Three amazing free tools for start-ups

Start-ups typically scout for seed funding and angel investors to fuel their growth dreams. But until that happens, most gigs function on shoe-string budgets. It is during this phase that entrepreneurs are on the lookout for free but effective tools that help in facilitating their operations.

Free tools 1

There are thousands of tools out there, and finding the right one for your needs can be a bit daunting. But then, that’s what JBR (Just Being Resourceful) is for! We’ve enlisted a few really effective ones below so that you can not only work hard but work smart!

  1. MailChimp for Email Marketing
    E-mails are a great way to reach out to your audience, keep them updated on your new product launches, or to deliver your weekly newsletter. MailChimp is a wonderful tool that allows you to streamline your email campaigns.

The free version allows uploading a member contact list of up to 2000 members and lets you automate and analyze up to 12,000 mails a month! The fine print says that you can send up to 2000 emails in any 24-hour period. MailChimp’s Forever Free plan packs in a lot of stuff for a free offering. Check out all the details here.

Pro-tip: Always start with a free plan and scale up if needed. For users who send email campaigns to a large user base on an infrequent basis, their Pay As You Go Plan proves to be a useful package.

  1. Hootsuite for Social Media Management
    Managing social media efficiently is indispensable for any fast-growing start-up. It’s not just about being present on social media, but managing it well enough to create an impact and drive traffic and business leads. Hootsuite is a personal favorite and a very versatile tool to help you schedule your updates across various time zones on three social media channels of your choice absolutely free!

You can schedule up to 30 social media updates at a time for free on any given day. What this means is that once some of your scheduled updates have been sent out, you can schedule more for the rest of the day! Hootsuite allows you to attach media, schedule similar updates across different channels, and even tag people/accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Hootsuite is a great tool for several other purposes, but I’ll elaborate on that in a later blog post.

Pro-tip: Try out Hootsuite’s auto-scheduling feature. This feature is available in the compose message window, and it helps in automatically scheduling your updates for optimal impact.

  1. SurveyMonkey for Customer Feedback and Research
    It goes without saying that any business that doesn’t listen to its customers is bound to see failure. Customer feedback is of utmost importance for any business, and SurveyMonkey is a very well-known and great tool for you to launch those surveys and keep tabs on your customers’ raves and rants.

Use this survey tool to upgrade and improve your services, understand user sentiment, conduct market research, and much more! SurveyMonkey lets you create surveys, share them via multiple media platforms, get responses, and turn them in to actionable insights! The basic free plan gets you up to 10 questions and free 100 responses per survey.

Pro-tip: Remember to check out the various professional-looking templates available in their free plan.

That’s it for now! These are just three of the innumerable free tools available out there. While I plan to enlist a few more such tools, I’d like to hear from you on what tools you think can be very useful for start-ups. Enter your thoughts using the comments section below, and I’ll cover them in my next blog post on free tools for start-ups.

How to expand your LinkedIn Network exponentially

If you’re looking to expand your professional network, LinkedIn is the place to be. LinkedIn has around 562+ Million members from across 200 countries and territories the world. What’s more? It is by far the most successful platform for generating B2B leads.

How big is your network?

Click this LinkedIn Search Link to get the size of your current 2nd degree network (works only on your desktop/laptop). Multiply the result by 100, to get a very rough estimate of your 3rd degree network size.

Why is it important to expand your network on LinkedIn?

Even though LinkedIn has 562M+ members, your search results are limited to only your network. What this means is that unless you search for a specific person by their name, your search results would only throw up people who are connected to you by at least 3rd degree on LinkedIn. Read this article to understand how LinkedIn defines various degrees of connections. So, your search results are quite limited unless your really expand your LinkedIn network.

Connect with LIONs

One of the best ways to get around this limitation and to expand your search is to connect with LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) in your target geography. LIONs are people with a huge number of connections and who never refuse a connection request. For example, if you’re searching for leads/potential recruits in a certain country/region, the best bet is to first start off with searching for and connecting to LIONs in that region. What this does is that for every person you connect with, your network can grow by 1K to 100K people depending on how connected that person is. Hence, it is important to develop a strategy to ensure that your target audience/prospects are somehow connected to you at least by 3rd degree – else, they won’t be visible to you.

Join large industry groups

Another useful and quick fix to expand your network is to join large LinkedIn groups. The advantage with doing this is that all members of a group you join are considered part of your network because you’re both members of the same group.

Make the most of your Premium or Sales Navigator Account

In fact, even if you have a Premium or Sales Navigator account, you won’t see more names than those in your 3rd degree & Groups. The advantage of these paid accounts is that you get to shortlist the results with more filters. So, even with these paid accounts, to see more people, you must increase the size of your 3rd degree network!

Click this LinkedIn search link to find LIONS with large networks – each connection will get you roughly around 1M+ 3rd degree connections. Change “United States” in the filter on top to your target country if required.

That’s all for now! Keep watching this space for more useful tips to network on LinkedIn.

Finally, remember to share your feedback through the comments section below.

Looking for inspiration to start your own blog?

Feeling stuck with launching with your own blog? Looking for inspiration to showcase your talent to the world? Following some notable blogs can serve as a great inspiration. You also get to know some very useful tips and tricks to get off the block in great fashion.

What's stopping you

Seth Godin’s Blog: This is a personal favorite. Although the blog is largely focused on marketing and allied areas, Seth ensures that you don’t regret subscribing to his blog. He has a very refined approach and can more than help you build the vision for your product or service. You get to read one fresh blog post each day of the year, yet the quality of posts is simply amazing and gives marketeers and entrepreneurs a lot of food for thought.

Guy Kawasaki: If you have a vision but are still short of ideas on how to go about things, Guy is your go-to guy! He is a great social media influencer and thought leader. Once you subscribe to his blog, you just get hooked on to it. Just select any topic from about 20 topics under the “Categories” drop-down to read his blog posts on that topic. Just the sheer variety in his content will get you thinking about a whole new world of ideas. Also, not to forget – you can get some really practical and powerful social media tips from Guy.

Copyblogger: Now, to get down to something more hardcore and execution focused, Copyblogger fills in that space perfectly! Content marketing is the buzz word on the Internet in this day and age. If you’re looking for some rocking advice on content marketing, Copyblogger is the place to go. They also have a content marketing certification apart from the free content marketing training that they offer. As you will discover on the free course page, it’s not the usual dismal freebie to attract you to a more complete paid offering. You’ll simply appreciate what all you get just for registering with them. They have you covered on everything right from how to craft effective headlines to how to keep your audience engaged.

HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator: So, you have a vision, have been inspired, have learned a lot about the art and craft of blogging, and now just need to get going with your content. Also, occasionally, even the best of writers encounter what is popularly known as “the writer’s block.” This is when despite having the best talent, you just don’t seem to know where to start. Whatever be the case, HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator will help you craft your first headline and just get you going! You just enter five nouns and you get a week’s supply of blog ideas instantly for free!

Do you have any other excuse to stop you from getting started? Go full-speed ahead right now! Remember to share your views, ideas or suggestions using the comments box below.