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Free Tools that Have High Impact for Bootstrapped Startups

By: Justin Johnson (Co-Founder of Late Labs)

Getting organized in the early stages of a company can seem like a big task when you’re trying to get so much done with so few hours in the day. Still, keeping track of things that need to be done, who is tasked to do them, and what’s happening on a daily basis is very important. Also, tools that simplify teamwork are excellent time savers.

There are lots of digital tools to help you manage your company. The great thing for bootstrapped start-ups is that a good majority of these tools have freemium options for small companies, or are just straight up free to use!

Here is a list of some excellent tools. This list is by no means exhaustive or complete, so feel free to comment with your opinions or other tools you think are great!

Asana - A shared task list for your team. The place to plan, organize and stay in Sync.

This is a great system to use for team task tracking. It’s extremely flexible to it doesn’t define how you work, rather it lets you design the tool to work for your team.

Google Docs – A collaborative repository for all of your documents and spreadsheets

There really isn’t a better solution for document storage and collaboration then Google Docs.

Launchrock – Put up a simple landing page with social integration and tracking in minuets.

Before you spend a bunch of effort on a detailed website, throw up an interesting landing page and get our messaging out there. Test the market and you will most likely be surprised by what you learn. This is also a great way to try our different tag lines and marketing messaging.

Google Analytics – Fairly robust and always free analytics platform to see what’s happening on your website.

Just sign up and then put a simple line of code on each page of your site. You can find out where your traffic is coming from and how your audience is engaging the site.

Skype – Converse on the Web

Good platform for chat, but the real benefit of this is that everyone is on it and its great for voice calls locally and internationally. There isn’t really ever a problem with set up and as long as you have a decent internet connection it works great just about anywhere. Its also decent for screen sharing. Where Skype really breaks down is when your doing video chatting, or your are doing a conference with more then two people.

Google Hangouts – Video Chat Platform

Google hangouts can take slightly more effort to set up, but are great for having video chat with more then two people. If you have group call, do yourself a favor and don’t mess with Skype, just go straight to Google Hangouts.

Mockingbird – Collaborative wireframes

If you have space and a whiteboard, you probably won’t need this. But if you’re working with a team that is split up, or your working from your house this is a great tool for collaborating on wireframes. It is does not let you go into extreme detail, but it’s a very good start and easy enough to use that even a non-designer can grasp it very quickly.

Droplr – Cloud based image storing

We use this to track site design changes internally and store high-resolution images for our press package. The great thing is that each image gets it’s own short URL. So you never need to send files around, just a simple URL, which makes it very easy to share with people outside of your organization and control versions.

Box – Content storage and collaboration

Good repository for stuff you want to store for team access. There are a couple different options here, but we like Box because of their focus on Enterprise and their application marketplace. They will be able to grow with you no matter what your cloud storage requirements become.

Bitbucket - Store all of your Git and Mercurial source code in one place with unlimited private repositories. Includes issue tracking, wiki, and pull requests.

In a software organization this can be a relatively large expense pretty quickly. The great thing about Bitbucket is that it is open source, easy to use, and very robust.

About the blogger: Justin Johnson is an entrepreneur and the founder of Late Labs and Gokrt.  You can contact Justin on twitter @elof or [email protected]