Top 5 tools & services every startup should use

Starting a small business is a lot of work so it is important to find and use the right tools and services that can help to save time and money during the startup phase.

Generating a stable flow of cash is one of the most important goals for any startup - especially online ones.

This makes it an imperative to get to the stage where you're able to find and convert people into paying clients and customers as fast as possible.

This article highlights important services that do just that, and explains why they are so valuable to a new home, or small business, startup.

1. Website builder

A website is an important component of any modern organization, but the technical skills required to create a professional website can mean a long learning curve, or expensive development.

Website builders offer a very affordable, fast, and easy solution to this problem by providing a hosted website solution that doesn't require any Web design skills.

In addition, good website builders allow you to stay on the cutting edge of Web technology and design without constant manual upgrades.

For a few dollars a month, website builders are arguably the biggest time and money savers for any startup looking to get a website online.

Website builders come in a number of flavors, from eCommerce sites (shopping carts) to professional sites and blogs.

You can view a comparison of all the leading website builders in these articles:

2. Business plan

A business plan is not only important for securing loans and financing from friends, family, banks, investors and venture capital firms, it also represents "due diligence" into the viability of your business.

Creating a fantastic business plan will put you in a strong position to make the right decisions moving forward, because you will be better informed about your industry and niche.

Check out our free business plan template for online startups.

While gathering information about a business, industry, niche, etc, is a useful exercise, it is also important to present this information in the right way.

Business plan software can not only help to present a professional plan, it can also tell you the type of information required, and where to find it - with tutorials, examples, and plenty of other time-saving resources.

3. Accounting & tax

As much as using a website builder can save time and money during the design and development of a website, so great bookkeeping software can save time and money on an ongoing basis.

Having well organized and managed accounting practices not only help you to manage things better, but also save on some of the most draining administrative chores imaginable.

After all, no one likes to waste hours and hours on accounting, tax, and payroll. So starting with a good accounting solution, from the beginning, will mean saving countless hours in the future.

Check out Is Quickbooks online the best accounting software? to learn more.

4. Content marketing

Any business that wants to find new customers and clients online will need to learn how to create great content.

As Google has evolved, so the way in which companies get found online are evolving. Currently, the single most important aspect to generating plenty of valuable organic search traffic is high quality content.

But not all startups come equipped with great content marketing and blogging skills. This makes it important to pick up Web writing skills as quickly as possible, and there are some tools that make this task a lot easier (as well as shortening the learning curve).

If generating Web traffic is part of your business model, then I also recommend you read:

5. Google

In some form or another, Google, can tell you just about anything you need to know and help any size enterprise accomplish virtually anything.

Some of the most important Google services and resources for startups are:

So that's my list of the top five services and resources that all startups should use. What do you use that makes you a success?

Share your startup tips and advice in the comments.

How to earn a passive income online. Pic by John Haler

The Web is arguably the best medium from which to earn a passive income because content, software and online services can persistently drive traffic and revenue for years at a time.

In other words - build once; earn indefinitely.

The downside is that because there is this great potential to make money, a lot of people are trying it. And, with a lot of people, comes a lot of competition that makes starting out tricky. One thing's for sure; if you're not prepared to put in work upfront, forget about earning a passive income online.

Free beginner guides for entrepreneurs. Pic by James Jordan.

It’s hard work trying to find the time to develop a new business idea, create a business plan, build a website, create content, marketing, promotions, networking, investments, and everything else that has to get done.

University business startup competitions. Pic by tableatny

Starting a business can be a daunting task - often made all the more difficult by a small advertising/marketing budget and an insufficient network of contacts to help get things off the ground.

It's a good thing then that there is always one fantastic, free strategy to generate some high-quality buzz and exposure for your startup that will not only put your idea in front of plenty of the "right" people, but also, potentially, lead to some much-needed funds, influential connections, and media coverage.

I'm talking about university business competitions.

New business ideas that are already making people millions

Coming up with innovative new ideas can be a frustrating ordeal unless you know where to look for inspiration. The good news is that there are people making a lot of money doing things you may not have dreamed of.

So, if you are feeling bold and adventurous I've got a list of killer business ideas that are working for people right now. Who knows, perhaps one of them is perfect for you.

Small business ideas by students. Pib by Melissa Petrie

Universities and colleges across the U.S. are brimming with new business ideas from student entrepreneurs that can be a fantastic source of inspiration for every aspiring entrepreneur, from school right the way through to retirees looking to start their own business.

We want to shine a light on the creativity and innovation being demonstrated at universities across the nation by students with a passion for entrepreneurship and sharing new ideas.

The best part?