50+ Resources & Tools
in 36 Categories to get you Started
Here is our list of Resources and tools for Entrepreneurs and small Businesses, which are Free, Freemium or come with a Small subscription to use and help you get started.
I have been using these Resources and tools for over 10 years and can recommend these to all Solopreneurs and Small Businesses as they would help you save a ton of money.
Table of Contents
Design, Logo, Color Scheme
This would be the starting point (after the Idea of Course) for any and all Entrepreneurial Journeys. You could hire a Professional to design it all or you could do so yourself. Canva makes it super easy for you to start, you can choose the colors and save them and create multiple designs for Logos to test them out. The free plan lets you do all that (You can’t export) your logos as Transparent file but there are other tools on the web that let you make the background transparent, like onlinepng tool. You can also design everything you need for all your Social Media requirements at Canva as well. The Paid version would only help you up your Game.
Domain Name for Website
Next Step is usually getting a Domain name, you could use any Domain name provider, but having tried Godaddy, Enom, bluehost and a whole lot more, I prefer to use Namecheap.com It is just easy to use and manage.
The choice is usually between Microsoft and Gsuite for your professional Email Hosting. Both are robust solutions but Gsuite has more extensions available for it. Think of the future, if your Journey would at some point include you needing to follow up for Sales? Majority of all follow up tools are made for Gsuite and not Microsoft. My recommendation is Gsuite.
Website - WordPress or Wix or a Website Designer
WordPress is a great choice for most websites, unless you are planning on building an E-commerce website (then of course you should have the funds to hire a team of web designers) but as a Solopreneur or Small Business, I take it you are bootstrapped and starting with your own funds, WordPress makes it easy to get you online.
If you choose to go the wordpress Route then get a year’s worth of free hosting by signing up to Google Cloud. One of the best ways to get started and setting up your Website is by following the Tutorials here. At the most it would take you 10 minutes to have your site up and running. It was the tutorials which helped me get started with Google Cloud and got me up and running. Today I am hosting 3 sites on Google cloud.
Once WordPress has been installed, it is very easy for you to get started with your website development. I am more of a DIY kind of person and don’t recommend someone just starting out to hire a website designer. The Modern day wordpress builders come with templates, you can pick the one’s you like and be up and running in less than 1 day. Yes, if you have the content ready, in less than 1 day you can be up and running with your website.
If you wish to save on a Paid Theme use Astra Theme free version and Elementor Plugin. (This site vishalmehra.com is made with Astra and Elementor) Watch Tutorials from Ferdy here he breaks it down for you to get started and you also get a lot of free templates by using various free plugins, a Professional Looking website does not have to be designed by a Web designer, you too can do it
If you want a theme which is really “Great” and good to pay, a very powerful theme is DIVI theme (I have a lifetime licence for this and use it for my own Websites you can check them out (Roaring Reps Tourism-Guru) and decide if DIVI is for you. You can get DIVI here
If You are not comfortable with all the Hosting and technical approach and want something which is easier, (easier would have its restrictions) then head on over to Wix.com its simple, they have a drag and drop Solution which should work for majority of people and voila you would be done in no time at all and have a website ready.
What kind of Traffic you are getting and from where, which of your efforts are paying of anf what marketing strategies are not working can all be found in Google Analytics. You need to head on over to Google Analytics and sign up. Once you have verified your identity you will get a code which needs to be installed across the website. If you are using DIVI they have a section for this Integration.
Next Step is head on over to google search console and add your website there as well. If you are using wordpress you can also add the Plugin and activate and configure it.
Now you will have all your Search data including search queries etc all visible to you in your dashboard. Check it regularly to see how you are performing on searches.
Social Media Analytics
Two more Tracking codes are important for your Website as these would help you plan your Re-Targeting strategy and help with analytics. If you are solving a problem for B2B then Linkedin is very useful for you and you should create an AD Account with Linkedin and get a Linkedin insight tag.
Also add a Facebook Pixel to your website. Facebook Pixel helps you target and retarget people on 2 main social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. For B2B I primarily suggest using Linkedin as the main targeting option and then using Facebook and Instagram to retarget.
Lets be honest sometimes we all have a writing block, you have the domain expertise and want to write about it, but is anyone searching for the topic. They may be searching for something in your area of expertise but what exactly is trending and how has it been trending is very important to know. Head on over to Google Trends and check it out. This can give you 3-4 Blog ideas.
As an example when I searched for Solopreneur I got a healthy score on trends and got a few breakout Ideas from the same as well. This helped me narrow down as to where I want to share my content when using Paid outreach channels.
Invoicing and Accounting
Invoicing and accounting is a critical part of your Entrepreneur Journey and one needs to be ready with the how and the what. Doing it in an Excel sheet or using a Google docs template for Invoicing made me realize that there had to be a better way to do this. This is when I discovered this free tool which is called waveapps for the past 3 years all my accounting and Invoicing is being done on this online tool and I recommend for all Solopreneurs to go check it out.
Most of the Small Businesses and Solopreneurs leave this out, thinking that I don’t need one right now or fearing that the cost of a CRM may be too much for a bootstrapped business to absorb. WRONG. There are some great Free tools available and they help you become much more efficient plus you get the data in one place. My TOP PICK for a free CRM is Hubspot.
All my Businesses are on it, most of my clients who do not have a CRM are on it, I have even had a Major client shutdown their paid subscription and move all the data to Hubspot. Why? It is feature rich, (Offers a lot of tools, some find their way here in this list as well) Offers you Sales, Marketing and Service channels, lets you build up a list, can manage your Ad campaigns in Facebook and Linkedin and pulls data from it.
If you signed up for Gsuite or Microsoft for Email it behaves very nicely with them as well. It is free for teams of any size and upto 1 Million customer records.
It also has a tracking code and can record visits of your contacts in the crm itself. You can read our detailed starting guide for Hubspot here
Clear Writing Editor
We may be Domain experts but not all of us are born writers. How much active voice and how much passive voice needs to be used is something which I personally have never figured out. I take help of this app called Hemmingway. Try it out it’s free and is a big help when it comes to writing clearly. Works only for English.
You get the traffic on your site, but is your Headline making an Impact or not. Half of the traffic would bounce of after reading the headline. Same applies for Emails. If your Email does not have an Impactful headline the likelihood that it gets opened is less. Makes sense to check out your headline before you press Publish or send here
Taking Content Viral
If your content provides value, then you can ask for your Audience to share this content with their network in exchange for the value provided. Social Locker Viral is a plugin for WordPress which locks your content, to unlock this people need to share it across the Social Media channel. This helps your content gets a boost and drives more traffic.
It also has a flip side, it increases your Bounce rate, as many people don’t like sharing. You should use this with caution as you alone know our audience best.
Sometimes it is good to get some help with Blog Ideas, What could be the right blog ideas for your NICHE, Hubspot has a tool called Blog Ideas Generator. It could give you some ideas as to what your next blog topic could be. You would also see the use of Taking content viral here as it would ask you to share before unlocking 250+ ideas and that is where the real content is.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Plugin
SEO is a very important process which helps your website with showing up in Google Search results. There are too many variables, which one needs to focus on. If your Site is on WordPress then there are many Plugins which can help you. The most popular one is called Yoast SEO it has been the number #1 plugin for SEO for years now. The other one which is relatively new is called Rankmath and Of late I prefer to use it since it gives me more feedback on my content. You can’t go wrong with either one.
However if you are on Wix or a different site builder you would have to follow their Search Engine guie to get your site indexed.
Search Engine Optimisation - Audit
After your have done all the necessary SEO it is important for you to have an Audit done of your website to know what the areas of Improvement are. This site SEO Site Check-up does not only a SEO audit of your website, they have a lot of other free tools which you can use as well.
Data for Keyword Search
Would you write something that no one is searching for? Chances are not. If you now have a Blog Idea using Hubspot blog idea generator, it would be helpful to see what is the data on this Headline / Keyword. Enter Google Keyword Planner Tool, Google being the most used search engine, there exists immense amount of Data with Google. You can use this data to see how well your keywords are doing.
It also tells you if ranking for this keyword is easy, medium or difficult. Don’t start writing before you have chosen the right keyword.
Analyze website statistics for any domain - Similarweb
It is always Great idea to know how your competition ranks in your domain space. Using Similarweb you can uncover all statistics of any website and find out where they stand and most importantly where they are getting their traffic from. Who is referring traffic to them. From there it is easy for you to plan your Journey. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, what is working for them can work for you as well.
Backlinks & Backlinks Checker
How many Sites link to your Website is what forms the basis of Backlinks. If you are just starting out then you are starting from ZERO. Once again you can use this Site Open Link Profiler to check which all sites link back to your Competition and how many of them can you approach and get a backlink to your site for. A lot of times the best way to get a backlink is by contributing an Article. People also comment on Blogs and generate backlinks that ways but not all blogs enjoy a good score and some backlinks may not have a value at all.
Check your Website Score
By Checking your website score you can figure out the areas of Improvement that you need to focus on. Nibbler breaks down the score into Metrics that lets you know on Overall, Accessibility, User Experience, Marketing & Technology.
No one likes a website that takes forever to load. The culprit in majority of cases is high res images. A High Res image of 3-4Mb would take sometime to load, now if you have 3 images like that the data to load is between 9-12 Mb. The solution comes in form of a Plugin called Smush.it if on wordpress or Tinypng if you want to upload it to your non wordpress website or use in your Email Newsletter.
Emails are not dead, they are just as relevant today as they were a few years ago. Email marketing still has a better ROI than Social Media Channel. Choosing your Email Marketing provider is for that reason crucial. What are you expecting to achieve from your Email Marketing. Is it just to send out periodic updates or would you like some degree of automation built into it to decide what action you need to take based on what the recipient did or would your email marketing need advanced automation based on if this then that scenario.
There are tools for everyone of these scenarios and there is no one size fits all solution here. Tools that I have used and feel are great value for money are listed below.
Mailchimp: One of the Oldest tools, comes with a generous free plan. 2000 Subscribers and 12000 emails a month. Automation is basic but does the trick for most people. The Email creator is a bit dated, very early 2000’s
Convertkit Aimed at content creators with a decent amount of Automation, does not have a html editor (which means you can’t design high quality visual content) all emails are sent in rich Text format which is not bad as that is how you get all your Business emails as well. Not suited for you if you plan on sending emails with lots of images.
Mailerlite: Excellent choice for most people, has slightly more advanced Automation than Mailchimp, excellent drag and drop builder and text editor. Decent free plan 1000 Subscribers and 12000 email sends. Overall a better choice than Mailchimp in my opinion.
Active Campaign: No Free Plan The Winner in my opinion, If you can think of an Automation scenario you can design it with Active campaign. This in my opinion is the best all in one tool (Email Marketing + Automation + Basic CRM) tool out there. If you have the budget then don’t compromise by going to any other tool. Active Campaign is simply the best.
Optin forms are what you use to get people on your list so that you can educate them or sell to them using your email marketing. Most of the Email Service providers have their own Option forms, these don’t always convert the best. Here are a list of forms for people just starting out which lets you create visually better optin forms.
Poptin With Poptin you can create visually appealing forms which could be embedded in your Page or have them as exit intent which gets triggered when the person is just about to leave your Page. Their free tier is pretty generous.
Mailmunch: Similar to Poptin but limited to a few designs as a free user.
Sumo-me: Sumo Calls itself the No:1 list building tool and it is pretty generous in its offering.
Convertplug 2 Plugins one is called Convert plus and convertpro. Convert plus is the more affordable one which we use on our Site. Excellent with Geo Targeting option, which means If I wish to show a Plugin only to my subscribers in India then I can select that and other countries would see a different optin.
Hubspot: Also offers forms which can help with lead capture going direct to your CRM. Also a Great Solution.
The reason we use a paid solution on some of our sites, despite so many excellent ones being available for free is because we didn’t want any branding which comes with a free service to be displayed on our sites.
Lifetime Deals on Softwares
A lot of Softwares come with subscription model and that means you need to pay a monthly fee to keep on using them, but every so often a lot of these softwares would show up on this Platform called Appsumo where you would be able to get them at a highly discounted price for life. Having bought many lifetime subscriptions, I can only suggest that visit this site once a day to check what the latest ongoing deals are. Getting a lifetime deal for $49 for most of these against a 100X price tag otherwise is well worth it.
Click to Tweet
If you have Interesting Quotes on your website whether self written or from someone else and want to grow your online reputation, Click to Tweet boxes are a great way to do so. Check out this Site – Click to tweet
Schedule Instagram Posts - Later
Instagram is a trending Social media platform and any Brand whether new or existing needs to have its presence felt there. Later is a great website which is focussed on helping you schedule 30 Instagram posts at once. If you are someone who has limited time and taking time out for Social Media is not for you, then the free plan of Later would give you 30 posts to be scheduled. Even if you could do this once a week or once every 2 weeks. That would help you grow.
Social Media Scheduling
Both Buffer and Hootsuite do 1 thing well which is help you schedule your Posts, both have a free plan which allows you to connect 3 Social Media accounts but Hootsuite does it better by allowing you 30 Scheduled posts v/s 10 offered by Buffer. How I recommend you to use them is Instagram on Later and Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin on Hootsuite. If you are scheduling 2 messages a day for Instagram you have 15 days of Scheduling possible. On Hootsuite schedule 1 post a day of each network and you have 10 days of scheduling possible.
If you are sharing content online, quite often we find that the links are hideously long. Try sharing something from your Google Drive for example. Long Links are not cool. Bitly is a URL shortening service which offers you analytics on the Urls you share.
Superglue to Tie your Apps together
We work with a lot of apps but these apps do not talk to each other, so often the task of sharing the data between the apps becomes a Tedious task. Zapier is a Superglue which ties most of your apps together. What happens in one app can be shared with the other one with ZERO intervention. Try them out, you will be amazed at how much time you can save.
Royalty Free Pictures
We all need Pictures and Backgrounds whether working on a Project or our Website. Finding good pictures meant buying these online for a premium. Not any more. These are the sites where you can get great Pictures for free.
Stock Up, Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, All the free stock, Jaymantri, Picography, New Old Stock, Picjumbo, Life of pix, Gratisography, Getrefe, IMFREE, The Pattern Library, Stokpik, ISO Republic, Bucketlistly (Travel Photos)
Fonts for your Website and Writing needs
Notes & Collaboration Tools
Great app for taking notes and sharing these with your Team or developer whether from your phone (IOS or Android) or Tablet or Laptop is Google Keep and Evernote. If you work with people who are all not always in the same location or time zone then a tool like Trello can come in very handy. It lets you collaborate with people with Kanban Style boards.
Best New Products
The list is Pretty exhaustive and can be downloaded as a PDF.