50+ Free Tools to Launch and Grow your Business
Find a Business Idea
Get inspired by ideas submitted by Hong Kong Entrepreneurs and submit/vote for ideas here.
Spot trends with trendoriginal.com fashion, eco, bizarre and other trends.
Find a Business Idea with ideaswatch.com: It's a community of 6,000+ entrepreneurs around the world that share their startup ideas. Many are flops, but you may be surprised at a few good ones that could become viable businesses.
Validate Your Idea
If you build it, they will come? Maybe. Before you jump into developing your business, it may be worth your time to validate it. The below tools can help you develop prototypes to get feedback from others.
Create a Mobile App Prototype with POP. It turns hand-drawn wireframes into interactive proto- types. Sketch the app ideas on paper; take pictures and add links between the mockups; sync your app prototypes with Dropbox, simulate on iPhone, Android, or the web and share your prototype ideas online to get feedback.
Create Wireframes with Balsamiq Mockups. If you are outsourcing your website/mobile app or building it with a team, wireframes are critical. Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframing tool that allows users to sketch and share their mobile app or website ideas with their team. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but with a computer. You can get immediate feedback on your designs without investing the money to build the final project. Free for 30 days!
Build a Landing Page in 3 minutes with Instapage. There are many free website builders such as Wix, Wordpress, Weebly (just to name W’s). But you may want to build something quick as a placeholder to show your friends and family. Instapage allows you to build a landing page in just three minutes. You can build complex layouts with their drag and drop interface without touching a single line of code. Their A/B testing tool lets you track visitor behavior, compare conversion rates, and pick the best performing landing pages.
Create User Personas
Create with specific users in mind with User Persona Creator. Few startups put in the time to think about the end users of their business...but they should. Every decision you make, from product features to the tone of your taglines, needs to answer to your customers. This user (or buyer) persona creator helps you come up with your ideal user types.
Domain and Social Media
- Find available domain names and social media accounts with namechk.com
- Find available domain names with a ton of extensions on iwantmyname.com
- Use Dot-o-mator to create domain name suggestions dotomator.com
Plan Your Business
Develop your business model with the Business Model Canvas. This is a strategic management tool and lean startup template used to develop new business models. It describes your firm’s or product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances.
Create a mini Business Plan with Leanstack. Business plans take too long to write, are seldom updated, and may not be read by others but documenting your hypotheses is key. Leanstack solves this problem using a single page business model that takes under 20 minutes to create. A single page business model is a breeze to share with others, which means it will be read by more people and can be updated with ease.
Logo and Business Card Design
Design Your Logo with squarespace.com/logo. This tool lets you create a free online logo or export a high resolution one for $10 USD. They have over 30,000 icons to choose from. Ideally, free logos should only be used to brainstorm ideas or as a placeholder. Most tools use a combination of icons and text to generate a logo. Online versions are typically free and prints (high res) only cost a minimal amount.
Design Business Cards (without any skills) using canva.com. Canva’s drag-and-drop business card maker makes it easy to create stunning busines cards even without any graphic design experience. You can export them as PDF.
Build an Elevator Pitch
Build an elevator pitch with bestpitchdecks.com and pitcherific.com. The elevator pitch is a short and precise pitch form, ideal for situations where the time to convey your message is extremely short and the content has to be spot on (i.e. during an elevator ride with a potential investor or customer). Get inspired by famous pitch decks from Facebook and other companies.
Run Your Business Like a Pro
Communicate with Team, Clients and Prospects
Use LinkedIn to contact decision makers. If you’ve ever completed a “contact form,” never to hear back from the company, you may want to give LinkedIn a go. This widely used “Facebook for businesses” allows you to look up and add contacts, and you’ll have a better chance of hearing back from specific individuals.
Communicate with your team using slack.com. As your team grows, you may use multiple modes of communication - for instance Skype, messaging apps, emails etc. What Slack does is sync up all these conversations so that they are searchable and available wherever you go.
Do email marketing with mailchimp.com. Building an email list is critical for any business. MailChimp is the go-to email tool for any startup (and larger businesses). It comes with all the tools needed to manage your email marketing campaigns and it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers.
Time your emails with Boomerang for Gmail. Working on a Sunday, but don’t want emails to go out until Tuesday? Boomerang For Gmail is a free browser extension that lets you schedule your emails. The free version comes with 10 “send laters” a month.
Schedule meetings with vyte.in. Still scheduling your meetings by email? Save time by using Vyte, a free web-based app that lets you easily coordinate meetings and locations using your Google calendar. Alternatively, check out Calendly.
Store passwords with lastpass.com. Lastpass remembers your passwords so that you can focus on the more important things in life.
Generate invoices with free-invoice-generator.com. This is a really simple tool that lets you create PDF invoices in any currency. There’s even a field for a discount.
Sign documents with hellosign.com. Sign documents or request signatures from up to 20 people in any order, or all at once. And when the document is fully executed, everyone gets a copy delivered to their inbox.
Format PDF with smallpdf.com. This handy tool lets you create and merge PDF files, convert PDF to PPT, Excel to PDF, compress PDFs, unlock PDFs and more.
Be More Productive
Track your time with rescuetime.com. How much time do you spend on Facebook? Rescuetime tracks how much time you spend on various applications, giving you an accurate picture of how you spend your time. You can then set up alerts or block distracting websites.
Get stuff done with trello.com. Trello is a visual app that helps you organize anything with anyone. You can fill it with to do lists, ideas, create check lists, upload documents, and share with your team.
Website Reporting & Speed
Speed Up Your website with tools.pingdom.com and gtmetrix.com. Slow site speed can be a turn off to customers and can effect your Search Engine Optimization. Pingdom lets you identify what about a web page is fast, slow, or too big.
Learn about your visitors on google.com/analytics. Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service. Once you verify your website you will gain insights into how visitors find and use your site, and how to keep them coming.
Diagnose your website with google.com/webmaster. While many startups/larger businesses regularly use Google Analytics, few know the benefits of Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). GWT lets you know if there are any technical problems like crawling issues or malware, which sites are linking to you, what keywords are driving traffic. One of the most useful tools within GWT is the ability to submit your new pages to be indexed by Google - you can find it under “Fetch as Google.
Collect feedback on the website with freesurveycreator.com. Add a simple widget to your website to ask visitors any question (open-ended or multiple choice). It’s a great way to quickly learn if there’s a tech issue or if there’s something they can’t locate on the website.
See how real users use your site with usertesting.com. When was the last time you watched someone browse your website? Get insights on how a real user interacts with your website in a five-minute annotated video.
Free Stock Photography
- pixabay.com. A good place to start your image search with over 500,000 photos, vectors and art illustrations.
- startupstockphotos.com. People with laptops, writing on whiteboard and engaging in startup activities.
- unsplash.com. High-res photos organized in collections like “shapes & patterns”, “startup” and others.
- pexels.com. Over 5,000 hand-picked free images in various categories with 600 new images added a month
- foodiesfeed.com. 1000+ free food pictures in high resolution.
- freepik.com. 170,000+ free vectors, photos and icons.
- List of 100+ Free stock photo libraries. A list of free stock photos and graphic support compiled by "Who Is Hosting This?"
- Images in Your Blog Posts: Best Practices. An article on how to use stock images in your blog: placing your images, improving your SEO, image licensing etc.
Free Icons and Clip Art
DIY Graphics & Video
DIY Social Media Graphics with wordswag.co (it's almost free, and really worth the $3.99 USD). Use your phone to create beautifully designed graphics with Word Swag. Even though there are similar apps we’ve tested, this one is the best and worth the small price of $3.99 USD. To use, type in your message and select from hundreds of free images. The best part are all the different text fonts and formats to play with.
DIY Video: Want to make a video for your startup without hefty price tag or the hassle of learning new software? There are a number of new companies offering free DIY video tools, here are a few:
- animaker.com. A self-dubbed “shockingly easy to use video-maker,” use this tool to make animated infographics
- rawshorts.com. Specializes in “explainer videos” so you can easily share what your startup is all about.
- renderforest.com. Has lots of pre-designed video templates for various uses from company introduction to “year in review” videos.
Edit your videos right on your phone with spliceapp.com. Create and edit videos right on your phone. Trim, crop, add effects, text, vary the speed, add transitions, music, sound effects, and more.
Record a screencast with recordit.co. A screencast can be used for explainer videos or for sharing instructions on how to use something. After you download the free app, locate the record button at the top of your browser, and select the area of your screen to record. You can download the svideo as a .gif file.
Design for print or web with no skills using canva.com. Anyone can be a designer with Canva.com. The tool offers templates to create a wide range of graphics including Facebook cover photos, email headers, photo collages, Twitter headers, ads, presentations and more. It also offers design tutorials to help you hone your artistic abilities. There are many free templates to choose from.
Edit your photos with Picmonkey. The free version lets you add text, try on different photo frames (like rounded edges), add overlays (like party hats or balloons) and other cool effects. You can also crop, fix blemishes, whiten teeth and change the photo to sepia or black and white. The tool is intuitive and perfect to use when you have to make a quick graphic and don’t have access to or knowledge of Photoshop.
Make Instant Mockups with dunnnk.com. Dunnnk lets you create stock-photography-like photos showing what your app or website looks like when used on various screens by people.
Free Tools on Jumpstart
- Submit your free profile to Entrepreneurs Directory
- Publish your press release for free. We will review/post in 24 hours
- Write for Jumpstart and get exposure on and offline. Read submission guidelines.
- Submit your events to our events calendar
- Exposure for newly launched startups. Let us know about your new startup and we may cover you in the next issue
- Barter Goods/Services. Join Jumpstart-managed Business Barter Page on Facebook
Odds & Ends
Create a digital signature with Signature Maker. It's a free web based tool that helps you create your handwritten digital signature instantly. Instead of printing, signing and faxing a document, you can place your digital signature, save as a PDF and send along - saving paper in the process
Calculate startup equity with startupequity.io. An easy tool for figuring out how much equity to grant new hires with calculations based on popular equity equations.
Meet other entrepreneurs with smartcasual.co. Smartcasual is a Hong Kong-based free mobile app that lets you meet interesting people available for a one-on-one in-person meetings.
Find a cafe with wifi or a place to work with workhardanywhere.com. Finding a cafe with good Wifi is a challenge for entrepreneurs on the go. This free app helps you find one wherever you are.
Trade goods and services with other HK Entrepreneurs on Business Barter Hong Kong Facebook page. Past trades included photography in exchange for copywriting; design services in exchange for baby clothes. It’s a great way to get things done for free and make new friends in the community.