Thinking to Start an Online Business? Here’s Your Toolkit and Reading List
Entrepreneurship … it is more than a difficult word at a spelling bee. It is a term that speaks of the innovation and dedication that leads to new startups. All businesses start out small based on the dreams of the entrepreneur.
From there it grows with their hard work and ability to adapt, eventually transforming into something new and — hopefully — successful. There are many mistakes that they are forced to learn from, and trial and error is just a regular part of their daily business.
But just because you have to learn from your mistakes doesn’t mean you can’t get some help to keep from making the big ones. Whether you want a list of guidelines of where to get started with your own startup, or you are just hoping for some tools to help you along the way, there are quite a few resources that can help you.
Check out this list of the best startup blogs and tools on the web for wannabe entrepreneurs who want to start an online business.
Starting Your Business Tools
It all starts with keyword research. It’s what helps you measure demand, identify competition and discover your own unique micro-niche to get known in. Keyword research may even help you brainstorm a good business name!
Serpstat is one of the best tools I am aware of helping you to find keywords that people type into Google’s search box and evaluate the competition.
I usually recommend using WordPress for building your website simply because it’s the easiest to install and customize. Here’s a quick guide listing all the required plugins and tools for starting a blog.
However, I do realize that it may be not the best answer for some types of businesses. I’ve seen many people recommend Wix, and I know that SiteBuilder is another great option (see its comparison here). However, I haven’t had a persona experience with either, so I can only really recommend WordPress.
Knowem is a must-check website before you register your new business name. It checks your chosen name in lots of social media sites to make sure it is available. Always run a search here before you decide how hard it is going to be to brand your name. It may be a bad idea to pick a business name that’s taken on major social media platforms.
Sitegeek is your Trip Advisor for hosting services. It aggregates a lot of data and lets you compare prices and features of major hosting companies. It also collects ratings and reviews for all those hosting company listings helping you to make a more informed decision.
Buzzsumo is a great niche and competitor research tool allowing you to easily search what your competitors have been doing in terms of content and social media marketing. Search your core term and Buzzsumo will show you most successful content on the topic and let you sort it by number of shares on any social media network and filter it by date, type and more.
#6. Launch Rock
Launch Rock is an easy-to-use site builder dedicated to early customer acquisition. It will let you create a beautiful responsive pre-launch page to collect leads to announce your business when you are ready to go live.
Once you have your business name, this is the urgent next step to get a page to promote and build up expectation. It’s always easier to launch when you have a couple of hundreds of people waiting for it to get announced!
Canva is your next step: Create your visual assets using this awesome tool and define your color palettes. While you’ll probably need a paid service to come up with your logo and future web design, Canva is great for adapting your whole visual content marketing strategy to your new website.
Flipsnack is another visual marketing tool to bookmark for your startup toolkit. It lets you publicize your PDF marketing materials even before you launch your website. Turn your PDFs into iPad-friendly flipbooks and share your concept with the web right away.
Start Your Own Business Advice Resources
#1. Paul Graham
This isn’t a blog so much as an advice article site with various posts written about starting your own business opportunity. Paul Graham has a lot of weight behind his words as he is an extremely successful entrepreneur himself. You probably best know him as the founder of Y Combinator, the most influential startup aid on the net.
They provide seed money, advice and instruction for those a certain number of beginning online businesses every year. But he is also the founder of Viaweb and Hacker News. His is definitely the number one site I would recommend anyone who is even hoping to begin a startup, much less take it to the next level.
Jimmy Wales, Paul Graham, Timothy Ferris … these are names that every online entrepreneur knows and envies. What do they have in common? They are all regular features on the brilliant Mixergy, a blog created by the also highly successful Andrew Warner.
His method of teaching about startups is to ask the masters about their beginning steps and early days to get a clear picture of what everyone can do to have the same (or at least some) success. Based on the principle of learning by listening, it is a great way to get into the right mindset and known where to best start things off yourself.
These are definitely must-read interviews for anyone who is hoping to make it someday. The other articles are also very interesting and informative, including one of the main features up right now titled The Fail Series.
Hubspot and Pyramid Digital Solutions founder Dharmesh Shah started his Onstartups blog to help teach the basics of startups to the uninitiated.
Anyone who is just beginning on the road to entrepreneurship will be well advised to check out his site and take heed of his very practical and useful advice.
He offers posts on where to begin, how to raise capital, dos and don’ts and presentation. His essays can lead you straight through every step. He also provides resources, links to other useful blogs and tools.
#4. Steve Blank
Steve Blank is an interesting man. He started out as a entrepreneur who managed to put his hand in a little bit of everything. After great success he took a position as a professor at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University, two amazing schools where students have been able to greatly benefit from his knowledge on entrepreneurship and startups.
Now he has taken to blogging to give the same lessons to those who would seek them out. What I like about his site is that it offers tips on topics that I have never seen anywhere else. He isn’t just concerned with the general bones of business, but rather ads some flair and spice.
Check out one of his newer posts Why Board Meetings Suck for some awesome information on how to reinvent the common – and snooze-worthy – board meeting into a more productive and interesting affair.
#5. Starting Your Website by Colorlib
One of the easiest to consume website starting guides out there, Colorlib’s guide covers most content management systems, website hosting, domains, installation, plugin management – everything on a single page of text and screenshots.
Whatever your situation is, this is a must-bookmark guide to reference to when you are at a loss at any website setup stage.
#6. Both Sides of the Table
If you want to know how to raise a good amount of venture capital, Mark Suster is your man, without a doubt. Experienced in both lower and higher levels of business, this VC began with his own startup and became one of the big named in entrepreneurship.
His Both Sides of the Table blog itself is very basic but he does a great job of offering highly in-depth posts while keeping up with current events to put business against real-life changes in the markets. Very useful and extremely interesting.
#7. Marc Andreessen
The blog of Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape and Opsware. He is now a VC (Andreessen Horowitz) and his blog offers some of the best startup advice you can find online.
#8. Chris Dixon
Chris Dixon is the co-founder of Hunch, which is rather interesting as he also has a superpower: the ability to take a hunch and profit enormously. He definitely has an eye for successful startups, and he was one of the first investors behind various massive online companies that became every day additions to the average user’s life.
His list of investments include Skype, Foursquare and Invite Media, to name a few. Is it any wonder that his site is especially good for advice related to knowing which ones to pick? He is also providing valuable insight into startups and how you can personally expand your probability of high profits.
#9. A VC
Fred Wilson isn’t much of a writer but he is a financial guru worth listening to. Affiliated with Union Square Ventures, he is the go-to guy when it comes to raising venture capital and how to finance your startup.
He offers great resources, easy to understand advice and plenty of tips and tricks of the trade. This is definitely a place for those just beginning to put on their reading list.
#10. Startup Lessons Learned
Eric Ries is a well known entrepreneur and the founder of the Lean Startup Methodology. Some really good posts there. It is a customer-oriented approach to startups the utilize free and open source software and agile software development to build a business plan.
He provides conferences all over the world that are run on a local basis in each city. But these fill up fast and so it is useful to check out his blog instead, where he frequently examines current market trends, gives advice and better explains his philosophy and how it can be used by the modern entrepreneur.
#11. A Smart Bear
Smart Bear Software’s founder Jason Cohen has a great, easy-to-understand and friendly blog where he posts business advice for the new initiate into the entrepreneurship world.
Cartoons, interesting facts and positive reinforcement are the common trends here, and so it is as much a feel-good blog as it is a place for tips. Very enjoyable to read, and definitely one of the more informative startup blogs on the web. Add in the fact that Cohen is a rather likeable person and you have the makings for a great site.
Have I missed any helpful resources to get a business started? Please share them in the comments!
Ann Smarty is an experienced blogger and entrepreneur running a lot of projects including Viral Content Buzz and TekSocial. She is also community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann Smarty is the serial guest blogger running My Blog Guest, the free guest blogging and content sharing platform.Read Full Bio