10 Tools That You Need to Use Before You Start Your Next Business


Starting a new business takes a ton of work.

Even with your initial passion, it’s never an easy undertaking.

There are a great number of things that you need to research, plan out, get created, etc. before you “launch.”

And you’ll always be wondering, “Did I forget anything?”

What I’ve put together here is a list of great tools that you’ll want to know about, and possibly use, before you start your next business.

They cover the most important and common things you’ll need to address.

These tools will help you do them faster, cheaper, and/or better than you would be able to do otherwise.

Wherever possible, I’ve given you both a free and paid version to choose from. 

Market research tools

When you have a business idea, first you need to confirm that it’s a good idea.

Basically, you need to answer two questions:

  • Is there a market for this type of product or service (if so, how big)?
  • Will that market like my product or service?

Those are the most important questions to answer. Beyond that, it’s helpful to know how the market is distributed (by location or medium) and whether it will grow in the future.

These tools will help you gain insight into your market.

1. Google Shopping Insights: You’ve probably heard of Google Trends but maybe not the Shopping Insights tool.

They do similar things, but this tool is geared much more towards business in the US.

If part of your market is in the US, you’ll want to use this tool.

It’s simple to use. Just type in a specific product (e.g., a competitor’s product) or a general type of product:


As an example, I put in “microwave ovens,” which gave me these results:


There are two main things you get from these results.

The first is that you learn whether there are any places that are much more interested in your type of product than others. In this example, it’s clear the the states on the East Coast buy many more microwaves than on the West Coast (who knew?).

In addition, if you look at the graph on the bottom, you can see the popularity of searches related to buying microwaves.

You don’t get absolute numbers—this is a relative scale. But you can see whether your product type is trending up or down in popularity.

A graph like the one above, where searches have more than doubled in about 2 years, is perfect to see. It shows that your market is still likely growing.

2. QWILR’s Ad spend calculator: Getting traffic for your new business from the start is tough. There won’t be much organic traffic right away, and even content marketing takes a while to get going.

That leaves you with your standard public relations and paid advertising for the most part.

This ad spend calculator is great for two reasons:

  • It makes a complicated topic simple
  • Everything is based on real numbers

The tool guides you through a few questions where you input one or two numbers about your business to find what your target CPC (cost per click) should be.

To start with, you’re asked about your average revenue per month as well as your churn rate.

Obviously, you don’t have actual data to use, but you can make a good estimate on the revenue side.


You can also use industry standards for churn rate. I went with 5% as an example even though that’s not a good churn rate.

If you’re selling individual products and don’t have recurring income, just put 100% here.

That’s one big area down. Next up is your customer acquisition cost.

You need to answer how long you’re willing to wait until you recoup your initial cost. While patience is good, if you wait too long, you might run out of money.

The tool provides default values, which are good for most cases.


Finally, you’re asked to estimate a conversion rate of your traffic to the site.

This will allow the tool to calculate a CPC:


I left out one or two basic questions, but you get the point. In a quick example illustrated above, I found that my hypothetical business could pay up to $0.66 per click (visitor).

Use this tool to plan your initial advertising budget for the first few months.

3. SurveyMonkey: One thing that all good business launching guides will tell you to do is talk to your market.

The only feedback about your idea and product that you must listen to is from your potential customers.

If you know some of your potential customers in real life already, you might be able to interview them in person (or through Skype).

That’s the best option.

But when that’s not an option, consider using SurveyMonkey.

Originally, the tool was used to create surveys and collect answers, but now it can do much more.

Most importantly, you can pay a modest fee and get your survey sent to a panel of survey takers.


While you won’t get perfect targeting, it’ll be pretty accurate, and the results you get will help you design your product and know which features to focus on.

4. Buzzsumo: I’ve mentioned Buzzsumo in many previous lists but need to include it here for anyone who doesn’t know about it. I’ll keep it brief.

Buzzsumo allows you to search for a keyword and see the most popular articles that focus on it (based on social shares):


Immediately, you’ll be able to see which social network is most popular with your target audience.

On top of that, you can enter the URL of a competitor and find their most popular content.


Those results will help you plan your content marketing and learn about the main problems of your market (the more popular, the bigger the problem).

Putting together your first impression

The next area of a business launch is your product and website (which may be one and the same).

The tools in this section will help you with your branding and creating a favorable first impression.

5. NameMesh: Every business and website needs a name. You probably already know that it can be difficult to find a good one that’s actually available for registration (without paying thousands of dollars for it).

Even if you’re good at coming up with names, it might take you an hour or two to do so.

NameMesh is a free tool that may be able to help you with this.

To use it, type in 2-3 words that describe main features of your business.

For example, if I were starting a business that helped others bring their product ideas to life, I could enter:

  • Product creation
  • Product life
  • Product idea creation


Think of as many combinations as you can to improve your chances of finding a good one.

The tool will automatically try hundreds of combinations and see whether the domains are available. You will get a final list of what you could register:


There are tons of other free tools like this. You can find them by searching for “domain name generator.”

6. Name Geniuses: Sometimes you can find a great name with those free generators, but most of the results aren’t very good. You get what you pay for.

Name Geniuses is not free; it’s a pay-what-you-want tool with a $20 minimum that allows you to crowdsource your domain name.

Basically, you pick the amount you want to pay. A large portion of this payment is offered as a prize to a few hundred users on the site.

These users come up with domain names (that are available) and submit them to you. Then, you pick a winner whenever you want.

The good part from your perspective is that only the winner gets paid. This incentivizes users to spend a lot of effort to come up with names that are much better than those created by a free generator.

To use the tool, answer a few questions about your business idea:


Then, your project goes on the job board once you pay for it.

Depending on what you pay, you’ll get anywhere from 50 suggestions to hundreds:


By all means, come up with your own name, but this can save you hours of time and potentially generate an even better name.

7. DesignMantic: After the name, comes the logo. While it’s sometimes optional, you’ll likely need some sort of logo.

DesignMantic is a tool that is very quick and simple to use.

All you do is type in your company name and then choose what industry it’s in:


It will quickly generate several logos you can use, complete with your business name:


They’re obviously going to be generic, but they’re fairly attractive and will work as temporary logos.

8. 99Designs: At some point, you’ll need a unique, professional logo. No free tool will do that for you.

You can cheap out on a designer from Fiverr, but that will cost you more in the long run and won’t get you a much better result than what you’ll get from the free tools.

99Designs is another crowdsourcing site/tool I really like.

You buy a package and then get tons of designs (30+) from different designers.


Again, you pick the winner, and they get paid.

Just about all the designs are of great quality, so you can’t go wrong.

Payroll and accounting

The tools in this final group have varying levels of importance.

They will help you manage incoming and outgoing payments, which just about all businesses need to do.

If you’re starting really small, you can probably handle it manually, but I recommend using tools to simplify things (and keep them accurate) once you have a decent cash flow.

On top of that, if you have employees right off the bat, you need to make sure they’re paid on time and that their taxes are taken care of. Hire an accountant, or use these tools.

9. Freshbooks: If you have a service-based business that requires you to send out invoices on a regular basis, Freshbooks is a great tool to help you stay organized.


The time it’ll save you on generating invoices alone is probably worth the cost. On top of that, it will also let you send payments if you work with any freelancers or buy products for your business.

You can then generate reports of all your invoices, expenses, and payments, which will make doing your taxes much easier.

How much does it cost? Not much.

Depending on whether you’re going to allow any employees to use the tool as well (you could have them handle invoicing and expensing, etc.), you’re looking at $30-40 a month:


10. ZenPayroll: This is a great tool that helps you handle employees as you grow. You may not need it right away, but keep it in mind because you might in the future.

The main purpose of ZenPayroll, as the name suggests, is to make your payroll simple.

It automatically takes care of setting up taxes for new employees and paying contractors (and taking care of their tax needs), and it can even be set up to do automatic tax filings for you.

Keep in mind that this tool is made for the US. As far as I know, it won’t work as well in other countries.

As far as the pricing, it’s very simple: you pay a base fee and then an extra $6 for each person you add (all per month):


You can then configure it so that you just have to add new employees, and it will get all their tax and payment information set up without you having to do anything:


For small- to medium-sized companies, it’s more or less HR and accounting departments in one simple tool.


You have a long road in front of you.

By all means, expect to put in a lot of work. However, if you have a problem that can be solved by the tools I’ve given you, take advantage of them.

To end off, I’ve got to ask you whether I’ve left any tools off this list that you love. I know that I haven’t included every tool in the world here. Please share any of your favorites in a comment below.


  1. Jeff Stephens :

    Hi Neil

    Great list! Love the NameMesh tool and also the convenience of the DesignMantic tool. That’s a new one for me.

    I’m also big on the value that SurveyMonkey can provide. Surveys have been huge in helping me determine the direction I take with potential pursuits.

    Thanks again for helping us discover some uncommon tools that will help position us for success.

    – Jeff

    • It can help you immensely Jeff! The more you understand your visitors, the more effective your marketing efforts will be

      • Anil Agarwal :

        I personally use and recommend SEMrush, Long Tail Pro, Buzzsumo and Buffer.

        All these tools help you boost your traffic, rankings and social shares.

        Make sure to invest money on such tools because online marketing is all about business. If you don’t invest money, you are not really building a business.

        Whenever I find a new tool that’s helpful for me which also makes my things easier, I’ll definitely go for them.

        I’ll have to give a try to the remaining tools, Neil.

        • Nice, I find myself using a combination of those too.

          Keep me posted on how other tools work out. Let me know if you have any questions

  2. iman nadhif :

    Nice post like every time????
    I want to start blog about affiliation in amazone FBA
    so what training and how to find informations about grouth business in amazone affiliation thanks for your help

    • I haven’t seen much training around it, but I would suggest just starting with the knowledge they offer first.

  3. Hi Neil, thanks for sharing this list. You’ve empowered me again with these tools.

  4. Vishal Kataria :

    Awesome list Neil. I remember you stressing on the importance of surveys in your Definitive Content Marketing Guide. This is a potent tool not only to check our offering’s viability, but also to lay a content marketing plan.

    Loved the concept of DesignMatic. Will give it a try, just coz. And there is no denying the awesome quality of 99Designs. But personally, I find it more effective to find a good graphics designer and commission her/him for all work. It doesn’t just help in getting a logo designed, but also helps for images, infographics and Slideshare PPTs for content marketing.

  5. Ashley Marie :

    Another great post, thanks, Neil!

    Although I’m a huge fan and I absolutely love your work, there is one discrepancy I have with this list.

    If you’re looking to start a business, you may not have pockets full of cash in the beginning. Unless you’re a “startup” that’s starting up with a few wealthy investors backing you, you’re probably not in a position to spend a ton of money on tools.

    With that said, Buzzsumo is a super expensive tool. I know that many of the top bloggers speak very highly of it, but unless you’re rolling in piles of $100 bills, then Buzzsumo is probably not a realistic tool to use.

    As an entrepreneur who’s been fortunate enough to quit my day job and work for myself full time, I’m proud of the success I’ve garnered thus far. Yet, I still don’t have Buzzsumo. Do I want it? Sure. But even though I’ve gained clients and have a reliable stream of income resulting from my business, I still can’t bring myself to spend that much money on one tool. The price is absolutely mind-boggling.

    So, unless this article is for millionaires who have decided to “dabble” in starting a new business, Buzzsumo probably won’t be a feasible option.

    • Some tools are worth it, but like you said require an investment that may not seem easy at the time.

      Good for you on being full time, that part of the journey is one of the hardest decisions someone can make

      Keep me posted on your success, hope everything works out for you

  6. Very nice post Neil.

  7. if your into selling physical products use the common sites as ebay and amazon as your tool. create a username that matches your domain-name. just st@rt selling… bookkeeping in the beginning in excel (you have no time anyhow to understand frshbooks and the likes). dont hire staff.do it all yourself. focus on growth of sales.

  8. NBAOnlineStreams :

    It’s a great idea for online business. Thanks a lot for shearing with us and i will try it my next project. Thanks Neil 🙂

  9. Vikash Sharma :

    Hi Neil,

    This is such an awesome article. I am going to use some of the tools here to find out the possibilities of my business which I am going to start in next month. I am lucky I have got this article at right time.
    Thanks for sharing such a detailed guide with us.

  10. uthman saheed :

    I like this list because they will surely be of help to me. Most of the tools are what I any start up business needs.

    Thanks for this. I have a good competitor here in Nigeria and am going to use one of the tools stated here to check out his most well performing article.

    I just need to keep moving, even though things is still very tough for my new blog. Thanks

    • Use the tools that are helping you grow, drop the ones that aren’t. Keep it simple so you’re constantly just moving forward

  11. Darren Keane :

    How about any collaboration/CRM tools?

  12. Hi Neil, Loved this post. Very informative.

  13. Nice list of tools. Found some helpful ones, especially the research.
    However the logo tool is a bit misleading. designmantic is not Free.
    Although it has the word “Free” written all over the site, there is no mention of pricing anywhere obvious.
    I checked the FAQ but I guess for them, “How much does it cost?” is not a very Frequently Asked Question…
    I did however find the price of the DIY Logo on the “How it works” page: http://www.designmantic.com/how-it-works
    Apparently you can see your automated logo designs for Free and customize it for Free but to download and use the logo you create you have to pay $37.
    Very misleading for my taste and I would stay away from any company that uses these kind of deceptive marketing tactics.

  14. Harris Reynolds :

    We are launching a tool now that I believe will really help startups. It is a simple process management tool that will allow users to create repeatable processes and assign them to team members.

    This is crucial because with the right processes in place all you need is to get the work done (no need to think each day, “what should I be doing?”). Move info here: http://www.processd.com/founders-club/

    Thanks for this list Neil. Great stuff!

  15. This is a great list, Neil. I would also add the free versions of Buffer and Hootsuite for managing your social media accounts when you get started.

  16. Ahfaz Ahmed :

    Really great tools Neil!

    The only tool I knew in this list was Buzzsumo. The tools you mentioned are really great.

    I like to add one more – FlameDomain

    It’s a similar tool that you mentioned for finding names for business.

    Either way great article. I loved it.


  17. These are must have tools for any startup. I always use Buzzsumo to see what type of content is trending & at my company, we make sure to produce the content that is trending. We then market it that day only. When it comes to ‘Growth Hacking’, I always follow Neil. His writing style and articles are up to the point and I am a daily visitor to this website to see how Neil writes his articles on Growth Hacking & Digital Marketing. Recently, Inspired by Neil, I started my own website by the name ‘Growth Hacky’ (http://www.growthhacky.com). Thanks for sharing this wonderful article Neil.

  18. Hi Neil

    Great list!That’s a new one for me. Buzz sumo is my Favorite tool.
    great article. I loved it.


  19. I appreciate your work, but if you seriously believe 99designs and other crowdsourced design services put out quality work I suggest you refrain from giving people advice on that specific topic.

  20. Neil, Great stuff. Keep up the good work. I used NameMesh before and it’s awesome. Heard good things about FreshBooks too.

    I have question for you. I started a personal blog as a hobby (http://askjai.com) and now I am looking to turn it into a media business with series of Podcasts and bringing publishing partners. What are your thoughts on having your own name as domain/company name?

    Lastly, I have seen few of your interviews recently and you are star.

    Thank you for inspiration.

    • I think it depends on where you see yourself taking your brand/vision, but it seems like a good domain.

  21. Md Atiqur Rahman :

    I am really grateful to you.I am learning from you and keep reading your blogs regularly and it’s become my habit.Thanks for the nice article.

  22. Nice post Neil, who do you recommend for website design, setup and help?

  23. I’ve had good success testing ideas early using https://www.turnmvp.com (which also captures sign ups, click data, and survey data *after* someone clicks on your call to action). Combined with Google AdWords I can quickly find out if an idea is worth pursuing — and why or why not. Once I’ve found a hot idea, I can also test pricing buttons. And I’ve even been able to use it to take real orders where I ask people to send me money via PayPal to prove an idea is valuable enough for people to pay for.

    Another great (and free) tool is http://peek.usertesting.com/ where I can see if something is really confusing about my websites. A lot of times, an otherwise great idea can do badly simply because of a problem with wording or usability on my website. Invaluable insight!

    P.S. Neil, your blog is my absolute favorite resource for growing online businesses. I’ve probably learned more from your posts over the last few years than all the other resources I’ve read combined!

  24. Neil! Thank you for the post! I am a fan of your articles! You’re a hero in the industry.

  25. Ajay Joshi :

    Neil ! I am going to try some of them for next project.A refreshing read.


  26. Neil– longtime fan here. If you’ve been starved for good topic ideas– I think one geared towards “Kickstarter Campaign Marketing” would be good. As I’m getting experience in the crowdfunding space, it’s like taking all the things you’ve talked about and doing them ALL in a very short amount of time. I’d be open to collaborating with you on this monster article too, let me know!

    • That’s a great idea Omar. I don’t know too much about it, but would to see you do a post on it!

  27. Hello Neil!
    Great Post! I will be using these awesome tools on my coming project.

  28. Jigar Patel :

    Really Awesome Post.

    Thanks for sharing Neil

  29. Really useful tips but I contradict that, this are not only for the START ups, these tools are helpful , emerging entrepreneurs like us. 🙂

    Thank You Neil ! 🙂

  30. harpreet kaur :

    Thank you so much for this informative post.

  31. Mudit Saxena :

    Hey Neil,

    Your teachings made me 100k $ this year, thank you 🙂

    God bless you,
    Mudit Saxena

    • Mudit Saxena :

      Also, can you please suggest me where to look for partners/co-founder , maybe a website or an app ?

      • I’m not sure which app to use, but I suggest going to networking events to see who you connect with

  32. awsome article Neil! Thanks for sharing! I’ll just bookmarked to use it for my next sites and businesses. awsome. the one i liked more is the ad spent calculator.

    • Glad this was helpful Eugenio. Let me know if you have any questions or need clarity on anything

  33. Nandish Avlani :

    Excellent information. Very helpful

    Is there any tool for inventory management?


  34. Saket Panicker :

    Hey Neil,

    I must say that your every article is worth the time and gives the actual insights of the industry.

    I proudly say that i have a strong feeling of becoming the most influential leaders like you, your article are like oxygen to me. In fact, sometimes I dream of sharing quality time with you so that I can grasp more.

    Let’s see when this happens!

    Keep Sharing

    God bless


    • That’s great to hear Saket lol

      I’m glad you’re getting a lot of these. If you ever get stuck with anything, please don’t hesitate to ask

  35. Dipankar Barua :

    Awesome informative article as well you post. Google Shopping Insight will help me lot! Thanks for share!

  36. george charalampakis :

    This is a really nice list Neil. I really love Buzzsumo to find viral content for my Facebook Pages. I am also using feedly as my homepage to follow all my favorite blogs like yours 🙂 I think this is a nice tool as well

  37. Jhon Smith :

    Hey Neil,
    Awesome post. Really great tips for a perfect blogging. I am now focus on creating high quality content for my blog and this article really helps me a lot.

  38. Wow, very nice post! Secret tools that I need it. Thank you.

  39. Tauqir Hussain :

    Once again a wonderful article Neil. BuzzSumo is one of my favorite. Another great tool in the list is DesignMantic. It is a great tool to get creative ideas for your brand’s logo. I really like the simplicity and tons of option to choose from.

    Thank you for Sharing.

  40. Tiffany Simpson :

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the info. I am starting a new business in a couple of weeks and this information helps. I am not sure if I will use all the tools mentioned (I have a couple alternatives), but the article helps to give some insight about what bases I need to cover before getting started. Thanks again!

  41. Faisal Masood :

    Hi Neil,

    As always, good post. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Great post as usual Neil.

    I’m happy to see that I’ve used most of these tools in the past – so that’s a start.

    Where should a new business focus most of it’s time? Content, SEO, etc? I run a small online business working with Instagram users. However, it seems like the more I learn about online business, the more there is to learn – and there’s not enough time for one person to do everything..

    Keep up the great work. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that your blog is one of the best things on the internet.



    • Neil Patel :

      Thanks Leon, I appreciate those kind words. I think as a new business you should focus on content and promotion first.

  43. Craig Brown :

    Great list, you should add WAVE accounting as it’s free, I’ve been using it for years and it’s extremely useful and easy to use.

    Your comments form doesn’t let me use my real email address because it has a dash in it “-“.

  44. Kylie Garner :

    Awesome list of tools Neil! Thanks for sharing.

  45. Great presentation again..What are the best tools for Twitter lead generation and creating tailored audience?

    • Neil Patel :

      Check out this article Aswathi https://www.quicksprout.com/2014/06/20/how-to-generate-leads-with-social-media/

  46. Sherif O S :

    Cool list straight up for business without delay. Thanks Neil, the tools are really usefull

  47. Sujo Thampy :

    Hiii Neil
    I like your thought with your this comment. Can you explain hows to convert to 500 Million Page Views

  48. I really understand the important of these tools after years of blogging because in the starting when I wasn’t aware of these, I really had a tough time to even write a simple post.

  49. My uncle who is going to start a new business soon will be really happy to know about it. Thank you so much for the tools.

  50. Anurag Kumar :

    Thank you Neil. Setting a new business is really very hard and we need these tools to make our life easier. I have already started the business but had not clue about Payroll and most of the tools 😀

  51. Hari Om Sharan :

    How read our mind? ???????? I needed it because I’m gonna start new business very soon

  52. Lata Mangeshkar :

    Can we achieve 1st page Google ranking without appearing exact keywords in title tag?

  53. milon khan :


    Awesome post. Really great tips for a perfect blogging.
    I am now focus on creating high quality
    content for my blog and this
    article really helps me a lot.
    thanks you

  54. Nick Hrynko :

    Hi, Nei!

    Your recommendeition is the best again! But what you can to recommend for start new blog: domain name, contetn strategy and other. I want to start new blog in internet marketing or blogging. What you think about it?

    Best regards?

  55. Aisha Gujral :

    First of all thanks for this another great post Neil! Few of these tools can be used for existing business as well..

  56. its the best post for buissness newcomers.

  57. Good job Neil.
    You always drive the point home

  58. Transport George :

    Having the right tools makes that start up phase of your business more convenient and easy. Thanks Neil for sharing these tools.

  59. Ankush Goel :

    I am on the verge of launching my business but don’t how to do it, but now I know.
    Thanks a lot for these tools.

  60. Good job it was helpful.

  61. Dinesh Dhiman :

    Hello Neil

    I am a frequent reader and find your posts awesome. I have implemented most of your techniques and got positive results. With some effort, I have started receiving about 50 visits a day, not much but given that I work part time on it, I am kind-of feeling positive about it.

    Be it Facebook, Pinterest, Graphics (a post of yours about Canva) and much about everything else, you have been spot-on. I am working on breaking into 100 views per day and getting close. I am readying a FB paid campaign, somewhat nervous about it..

    Will write back again..

    • Congrats! Sounds like you are getting some traction.

      It’s okay to feel nervous, it’s part of the process. Remember to learn everything you can from whatever you do, that’s how you’ll see gains

  62. Hi Neil, thanks for sharing this list. i am using surveymoney, it’s very like you say.

  63. Awesome post once again! I already know about some of these tools still this post taught me something additional. Thanks

  64. Siddhant Minocha :

    Excellent post! There’s one more thing that I would like to add. We have come up with a new tool that can be used for surveys and consumer analysis before starting a business.
    Understanding your consumers is a really important thing if you want to create the right marketing strategy. Our tool gets the right data instantly without letting your users fill surveys.

    You can visit Twitics.co to learn more about the details.

  65. Love these great tools and of course the journey is just about to begin and there are a lot of support out there to help along the journey.

  66. Buzzsumo is my favorite

    I got few new tools.

    Thanks for sharing..

  67. Masum Haider :

    Hey Neil,
    Actually I didn’t try these tools for my business. Because I didn’t start business yet. However, please tell from your personal experience “which the great from these 10 tools?
    Please reply your positive answer and these helps to start my business the right way.

    • It depends with where you are in your process. I say start with survey monkey if you are trying to gauge you audience

  68. Social media sharing tools are one of my top pick as this the big fish on today’s content marketing. Thanks for sharing these tools here.

  69. Great insight. All tools are important for business, as they help to make better strategy and planning for the new business. superb information.

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