Recommended tools to grow your lean startup

My 25 most recommended tools to operate a lean start up


When I started my first internet business, I had dreams of being a young Zuckerberg and becoming a billionaire. Those are still valid dreams I have, but experience and market realities have adjusted my scope in ways I that you can only appreciate when You have experience. The number of billionaires has more than tripled in the last 10 years and many of this was made possible by technology. Presently, over 3 billion people are connected to the internet, search engines and social media has made it possible for persons far away to discover your business, and buy from you.

The best thing entrepreneurs can do for themselves today is to adopt business models that leverage the power of the internet as many people before them have been doing. It could be pretty daunting starting out, but the great thing about the internet is that there are a lot of free tools, resources, and knowledge bases available that will be extremely useful to you as you start your internet venture (blogging, e-commerce, digital marketing, SaaS, etc).

I curated some of the free and paid-for tools I used in my first internet business back in 2015. A lot has changed since then, and I will try to update this post from time to time. This post was originally written in 2015.

Tools to improve your email

Grammarly: This is the best spell check and grammar advisor app I have ever used. You don’t want to have mistakenly written “Am” for “I am” especially in an email to a potential investor or customer. You can easily grab the extension in the chrome store and just watch how this tool simplifies your life.

MailChimp: This is a no-brainer for every startup, unless you really know what you are doing. It’s a really great email service provider for marketing emails with great email templates, reports, knowledge base, and support (if you’re a paying customer). They also have a great product engineering team and their API is the most widely supported API of all email service providers, you will find this especially useful when you have to connect with other SaaS products. The only downside to using their free service is that you will always almost get your emails in the promotion tab of Gmail, which is no fault of theirs.

MailTrack: Do you want to know if the persons you sent personal emails to have read your mail? You will find this free tool extremely useful. Grab it from the chrome store to start tracking email open rates.

DataValidation: It’s common practice for people to buy email lists and send unsolicited emails to other persons, but it’s extremely wrong and can have serious implications on your business. Emails collected on handwritten forms could also have negative implications on your email reputation. This tool makes sure your email list is clean and grades the friendliness of the emails you might have bought or collected offline.

Gmail for Work: This is one of the most productive tools any business will encounter, and it costs under $10 a month. If you find it too daunting to use your webmail because of the numerous constraints, Gmail for Work brings the whole suite of the Gmail user experience and allows you to deeply customize it for your business.

Tools to help with design

Videvo: A really fantastic source for free HD footage and motion graphics for your project. The current selection contains over 3,000 clips, and new material is added every day.

Pexels: Images are great for starting conversations, and finding a great image that is free on the internet could be more than you bargained for. Pexel curates free stock images daily and lets you use them for free. You can find an image for almost everything.

Cooltext: Logo design can be terrifying especially if you have no graphic design skills. With CoolText you can easily create your own logo for your website using their free service. You use existing logo styles and apply them for the logo of your website.

IconFinder: There are more than half a million icons listed on the site and you will find both free and paid for icons on their site for every purpose.

Logoshi: With this tool, you only have to draw your own sketch of your logo and provide your company name. Based on the input Logoshi will come up with various logo suggestions for your business.

TypeWolf: If you obsess over typeface, then you will find this tool useful. It helps you compare different typefaces on the internet and gives suggestions on your best options.

Gridpaper: You have a great app idea, and you even have an idea of what you want to see in the app. Use this free tool to sketch out wire frame diagrams and invite others to collaborate.

Canva: This is one of our favorite tools to use. Use it to create brilliant posters, infographics and ads for social media without the help of a graphics artist, and it’s a free tool. You could also auto adjust one of your designs to fit different dimensions for social media images.

Tools to help with productivity

Naminum: Coming up with a name for your new web startup could be a tough cookie when starting out, this tool will provide tons of unique names to use after entering relevant information.

Builtwith: Ever wondered what framework your favorite website is built on and what services it’s using. This tool will show you the hosting providers, web servers, email services, tracking software, etc.

IFTTT: Automate your life with this free tool and it will save your at least 10 minutes everyday. IFTTT stands for “If this, then that” meaning you could publish a post on your blog and IFTTT will automatically share it on all your social media accounts and even forward it to your email list amongst a ton of other recipes.

BufferApp: Buffer makes scheduling your tweets and facebook posts as easy as eating pie. This saves us a lot of time at Pinforest as we don’t have to connect to social apps manually to publish a post.

Where you can find Startup resources to read

StartupStash: Provides you with a huge amount of resources that are especially useful when launching your own internet startup. It has a great overview of various tools that are neatly categorized. You will find this especially useful.

Tools and resources to help with conversion rate optimization

Peek: A free usability testing tool that offers you the possibility to see a 5-minute video of actual users using your website. This tool will help you learn about your visitor’s experiences on your website, and why they are leaving or staying.

Growth Hackers: This is a personal favorite, my Twitter favorites likes are filled with their resources. They curate the growth hack tactics of entrepreneurs around the globe and run an open forum where persons make further contributions.

Free tools to start improving your SEO

WooRank: It analyzes your website and gives you fantastic feedback on how to improve your website. These recommendations include SEO optimization, mobile, usability, technology, social media and more. After inserting your website address in their scoring engine, you will get a very clear overview of where your website scored good and where it needs optimization.

SumoMe: Another great and free tool to increase your website traffic and convert your visitors into leads. Once you begin using this tool and figuring out how awesome it is, you will begin to notice it even more on other people’s websites just to show you how useful it is. From heat maps, to exit intent pop-ups, Sumome is a sure bet in optimizing your site visits.

Free & cheap business resources

Free Invoice Generator: Selling a product online will require an invoice just as selling a product offline, and if you need to create an invoice, this free invoice generator is there to assist you. Select your currency, discount, shipping and VAT and insert your details. Once that is done you can just download your invoice and send it.

TermsFeed: If you own a business, it’s more than likely that you will need legal agreements: privacy policy, terms of service, EULA, etc. Regardless of your location and depending on what your online product does, this paid for service will provide legal documentations for your product based on whatever you tell it.

Fiverr: People will do anything for 5 dollars: design logos, create animations, write blog posts, almost anything, but in reality, a really good service from one of Fiverr’s freelancers will cost more than 5 dollars. Fiverr remains one of our favorite marketplaces to find freelancers, even more than upwork and freelancer. The downside is that trying to get a great service for $5 could be the same as flushing that money down the toilet.

If you have any other tools you use, share with us in the comments section below.


This post was last updated on December 11, 2015 at pinforest.com. I have since taken down Pinforest and I will occasionally update this content here.

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