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11 Free Tools Every Young Entrepreneur Must Use!

| September 1, 2010 | 32 Comments

Every young entrepreneur is strapped for cash yet looking for all the same products and services that big companies use. It is important to look professional yet also squeeze every penny when starting out. Here are 11 tools that will help you do both in the startup days of your venture.

1. Google Docs

google_docs_logoWhat’s not to love here? Gmail, calendar, reader, spreadsheets and documents. Gmail is what you should be using for email, if your not head on over and sign-up! The calendar is basic but it is free and you can easily integrate it with whatever you or doing or on your phone. Google reader is where you should track the sites you want to read everyday (subscribe to 10 and make it a point to look at them each morning). Then the documents are great simply because they can perform the main functions of a program like word but also can be shared and edited by a group of people at the same time.


2. WordPress

Wordpress+logoAs far as were concerned here WordPress is the only real blogging platform available. This is a free and easy tool to add to your company website or to start building an online presence for yourself individually. The great thing is you can do much more then just blog with it. A lot of websites are powered off it and it can be easily customized like nothing else out there to get your first project off the ground and running.

Check out WordPress.com or WordPress.org


3. Freshbooks

freshbooksNobody likes accounting. Well Freshbooks can help. It is amazing for invoicing your clients and is decent at other basic accounting features. You can track expenses, create time sheets and log hours on projects. It is free to use up to three clients and then there are a few options to upgrade and access more features.

Don’t make the mistake of falling behind on your accounting as you will regret it at the end of the year!


4. MailChimp

mailchimpBuilding an email list is still important for any business. Remember you own your email list, you don’t own your twitter followers or facebook fans. MailChimp has a great platform and makes creating and analyzing campaigns really easy. However the best part is it is free up to 500 subscribers to your list. So when your just starting out it is perfect to test out all the features of an email marketing campaign without actually paying for anything.

Even as you upgrade the prices are very reasonable and comparable to most other services.


5. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn

social mediaWe can’t talk enough about social media. The amazing thing is that many people forget all of these tools are %100 free! Never before has there been ways to connect, market and sell yourself to such a vast audience for the cost of nothing. Make sure you are using these tools for your business because if you are not you are missing out on opportunities in sales, interviews and partners.

Make sure to take the time to learn how to use these tools correctly. It is easy to sign-up but more difficult to make a productive impact.


6. Skype

skypeDon’t rack up the minutes on your phone. Use Skype to speak with clients and business partners. You will find out that you will be on the phone a lot in the early days trying to make deals with just about everyone in the universe. Balance it out so you don’t actually have to pay more for your phone by using a service like skype as often you can…especially if its for regular calls with a business partner.

There are packages you can pay for but that depends on your individual calling needs.


7. Craigslist

craigslistWhat are you selling? Odds are there are some people on craigslist looking for that product or service. Or list your service in your home town or area. But even more importantly find deals on things you might need like a desk or comfortable chair. Even if your looking for a cheap apartment. Spend the time and check Craigslist everyday for that bargain you are looking for.

Don’t forget to check out cities all around you for clients or to list your work!


8. Mint.com

mintOdds are you are strapped for cash and your spending is tight. Make sure you create a budget for yourself so that up and down cash flow never truly prevents you from doing something, like paying rent. Mint is a super simple platform to track and budget yourself. Make a plan to manage what little money you have so you don’t find yourself in debt or spending more on a night out than you should be.


9. Google Alerts

google alertsOne of the keys to success is to research and monitor everything! Alerts is a great service to track when a keyword is mentioned online. Set them up for your name and your business. You can also set it up for industry words to track news and updates in your field. You want to know when someone mentions your company so you can respond accordingly and this service delivers that notice right to your inbox.

Make sure you pick targeted keyword. Broad terms will give you millions of daily alerts.


10. Paypal

PayPal-Verified2You should know about paypal and the fact that it makes taking credit cards and other payments very simple online. The downside is it will take a fee when a customer pays you through it. However it is a great option to make things simple in the early days. Use it for small transactions under $1000 or even under $500. The fees add up to minimal amounts when dealing with small transactions like this. If your dealing in higher numbers make the effort and get that check.

Don’t forget you can also pay people through it if you don’t have a business card yet.


11. GrooveShark.com/Hypem.com

music_notesMusic might be the one thing that keeps you sane some days when things are not going right or are just being tedious. Grooveshark lets you create you own playlist from just about any song out there. Simply pick a song you like and add it to your streaming playlist. Hypem brings together the latest songs from music blogs across the web. You will usually find tons of remixes and mash-ups of your favorite bands.

Both platforms are great to get away from your classic itunes playlists you’ve listened to 1000 times.

What other free tools do you use?


Learn how online marketing can help you find customers, make sales and grow your brand.


About the Author: Jared O'Toole

Co-founder and editor of Under30Media. You can send an email to Jared(at)Under30CEO.com. Follow him on Google+ or @JaredOToole

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://twitter.com/SocialMedia_Art Waqas Ali

    I am using 5 of them, will really try MailChimp.

    Can anybody suggest, how may I use Paypal in Pakistan, I have no credit card yet.

  • http://www.financiallydigital.com Nunzio Bruno

    I love the Google cloud and use all of those 11 on the list for my firm Financially Digital. I like to think that means I’m on my way to some serious success right?! :) Really though the tools listed here are amazing and even if you out grow the free and start to need to pay, like for Freshbooks, it is totally worth the efficiency! I love efficiency both for my clients and for myself!!

  • Morgan

    Fantastic list! I already use most of these and will definitely use the rest of them. We’d be silly not to use all these great free resources. Thanks for the list!

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O’Toole

    No problem glad you found it useful!

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O’Toole

    Great Nunzio. I agree the pay versions are great also. But it is great that you can start off using them for free and work your way up as needed.

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  • http://twitter.com/jackson_lo Jackson Lo

    Great resources! Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://www.howtheydiditbook.com Robert Jordan

    These resources are great, even for people who AREN’T just starting out. Using LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook the right way can really give you a boost!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QULRAVPEGCGNHSCPSQ67MIYIFU Fives

    Rhino Accounting is free and integrated into Google Docs. I’d use it over Freshbooks, which costs $$$$.

  • http://www.womanzworld.com/ Natalie Sisson

    Oooh great list. I use absolutely all of them bar MINT which isn’t available in Canada. I love love love Mailchimp and Skype for everyday business use. I covered a few of thse in my recent post so I feel like I’m in good company!

    http://womanzworld.com/entrepreneurs/toolbox-set-1-7-kick-ass-tools-resources-your-business-should-know-about/

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  • http://www.blockbeta.com/ Robbin Block

    Pretty good list. I’d also add lots of other Google tools, especially Google Places; Hootsuite, Batchbook (contact management), Carbonmade if you need an online portfolio that’s super-easy to set up, Squarespace (websites), Quantcast if you need to know the traffic and demographics of a website, MyBestSegments (http://www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments) to determine psychographics by zip code…so many more tools and helpful resources at my site http://blockbeta.com.

    Thank you Fives for suggesting Rhino Accounting. I’ll have to check that out. Can anyone suggest a good, no cost project manager? How about a tool for creating proposals?

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  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O’Toole

    Thanks for the awesome suggestions Robbin. Maybe we will do a followup with some more of those

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O’Toole

    Thanks I’ve never heard of it…Will have to check it out!

  • http://twitter.com/WDYWFT WDYWFT

    I use six of these tools and am intrigued to learn more about the others you mentioned. I would add google reader (maybe coupled with instapaper or evernote) to the list. I have hundreds of blog post and newspaper section feeds that google reader funnels for me – it only takes minutes to skim what’s happening each day (you can also add google alerts, tweets, facebook wallposts, etc. to the reader)… It’s an awesome tool!

  • http://twitter.com/WDYWFT WDYWFT

    I use six of these tools and am intrigued to learn more about the others you mentioned. I would add google reader (maybe coupled with instapaper or evernote) to the list. I have hundreds of blog post and newspaper section feeds that google reader funnels for me – it only takes minutes to skim what’s happening each day (you can also add google alerts, tweets, facebook wallposts, etc. to the reader)… It’s an awesome tool!

  • Julie

    These are great – I love these lists. I use most of them but a few new ones to check out – thank you. I also love a great solution for small business called InfoShop http://www.infoshop.com.au – a fully customisable shopping cart, payment system and they also send out your orders for you. Absolutely fantastic and very reasonably priced considering the costs of doing it yourself. Thanks again.

  • Shell Graphix

    We have found that http://www.phplist.com is a better (free) mailing program. Has all of the features, tracking tools and user-friendly backend and it is FREE – no strings attached or upgrades required.

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  • http://www.alan-kong.com Alan Kong

    Definitely will be trying out some more of these tools as I expand my self-improvement blog! Thanks!!

    Alan Kong
    http://www.alan-kong.com

  • http://www.alan-kong.com Alan Kong

    Definitely will be trying out some more of these tools as I expand my self-improvement blog! Thanks!!

    Alan Kong
    http://www.alan-kong.com

  • Usama

    all of them are useful. But paypal is unfortunately not introduced in less developed countries. Otherwise its a brilliant service.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lemireconsulting Dennis LeMire

    I am happy to see we are using 9 of these 11! Mail Chimp, Google Docs (Google apps actually) and Freshbooks have helped us in the growing phase of our business. Now we couldnt function without them.

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  • http://twitter.com/ExecutivePlan Adam Hoeksema

    I wrote a similar article on my blog http://www.theexecutiveplan.com titled, “10 Ways Google Can Make or Save Your Business Money”

    Google offers so much more than a search engine today. There are already dozens of valuable apps that you can utilize to make or save your business money. In no particular order here are 10 of Google’s best offerings.

    Google Voice – This new application is a game-changer. It allows you to have one phone number for all of your phones. No more will you need a home phone number, office phone number and a cell phone number. Additionally you can now make phone calls online with Google voice. Don’t ask how it works, it just does.

    Patent Search – For technology based businesses considering patenting a new product or process you should utilize Google’s patent search tool.

    Google Books – As an entrepreneur you may be looking to read some of the small business owner favorites like “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki or “The 4 Hour Work Week.” Believe it or not you won’t need to buy the book or even drive to the library. Access these bestsellers for free on Google Books.

    Gmail – Many of you probably already use gmail, but did you know that you can even use gmail and create an email address with the name of your business? For instance, you could create an email address with yourname@yourbusiness.com instead of yourname@gmail.com.

    Google Docs – This is a big one. Forget paying for Microsoft Office, just used Google documents which provides you a free version of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. You also don’t have to save documents on your own hard drive because Google will allow you to save documents in the cloud for free.

    Google Checkout – You can install Google Checkout to your website and allow visitors to purchase products and services quickly and easily on your site.

    Google Adwords – This is the heart of Google. Adwords allows Google to offer all these other services for free. Use a Google Adwords campaign and carefully selected keywords to drive traffic to your site.

    Google Analytics – This free website analytics service allows you to determine the performance of your website. You can easily determine which campaigns were successful and which campaigns were simply a waste of time. Learn where you traffic is coming from so that you can better focus your time and resources on what works.

    Youtube – Google also owns youtube which could provide your small business with another way in which to communicate your message, but more than likely it will serve as a employee morale booster. Send links to funny youtube videos to your employees in high spirits, but don’t let it get out of hand because you could end up spending hours on youtube before you know it.

    Google Sites – You can actually build a site that you might choose to use for a client project. For instance, create a site that will allow you to keep your clients up to date on the progress of a project and allow your employees to collaborate on the project all through the website. You can control the privacy settings so that only those you specify can view the site. A great productivity tool.

    Best of luck in your quest for productivity!

  • http://RaisingCEOKids.com Sarah Cook

    Thank you so much for compiling such a comprehensive list! No matter what level of entrepreneur you are it is great to know what FREE resources are out there so you can make the most profit possible!

    Sarah

  • Patrick Luczak

    Nice list. I would add Gist, myERP, Google Apps (Standard)(it’s FREE), Manymoon, eStreamDesk, and Schedule Once. Excellent entrepreneur resources.

  • http://www.Temperos.info Gabriel McKinsey

    Nice article.

    One thing I noticed missing is a Phone Book for us cash strapped entrepreneurs. Any suggestion?

  • Gilbert Bordon

    Great list of useful tools Jared, I’ve been also using these tools. Google Docs really helps a lot to manage easy access and sharing of documents, spreadsheet, presentation and etc. I also use Skype it improves communication with chat and video call. I also use a time management tool which I use list my entire tasks and set an amount of time to do each task. Using this tool it tracks time accurately on different tasks and it gives you feed back on how you spend your time. This way you can easily manage time effectively. However, it won’t be easy to manage time without self discipline.

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