Startup Resources & Tools

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Starting a Business

Starting a business is one of the most exciting parts about bringing your idea to life, however, the simple fact is that most startups end up failing. One of the reasons for the low success rate is that the traditional startup method is extremely inefficient. With traditional startup methods, founders and teams tend to put all their time, resources and efforts behind an untested hypothesis.

Start ups can spend thousands of dollars on prototypes, patents, and in overall man hours on a concept before they ever know if it was what people wanted or needed. They only learn this when their product comes to market, and by then, if it is not a home-run,  it’s too late to pivot because all of the company’s resources are drained. However, there are now new methods and resources that entrepreneurs can use to significantly raise their odds of success while keeping their costs to a minimum.

Listed below are resources & tools that can help your startup be more successful:


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The Lean Startup Method

The Lean Startup Method (LSM) was created by entrepreneur and author, Eric Ries. The LSM is an extremely efficient way to bring your product or service to market.  This method is a relatively new one in which you and your team build a MVP (minimum viable product) and introduce it to early adopters to gain valuable feedback. You then use this feedback to further develop your concept to its optimum conclusion. This is called validated learning and is done by using the BLM (build, measure, learn) feedback loop.

Unlike traditional startups, when using the LSM, failure is expected and pivots are embraced. The LSM is data driven and as you learn about your market you can make real time iterations to your product, or a pivot, depending on the newly gleaned information. The point is that before you pour all your resources into an idea that is unproven, test it using an MVP (minimally viable product).

Whats really being done when using LSM is your crowdsourcing the development of your business model. Your discovering your market and their needs using sampling groups. This can be an extremely effective way to bring your idea to market. The Lean Startup Method is not a magic bullet to entrepreneurship, but it can mitigate the risks and costs of starting a business.

The Lean Startup Method (short version)

The Lean Startup Method with Eric Ries & Steve Blank.

The Lean Startup Book

The Lean Startup Course


Legal Services & Business Documents

Legal Zoom (legalzoom.com)

Legal Zoom was one of the first online legal document services and has all your start up legal needs and beyond at affordable price points.

Rocket Lawyer (rocketlawyer.com) — Rocket Lawyer combines free legal documents and free legal information with access to affordable representation by licensed attorneys. With Rocket Lawyer On Call, you can create a Will for your family for free or incorporate a business free from legal fees. Then, because we know there’s no replacement for qualified counsel, local attorneys are here to help when you need more guidance. With Rocket Lawyer you never have to go it alone.

Docracy (docracy.com) — Docracy is a home for contracts and other legal documents, socially curated by the communities that use them. Our mission is to make these documents freely available for everyone, while in the process making them easier to customize and use.

Docstoc (docstoc.com) — Docstoc is an electronic document repository and online store, aimed at providing professional, financial and legal documents for the business community.


Patents & Trademarks

United States Patent & Trademark Office (uspto.gov) — http://www.uspto.gov/

Creative Commons (creativecommons.org) — Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) — The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grow


Co-Founder & Team building

CoFoundersLab (cofunderslab.com) — CoFoundersLab helps entrepreneurs with one of the hardest, yet most critical, first steps in launching a startup: finding the right co-founder(s)/business partner(s). We do this via an online matching platform. Think Match.com for entrepreneurs.

FounderDating (founderdating.com) — FounderDating is a network of talented entrepreneurs helping one another start and grow companies. All too often you know people with similar backgrounds and skills sets to your own.  With FounderDating you find world-class people with complimentary skill-sets, expert areas and knowledge.

Meetup (meetup.com) — Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.


Find or Learn Technical Expertise

CodeArmy (codearmy.com) — Think you’ve got an idea that will change the world? CodeArmy is an online startup accelerator helping people from non-technical backgrounds turn their ideas into reality.

Elance (elance.com) — Whether you need one writer or an entire team of programmers, we help you find the right experts to fuel your success. Our platform lets you work effortlessly with freelancers anywhere. Say goodbye to business as usual.

Codecademy (codecademy.com) — Codecademy is an education company, but not one in the way you might think. We’re committed to building the best learning experience inside and out, making Codecademy the best place for our team to learn, teach, and create the online learning experience of the future.

Udacity (udacity.com) — Udacity brings accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers.

Education is no longer a one-time event but a lifelong experience. Education should be less passive listening (no long lectures) and more active doing. Education should empower students to succeed not just in school but in life.


Outsourcing

Elance (elance.com) — Say hello to talent without boundaries! The best companies win with the best talent. But great people can be hard to find. We’ve created an online workplace for the world – connecting clients with top freelance professionals from San Francisco to Sao Paulo.

Whether you need one writer or an entire team of programmers, we help you find the right experts to fuel your success. Our platform lets you work effortlessly with freelancers anywhere. Say goodbye to business as usual.

Toptal (toptal.com) — Toptal is not just another freelancing site. Toptal is a rapidly growing network comprised of the most thoroughly screened, talented freelance engineers in the world. Hire Toptal freelancers to build advanced custom software projects and see how Toptal is different.

Guru (guru.com) — Guru provides businesses with the tools to find and hire talented freelancers all over the world.

Task Rabbit (taskrabbit.com) — TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to others in their neighborhood.

Fiverr (fiverr.com) — Fiverr is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services, beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed, from which it gets its name. The site is primarily used by freelancers who use Fiverr to offer a variety of different services to customers worldwide.


Presentations

Slideshare (slideshare.net) — SlideShare is a Web 2.0 based slide hosting service. Users can upload files privately or publicly in the following file formats: PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote or OpenDocument presentations. Slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded on other sites.


Technical Support Services

ChopDawg (chopdawg.com) — ChopDawg works with entrepreneurs who have incredible ideas but require the technical resources to make it happen. We help mature their ideas, come up with marketing strategies, identify their audiences and subsequently help build their products.


Fulfillment Services

Shipstation (shipstation.com) — With real-time integrations into more than 25 popular marketplaces including eBay, Amazon, Sears, Etsy, and numerous shopping cart platforms, ShipStation handles everything from order import and batch label creation to customer communication.

Fulfillrite (fulfillrite.com) — Fulfillrite is a family-owned business founded over 5 years ago to help small to midsize businesses sell online. We deliver a seamless order fulfillment experience integrated with the latest e-commerce platforms, with fast worldwide shipping, simple setup, and easy access to real-time order and inventory data.

E-fulfillment Service (efulfillmentservice.com) — As a leading eCommerce fulfillment company, we at eFulfillment Service (EFS) often work with startup merchants that are new to order fulfillment, and occasionally aren’t too familiar with what it is or how exactly it works.

Tee Launch (teelaunch.com) — Everyone needs a t-shirt guy, let teelaunch be that guy for your next crowdfunding project. Just think of us as one of your friends who is super organized and good at everything. From printing to fulfillment we’ve got your back and will make sure your project takes off (last rocket pun, we promise).

Amplifier (amplifier.com) — We make, ship & support the merchandise you sell to your audience. You focus on growing your community and we’ll handle the rest.

Custom Ink (customink.com) — CustomInk is an American-based online retail company that enables customers to design and order custom apparel such as t-shirts and sweatshirts.


Online Storefronts

Shopify (shopify.com) — Shopify is a complete ecommerce solution that allows you to set up an online store to sell your goods. It lets you organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders — all with a few clicks of the mouse.

Etsy (etsy.com) — Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods.

Amazon (amazon.com) — Amazon.com is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States.

Big Cartel (bigcartel.com) — Big Cartel helps makers, designers, musicians, and other artists build a unique online store and run a creative business.

Near Me (near-me.com) — Near Me is a customizable marketplace solution powering the sharing economy. Global brands and Entrepreneurs now have a turnkey platform supported with go-to market strategy and expert advice for creating peer-to-peer marketplaces. Marketplace owners are empowered to augment the sharing ecosystem with their own branded sites that allow users to share, trade, swap, resell or rent anything. Headquartered in San Francisco with customers globally.

The Grommet (thegrommet.com) — A Grommet is an innovative, unique product that is created by a Maker with a story to tell. Often a Grommet is new to market or has not yet been broadly discovered. When we choose Grommets, they are ready to find a wider audience and our product launch platform gives them the amplification and attention they deserve.

Quirky (quirky.com) — Quirky is a New York City based invention company. The company allows inventors to submit their ideas, while also assisting them in the development process.


Images

iStock (istock.com) — Millions of people depend on iStock for affordable prices and exceptional quality. All iStock files are royalty-free1, which means you only have to pay once to use the file multiple times. We even offer a Legal Guarantee1 – our promise that content used within the terms of the license agreement will not infringe on any copyright, moral right, trademark or other intellectual property right, or violate any right of privacy or publicity.

Shutterstock (shutterstock.com) — Shutterstock is a leading provider of digital imagery licensing, operating in more than 150 countries and 20 languages. As a two-sided marketplace, our mission is to connect creative business professionals with the best photos, vectors, illustrations and video from thousands of contributors around the world.

Getty Images (gettyimages.com) — Getty Images, Inc. is an American stock photo agency, based in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is a supplier of stock images for business and consumers with an archive of 80 million still images and illustrations and more than 50,000 hours of stock film footage. It targets three markets—creative professionals (advertising and graphic design), the media (print and online publishing), and corporate (in-house design, marketing and communication departments).


Custom Printing Services

Vistaprint (vistaprint.com) — Vistaprint empowers millions of business owners worldwide to market themselves professionally. Our wide range of quality products and affordable prices, along with design tools suited to every skill level and need, mean everyone can create the customized materials they need to get their message across.

Zazzle (zazzle.com) — Zazzle is an online retailer that allows users to upload images and create their own merchandise, or buy merchandise created by other users, as well as use images from participating companies.

Lumi (lumi.com) — Lumi allows you to put your logo on anything. Being able to put your logo on items that people keep is a huge bonus, rather than choosing cheap stuff people will just throw away.

Printful (theprintful.com)


Recommended Books

The Lean Start-up — Eric Ries

The Startup Owner’s Manual — Steve Blank

Escape from Cubicle Nation — Pamela slim

Think and Grow Rich — Napoleon Hill

The $100 Start-up — Chris Guillebeau

The Art of the Start — Guy Kawasaki

How to Win Friends & Influence People — Dale Carnegie

Who Moved My Cheese? — Spencer Johnson

Blue Ocean Strategy — W. Chan Kim

Start Something That Matters — Blake Mycoskie

Launch — Jeff Walker

The E Myth — Michael Gerber

 Please do your own due diligence before using any of these services. Please see disclaimer.
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Marc is the founder of Vision Launch Development Group. Vision Launch was created to inspire, empower, and promote social entrepreneurs – and be a vehicle for positive change in the world. Marc is strong proponent of individual freedom, economic empowerment and decentralized peer to peer solutions.