Can 50 websites really ensure your startup’s success in 2015? Maybe–assuming they’re the right websites.
For entrepreneurs, everything you need for great success is at your fingertips, and you don’t even need to leave your home office to secure your spot as a bona fide entrepreneur. The year might be (almost) halfway over, but summer is prime season for startup achievements.
Bookmark these 50 websites and visit them regularly to improve your startup’s position and enjoy milestone after milestone this year.
1. LinkedIn: It’s one thing to “be” on LinkedIn and quite another to really use it. Make this the year you connect more, join communities, and become an influencer. This is a great platform to develop thought leadership potential and link up with others in your industry.
2. Hipdial.com: This isn’t your dad’s conferencing call service. It’s contemporary with texts when you need to join, no customer service automation nightmare, and no annoying elevator music. Basically, it’s all you need to get those phone conferences completed.
3. SBA: It’s the hands down best government site for small businesses. Connect with local chapters in your area, get free help and resources for everything from pitches to business plans, and find out what resources are available just in your region.
4. Healthcare.gov: Some startups are now required to offer a certain level of health care to their employees (it depends on many factors including the size of your company). However, “Obamacare” is the go-to choice for many. Take a look at the official government site for rules, options, and tips.
5. Due.com: Unless you have a dedicated payroll department, you’re probably doing your own invoicing, AP/AR, and tracking at this point–make sure it’s done right with Due. This is an easy to use website that lets you take care of finances without missing a step.
6. Hostt.com: There are thousands of web-hosting options out there, so how can you ensure the best quality? It’s simple: Go with a boutique experience that puts customer service first. Hostt offers free hosting packages, easy domain registration, and around-the-clock customer service, because your website doesn’t need resources just during banker hours.
7. Inc.: If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to follow the media outlet that’s designed just for you. This digital and print leader features news, blogs, tips, and advice for entrepreneurs just like you (and from entrepreneurs you want to emulate).
8. Infographics.space: You know that people are preferring images over blocks of text, but only a professionally made infographic will do the trick. Check out this website for expert infographics that fit in your budget and match your style.
9. Yogis Anonymous: Yoga is a fantastic stress reliever, helps with concentration, and complements every athletic endeavor there is. But what if you don’t have the time or cash to go to the studio? This website features constantly new “live” classes based on levels and times that you can do from your home or wherever you choose.
10. Venmo: Don’t want to deal with sending paper checks or those pesky PayPal fees? Venmo is a fast, easy app and website that lets you send and receive money with no fees at all. It’s safe, secure, and truly easy to use.
11. Etsy: This isn’t just for craft moms and those with impending nuptials. There will come a time you need a handcrafted invitation, piece of office furniture, or office-related accessory and a “from the big-box store” item just won’t do. Etsy is brimming with creative entrepreneurs who are eager to customize something just for you.
12. Uber: If you really want to get around in style on your own terms and meet locals when you travel for business, use Uber instead of cabs. Not all entrepreneurs live in cities where this is feasible, which is why you should really take advantage when the opportunity presents itself.
13. Kickstarter: You don’t necessarily need to use this platform, but dabbling in crowdfunding no matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey can give you a boost. Whether it’s for a certain project, overhaul, or capital, you’ll also get feedback from investors and real customers.
14. The Stevie Awards: One of the best-known business awards program around the world, there are numerous niche awards including Startup of the Year. This can help with clout, networking, and PR, and gives a little validation to who needs it most–entrepreneurs.
15. Airbnb: You’ve heard about it and maybe you’ve even tried it out. However, there’s a push to make more Airbnb places “entrepreneurial friendly.” Filter for Wi-Fi and location, and reach out to entrepreneurs in the area before you arrive. Hotels are fine (and there’s the allure of a gym), but staying in someone’s digs who’s in the same field as you is incomparable.
16. WordPress: This is just one of many blog/website easy to build platforms, but arguably the most well-known. If it’s not in the budget to hire a web designer right now, do it yourself and earmark that cash for SEO or mobile readiness instead. Many of the free themes are more than sophisticated enough for even big businesses.
17. Yelp: It’s the classic review platform, but now you’re seeing it from a different perspective. Are people reviewing you, your business or products? Are you replying in a professional way and taking care of any issues quickly and publicly? It’s reputation management time, starting with the big sites.
18. Google: Yes, it’s failed at taking over Facebook in terms of social media popularity, but it’s still a great and quick to complete option for local SEO (LSEO). Make sure your contact information is updated, in a “regular” format and that Google features geo-targeting for an SEO boost.
19. Tradeaway: Bartering is the oldest means of exchange, and it can still work out great. Maybe you need graphic design services, and a graphic designer on this site needs something from you whether it’s video editing or social media management. You can work out a fair trade and both get something for no hard cash.
20. Reputation.com: Exactly what it sounds like, this well-known company takes care of business reputations (online and offline) for you. You might not think you have much drama at the moment, but you don’t want to wait until disaster strikes. Take care of your reputation, and it’ll take care of you.
21. Square: For many startups and entrepreneurs, you need to be able to take cards on the go–think massage therapy, mobile nail salons, and food trucks. Square is one of the most recognized means of swiping cards from anywhere, and both the app and website are easy to use.
22. Google Alerts: Sign up to receive alerts via email or text when keywords and phrases appear online. You can add your business name, your personal name, key words related to your industry, and anything else you like–then customize how often you get notifications. It’s Reputation Management 101.
23. Craigslist: At this point, CL is an oldie but a goodie. It’s still one of the best ways to find volunteers, workers, used office equipment, and anything else a startup needs. Niche job boards can be nice, but nothing beats CL in terms of sheer quantity.
24. Idealist.org: Strengthening the philanthropy aspect of your business is a wise move. When you need volunteers, you want them to have the same vision and goals as you. Idealist is a well-used platform connecting volunteers with opportunities around the world.
25. Khan Academy: You’ll find thousands of award-winning videos here related to finance (and physics, but that’s only for a few niche industries). It’s an easy, fun and convenient way to learn without needing to worry about college credits or tough to log into video sessions.
26. Codeacademy: Coding is a basic skill you need to know to effectively manage your website (at least until your startup is profitable enough to hire a pro to do it). Learn to code quickly and easily at this website, even for Luddites who are gun shy.
27. YouTube: It’s not just for cat videos anymore. People are increasingly preferring images and short videos over text content. You can use SEO on YouTube and reach new kinds of audiences that would rather check out your business video rather than read a blog post.
28. Schwab Banking: Why Charles Schwab instead of the other banks? It’s one of the few totally free checking accounts that have zero foreign transaction fees. Check if your current bank offers something similar, and if not, give Schwab a shot. The one catch is that you also have to sign up for a brokerage account, but you can keep it at a zero balance and there are no fees for that account, either.
29. Kayak: You’ll be traveling more as an entrepreneur, and not just because business-related travel is a total tax write-off. You still need the most options and the best deals, so start with a Kayak search. Feel free to compare, but you’ll quickly discover that Kayak usually has the best rates.
30. Freshbooks: If you want easy invoicing and payments with minimal fees, Freshbooks is a safe bet. If clients prefer to pay via PayPal, they can still do so with Freshbooks but you have to pay only 50 cents instead of the usual much higher percentage. Plus, it’s an easy way to keep tabs on your invoices.
31. Basecamp: If you have employees and contractors all over the world, they need a central location where they can share files, communicate and stay organized. Basecamp is one of the most popular options, and many freelancers are used to the platform–making it an easy transition.
32. Dropbox: Cloud storage is a necessity for any startup without a headquarters, and for many who do have a brick-and-mortar establishment. Dropbox is free and easy to use, and a lot of people are already familiar with it. Edit, share, download, and upload anywhere in the world you have a Wi-Fi connection.
33. U.S. Department of Labor: Any permanent employees you hire must be covered by worker’s compensation insurance, and that’s up to you to handle. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides guidance on a state-by-state basis. Make sure you and your business are covered before bringing anyone on board.
34. Better Business Bureau: The BBB remains on authority on which businesses are up to snuff and which ones are subpar. If you end up with a BBB complaint, it can be difficult to have removed. Keep an eye on your business and the competition by regularly checking out the BBB’s official site.
35. AudienceBloom.com: Most startups don’t have the finances or resources to hire full-time professional writers, search engine optimization (SEO) professionals, marketing teams, and the like. Why not outsource them? This site has everything you need to professionally present yourself and climb up the search engine rankings.
36. Reddit: Hold off on the judgment for a moment. Sometimes a quick survey is all you need from unbiased third parties to see if you should move forward with an idea or not. And if you want anonymity and fast responses? Reddit is where it happens. You might not want to ask your social media following about sensitive things, but you can do so with abandon here.
37. The Huffington Post: Regarded as one of the best digital blogging platforms, the Huffington Post is a genuine news media outlet too. Even better? They are constantly welcoming guest bloggers. Guest blogging is a great way to earn exposure and a byline that links to your company.
38. Habitat for Humanity Restore: There’s a lot more to Habitat for Humanity than building houses. Most cities and larger towns also feature Restores, where you can get great bargains on furniture and related items. It’s a great way to kit out your office on a budget while contributing to a nonprofit at the same time.
39. Verbatim Solutions: In a global world, you need to make sure your translations are on point. Depend on certified experts who are also cultural experts when drafting that letter to your Chinese contact or sending documents to a potential investor in India.
40. AICPA: As a startup, you can no longer count on doing your own taxes or a pop-up tax “accountant” come April. You need a genuine CPA year-round who can help you make the most of your earnings. The AICPA provides a list of qualified CPAs in your area so you can start building a relationship.
41. Happify: Being happy doesn’t always come easily or naturally, but it’s a must–especially for stressed out entrepreneurs. This site offers a number of free games, quizzes, and short tasks that are proven to increase happiness. Happy founders equal productive founders.
42. Spark People: Stress and not having much time can lead to a slovenly lifestyle. Make sure to take care of your body and your business with this website and app. You can easily count calories, log activity, and join a community for extra support when necessary.
43. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Whether you’re getting ready to hire a new employee, are considering branching off into another niche, or simply want to know where your industry stands, the BLS keeps comprehensive, up-to-date records on the state of different job descriptions around the country.
44. StartupGrind: You’re in the trenches, and you’re thirsty for other people who have been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. StartupGrind is a community around the globe where you can connect with like-minded folks (or simply keep up with their daily blogs for inspiration).
45. IRS: The IRS is constantly changing and updating credits, tax write-offs, and other details that can make a big difference each quarter. Make sure you don’t miss anything (your CPA can help with this) by checking out the IRS website from time to time.
46. Sahaj Yoga Meditation: Think you don’t have enough time to meditate? It’s not as time consuming as you think, especially when there are free meditation sessions online and you can select the timeframe that works for you. Start your day this way, end it, take a mid-day break, or all of the above. Center your mind and your work will follow.
47. Fitbit: Any quality smart fitness watch will do, but Fitbit is getting great press thanks to the easy to use models. Keep track of your steps, shoot for those 10,000 per day, and keep an eye on your blood pressure during hectic meetings. With your health on your sleeve (literally), it’s never been easier.
48. Beddit: It’s not just the quantity of your sleep, but the quality which can make a huge difference. Beddit lets you track your sleep with no wearable sensors, so you can then follow the National Sleep Foundation’s rules for better sleep hygiene and enjoy improved performance 24/7.
49. Amazon Publishing: Want to instantly attain expert status in your industry? Write a book about it! You can try the traditional agent and/or publisher route, or you can self-publish on Amazon like many other successful writers. It’s fast, easy, and no longer carries the self-publishing stigma.
50. Powells: While e-books are gaining momentum, traditional bound books aren’t going anywhere. Make a list of your must-read business books, then slowly tick them off. Shop online at Powells, the biggest independent bookstore in the world, for deals on used books and good karma points for supporting independent.
Which websites do you depend upon as an entrepreneur to make you better, smarter, faster and happier? The “best” websites are really the ones that benefit you the most. Spread the love, share your favorite websites, and try out a few new ones in 2015. By the time 2016 rolls around, you’ll have a leg up on the competition and be ready for the next challenge.