeanKit Kanban is a simple and very visual process management and collaborative tool for managing lean projects. It allows you to create virtual Kanban boards, add color, dates and more.
Microsoft Project is one of the most sophisticated project management desktop applications on the market. It is used extensively by major medium to corporate size organisations for tracking, scheduling and resourcing. Not as intuitive as some of the previous mentioned project management tools, but is the industry standard tool for project management scheduling and tracking.
Workflowy is an simple no frills online to do list for managing tasks, brainstorming etc and it's FREE.
Establish a private chat service and forum for your team using HipChat.
I think Skype needs no introduction here, but those that are not aware of its full capability, it provides VOIP, video calling, IM, text messaging, sending of files and its FREE. VOIP to fixed line and mobiles is not free.
Zipcast is a great web online meeting tool by Slideshare which allows you to present slides and presentations, at the same time communicate with your audience via chat and video all in one browser. It also allows you to schedule and invite unlimited attendees to the meeting and it works in any browser. Best of all this great online application is FREE.
GoToMeeting is a web conferencing and meeting tool that is great for startups and businesses where you have teams spread over multiple sites and you need to collaborate together.
Viber is a great application for iPhone and Android phones that lets you make free phone calls and send text messages to anyone who has the application installed on their iPhone or Android mobile. it also utilises your existing address book and tags your contacts who also has Viber application installed on their smart phones. Best of all it's FREE.
Jing is a great online web application that allows you to capture screenshots, record up to 5 mins of onscreen video from your computer and provide narration. Our UI designers and developers use it to show UI functionality and designs to remote teams. Allows you to record the screen shot or video and save the file for sharing. Best of all It's FREE.
File sharing, storage and backup |
Great online site for storing your files, sharing and backing up to the cloud. Basic plan is FREE for up to 2GB of storage.
Box is a great online site for storing your files, sharing and backing up to the cloud. it integrates with Salesforce, Google and Okta and provides sync between your various desktop and devices. The personal plan is FREE but limits to one user, 50GB of storage with file size limits up to 1GB.
Bugherd is an online application for tracking issues and defects especially with UI designs. You can tag, describe and assign issues on the actual designs via the application..
Full page online test tool to help you test the loading speed and performance of your site or webpage. Its so simple and quick, you just type in the URL of the page you want to test and the tool basically initiates the test and returns the results of the performance test. Its fantastic and it's FREE.
Great open source vulnerability scan application to determine any security holes within your web site (web application and infrastructure). To be treated as a first pass option to determine any obvious security risks. If your serious about security, I highly recommend engaging a security architect or company who specialise in the area of security vulnerability. Skipfish is a great tool for self assessment and it's FREE.
Crowdsource your test team, dedicated to testing web sites and applications.
Mantis is a web based open source tool for capturing and managing bugs and defects and its FREE
Bugtracker is a web based tool for capturing and managing your test defects. Its FREE for 2 users
Sifter is ideal for startups that just need a simple online application or tool to manage and track there there defects and issues during testing. Nice and clean UI.
PlayNicely is another simple bug tracker online tool that is easy to use and with an intuitive UI.
Great resource site for all things "software and web testing" with references and links to over 500 test tools. It's FREE.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) |
Great simple and intuitive CRM online application which also provides a Hootsuite like social media management dashboard. Not as sophisticated as Salesforce or Zoho CRM especially in the sales opportunities and reporting area but still does a great job and has a nice user interface. Personal plan is free but is limited to one user along with a few other limitations.
ZohoCRM online contact management application is a little more sophisticated than Nimble. Easy to use with also a great user interface. It lacks a little with marketing side of things compared to it's direct competitor Salesforce, but still does a great job. The other added bonus is that it integrates well with Google. Monthly cost is $12 per month per user license for the "Professional" plan but they do have a FREE edition for 3 users. Much more cost effective than Salesforce especially for startups and new businesses where every cent counts at the initial stages.
Financial and Accounting |
Saasu, is a fully featured online accounting application with great integration and user interface. It supports 50 countries along with their tax accounting systems. Here at Ideasspotter, we use it as our key accounting solution.
Online accounting application solution for small businesses and startups It provides excellent online billing, invoicing, payment processing and customer management features.
Online accounting application specifically designed for small businesses and startups. Basic features include invoicing, reminders, tax and expense tracking. Best of all it's FREE.
Social Media – Community And Marketing Management |
Great online web application that allows you to search globally for the availability of social media usernames, domain names and trademark databases to assists with creating your brand.
Online social media management tool that allows you to manage all your social sites from the one location.
Sproutsocial is a direct competitor to Hootsuite which also allows you to manage all your social sites through the one online social media management application.
Socmetrics is a web based tool that allows you to identify influencers, understand who these people are, interact with them and then monitor your campaign effectiveness. You can identify these influencers by narrowing your search to keywords to truly identify the influencers.
Socialmention is an online web tweeter listening application that allows you to identify who is talking about you and provides great statistical data about your keyword search. Best twitter listening application that I have used.. Best of all it's FREE.
Tweetreach is a great online web application that allows you to determine how many people your tweet reached. It's FREE.
Google Alerts is a great tool for startups and businesses to use to monitor their online reputaion. Each time Google finds a mention of you startup or business, it sends you a email as it happens. You can also use to it to monitor your competitors as well. It's FREE.
I love MailChimp!
MailChimp is an online email marketing application that allows you to create newsletters, monitor the performance of your email marketing and provides great integration APIs and plugins to social sites. The user interface is fantastic and so intuitive. Currently its FREE for lists under 2000 subscribers with no trial limit. At ideasspotter we use MailChimp for our newsletter subscriptions and email campaigns.
Site Trail is an online web application that provides you a quick snapshot of any competitors website. It's FREE.
Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that provide you valuable information about your website traffic such as the number of visits, where users have come from, referral sites etc. It also provides you great insight into the efectiveness of your marketing strategies and campaigns. It has a simple user interface and its FREE. This is a must have tool to measure your ROI as a result of your social media and marketing execution.
Unilyzer is a social media analytic tool for measuring and monitoring you social media channels, from one impressive looking dashboard. You simply enter your social media account details (Twitter, Facebook, You Tube etc) and Unilyzer will present you all the data on one screen.
Customer Helpdesk & Support |
Desk.com is a online customer support application for customer queries and feedback from various incoming channels such as social media sites, email, chat and normal fixed line.
Zendesk is a online customer help desk support application and is a direct competitor to Desk.com with very similar features.
UserVoice is a online customer feedback, helpdesk support, voting and knowledge base application for customers. Basic plan is FREE for 1 agent.
Guys that is it! Please tell us your favourite startup and small business applications and tools you use? Please share them with us, we really like to here from you.