A complete list of free tools to start an online business today
Starting a business is rewarding, but it can also be tough to get started. Not only do entrepreneurs have to overcome the fear and doubt that often plague most founders, but they also have to contend with limited budgets, time, and resources to start and launch their businesses.
How to start an online business with no money in 2020
We all know the expenses of starting an online business can be one of the key things stopping you from starting your own business. We worry that we don’t have the money right now to start a business.
Whether we are drowning in student loan debt, have a car payment, rent, bills, child care costs, or day-to-day expenses, these things add up.
It can be hard to justify spending money on building a fancy website, accounting tools, and paying for marketing software needed to start and run your business. Especially when we don’t know how things will work out or if our business will succeed.
But here’s the truth. Nothing should stop you from taking the first step, which is to start. It doesn’t matter if you start small. Just start.
You know you have a valuable product or service that can uplift others. This drive to succeed and help others through their products and services keep most entrepreneurs going, allowing them to adopt a solution-oriented approach to bootstrapping their business even with limited resources.
Nothing should stop you from pursuing your goals of starting a business —lack of money, lack of time, lack of resources.
Thankfully today, free tools and software make it much easier to start and launch your own business. They also give you the freedom to try out and test some of your business ideas before having to make a major investment.
These are some of the free tools our featured Brave Self Starters have used to start their businesses and some that I have used to write my first children’s book and launch BraveSelfStarter.com.
Complete list of 30 tools to start an online business in 2020
- Paypal. This online payment company allows businesses to accept a variety of payment types wherever they sell. You can even send invoices with the option to pay by credit card, debit card, or PayPal.
- Wave. Keep track of your expenses and invoices with an easy to use accounting software. The free app allows you to connect your bank accounts, sync your expenses, balance your books, and keep track of tax essentials.
- Wix. A personal favorite of mine, Wix, allows anyone to build a stunning website with a few simple button clicks. This website builder comes with preformatted templates organized by the type of business you want to start, so you don’t have to start building your website from scratch. I have used it to create a marketing agency website and to launch a children’s book website. It’s free to use, but you have to upgrade if you want to remove Wix ads.
- Learn how an up and coming creative started her own video marketing agency using Wix.
- Big Cartel. A simple and easy to set up online shopping platform allows anyone to sell online. Big Cartel has different pricing plans that start at $10 per month, but if you have five products or less, you can set up a free online store and upgrade as needed. This is a great way to get started by trying a few products out first.
- Later. This free social media scheduler lets you visually plan, schedule, and analyze posts for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. These days maintaining a presence on social media is a must to get found and to connect with your target audience. I used Later to schedule posts for a client’s baby clothing brand and it made life a lot easier.
- Preview. Similar to Later, the preview app lets you easily plan and schedule social media posts, but unlike Later, it only allows you to schedule posts for Instagram. I use it for my personal Instagram, and I like that I can drag and drop images to create the look and feel I want on Instagram. It’s free to use, but you have to upgrade if you want to use it on multiple devices.
- YouTube. As an online marketing channel, YouTube can make a big difference. Today, more than one billion hours of videos are watched daily. This is a chance to reach a huge audience with interactive and engaging video content.
- Instagram. Everyone knows and loves Instagram. Today more than one billion people have an Instagram account, and over 500 million people log in every day. It’s a great way to market your business or service with highly visual content, including videos, images, and stories.
- Learn how one Brave Self Starter turned Instagram scrolling into a budding hair and beauty brand.
- Facebook. FB is the parent company of Instagram and is still a good resource for small businesses and online startups. You can use Facebook to build and grow your audience, and you can use Facebook ads for marketing your product or service for as little as $5.
- Pinterest. A growing favorite among businesses and brands, Pinterest is highly visual and appeals to a specific demographic — women. Yes, close to 50 percent of Pinterest users in the U.S. are women. But more than that, Pinterest is a great way to share your blog content.
Tip: Social media marketing can be very overwhelming. You have to create content, schedule, post, interact, and respond to comments. If you are just starting a business or even if you have been running your business for a while, social media marketing can be very time-consuming.
Pick one or two of your favorite social media channels and focus on building those out before trying to conquer all. Or outsource your social media strategy to a virtual assistant on Fivver.
- Canva. One of the best editing and marketing tools out there. Canva is like a much simpler version of PhotShop with a lot more flexibility. I discovered Canva at HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Conference, and it’s one of my favorite design tools. I have used it to create social media graphics, email templates, resumes, and so much more. The best part is it’s free to use.
- Removebg. This free tool makes it easy and simple to remove the background from any image. You don’t have to worry about using complicated software like PhotoShop. You can simply upload your photo to remove the background.
- Unsplash. If you need high-quality stock photos for your social media page, website, or other marketing material, you don’t have to pay to license it, you can use Unsplash. Unsplash provides free stock photos for just about any business or marketing project. It’s free for commercial use and easy to sort through.
- Pexels. Similar to Unsplash, Pexels also offers free premium quality stock photos you can use for your business. They also offer free stock videos, too, which is great since video marketing is so effective at engaging your audience.
- Lumen5. This video creation tool helps you to turn any blog post into a video. This is a great time saver and a helpful resource for repurposing content across different channels. From your blog post, you can create multiple videos to be shared online. They have multiple paid plans, but they also offer a free plan that allows you to create five videos each month.
- Viva Video. If you’re planning to create videos for your business, you will need a video editor. Viva Video is a free video editing app that lets you easily edit videos on your phone. It comes with templates, free audio you can use and is super simple to use. I used it to create a travel vlog to Haiti and to edit a tv interview. It’s free to use, but you will have to upgrade if you want to remove their watermark.
- Ubersuggest. If you want to get found online and increase organic traffic to your website, you need to optimize your website using SEO techniques. Search engine optimization uses different strategies, both on-page, and off-page, to increase your rankings in search engines like Google. Ubersuggest is a free keyword planner you can use to decide which keywords you should target on your website.
- Answer the Public. This is a great tool for content creation and planning. Answer The Public analyses thousands of search queries and gives you hundreds of content suggestions so you can decide what to write about.
- Mail Chimp. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to build an audience and to market your product or service. Mail Chimp is an email marketing software that makes it easy for you to build your list and send emails. You can also see the performance of your email campaigns with built-in reporting. Mailchimp is free up to your first 2,000 subscribers, so it’s a great option when you are just starting an online business.
- Converkit. This is another email marketing and list building software that lets you easily add sign up forms to your site and create landing pages. Plus, you can send automated emails to help you scale and grow your business. They recently introduced a free version of their tool.
- Sumo. This app lets users grow their email list by making it simple and easy to install email capture forms and pops on your website.
- Gmail. A go-to resource for many small businesses, creators, and entrepreneurs Gmail is an email software to help you keep in touch with your customers. It’s easy to create an account with your business name and still keep the @gmail at the end.
- Google Docs. This is an online version of Microsoft Word. This a great tool for writing your business ideas, plans, and documenting your strategy. I like it because it’s apart of The G Suite and you can access it anywhere on any device.
- Google Sheets. Similar to Google Docs, Google Sheets is an online version of Microsoft Excel. It has most of the same functionality as Excel, but you can access your spreadsheets anywhere anytime.
- Google Analytics. A more advanced tool offered by Google, Google Analytics lets you analyze how your website is performing. You can use it to see information about your audience, how long people are staying on your site, and the best-performing pages on your site. If you need help setting up Google Analytics, leave a comment below.
- Google Trends. This online resource helps you identify what’s happening in the market by highlighting how topics or searches are trending over time. You can find data on any topic you are interested in and use the data to help make decisions for your business.
- Google Forms. This tool lets you easily build online surveys and forms. I’ve used it to create questionnaires to find out more about my audience, and for the Brave Self Starter Featured Stories.
- Google Keep. Everyone needs a checklist. Google Keep is an online note and checklist creator from Google that allows you to save and keep track of things you want to followup on later. I use it to create to-do lists to keep track of all my tasks.
- Bitly. Another data and analytics planning tool, Bitly lets you create shortened links that you can use in your social media posts, rather than having the long URL. It gives a cleaner, more professional look, but better than that, it also allows you to track the performance of each link you create using Bitly. This is good, so you know how your content is performing.
- Udemy. Learning never stops when you’re a business owner, creative, or startup. Udemy has a huge library of online learning videos that cover any topic you can think of. From marketing to sales to e-commerce, you can find a course to help you learn what you need to know. While some courses you have to pay for, there is a large library of free courses as well.
I hope you found this list useful, and if you have ever heard of or used these tools, leave a comment below to let us know your favorite. Or if there is something you think others will find useful comment below.