75+ RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS
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I have spent countless hours searching the web for tools, resources and books that every entrepreneur should consider using, reading and referencing. Whether you are a team of one, or a team of many, you will find this page useful.
This list has been broken down into stages of business development. At each stage there are 5 to 10 different tools, resources, and books that have been popular this year.
I have no affiliation with these companies and their products. Rather, I just like you, have found myself searching for these tools time and time again. I have simply taken the time to organize them all in a central location.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Getting an idea
- Forming a plan
- Finding a partner
- Building a foundation
- Getting your first user
- Collecting user feedback
- Creating business process
- Finance and accounting
- Marketing to the world
- Growing your enterprise
GETTING AN IDEA
At the core of every business is an innovative idea.
What value does your company provide? What pain point does your idea relieve? How do users benefit?
Posing these questions to yourself is a good place to start when trying to identify a business opportunity. Here are a list of resources, tools and books that can help you generate a great startup idea.
If coming up with an idea for a startup equals coming up with a million dollar idea, then of course it’s going to seem hard. Too hard to bother trying. Our instincts tell us something so valuable would not be just lying around for anyone to discover.
Why is it so important to work on a problem you have? Among other things, it ensures the problem really exists. It sounds obvious to say you should only work on problems that exist. And yet by far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.
15 seconds to answer a barrage of YCombinator interview questions will help any entrepreneur find holes in their startup idea.
A weekly newsletter of ideas that investors, companies, and influencers would like to fund.
Up-vote style website with ideas that only Elon Musk would consider exploiting.
Sign up for this newsletter if you want a bit of inspiration on what you should build next. You can expect four ideas and one open source repo in your inbox every week.
Gather ’round as a few of our favorite designers share tips, insights, war stories and more.
Software platform to help entrepreneurs and startups identify customer needs, validate new products, and reach product market fit.
A fast, beautiful, and fun way to capture, organize, and share business ideas.
MindMeister is considered the best online mind mapping software currently on the market. With its award-winning online version and its free mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, users are able to mind map at school, at home, at the office and even on the go.
Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions.
The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.
This classic creative problem-solver walks you through a proven, step-by-step process to producing powerful and purposeful ideas and shows you how to: — Gather the raw materials — those of your immediate problem and the materials which come from your store of general knowledge– Work over and incubate these materials in your mind– Shape and develop an idea for practical use.
How to Get Ideas shows you – no matter your age or skill, your job or training – how to come up with more ideas, faster and easier.
Andrew Hargadon argues that our romantic notions about innovation as invention are actually undermining our ability to pursue breakthrough innovations. Based on ten years of study into the origins of historic inventions and modern innovations from the lightbulb to the transistor to the Reebok Pump athletic shoe, How Breakthroughs Happen takes us beyond the simple recognition that revolutionary innovations do not result from flashes of brilliance by lone inventors or organizations.
FORMING A PLAN
Once an idea is in place the next step is writing out a plan.
Booooring, I know. But absolutely necessary.
Without a plan you are doomed from the start. Take a look at these resources, tools, and books that will help you map out a timeline for your company. The first step from idea to business happens here.
We like business plans that present a lot of information in as few words as possible. The following business plan format, within 15–20 slides, is all that’s needed.
Lessons from failed startup companies.
StartJumper provides future-ready business plans free of charge for anyone to be inspired by or use. With each business plan are brand assets such as business names, domains and professionally designed logos you can buy.
Startup Lawyer is a resource for participants of the startup ecosystem. Articles are generally legal in nature but topics may include current events as they relate to the startup ecosystem.
Over 90% of startups fail within the first 5 years. Knowlium aims to change that with a web application that guides you through the process of business discovery, planning and management.
ProductPlan is the easiest way to plan, visualize, and share your product roadmap.
Startup Documents knows that starting a company can be confusing. That’s why we aim to simplify the process. Whether you’re wondering when to incorporate, or what the difference is between a C Corp, S Corp and LLC, we want to help you make the best decisions for your startup.
TermsFeed allows you to create the legal agreements easily and online. No software is required.
he future of business is digital. DocuSign helps businesses of all sizes easily and securely sign, send, and manage documents in the cloud, with unmatched availability and legal enforceability.
Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.
In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living.
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
FINDING A PARTNER
With a plan in place it is now time to start building your foundation. But wait, what do you do if you don’t know how to make what you are envisioning? Or what about the other way around, you don’t know how to fund, organize, or properly plan what you are envisioning?
Ah, now is the time to find a co-founder. Don’t fret, working with others is pertinent for success. Here are a list of resources, tools and books to help you find the perfect partner for your startup venture.
Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.
We’re ready to get started. Connect with us to describe your project now. Our contractors iterate quickly, work meticulously, and communicate effectively, so your project is successful.
Unfortunately this is a classic problem. “How do I find a really hot single girl to go out with?”
Are you looking for a like-minded entrepreneur who can provide the skills, resources, or capital needed to turn your business idea into a reality? Don’t have your own idea but looking for a great one to be a part of? If so, you came to the right place.
Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.
Find cofounders, collaborators and other makers to help build your project.
Founders Nation is a platform for entrepreneurs and founders. We built it to connect dreamers that wish to make the world a better place through innovation and technology.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION
With your idea, plan, and partner in place it is now time to build a foundation. In order for your idea to grow into a successful business you will need to invest time and money upfront.
Spending those precious resources properly is tricky. Here are a list of resources, tools and books to help you decide what to do in your early days.
A Good User Interface has high conversion rates and is easy to use. In other words, it’s nice to both the business side as well as the people using it. Here is a running idea list which we’re evolving.
What search terms, news items, and “things” are trending across the world and in your neighborhood.
Catch common usability problems before user testing.
Take pen and paper ideas and build a working prototype.
Drag & Drop any blocks to make a quick structure for your startup site.
QuickMVP is the easiest way to test your ideas, without wasting time or money.
Turn designs and sketches into iOS prototypes, then record and playback exactly how users interact. No coding required.
Naminum is a company, startup and website name generator designed to make your namestorming sessions smoother.
Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframing tool that helps you Work Faster & Smarter. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but using a computer.
Verify lets you test screenshots of your design work to gain valuable insights on your users’ expectations and reactions to your apps and websites before writing a single line of code
Compass is made for executives who seek visibility on how to improve their business’ ROI without having to rely on an analyst or a consultant. Compass automatically prepares best-practice reports and benchmarks for your weekly and monthly business meetings.
Take the pain out of user research. The easiest way to recruit testers, launch tests, and analyze results.
In his book, Smith fervently extolled the simple yet enlightened notion that individuals are fully capable of setting and regulating prices for their own goods and services. He argued passionately in favor of free trade, yet stood up for the little guy.
McGregor understood, anticipated, and helped point the way toward what may well emerge as a future model of work, organizations and society that is rooted in core assumptions driving participative, interdependent, authentic, inventive and productive relationships.
Based on a study of forty-three of America’s best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, In Search of Excellence describes eight basic principles of management — action-stimulating, people-oriented, profit-maximizing practices — that made these organizations successful.
For more than sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
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GETTING YOUR FIRST USERS
With your minimum viable product built it is time to get your first user.
For many entrepreneurs this can be a difficult task. Push your, “fear of selling” aside and remember that your idea provides real value to the user. Use some of these resources, tools and books below to get those first few interested people using your product or service.
- How to make sure people remember what it is your startup actually does
- Find the reporters that can actually help you (and you can, in turn, help them)
- Get featured on the sites you want for your business
KillerStartups.com is part of a family of sites including Fundable.com, Launchrock.com, and Bizplan.com. We are joined by over 600,000 startup companies and the 14 million backers, investors, and supporters who love them.
Home to more than 5,000 new startups, startup ideas and great business ideas. We showcase startups to our thousands of readers. If you have a startup, we want to hear about it!
Welcome to r/startups, a community for all backgrounds, levels of expertise, and business experience. We are a forum of entrepreneurs working towards unbiased and anonymous feedback, advice, ideas, and discussion.
BetaList is the place for early adopters to discover upcoming internet startups, and for startup founders to share their startup with the world and get early user feedback.
Our campaigns empower product owners to reach a global community of real-world users.
Recruit and run a targeted real-world focus group for beta testing, user experience testing, or market research.
Startup Discovery Engine – Join our community of individuals who love discovering and promoting startups
Build a user base of dedicated early adopters for your startup
StartupLi.st is a place to find, follow, and recommend startups.
It naturally caters to early adopters.
Hooked is a guide to building products people can’t put down.
Written for product managers, designers, marketers, startup founders, and people eager to learn more about the things that control our behaviors.
Contagious combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheese-steak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the seemingly most boring products there is: a blender.
A new generation of megabrands like Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Twitter haven’t spent a dime on traditional marketing. No press releases, no TV commercials, no billboards. Instead, they rely on a new strategy—growth hacking—to reach many more people despite modest marketing budgets.
COLLECTING USER FEEDBACK
Great, your first few users have tested out your MVP. Now the fun really begins.
You need to collect their feedback and understand what aspects of your product or service they like and don’t like. You need to get in the users head and fine tune your companies founding idea. Your users generate your revenue – you ought to listen to what they have to say.
I recently spent more than 100 hours talking to Groove customers. Here’s what I learned…
One of the lessons I learned after killing my first product was that I needed to pay better attention to how I was gathering feedback. That experience showed me that I had a fundamental misunderstanding on how to actually go about getting good feedback.
A few months ago, I gave this talk to an entrepreneurship class at Columbia Business School, and once again the list and messages evolved. Below you can find my latest thinking.
All-in-one product management platform makes it easy to collect feedback, prioritize features and nail product releases
Zendesk makes it easy to support customers when they need your help. Zendesk also makes it easy for them to help themselves when they don’t.
LiveNinja is a simple video chat tool meant to humanize your online experience. One customer at a time.
Usersnap is a visual bug tracker for everyone working on a web project. Usersnap makes collaboration with colleagues & clients easy and professional.
Your clients report issues by making annotations right from the site being worked on. BugHerd turns these into full bug reports with all the info you need to fix the problem.
You can send feedback to Doorbell from anywhere, just forward the emails from your “support” or “help” addresses to the one that Doorbell gives you.
A professional UX team at your fingertips, with one line of code. Your users leave point-and-click feedback. UX experts crunch the feedback. You get in-depth reports.
tawk.to is a free messaging app that lets you monitor and chat with visitors on your website or from a free customizable page
Customer Development is a four-step framework for helping startups discover and validate their customers, product, and go-to-market strategy, developed by Steve Blank and an integral part of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup methodology. Focused on the Customer Discovery step, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development is an easy to follow guide for finding early adopters, building a Minimum Viable Product, finding Product-Market fit, and establishing a sales and marketing roadmap.
The book offers the practical and proven four-step Customer Development process for search and offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture.
How do you develop products that people will actually use and buy? This practical guide shows you how to validate product and company ideas through customer development research—before you waste months and millions on a product or service that no one needs or wants.
CREATING BUSINESS PROCESS
You are in a great position right now. You have a ton of user feedback that is infinitely valuable to your startup company. Now is the time to implement that feedback and get ready to scale.
You are going to build business process, and you are going to kick some ass while you do it. Here are some great resources, tools and books on how to make your business scale-able and agile from the start.
Creating process is a milestone for a start-up company, because process implies that you have a product or service that is in demand. To increase the likelihood of successful growth and development the organization must standardize the way it produces their products.
High-performing companies make business process improvement a core competency. These leading firms share a common characteristic: they continually find clever ways to improve the process of process improvement.
Systems are rules, policies, and procedures that trained individuals can repeat as your company grows and run independent of you.
Beautiful wikis for teams. Wikis don’t have to be ugly, complex and hard to manage. Welcome to the future of the Wiki.
Everybody hates being locked out. With TeamPassword, your team’s shared logins are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, keeping your projects moving.
Team communication for the 21st century. With Slack, you don’t need to wait around for the next email or that elusive meeting invite.
Book meetings with one email. No back & forth. No double bookings. And it’s free!
With Do, you can easily and delightfully see what you have going on. Meetings, participants, and the important info all at your fingertips.
The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Management is the definitive book that explains the industry frameworks and best practice methodologies Theodore has used to help many organizations implement BPM across their organization.
FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING
When your startup was a weekend side project you could get by with fledgling accounting practices. Now that your startup is a full-on business you need to get your books in order.
Here are a list of great resources, tools and books to manage your finances, send and receive invoices, and keep your money in order.
“This isn’t always appropriate, and it depends on your business,” Mittal says, but crowd-funding tends to make sense in this context for hardware plays.
Let’s start by talking about the five sources of startup funding. Then we’ll trace the life of a hypothetical (very fortunate) startup as it shifts gears through successive rounds.
We’ve founded companies like AngelList and Epinions, invested in companies like Twitter and helped start companies backed by Sequoia, Benchmark, and Kleiner.
Personal investor in technology startups, including Kickstarter, Warby Parker, Stripe, Pinterest, Foursquare, Flatiron Health, Bloomreach, Stack Exchange, Optimizely, Skype, Sift Science, Oyster, Behance (acq by Adobe), TrialPay (acq by Visa), Smart Things (acq by Samsung), OMGPOP (acq by Zynga), Truaxis (acq by Mastercard), DocVerse (acq by Google), ScanScout (IPO), Invite Media (acq by Google).
One click and you get hundreds of metrics & insights from your Stripe account.
Managing our payments right in Zendesk, and not worrying about invoices or refund notifications lets us to help customers faster. ChargeDesk enables us to save time and money, while improving customer satisfaction.
Run payroll in 1 minute on your phone. Pay taxes automatically. Make payday a celebration for everyone on your team.
Streamline the way your employees report expenses, the way expenses are approved,
and the way you export that information to your accounting package.
inDinero is your entire backoffice. We take care of your accounting, file your corporate tax returns, and manage your payroll. Focus on what matters most, and leave the rest to inDinero.
Our beautiful, web-based invoices and estimates make it easier than ever to get paid and discuss projects with your clients and colleagues.
FreshBooks customers spend less time on paperwork, freeing up 2 days per month to focus on the work they love. What would you do with that extra time?
Reconcile Stripe transfers with Quickbooks, Xero and more in just a few clicks. Save time and get accurate data in real-time.
Bench is the online bookkeeping service that provides you tax-ready financial statements from professional bookkeepers.
Accounting software with all the time-saving tools you need to grow your business. Xero is always secure and reliable and our experts are here to support you 24/7.
Term Sheets & Valuations book includes an actual term sheet from a leading law firm with line by line descriptions of each clause, what can/should be negotiated, and the important points to pay attention to. A must have book for any executive, entrepreneur, or financial professional.
MARKETING TO THE WORLD
Are you ready for explosive hyper-growth? You better be, at this point you are ready to let the world know about your startup company.
Your process is in place and your books are in order – all you need now are thousands of paying customers. Here is a list of the best resources, tools and books you can use to help your marketing efforts.
Welcome to the internet’s smartest marketing community. Inbound.org is an online hub where good Marketers come to get better. You have an idea? Share it. You need to find or post a job? Do it. You want to connect, interact, comment, & learn? Well my friend, you’re in the right place…
HubSpot was founded in 2006 as a result of a simple observation: people have transformed how they live, work, shop, and buy, but businesses have not adapted. This mismatch led Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah to create the vision for the inbound experience and to develop HubSpot’s platform to support it.
Small hacks, fast growth.
Inbound marketing is complicated. Moz’s software makes it easy.
The #1 marketing automation solution for organizations of any size.
Marketing apps designed to help you grow your business.
Your messages will feel more personal when they’re perfectly timed and triggered with an advanced rules-engine.
Join more than 9 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 600 million emails every day.
Manage social networks, schedule messages, engage your audiences,
and measure ROI right from the dashboard.
Buffer is the best way to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media.
Many of the most successful Web 2.0 companies, including MySpace, YouTube, eBay, and rising stars like Twitter and Flickr, are prime examples of what journalist Adam L. Penenberg calls a “viral loop”–to use it, you have to spread it. After all, what’s the sense of being on Facebook if none of your friends are The result: Never before has there been the potential to create wealth this fast, on this scale, and starting with so little.
This book introduces startup founders and employees to the “Bullseye Framework,” a five-step process successful companies use to get traction. This framework helps founders find the marketing channel that will be key to unlocking the next stage of growth.
The power of glitzy advertising and elaborate marketing campaigns is on the wane; word- of-mouth referrals are what drive business today. People trust the recommendation of a friend, family member, colleague, or even stranger with similar tastes over anything thrust at them by a faceless company.
The man Business Week calls “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” explains “Permission Marketing”—the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it.
GROWING YOUR ENTERPRISE
Sweet! Everything is going well. Users are happy, your team is working well and the company is growing.
Now it is time for you to put on a different one of your many CEO hats. Your job now is to grow your enterprise. Here are the best resources, tools and books to make sure you scale effectively.
Use our Email Template to send your VCs a monthly update about new products, metrics, recruiting priorities, and important questions.
F6S is the network for Founders with the highest-ranked Startup programs globally, 5,700+ Startup orgs, 110k Startups and 1k+ deals. Thousands of F6S’ers a day apply to accelerators, pitch investment funds, post or apply for jobs, get free deals and grow.
Direct and secure access to the world’s most sophisticated investors at your fingertips
Raise money online, with investments as small as $1k. You pay nothing—investors pay a carry.
Powerfully simple business intelligence (BI) dashboards for small and medium businesses. Track the right metrics. Lead with confidence. Crush your goals.
Over 4,000 companies have made 100,000 hires with Jazz
With Homerun you create job openings that reflect the unique strengths of your company. Stories people want to share.
The investor relations tool for private companies. Companies share metrics and updates with investors. Investors track portfolios and get insight into fund performance.
Charlie combs through 100s of sources and automatically sends you a one‐pager on everyone you’re going to meet with, before you see them
From new employee onboarding, to customer support training, to sales enablement training, Lesson.ly is everything you need to get your teams up-to-speed and keep them there.
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.
In this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.
With accelerating velocity, our age’s new technologies of social networking are evolving, and evolving us, into new groups doing new things in new ways, and old and new groups alike doing the old things better and more easily.
I hope you got something from this curated list. If you have a resource, tool, or book that you think I overlooked please leave a comment and let me know.
PS If you got something from this post, please remember to share the comprehensive list with your peers, entrepreneurial friends and mentors.