Best Online Resources for Entrepreneurs, Organized.

This will most likely always be a work in progress. Please don’t hesitate to add resources or input in the comments! I tried not to have too many services that were similar to each other, and mostly went with venture backed solutions where it existed. Hoping to turn this into a more interactive resource down the road.

I don’t know what I want to do, but I want to start learning.

Get Inspired

Learn to Code Online

Learn to Build a Startup

Learn Creative & Technical Skills

Take University Classes Online for Free

  • Coursera – Stanford, Duke, Princeton, Columbia, Yale, John Hopkins, etc.
  • Edx – Harvard, MIT, Cornell, UC Berkley, etc.

I have an idea/ I’m just getting started

Brainstorming/Understanding Your Business

  • Business Model Canvas – Fill this out to get a good sense of your business. Better with the book, but not completely necessary. Watch the 2 min video.
  • Validation Board – Use this to continuously test your riskiest assumptions and to update your business model canvas as you learn more about your business. Developed by the authors of The Lean Startup & The Lean Entrepreneur.
  • Mindmeister – An online mind-mapping tool, great for collaborating.

Naming

  • Lean Domain Search – Enter a word you want in your domain and it will give you a list of available domain names that includes your word.
  • Gum.bo – Enter a word or words you want in your domain and it will give you a list of available domain names and if the username is available on major social networks.
  • Namechk – Enter a username and it will let you know if it’s available across a large number of social networks.
  • Igor Naming Guide – A systematic process for picking the right name for your business.

Startup Research

  • Google Keyword Tool – Look up search volume for your product, service, or keywords.
  • Google Trends – Look up search trends for your product, service, or keyword.
  • Quora – Great Q&A site. Lots of great answers for technology entrepreneurs.
  • Crunchbase – A database of technology companies. Get to know your competitors, how much they’ve raised, and from who.
  • Angellist – A database of startups and angels. Find local startups and angel investors in your industry.
  • Seed-DB – A database of accelerators and incubators.

Automated Research Tools

  • Google Alerts – Set up alerts for keywords relevant to your business, get recent news directly in your email inbox.
  • Paper.li – Automatically generates an online newspaper from articles shared by Twitter accounts you follow. You can customize this even more by setting it to follow specific lists or hashtags.

Early Customer Validation

  • SurveyMonkey – Create surveys and send them to your friends.
  • Amazon Mechanical Turks – A little complex to use, but you can pay a little bit of money to survey lots of random people.
  • Pickfu – Let random people vote between two options. A simpler version of Amazon Mechanical Turks. 50 answers for $20.

Collaborating With Your Team

I’m Ready to Get a Few Things Up Online

Buy a domain name + hosting

Get a Splash Page Up

  • LaunchRock – Pretty easy to use, but not much customization.
  • KickOffLabs – A little more customization.
  • Unbounce – A drag & drop interface for creating your splash page. Super easy to set up A/B testing. Great for price elasticity testing, etc.

Set Up Your Social Media Profiles

Design Tools

  • Adobe Creative Cloud – Subscription based access to Photoshop, Illustrator, and more!
  • Pixlr – A free online tool, similar to Photoshop (less robust).
  • Flickr – Use advanced search tools to search for Creative Commons licensed images you can use for free (as long as you credit the photographer somewhere on your site!)
  • iStockPhoto – Purchase professional stock photos for use on website/marketing material.
  • VectorStock – Purchase cheap vector designs to use on your website/marketing material.
  • The Noun Project – Great place to find cheap and free (public domain) icons.
  • Google Fonts
  • 9 Best Free Image Editors – If you don’t want to pay for Photoshop, check out these free image editors, compiled by Mashable.

Hire a Designer

  • 99 Designs – Crowdsourced design work. Get multiple people to submit ideas and only pay for the one you like.
  • Sortfolio – Sort through web designers by city & budget and look through their portfolio.
  • oDesk – Hire freelancers.
  • Elance – Hire freelancers.

 Let’s Get Building!

Wireframing Tools

  • Balsamiq – Drag & drop interface for wireframing websites. You can build in multiple pages and interactive buttons.
  • POP – Convert your sketches into an interactive prototype of your mobile app.

DIY Web Building Tools

  • WordPress.org – This content management system powers 1 in 6 active websites online. It’s worth learning to use. Most hosting services provide a one-click install of WordPress, which will allow you to host it on your own domain name. It’s worth learning how to use, and a great way to build your Minimum Viable Product.
  • ThemeForest – A place to buy premium WordPress themes.
  • Woothemes – Another place to buy great WordPress themes.
  • Shopify – Set up an e-commerce enabled store with no coding experience.
  • Magento Go – Set up an e-commerce enabled store with no coding experience.
  • Sublime Text – Learning to code yourself? Sublime Text is just one of many text editors great for coding.
  • Heroku – Learn to code on rails? Heroku will handle your web hosting.
  • Github – Version tracking is something you really oughta do if you’re coding, and Github is how you’ll do it.

 Find a development agency

  • GroupTalent – You send them basic information about what you need, and they’ll help you with the details of the spec, budgeting, timeline, and match you with the a qualified development team for your needs. Accepts job listings from $5k to $150k.
  • Guru – Freelancing website with a focus on development talent.
  • oDesk – Freelancing website.
  • Elance – Freelancing website.
  • TheyMakeApps – Search for mobile app developers by location and budget, then check out their portfolios.

Charging Money

  • Paypal – Probably the easiest way to start collecting money.
  • Dwolla – The new kid on the block, $0.25 fee max on any transaction. To find out how they do it, read this article.
  • Shopify – DIY eCommerce platform. Super easy to set up shop and start selling.
  • Magento – eCommerce platform. More complex, more customizable.
  • Authorize.net – Payment Gateway
  • Freshbooks – Service business? Accounting, time tracking, and billing.
  • Square – Charging money in person? Use Square.

Collect Recurring Payments

Is my site any good? Let’s make it better!

 Web Analytics

User Testing

  • UserTesting.com – Get videos of visitors speaking their thoughts as they visit your site and a written summary of their experience with your site.
  • CrazyEgg – Get a heat map of where people are clicking on your site and how far down they scroll on any page.

Optimize Your Website

  • Optimizely – Great tool for A/B testing on a website that you already have up and running. Super easy to use, definitely worth messing around with their free demo.
  • Kissmetrics – A serious analytics tool that helps you optimize your website.
  • Qualaroo – Collect insights by asking your customers questions unintrusively.
  • Olark – Live chat with your customers.
  • Get Satisfaction – Customer engagement tool.

 Let’s Drive Some Traffic to My Site!

Social Media Tools

  • Hootsuite – Manage a number of social media profiles, schedule posts, and set up streams based on Twitter lists or hashtags.
  • Wildfire App – Social media campaign tool.

Press Release Distribution

Identify Influencers

  • Google Blog Search – Search for blogs about your topic.
  • Technorati – Blog search engine.
  • Klout – Find top social media influencers.
  • BlogDash – A blogger outreach network. Identify and reach out to bloggers.
  • GroupHigh – Identify and reach out to influencers. Paid solution.
  • Traackr – The most expensive, but supposedly the most advanced platform for identifying influencers.

Online Advertising Platforms

Keeping the Business Running

Finance Tools

  • Mint.com – Personal finance manager
  • inDinero – Basically a Mint.com for businesses.
  • Quickbooks – Small Business Accounting Software.
  • Freshbooks – Service business? Accounting, time tracking, and billing.
  • Expensify – Track your expenses.

Legal Stuff/ Document Samples

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