#Asia 7 necessary tools for startups that are free or low cost


Image credit: j

Image credit: j

When you begin your journey as a startup, you probably don’t have enough money to buy the most expensive tools that you think your business needs. To get through with it, you will need to be resourceful and find solutions that don’t cost too much. However, since these tools will help determine whether your startup succeeds or not, paying good attention to the selection process is a must.

As they say, “you get what you pay for”; yet, there are tools and services out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg to use, but are effective and useful. These cheap alternatives will help you jumpstart your business without breaking the bank.

We’ve built a list of 7 tools and services that you can count on for your startup journey:

Hiring Talents

As a startup, you will need to get help from some talents to get your business off the ground. You cannot do everything by yourself as you will likely burn out in the long run, which does more harm than good to your business. With limited funds, you may find that hiring full-time or even part-time employees is not possible. This is where you will be thankful for the person who invented freelancing.

You will find freelancers for just about anything: virtual assistants, data entry operators, graphic designers, even accountants and software developers. Freelancer offers a platform for hiring, paying, sending work over, and even an online timer if you need it. It has a feedback system that allows employers to check previous works, previous employer feedback, and the work completion data of a freelancer.

Other freelancing platforms are UpWork and Elance, which work nearly the same way as Freelancer. These services cost a minimal percentage that is based on how much you pay the freelancer.

Advertising Your Business

Let’s face it: advertisers provide a big help to reach the target audience. But most advertising platforms can suck up a big part of your limited funds. Then there are the cost-effective alternatives like Facebook, where you can advertise your brand, app, product, or services through Facebook for as low as $1.00 per day. But, yes, you get what you pay for in this case. The smaller the budget is, the smaller the reach is. The good thing is that you have full control over the audience and the location of where your ads are placed. Facebook has a great analytics tool to show you where your money went to.

Google and Microsoft also have advertising platforms that cost almost the same as Facebook’s. Then there is Clickbooth — an advertising alternative that charges on a Cost-Per-Action (CPA) model. This means you will only pay when you get a lead or when someone purchases your products, unlike other platforms that charge a flat-rate per day or per month. Click Booth’s model can help you control your marketing budget further.

Collecting Payments

When it comes to collecting payments from clients, there are tons of options out there. PayPal, for one, is an established platform known all over the world for accepting payments online and even in stores. It has a wide user base, has an application programming interface (API) for developers, and has good security too. The downside is its pricing, which is a bit on the high side.

PayFirma offers an alternative to PayPal and works much the same way, but costs a little less. BitCoin and other digital currencies are gaining popularity lately, and people are keen on using them. Square, WePay, and Dwolla are other options worth looking into.

The thing about payments is that the more options you accept aside from Visa, MasterCard, Amex, or cold cash, the more people will buy your products. As a startup, you should check which one provides the most cost-effective way of handling payments.

Managing Projects, Hires, and Time

For any business, time is of the essence — that’s why it is very crucial to manage it well. Hiring talents take time, but the way you manage the hiring and your projects can spell success or disaster for your startup. Having a team of virtual employees makes it harder to manage projects especially when your talents live in different time zones.

Getting your products out into the world within the shortest possible timeframe is worth its weight in gold, which is why you need to get the most out of your employees.

Fortunately, there are a lot of project management apps for startups like yours. It all boils down to which ones you and your team are most comfortable with. There are apps for specific tasks like team communication, source code management, tasks listing and management, etc. Then there are those apps that try to rule them all and be the go-to for your whole operation. We’re talking Bitrix24.net, Wrike, BaseCamp, and Microsoft Office 365 here.

For the task-specific app, you can try Slack for your team communications. It integrates well with other apps, allowing users to do many things in just one app. Trello is an app for organizing tasks and projects into boards just like a real board with Post-It notes on it. This allows everyone involved to see the outstanding tasks and to do them as is necessary.

Building a Website

Getting your website up is very important for your marketing campaign. It is where users see what your startup business is all about. If you haven’t produced anything yet, your website can be used to rouse interest and even for pre-selling your products or services.

Top designers cost a ton of money. However, there are website hosting services with built-in website design tools. Think Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress, or Wix. These services are on the fairly cheap side but are feature-packed. Your decision will then be based on your budget, skill level, and a few other things. They do have free options and trials though, so you can get your hands on them first, before spending some money on them.

Turn to your freelance graphic artists for design work instead of using your own time for it.

Marketing Contents

Your website is a gateway to your success. How do you get people to go to your website that has nothing to sell yet? Marketing.

People love to return to websites that has something in it for them: by having either a product or service that they can’t live without, or having content that they love to read and share. It also pays for your website to appear on search engine result pages, and by that we mean the first page, or the second page at least.

There are tons of options for search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing: Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is a great tool for SEO. Searchmetrics is an alternative when it comes to SEO, and it goes beyond simply SEO as well.

Creating a Referral Program

A referral program basically encourages people to share your contents, products, and services to their network. It works just like an advertising platform, only a little more direct. See, most advertising platforms don’t care whether their viewers purchase something or just look at the ads. For a referral, however, a purchase or subscription is necessary before you pay them. See ReferralCandy, Tapfiliate, Commission Junction, or LinkShare for referral program platforms that you can try.

Then there is the refer-a-friend model that, for example, can give out a month’s subscription for every referred friend that buys a subscription.

Let’s Wrap This Up

There you have it, the 7 tools that will help you get your startup business off the ground without breaking the bank. We hope for your success. Connect with us and tell us: how have we helped you start your business?

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