Startup Business Resources

Startup Business Resources

Most aspiring entrepreneurs start with high hopes and big dreams when they begin working on their first startup.  But then they come to realize that dreaming was far easier than actually accomplishing what they had set out to do. As problems start to pile up, hope starts to diminish and most people give up and move on to the next thing.

Before you think about throwing away your idea for the next shiny object, just ask yourself this: isn’t hard work part of the recipe for success? Sure, entrepreneurship is riskier than a regular 9 to 5 job, but profits can increase proportionally with risk. So don’t give up just yet.

If other entrepreneurs have made it in the past, why can’t you? You have something that they never had. You will now have startup business resources that do most of your work for you. Other entrepreneurs have had to spend days collecting the data which you can now get in minutes. If they made it, so can you. In fact, you can do it better 🙂

In this article you’ll find a collection of the best resources and tools that you can use to launch your startup…even on a shoestring budget. We here at StarterPad have personally used all the resources we recommend, so rest assured you’re in safe hands. Let’s get started.

Hosting

You can’t run an efficient system without an efficient host. It is one of the most important things that you need to look at when starting up a new business. We have selected three companies in this area.

DigitalOceanDigital Ocean

If you’re starting a new company on a small budget then DigitalOcean is the host you should turn to. Saying that they provide excellent value for money would be an understatement. In my opinion, they’re the best choice for those who want to a website that loads quickly. However, they’re self-managed servers, so you either need to know how to configure a server yourself, or have a “server guy” available.

For $5 a month, you get a 512 MB RAM server, 20 GB storage, 1TB bandwidth, and a dedicated IP.  To top it off, they have SSD hard drives. This translates to a faster loading website than with the old spinning drives that most hosts still use.  They’re very serious about security, so you don’t have to worry about that either.

Their system is pretty simple to use and they have good support, so shoot them up with any questions that you may have.  There’s also an awesome community, and users post guides explaining how to do pretty much anything…this is definitely rare for web hosts to offer.

One drawback with DigitalOcean is you can’t upgrade the resources independently.  So if your site has low CPU and memory usage, but requires a lot of disk space, you have no options.  You’d have to select a larger plan which will cost at least $80/mo.

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon Web Services

If you’re planning to launch a more resource-intensive website, then you may need a more powerful host. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is good for hosting websites of all shapes and sizes. It’s flexible, customizable, and highly scalable.  Of course with more features, comes more complexity, and the costs go up too.

A lot of big companies like NetFlix, Pinterest, Nokia, and Adobe are using AWS for their hosting needs.  So this tells you that AWS must be doing something right 😉

If you’re not tech savy then AWS may not be your cup of tea, but if you want power and flexibility then you’ll love it.

HerokuHeroku

For those more nerdy types who are looking for a good free hosting service, Heroku is one of the best bets. It stands out among the other alternatives due to its thorough features, impressive flexibility, user-friendly interface, awesome scalability, and third-party integration.

Heroku is a well-connected and extensible cloud hosting platform that makes managing and deploying applications in almost all coding languages almost effortless. This is why it’s awesome for testing out your new applications and services free of cost.

We’re not the only ones who love Heroku. In a cloud hosting services review done by TopTenReviews, Heroku was declared the market leader. It won their gold award for the best cloud hosting service in 2015.

So if you want to launch a new web service or app, I recommend starting with Heroku.

Project Management

Once you’ve selected your host, it’s time to pick a project management app.  Whether you’re running an online business or an offline one, having a project management app can make your job a whole lot easier. It helps to keep track of activities, assign tasks, and monitor productivity.

AsanaAsana

Asana is one of the best project management apps out there. It offers a comprehensive list of features that is continuously growing with time.

With Asana you can work with your team members, no matter where they live. It’s very easy to create projects, organize tasks, and monitor the performance of all team members. The app offers a team calendar which really simplifies the task of monitoring different tasks being done simultaneously by your team.

Asana is free for teams up to 15 members, so it’s perfect for companies that are just starting up.

Email Marketing

No matter what sort of business you’re running, it’s a good idea to build a list, and start email marketing.  It has a lot of potential for every type of business, and it is one of the most effective ways of connecting with your customers.

If your business is not doing email marketing, then you’re ignoring a huge source of leads and conversions. There are many services that you can use for running your email marketing campaigns; I’ll describe my favorite two.

Mad MimiMad Mimi

Mad Mimi offers you amazing service, with a touch of glamor. They’re ready to help their customers 24/7 on the phone, email or even live chat. In fact their live chat is the best one that we have ever come across, they reply almost instantly.

In our experience, it’s very easy to create eye-catching emails in Mail Mimi. Moreover they have excellent reporting features and analytics. It works with Google Analytics to provide you in-depth reports of how well your emails are performing.  You can see click rates, bounce rates, open rates, and other stats like who opened your emails and even what times your emails were opened. This will help you in determining the best time to send emails.

The only weakness in Mad Mimi is that it does not allow A/B split testing, but with all the other features that it offers that weakness can easily be overlooked. It’s suited well for startups because it has one of the most competitive pricing models in the industry.

Another thing that we love about Mad Mimi is that it makes it very easy for subscribers to share your content. More than 30 social media buttons can be integrated into your emails to allow your subscribers to do many things like share, tweet, retweet, and pin your post.

MailChimpMailChimp

MailChimp is another awesome Email Service Provider. In fact you can use it for both your email marketing campaigns and social media campaigns. They like to keep you in a light mood while you work, so you’ll see funny videos popping up here and there on the pages too.

MailChimp has a huge database of awesome templates that you can use in designing your emails. Once you’re through with your designs you can send them to the ‘Delivery Doctor’. Delivery Doctor is a service offered by MailChimp that checks your email and your HTML code to see if there is anything that may cause a problem. It helps increase your email’s deliverability.

Like Mad Mimi, MailChimp also has some pretty bad ass reporting features. Click rates, open rates, bounce rates, and a lot of other data is compiled and presented in an easy-to-read manner to help you analyze your campaigns.

If you’re stuck, you can contact their customer support or check out their forums. They offer good support, and they also release a weekly webinar to help you get the most out of your emails.

MailChimp is suited for both beginner marketers and advanced marketers alike.

Email Deliverability

Globally, almost 20% of emails never make it to the intended inboxes. No matter how flashy or well-written your email may be, it won’t be a success unless it reaches your subscribers.  That is why you need an email deliverability service to keep tabs on your email deliverability, and optimize it so that all deliverability failures are eliminated.

Winning EmailWinning Email

Winning Email is the best email deliverability service that we have come across. It lets you check out your deliverability for free. All you need to do is enter you domain name and click “Free Checkup”.

You’ll be presented with a detailed analysis of your domain, and if any deliverability problems exist, you can easily fix them with the help of their step-by-step instructions. For a more detailed analysis you can go one step further and send them a test email. In this way they’ll be able to check things that they couldn’t access before and you’ll get a more thorough analysis of your mail server and email headings.

Winning Email offers the option to set up feedback loops for your domain so that you can minimize deliverability failures. By setting up feedback loops you’ll be notified when any of your subscribers mark your email as “spam” or “junk”, then you can decide if you want to keep them or you want to remove them from your list.  Head over there now for a free checkup 😉

Social Networking

Marketing is an integral component in achieving success for any startup, and the best place for both marketing and connecting with customers is through social media. It helps in communicating with customers, researching the market, and promoting your company. Join as many social networks as you can, and spread the word about your company. The following websites are good places to start:

FacebookFacebook 

Facebook needs no introduction; it’s THE most popular social media site in the world. People from all ages, and all walks of life use Facebook multiple times a day. Did you know that Facebook was the first website ever to reach 1 billion users?  Imagine what a site like that can do for your business?

Unfortunately succeeding on Facebook isn’t as easy as it used to be in the past. They have become very strict, but if you know what you’re doing then Facebook can get you plenty of traffic. When marketing on Facebook you need to know exactly what you’re trying to do, and exactly who you’re trying to reach.

Build a page for your brand. Keep it up-to-date with engaging content, and run targeted ads.  Targeted ads can be very effective in increasing awareness about your page. Use your page to know your customers. Run contests, ask questions, be funny… the point is keep them interested. Post stuff that your customers will share will their peers. Your objective should be to consistently appear in your followers’ newsfeed.  That is the best way to succeed and to maximize your reach.

TwitterTwitter 

Another very popular social network that you should utilize is Twitter. Twitter is unique because unlike Facebook, your message can only be 140 characters long.  You have to make a powerful point in a few short words; this is actually pretty sweet because due to the short attention span people have these days, the shorter the better.

Also, instead of “friends”, you have “followers”, and anyone can follow anyone else (unless you’ve restricted access).

In terms of reach, Twitter can be better than Facebook. With Facebook, you have to pay to play.  Without targeted ads or paid boosts, your posts may never reach your customers. On Twitter, your tweets are guaranteed to reach all your followers, no strings attached.

You can Tweet and Retweet with your customers, add engaging photos to your posts, run contents or promote discounts to get people to notice your company.

LinkedinLinkedIn 

When you’re starting up, you don’t just need to connect with your customers, you need to connect with other businesses too. Linkedin is the perfect network to make you known in business circles. Join the network, and start expanding your connections.

Since the LinkedIn navigation can be confusing, here’s a direct link to add a Company Page:

https://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show

Google+Google+

We’re all aware of the giant search engine Google. Google Plus was created by Google to compete with Facebook. The network has gotten pretty popular over the years. As Google supports Google+, a company page on Google+ can be really good for your company’s SEO.

The best way to use Google+ for promoting your company is to join different Communities relative to your niche, and get to know the community. Make yourself known, and offer valuable insights to other people. You can build a strong presence by establishing yourself as an expert this way.

Once you have a good following, keep your followers engaged and updated by regularly posting images, videos, tips, and updates to keep them interested.

Social Media Management

There are so many social media websites, and keeping them all updated is not an easy task… especially when you’re starting up. Having a social media management tool can save you from a lot of headaches. We’ve picked out just the perfect one for you.

DoSocialDoSocial 

DoSocial is a new entry in the social media management world, but that just makes it work harder to get your attention.  It has a lot of new ideas to offer, and more and more new features are being added all the time.  It’s ideal for startups because it’s affordable (starts at $0), it works well on all devices and it has a lot to offer. Its features include:

  •         Posting to Twitter Accounts
  •         Posting to Facebook Accounts
  •         Posting to LinkedIn Groups, Profiles, and Pages.
  •         Creating Facebook Page tabs containing YouTube and Twitter content
  •         Automate RSS feed updates to social media channels
  •         Statistics to monitor your social media campaigns
  •         Sharesly, a tool that allows you to promote content with a Call-to-Action button

Sharesly is something unique. You won’t find anything like it in other social media management tools.  Sharesly allows you to share your pages with a popover call-to-action button so that you can expose your company to people who may have never heard of your company before.

Another perk of using Sharesly is that it allows you to shorten your links, and then use a custom title for them too instead of random weird strings. You can then share these links through social media, emails and text messages…anywhere.

Memuna Umber

Memuna is an MBA student who loves learning about business, entrepreneurship, and society. She brings a lot of business and finance experience to the StarterPad team.