Launching a SaaS company can cost between a few thousand and 100 million dollars. But the majority of startups don’t get angel funding or venture capital early in their lifecycles. In fact, 60% of Inc. 500 CEOs kicked off their first companies with less than $10,000.
If, like those CEOs, you’re one of the bootstrapping majority, every cent has to stretch as far as possible. Fortunately, you can get early traction without spending a dime by taking advantage of free business-building tools.
Here are five of the best:
HubSpot CRM (customer relationship management) helps businesses generate leads online and track contacts. You can manage popup forms and chat bots, track web activity and run Facebook and Instagram ads. You can also view of all this data on a dashboard.
HubSpot’s clean, intuitive interface takes minutes to learn, and it easily integrates with Gmail, Outlook and any email that supports IMAP. To further serve new businesses, the company publishes excellent blogs, guides and courses on CRM in the SaaS world.
HubSpot nurtures an active user community in which people help each other with questions and challenges. It also offers bootstrap programs you can apply to with additional free services and large discounts for paid services.
Google Suite of Tools
Almost everyone knows about Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Calendar, but you may not know that a lot of small companies rely on these free and extremely capable services to handle business communications and content management.
You also might not know that Google offers budding unicorns so much more.
Track how people are coming to your website and what they do there so you can adjust your graphics and messaging to capture more leads.
Google Tag Manager
This centralized tag management tool allows businesses to move quickly by allowing anyone on your team (not just developers) to easily insert third party and custom tags on your website.
Easily test page design and content changes on your website with this experimentation platform. A bonus is its integration into Google Analytics. No more third party tools to see the results of your A/B or multivariate tests.
When you’re first starting out, you may be running complex deals with a small, easily distracted team of employees. Trello’s free project management software helps organize work and keep priorities in focus.
Trello uses the Japanese kanban board concept to distill any undertaking into boards, cards and lists. Each board contains a set of cards representing projects or goals. Each card contains a list of tasks necessary to complete the project as well as attachments, images and notes.
You can assign to-dos to team members, set deadlines and send reminders to keep everyone on-task. All the cards are displayed at once as if they were pinned to a cork board, so you can quickly assess progress. For distributed teams, Trello includes two-factor authentication to keep your top-secret plans under wraps.
Mailchimp is one of the most popular tools for helping small enterprises attract and engage prospects and subscribers. The free version lets you create web forms, popups, postcards, social media ads, email campaigns and landing pages.
You can send up to 12,000 emails per month and track up to 2,000 subscribers. It also includes attractive templates to give your newsletters, invitations or sales emails a professional touch.
Mailchimp lets you automate specific messages for abandoned shopping carts, product recommendations, order status and new subscribers. And it helps optimize performance with customer segmentation, A/B testing and reports.
Mature companies are creating conversations with leads and customers through automated chat bots, but a startup doesn’t have the development bandwidth to build chat bots from scratch. Enter SnatchBot.me.
This service offers a free selection of pre-built, customizable chat bots for your website, messaging programs and email. You can customize any bots to your industry and product with a no-coding interface. Just add a conversation template to guide specific interactions and select buttons for collecting payments or sending receipts.
The company offers bots specialized for marketing support, customer service, invoicing, and surveys in industries such as hospitality, healthcare, finance, legal, education and online retail. The bots feature customer-friendly personalities and can be deployed on multiple channels and platforms.
The free plan offers unlimited bots and messages and unlimited support for the most popular platforms, including websites and email.
It’s a challenging but exciting time for entrepreneurs. Competition for investment has never been tighter, but there’s also an unprecedented selection of high-quality, reliable and effective products that struggling empire-builders can lean on without dipping into the till. With these tools, you can stop worrying about budget and focus on becoming the next industry star.