21 essential business resources for starting your company
Every great business starts with an idea. Not necessarily a great idea, and it’s always going to change as the business grows, but you have to start with something. Then, once you’ve demonstrated that your idea has legs it’s time to set up your business officially and start building and growing your company. Here’s a carefully curated list of the best resources for each stage of the journey.
Finding and validating business idea
1) PAUL GRAHAM ON STARTUP IDEAS
Paul Graham is a man to listen to. He’s super smart (how many people do you know who truly understand Lisp?), an experienced founder (Viaweb, one of the first true web apps, and Y Combinator, the gold standard for startup accelerators) and an excellent writer. In this classic essay he talks about how to find startup ideas without looking for startup ideas, a counterintuitive approach which can yield world-changing ideas. Ch-check out the video below
2) HOW TO START A STARTUP, by Y Combinator
If you wondered where the Paul Graham video above came from, it’s part of the Y Combinator startup school lecture series. A collection of the most prolific startup entrepreneurs in the world, giving in-depth insight via 50 minute videos in how they built their startups. A must watch for anyone actually serious about startups.
3) CROSS 10
Pretty much every business idea is, at its core, something which you can do by hand without building any product at all. Before you start do that thing ten times, by hand, without building anything. Building a marketplace to buy and sell gummy bears? Find ten people who want gummy bears and ten people with some to spare. Thinking of programming a super-advanced AI to design websites? Build ten websites for ten real customers by hand first. This trick is from Pablo Fuentes, the first in his list of seven startup lessons which cost him $2 million.
4) THE MOM TEST
London resident Rob Fitzpatrick is the man when it comes to talking to your mum. (not meant to sound weird…). How do you find out if your product is any good when everyone is lying to you? Sure, you might think people are telling you the truth when they say your idea or product is amazing but unless you’ve asked the right questions they probably don’t mean it. Learn how to ask questions that even your mum wouldn’t lie to you about and revolutionise your product feedback meetings with The Mom Test.
5) THE LEAN STARTUP
The definitive and original guide to lean startup principles. It’s a classic that has been so accepted by the startup community that it is treated as undisputed fact. Talk to users, build a minimum viable product then iterate as fast as you can, testing on real users at every stage. Convinced? Read this book and find out how to put it into practice. Not convinced? Read this book and find out why you’re wrong. Worth also reading every single work the author’s mentor, Steve Blank, has ever written.
Making it official
6) Register your company at COMPANIES HOUSE
You have to register your company. Just do it, seriously. It barely takes any time and costs you just £15 using gov.uk’s really simple online tool. There’s not much more to say. Whilst you’re at it, its worth registering your trademark too; you don’t want to have to go through a rebrand like we did.
7) Get a domain name from NAMECHEAP
It doesn’t really matter that much what domain you get, but you should definitely have one. Don’t spend ages finding the perfect one – you’ll almost certainly change it later. And on the same lines, don’t think too much about where to buy it. Your mental energy is best spent elsewhere, like talking to customers or building an MVP. Just use NameCheap. Under no circumstances use GoDaddy.
8) Choose a Bank from ENTREPRENEUR HANDBOOK
You need a bank account. Don’t mix personal and business accounts, trust me. The Entrepreneur Handbook has a good shortlist of banks to consider.
9) Find an office on HUBBLE
You’re on our site, so you probably know we can help you find flexible office space in London. But in case you don’t, head on over to our main site and find yourself a place to work. After all, there’s only so much you can get done in bed in your pyjamas.
Get sh*t Done
We’ve already written a post about apps that help startups get stuff done, but check out below for some more.
10) Organise your tasks on TRELLO
There are lots of ways you can organise your work. In the tech team at Hubble we use JIRA (but don’t take that as a recommendation). The rest of the business use Asana (but don’t take that as a recommendation either). They are both big, complex tools which we discovered we needed once we got off the ground and had more employees. For now, don’t waste your energy thinking of the perfect organisational tool and just use Trello.
Remote working is a way of life for many businesses and for the people who work for them, allowing you to utilise the skills and resources of people around the globe and interact with them as though they were sitting at the desk next to you.
This blog takes a look at how one company, whoishostingthis, uses Asana to manage their remote team, and what benefits it brings to the way they can run their business and serve their customers.
11) Set up your entire business using GOOGLE BUSINESS APPS
Gone are the days where you have to spend weeks getting your business email, calendar, contacts, file storage and digital assets live and syncing. Google makes it ridiculously easy to get this ALL done in one go, from as cheap as £3 per user per month (and they give you one month free!). It’s super easy to get your @companyname.com email addresses, and cloud storage accessible anywhere instantly. We literally run our entire business on Google and its bloody brilliant.
12) Communicate with team members and remote workers using SLACK
We joke it’s easier to get the team’s attention via Slack than in person. When plugged into music for some sprints, messaging via Slack means you don’t have to be distracted unless you want to be. Having different channels for different things from #general to #socialmedia and #overheardintheoffice means your message goes to the relevant people. It’s completely searchable and integrates with a lot of the other tools we use to monitor our site like Asana, social media, IFTTT, analytics, Mailchimp etc. This means you have a live view of everything going on in your company without having to waste time switching between apps and windows. There’s a reason it’s valued at over $2bn after just 5 years of starting.
13) Automate boring and useful tasks using IFTTT and ZAPIER
IFTTT and Zapier are essentially tools that make other tools talk to each other, that don’t normally. What do we mean? Well check out the top 101 IFTTT recipes here which includes stuff like backing up your contacts into a Google Spreadsheet, automatically sending updates to Slack or your calendar, using your phone’s GPS to alert you when someone else is near etc. In essence, its lot of little hacks that can help automate your life and save you time.
14) Annoy the hell out of your customers by asking them about your ideas using SURVEYMONKEY
SurveyMonkey (as well as Google Forms that come with your Google Apps package) lets you build quick and easy surveys to send to potential customers. They’re a really easy way of quickly & effectively collecting user feedback (like the Lean Startup tells you to) and using that to developer your idea into a product and a company.
15) Connect with other techies and entrepreneurs on HACKER NEWS, PRODUCT HUNT, QUORA and more
There are lots of ways to expose your fledgling startup to early adopters and get in touch with the active startup and tech community: three of the best for tech startups are Product Hunt and Hacker News. They’re communities full of tech-savvy people keen to learn about and use new products. Of course, these might not be the right community for you: find out where your target audience hangs out and target your efforts there. Just remember, people in these communities are often extremely critical if they don’t need the product themselves: measure your success by sales not by criticism.
16) BUY A STANDING DESK
We’ve outlined 10 pretty good reasons why a standing desk is good for you. Here’s the top 3: (1) you’ll die less quickly (2) You’ll feel more productive (3) You’ll think you’re better than everyone else
Market your startup and grow
17) Try some ads and Measure how you’re doing using GOOGLE ADWORDS and GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Google is the home to the world’s information because everyone uses it to search. Think there’s a marker for Pet Hamster Fez Hats? Why not buy some Google Ads and see if anyone is searching for it. Use Google Analytics to find out how people use your site and where they come from.
18) Find free vouchers and other stuff at STARTUPSTASH
These crazy dutch lads have put together a great site full of startup resources with some awesome discounts and offers. Worth a browse and a subscribe to their newsletter.
19) Communicate with your customers easily using MAILCHIMP
Mailchimp is friendliest damn newsletter software out there. Send heavily customisable newsletters every week to your customers to keep their attention and benefit from data around open and click-through rates to see if they actually give a sh*t. Mailchimp benchmarks your data against their average to let you know whether you’re a winner or loser.
20) Try some unconventional marketing using tactics learnt at GROWTHHACKERS
It’s really easy to be pulled into this wonderland like Alice. Resist. There’s no really valuable secrets to be learnt here with regards to marketing (otherwise people would keep them a secret). However, keeping an eye on the site and trying a few techniques here and there might help you find your marketing bone, wherever in your body that is.
21) Give your startup a winning chance by applying to STARTUP INCUBATORS AND ACCELERATORS
Startup accelerators and incubators provide an excellent framework and environment in which to grow your business and attract seed funding. These guys are well versed and experienced in helping early startups grow and have seen most of the obvious pitfalls already. You may decide they’re not for you and that’s ok but worth knowing about them now rather than regretting your ignorance later on.
And that’s it, folks! Check out the rest of the HubbleHQ Blog for more startup inspiration