Resources and Tools for Small Businesses

Tools and other resources that we have found useful for entrepreneurs, startups and small to medium-size businesses. All of these offer either a low-cost plan, or they are free in the first place. This list is far from complete. Please contact us with your suggestions for improvements. Thank you!

Project Planning and Tracking

Trello Trello offers Kanban boards that can be used to organize pretty much anything. Mobile clients available as well as browser based interface. Trello offers free plans as well as plans starting at USD 5 per month.
Atlassian JIRA Having it's origins in issue tracking, it has evolved into a powerful and customizable project management and tracking tool. Pick "JIRA Agile" to get support for agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban boards. JIRA integrates nicely with Git, in particular via Bitbucket. Choose the on-demand option to minimize administrative effort. Plans start at USD 10 per month for 10 users.

User Interface Prototyping

Balsamiq Very useful tool for creating low-fidelity user interface prototypes of browser based applications or mobile applications. Some support for interactivity. Low-fidelity by design so everybody can focus on the key concepts instead of discussing fonts, colors, and pixels in the beginning. Collaborators can leave comments. A desktop version of Balsamiq starts at USD 79. Web-based plans start at USD 12 per month for unlimited users and up to 3 active projects.

Public Cloud Platforms

There are plenty of options, and we can't list all of them. However, if your business idea is around building a cloud-based solution then it might be worth considering to use a public cloud provider for hosting your web site as well. Often they offer this service for free for small and simple web sites, e.g. landing pages.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amazon offers the full range of cloud resources including virtual machines, various storage options at different price points and with different features. As of writing they also offer a free tier with compute time, storage, and database resource.
Microsoft Azure Microsoft's Azure offers everything you need as a startup. Although support for Microsoft technologies is as good as you can get it at the moment, you can also use non-Microsoft technologies including open-source technologies as you wish. This includes Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Oracle, Hadoop, and many more. Microsoft offers entry-level free plans for hosting web sites. If you are working with a Microsoft development environment anyways, then Azure should definitely be on your list of options to consider.
IBM BlueMix IBM's public cloud offering is still in Beta, and as of writing it is expected to become generally available (= "released" for production use) in June or July 2014. Depending on your choice of technologies and your preferences, IBM BlueMix might be a viable alterantive. Be aware, though, as IBM is coming to this party fairly late, the selection of available cloud resources might be somewhat more limited compared to AWS or Azure.

Domain Name Registrars

In order to have your own domain name for your web presence, you need a domain name registrar. There are many options, so we are listing here only a few that we have used in the past and who offer good services at a low cost.

iwantmyname Fast, easy to use, and low cost. Allows you to search for domain names and will tell you which ones are available. iwantmyname focus on just being a domain name registrar instead of being a jack of all trades. Example for pricing: ".com" domain is USD 14.90 per year.
GoDaddy In addition to domain name registration GoDaddy offers a range of other services such as hosting web sites. Example for pricing: ".com" domain is USD 12.99 per year. GoDaddy offer a tool for managing your domains as well. However, it is not quite as intuitive to use as the one from iwantmyname. For an additional fee you delegate administration of selected domains to other people, e.g. a contractor.

Various

Business Process Canvas You have to provide your email address but then can download a PDF file with the business process canvas. Print it ideally on A3 or even bigger, then use sticky notes to fill it with content.
Slicing Pie How to fund your business without funds? Try "Slicing Pie". It's a novel approach to figuring out how to fairly divide up equity in early stage companies. Templates are available, e.g. for agreements as well as spread sheets for recording contributions and calculating each founder's fair share of the equity.
SurveyMonkey A free online survey and questionnaire tool. When you use it to tap into your rolodex or list of prospects, keep in mind to not overdo it. Before you create a questionnaire, make sure you know exactly what you are looking for and that your survey or questionnaire focuses on that.

Disclaimer

Please note that the descriptions above are our views not that of the respective vendors. Agile Utilities has no commercial or financial interest in any of the companies, services or products listed on this page.

Last review: 08 June 2014. Please contact us to correct any detail or with suggestions for improvements of the lists on this page.