It’s crazy starting up, isn’t it? There are a number of things that require your attention and almost all of them at the same time. Bogs you down completely, making you go helter-skelter looking for resources to help you in your tasks.
Well, the good thing is that I’ve been there, done that. I’ve gone through this myself and totally identify with your current mental state.
And that made me put together this ultimate guide for awesome resources you will need for each aspect of your startup. Right from getting you started to helping you manage your operations and down to helping you grow.
So let’s get started.
Idea validation: you have plenty of ideas, but do not know how viable they are and whether there is a market big enough for it. You also need to make sure you choose the right path. And this is where you need a startup coach who can not only validate your ideas, but also give you the answers to all your problems. That’s where I step in. Email me to have your ideas validated or if you’re looking for answers to a specific problem.
Company Name: you need to have a company name that is sticky and catchy, short, functional, and tells a story. There are many ways to generate names – core function of your company, benefit that it offers, mash-up of the founders’ names, or simply through crowdsourcing. If you really must pay to get it done, one such service is Namella.
Domain Name: you really must get creative in selecting the right domain name. Unless your company name is really unique and is not really something from the dictionary, it may work. But if it doesn’t, take a look at some creative ways of using domain name within your company name. Example? Launch.it. Here’s a fantastic online tool (free) that can suggest short creative domain names for your company: Domainr. And then you can go over to GoDaddy or HostGator to register your domain name.
Hosting: you don’t know where to go looking for hosting service providers? Most of the domain name registration companies also provide hosting services, such as GoDaddy and HostGator. There are bigger players also in the market but they also come at a cost. Take a look at Rackspace’s cloud hosting pricing plans to give you an idea.
Business Plan: Planning to write a business plan and not sure how to or where to get started? Well, then here’s a fantastic tool to help you do just that.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched this nifty online tool to help you build a business plan, step by step. You need to register (free) to be able to use this tool. Once registered, the tool offers a tab-based step-by-step guide that lets you enter information into a template for each section of the business plan.
Pitch Deck For Funding: congratulations if you’ve made it this far. I haven’t come across anyone who has written a business plan to secure funding. What many of them did was to create a presentation and some worked additionally on executive summaries. Here’s a fantastic resource for just that, a complete deck for creating an early stage pitch.
Raising Money: if you’re done bootstrapping your startup or want to raise more seed fund for your startup, you’ve got to approach angel investors. These investors are typically individuals with a lot of cash who provide business capital to startups. Look for business incubators in your area and apply to them. Some examples of the popular ones are 500 Startups, Startup Bootcamp, Y Combinator, and TechStars. There is also an online platform that matches investors with startups: Angel.co.
Crowd funding is also a great option to raise funding. It is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their resources, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding has increasingly becoming popular with the likes of Kickstarter, RocketHub, and Indiegogo launching their platforms on the Internet that bring together startups and individuals who are interested in contributing towards an idea or a product.
Legal Help: when starting up, you’ve got to take care of a number of things that are required from the legal stand-point. Things such as routine legal needs, business incorporation, trademarks, patents and copyrights, business compliance, corporate changes, and filings, etc. Go to LegalZoom for help, which is the leading legal brand (and immensely affordable) for small businesses and consumers.
Wireframing or Prototyping: if you’re a technology entrepreneur, you need to create a wireframe for your product as a starting point. Not only does it help to get you clarity on your idea but also helps when interacting with developers, investors, or users for idea validation. Here are some neat tools for creating wireframes or prototyping – Pidoco, Creately, MockFlow, and Balsamiq.
Website and App Development: if you’re a startup entrepreneur, focus on your getting your product out to the customer. You must outsource the development of your website and apps to a provider who best understands your challenges. Arkenea Technologies, for example, partners entrepreneurs in launching their mobile apps and website businesses. The company is run by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs and therefore best understands what it takes to get a fantastic product out to the customers. (Disclaimer: I am a co-founder of the company)
A/B Testing: a lot of marketers are using A/B testing to gain insight into visitor behavior and to increase conversion rate. Here, two versions (A and B) are compared, which are identical except for one variation that might impact the user’s behavior. In the end, you select the version that performs best. You can test call to action’s wording, size, color and placement; headline or product description; form’s length and fields; product pricing and offers, etc. Here are some nifty tools to help you with A/B Testing – Google Content Experiments, Monetate, Optimizely, Unbounce, and Visual Website Optimizer.
Landing pages: these are your best friends when you don’t have a product, yet want customer buy-ins, or when you have a product, get them to buy-in. Here’s a great example of a landing page that showcases how you can get buy-ins before a product is launched. There are a number of online tools that help you create landing pages – LaunchRock, KickoffLabs, and Unbounce.
Content Marketing: if you want to learn about this bit, Neil Patel is your best pal. Read his blog in and out and you will learn a lot of tricks of the trade, which you can actually implement on your own. Content marketing is a fantastic (and free) way to market your startup. He’s got fantastic resources on getting retweets for your content, converting blog readers into customers, and a whole lot more. And yes, if you’re looking for a resource on writing content, here’s a fantastic resource to help any novice person write powerful content.
Social Media: there are a multitude of resources available on the Internet that harness the power of the social media to help in effective and targeted marketing. Here are a few that will help turn your social media campaign into a fantastic one – IceRocket for keeping tabs on who is saying what about you and your brand; Board Tracker to follow customers who are more likely to spend time on message boards; social media best practices; Buffer for posting links multiple times on social networks; OnlyWire to send your blog posts to 47 high-traffic sites; and finally, here are 75 tips to manage your social media efforts.
Rahul Varshneya has spent his entire career either working for startups or starting businesses. He now spends his time between coaching aspiring entrepreneurs in launching their ventures, mobile apps and websites, and building Arkenea Technologies. Follow him on Twitter @rahulvarshneya.
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