Right now, around the world, there are about 300 million people trying to start around 150 million businesses. But only 2 out of every ten of those will survive the first few years. If you want the best chance of getting your business off the ground you need all the help and advice you can get, so I have collected some of the tools and app I’ve come across recently to make that journey a little easier.
TIPS FROM THE TOP
DRT.FM: Getting tips from a mentor and learning from their experiences is a great way to start. At Dorm Room Tycoon podcast’s website, drt.fm, you’ll find a free collection of fascinating interviews with successful entrepreneurs and business people around the world. Download to your device, listen through iTunes or on Soundcloud, or you can go old school and read the transcript on the website.
START UP NOTES: Another route to bite-sized inspiration from global founders is Start up Notes. This cute online book has a double page of scribbled musings from ten world-renowned business people. You can look back through the previous years’ books too. This kind of insight never goes out of date.
CLOSED CLUB: Sometimes learning why something didn’t work can be as helpful as knowing why it did. Closed Club is a simple site you can browse to find out the story behind lots of unsuccessful start ups, hopefully equipping you with some insight to avoid mistakes they made.
If you are successful setting up business, get ready to put in the hard slog. Studies show that more than half of small business owners work at least six days a week. There are some good tools to help you claw back some of that time though.
THE SKIMM: Sign up at The Skimm and it promises to read everything important in world affairs so you don’t have to. Each day it emails a breakdown of the key events around the world, even adding links to fresh editorial content in context if you want to dig a little deeper on a story.
CHARLIE APP: Charlie can help save time preparing for meetings with emailed dossiers on anyone you’re seeing. You need to use Google Apps calender, and once you put an appointment in there Charlie will comb through hundreds of sources (including Salesforce, Linkedin, Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter) and automatically send you a one‐page brief prior to the appointment. If you don’t want to use the calender automation you can also just head to the website and request a briefing on anyone whose name and email address you have.
GET NOTIFIED: Another great time-saver if you’re waiting for a big announcement is Get Notified app. It could be news about when conference tickets go on sale (or theatre and gig tickets if you want to use it for your personal life too), or the latest news about your competitor’s products. Just tell Charlie what you’re interested in and instead of you checking the news wires every 5 minutes the app will email you as soon as anything appears online.
COMING UP WITH A BRAND
NAMINUM: If you’re struggling to come up with a good company name, Naminum can provide some inspiration with a simple web tool that serves up suggestions based on key words about your business. As establishing a web presence is vital these days, this tool even lets you check URL availability for the names you like.
IMPOSSIBILITY: If you keep coming up blank on the web address front perhaps you should reverse the process and look for good available URLs first? Impossibility.org lets you enter just one word and search for available dot-com URLs with another word either side of it. It might take a few searches but hopefully one of them will catch your eye as a great company name.
SHORT DOMAIN SEARCH: If you plan on marketing your website heavily then a short URL will come in really handy as it’s easier for visitors to remember. Short Domain Search does exactly what it says on the tin – revealing URLs that are still available using just a single word.
WITHOOMPH: Now you have a name and web address you need to start thinking about branding. A memorable logo is vital but contracting a design agency can be very expensive. Withoomph is an interesting idea as it delivers a load of suggestions based on key words about your business. It’s free to do a search and tweak the design using a simple design interface, which even shows you how it will look on various products and platforms. You’ll need to pay if you want to download a logo without the watermark and use it to represent your company.
SPREADING THE WORD
When the time comes to start spreading the word about your business, it’s been shown that using images in social posts will really boost engagement. On Twitter alone people experience 150% more retweets when they add an image.
SPRUCE: Spruce is a web app that helps you make the perfect sized image for social posts so you can be consistent throughout your timeline. There’s a right’s free image search tool if you’re stuck or you can just use one of the beautiful vistas in their database. Copyright details for these are automatically added to keep you within the law, but remember if you upload your own image you need to be sure to follow the copyright license you have for it. Once the picture is chosen you can use the tool to add text. This feature means you can put a lot more information into your 140 character post, although any links will have to go in the main post as this app turns your words into a picture. All that’s left if to download the image or post it directly to Facebook and twitter from the site.
YOUR PRIMER: If you’re new to marketing it’s worth doing some research to ensure you hit the ground running with your business. Primer is a no-nonsense, jargon-free app that delivers marketing lessons take in 5 minutes or less, drawing on real world examples to get the points across. You’ll find case studies, insider tips and interactive quizzes, all geared to teach you how to promote your business, get more customers and avoid common mistakes.