5 websites and tools to use before starting your own business

STARTING a business is no easy feat and taking those first steps can feel overwhelming for any new entrepreneur. 

Luckily there are plenty of resources, websites and tools out there dedicated to helping startups – so getting your new business off the ground has never been simpler. 

Even outside of designated business tools, there are plenty of free online resources that can help you launch your startup, while keeping costs to a minimum.

This is welcome news for the six million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK – especially those just launched.

While many businesses have struggled over the past year due to the coronavirus crisis, 2020 also saw the launch of a record number of start-ups.

More than 400,000 new businesses were formed during the past year, with job losses and the “new normal” inspiring entrepreneurs up and down the UK to take the plunge.

That's why The Sun and Camelot are giving away £250,000 to kitchen table entrepreneurs.

We have 100 £5,000 grants to give away. For more details see below.

Win a £5,000 grant for your start-up

DO you have a big idea for a small business?

We've teamed up with Camelot to give 50 Kitchen Table entrepreneurs a helping hand to launch their business dream.

We are giving away £250,000 in total.

Fill in the entry form by May 22. 

Our panel of experts will choose the winners and grants will be allocated in June and July.

See the full terms and conditions. 

So, what are the best websites and tools to use before starting your own business? Here’s our definitive list:

GOOGLE DRIVE

Google Drive is an essential one-stop shop for any new business owner. 

The easy-to-use system puts everything in one place, from emails to documents, calendars and meeting rooms.

Anyone can access with a free-to-use gmail account, which enables you to make and save documents, send and receive emails and use shared online calendars.

Anyone with a Google Account can also create a video meeting, invite up to 100 participants and meet for up to 60 minutes per meeting for free.

If your business needs additional services, like meeting recording, live streaming and international dial-in, you can upgrade to a Google business account.

Google’s cheapest business plan starts at £4.14 per month, per user. This plan would allow you to create a custom business email address and give you 30GB cloud storage per user, with security and management controls.

AMAZON SMALL BUSINESS ACCELERATOR 

Amazon’s small business accelerator is a great resource for anyone in the early stages of starting their own firm.

The site offers a range of learning and educational tools designed to help all business owners, from those launching startups to more established business owners looking to grow. 

Lessons are free to access and are tailored to your experience level. The curriculum includes website building, selling online, social media, marketing, managing cashflow and identifying growth opportunities. 

The website adds: “Not only is the training free, but by taking part you can access events and offers from partners, and join an intensive bootcamp experience.”

MONDAY.COM

Monday.com describes itself as “the most versatile tool you’ll find” – and can be used for everything from managing projects to ad campaigns, lesson planning and customer relation management.

Essentially a project management tool, this site lets you organise your day-to-day admin and get everything in one place so you can manage your business effectively.

Accounts are easy to set up, and can be accessed by entire teams – so it’s easy to delegate work to staff and set clear tasks for everyone to tick off.

Pricing starts at £7 per team member per month, with a minimum of 4 team members needed. 

BUFFER

Buffer is a great, easy-to-use platform for social media management.

For small businesses starting out, they offer a free plan that allows one user to post on three social media channels, with up to 10 scheduled posts at a time.

By having all your social media platforms in one place and scheduling posts, business owners are able to grow their reach through social marketing easily and cheaply. 

For people with slightly bigger businesses, they have three other plans ranging from $15 a month to $99 a month, depending on how many users need access, how many social channels you have and how many posts you need to schedule.

QUICKBOOKS

Quickbooks offer simple accounting software for small businesses that’s easy to use and cost effective.

The online tool offers a range of services, including organising, calculating and preparing your Self Assessment and VAT taxes – which they can send directly to HMRC.

The software can also take control of taxes, payroll, invoices, bills and expenses to keep the financial side of your business as simple as possible.

They offer a range of subscriptions options, which are currently reduced by 75%, starting with £3 a month for sole traders and small businesses who need to manage VAT, Income Tax and expenses, up to £7.50 a month for established businesses that need help managing projects and stock.

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