The fact is, 9 out of 10 new businesses will fail. That’s why getting all the help you can to increase your chances of succeeding is critical.
There are a ton of free resources for entrepreneurs available offline and online, but how do you discern which ones are worth your time, and which ones are just noise? It can be hard to tell the difference if you don’t dig into these tools yourself, so that’s exactly what I’ve done.
While I encountered many worthless “resources” on my endeavour to track down the good ones, I also discovered that there are more valuable free online tools for entrepreneurs than I originally thought. That’s why I figured it would be helpful for other entrepreneurs if I broke down my favourite free tools and websites for small business owners just getting started.
In this guide, I’ll discuss tools that you can use to enhance your knowledge of the business world, help you create the perfect social media posts, improve your company’s internal and external communications, assist with branding, help you track down investors and other helpful organizations, and more. We’ll even talk about some resources that provide assistance with project management, best accounting practices, and eCommerce.
Free Tools and Websites Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Needs to See
- HubSpot Academy
- The Name App
- Most Fundable Companies Survey
- Inspiration from Entrepreneur.com
- Awesome Screenshot
Keep in mind that some of the resources on this list have some paid or premium features, but the core service of each is indeed cost-free. Also, before we get started, I’ll point out that these aren’t in any particular order. Let’s take a look and see if any of these resources could help you grow your business!
1. HubSpot Academy
HubSpot offers a wide range of sales, marketing, customer support, and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. They also have their HubSpot Academy, which provides free online courses in four main areas: marketing, sales, service, and tutorials.
At the time of this writing, the top courses on HubSpot Academy are Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, and an SEO training course called Building Sustainable Traffic. There are also comprehensive courses that cover content strategy, social media use, artificial intelligence, and much more.
In addition, completing their courses provides you with certifications that are “globally recognized,” in their own words. All told, there’s a ton of value to be had here, and none of it will even cost you a penny!
We all know that to succeed in today’s ultra-connected business world, you’ll need to take full advantage of social media. There are some powerful and comprehensive resources like HootSuite and Buffer that used to have free versions but have now converted to paid sites.
With that in mind, let’s discuss TweetDeck, an incredibly useful free extension for Twitter users.
With TweetDeck, you can create personalized timelines, manage lists and searches, create team accounts, schedule posts, and much more. It’s not as fully featured as some of the paid options in this industry, but you might be surprised by how much TweetDeck still allows you to do. I use it myself and wholeheartedly recommend it.
Of course, everyone already knows what Skype is. I’d be surprised if many people reading this didn’t have at least some level of familiarity with it. Even if you’ve used Skype many times before, I think you might be overlooking how much it can do for your business. I know I did!
Skype offers powerful tools like screen share (even on mobile), split-view mode to keep your conversations organized, full HD video and audio calls, call recording, live subtitles, web-to-phone calling, smart messaging, and much more. It’s important to note that not all of these features are available for free with Skype, but many of them are. Especially for entrepreneurs who do lots of deals internationally, it’s a great resource.
4. The Name App
These days, when you’re naming a business, you need to make sure there’s a suitable URL available for your company, as well as social media account handles. The Name App comes in very handy in this regard, as it allows you to perform multifaceted searches to see if your business name idea has suitable domain names available, as well as handles for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Before I discovered The Name App, I was handling each of these steps individually. It might not seem like it, but this process actually took way more time than I expected it to. Each time I picked a name I liked, I would then need to check for a compatible domain name, then make sure there were similar social media handles available.
Any roadblocks along the way sent me back to the drawing board. With The Name App, all of these steps are completed simultaneously, dramatically reducing the amount of time required for thorough business naming.
This free tool offered by Pepperdine University objectively analyzes how potential investors are viewing your company. If your business generates less than $10 million in annual revenue, you are eligible for this complimentary analysis.
This survey focuses on 12 key areas, including market opportunity, intellectual property, sales strategy, competition, entrepreneurial experience, management, founder commitment, directors and advisors, financial performance, investment value, accomplishments, and corporate structure.
If they choose your business as one of their “most fundable” companies, they will add your company to their list, which in itself is obviously a pretty good way to attract investments. Even for businesses that don’t make the list, it’s a great way to figure out where you have room for improvement.
With Alice, you can discover funding, expert advice, business opportunities, and more. This feature-packed small business development tool is powered by machine learning technology, and it matches entrepreneurs with custom-tailored tools and opportunities.
Alice’s content team uses web scrapers to discover and curate their resource recommendations from corporate partners, investors, government organizations, startups, small business communities, and more.
Alice’s mission is to help your business grow efficiently, and it certainly has the tools to do just that. All told, Alice is a tool that doesn’t do anything you couldn’t do yourself — most of Alice’s suggestions are publically available at no cost. The difference is that Alice can track down all of these opportunities much quicker and easier than you can, and I’m always looking for tools that can speed up my processes.
I just recently discovered Pablo, which is a convenient photo editing tool that allows you to quickly craft engaging social media posts using their massive library of 600,000+ free stock images. In today’s increasingly photo-based social media landscape, a simple text post doesn’t quite grab the eye of your potential customers the same way a tastefully composed image post does. Pablo allows you to add some visual flair to your posts, even if you don’t have a specific image in mind.
All you need to do to create an appealing photo post with Pablo is to select your image, choose the size you want, insert filters or graphics, and add the text you want to accompany the image. Making it all even easier is the fact that you can accomplish all of these tasks on one page, meaning there’s no flipping back and forth if you change your mind about any of these elements.
This project management tool does have paid options, but their free version has quite a bit of usefulness for entrepreneurs as well. Trello helps you organize your business tasks by compiling them into lists, boards, and cards that make it easy to visualize your progress on any project. Each board has capabilities to mark tasks as incomplete, in progress, or finished, which gives your team a simple way to collaborate without ever stepping on each other’s toes.
Using their free version, you get unlimited access to their personal boards, along with ten team boards for collaborative projects, and limited access to their power-ups (like calendars, voting, maps, etc.) and automated commands. If you enjoy their tools and want to make them even more powerful, you can opt for a paid plan which removes these limitations.
Wave is an accounting and invoicing resource that helps you manage your income and expenses. Using their free platform, you can take advantage of their powerful automated accounting software, as well as create high-quality professional invoices for your clients. To be honest, Wave’s free version has more useful and valuable features than some paid alternatives I’ve tried in the past.
If you decide to upgrade to one of their paid programs, you also receive access to their payment platform with a credit card and bank payment compatibility, as well as their payroll management software. Wave is truly a comprehensive financial management tool, and it’s impressive how much of their service is available for free.
10. Inspiration from Entrepreneur.com
There are several great aspects of Entrepreneur.com, as they provide a huge variety of resources for prospective business owners. The reason I picked their “Inspiration” section is that it’s such a different tool than any of the others I’ve discussed in this post. Entrepreneur.com’s Inspiration section isn’t necessarily about providing specific tips and pointers for running a successful company.
Instead, it’s packed full of advice and motivation for entrepreneurs who feel like they need a jolt of encouragement. Let’s face it: not every step of the business ownership journey is an enjoyable one. That’s why Entrepreneur.com includes articles on topics like:
- How to Turn Last Year’s Lemons into Lemonade and Achieve Success in the New Year
- Every Successful Person Feels Like a Loser (Even Me)
These articles can help you get your business mojo back after a discouraging setback, improving your mood and reinvigorating you to take charge of your company’s destiny.
11. Awesome Screenshot
Back in the old days, sharing screenshots with your business associates was a hassle. You’d need to print the screen, paste it into a Paint project, crop it, save it, and finally share it. With the free Chrome extension Awesome Screenshot, it’s easier than ever to share screenshots from any website.
Awesome Screenshot has a one-click setup for taking screenshots, with an easy cropping tool that enables you to select the part of a screen or the entire thing. Then, you can annotate your screenshot with notes to point out the specific parts of it that interest you. Finally, their sharing tools make it easy to send your screenshot to colleagues, associates, or friends.
You can share your shots via email, social media channels, Slack, Asana, Google Drive, Trello, and more. In short, Awesome Screenshot makes the process of capturing and sharing screenshots about twice as easy as it ever used to be.
Do you want to set up eCommerce functionality for your business website, but you’re not willing to pony up the cash to sign on with one of the popular full-service eCommerce companies like Shopify? If you only transact a limited amount of business online, perhaps an option like Gumroad is a better fit for you.
With Gumroad, there is no monthly fee for using their eCommerce platform. Instead, Gumroad’s free version includes 5% transaction fees for each sale you make. Of course, you can find other companies that offer eCommerce functionality for a lower per-transaction fee, but I like the way they enable you to use their tools without requiring you to make a significant commitment.
There are so many free tools and websites available for entrepreneurs these days, and I hope this article helped you hone in on the ones that can provide a significant boost for your business.
I personally use each resource listed in this guide, so I know first-hand how much assistance they can provide to entrepreneurs starting a business in any industry.
In my opinion, it’s important for any aspiring entrepreneur to take advantage of every possible resource. Especially when there are so many great tools available for free, you really have nothing to lose by giving these amazing websites a shot. You might even find that some of these resources are so useful that they end up replacing a paid service for you.
Either way, I’ve gained a tremendous amount of business knowledge from these sources and have even created free guides of my own for entrepreneurs. I’m confident that they’ll provide value to you as well. Whether you end up using just one of them or trying all 12, I’m excited to be able to share these powerful free resources with you, and I wish you the best of luck in your business endeavors!