Must-Have Tools for Bootstrapped Startups: A Handpicked List for New Ventures

Bootstrapped startups have to be more mindful of cash flow than startups with external funding.

With a business model solely built on sweat equity and grit, you don’t have millions of dollars in venture capital to invest in your business plans.

Every successful company needs tools to operate, however, and bootstrapped startups are no exception.

Because every penny of your operating costs is valuable, we’ve handpicked a list of must-have tools for your business venture.

We’ve broken down the tools into categories for easy browsing.

Let’s start with the tools that’ll keep your business plans moving forward.

Productivity Tools

Productivity tools keep things running smoothly between teams across your startup. Organization is the primary key to any successful business. These tools will help you accomplish it.

Project management – Asana

Project management tools can be tricky to choose because different teams have different needs. The design team may have different tracking needs than the content team, which has different needs from the developers and so on.

screenshot of Asana project management board

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Asana suits everyone’s needs with an easy-to-use interface and a free plan for up to 15 users. This makes it ideal for small teams operating on a lean business model.

Collaboration – Google Workspace

Google Workspace gives you access to all the collaboration tools you’ll need to share work and communicate effectively across geography and time zones.

The basic plan will give you access to professional email, shared calendars, document editing and storage, video conferencing, and more.

Even better, many on your team already know how to use it, so the learning curve will be minimal company-wide.

Task management – Calendly

Startup founders understand that time is money. Time spent on administrative tasks is time not spent on launching flagship products, scoping out business opportunities, and making business decisions.

Calendly is a lifesaver in this regard.

Instead of endless back and forth when it comes to setting up crucial meetings, you set up your Calendly once and send a link.

screenshot of Calendly meeting setup example

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Whoever is meeting with you can choose from a list of available times, and the time is automatically added to your calendars without muss or fuss.

You avoid a world of administrative hassle and are firmly in control of your time.

Communication Tools

Whether you’re an early startup or a Fortune 500 company, the ability to communicate quickly and easily across geography and time zones is essential in the modern workplace, especially if you work on a fully remote or hybrid work model.

Use these tools to help streamline the process.

Video conferencing – Zoom One (formerly Zoom)

The pandemic made Zoom a globally recognized name, and it still consistently ranks number one in 2024s “best of” picks.

There’s other video conferencing software on the market. And if you’ve opted for Google Workspace, you already have Google Meet in your tech stack.

But Zoom One is pretty nifty in its AI transcription capabilities, calendar integrations, text chat, and note-taking options. Whether you need to shell out for Zoom One or any other video conferencing software with limited funds will depend entirely on your size, needs, and business goals.

Our advice: keep it simple until your rapid growth demands more tech support.

Instant messaging – Zoho Cliq

Slack usually wins the day for the most powerful instant messaging tool with the best features and integrations. Slack is top-tier, but running on a lean business model, Zoho Cliq will give you the same functionality at a fraction of the cost.

screenshot of Zoho Cliq instant messaging example

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Zoho Cliq’s free tier includes private and company channels but no team channels, which can be a drawback. However, its paid tier is inexpensive at $3 per person per month for the first 500 users and removes those limitations.

Customer support – Zendesk

Excellent customer service is a way for newer startups to compete with industry giants. If you become known for your quick and efficient help, your brand authority and loyal customer base will expand.

Zendesk offers startups six months of use for free, which is hard to beat.

Zendesk focuses on bringing all customer communications to one place. This helps prevent tickets from falling through the cracks and helps improve all aspects of the customer experience.

With a free six months, you can try it out without fear. Make a note of what you like and what you don’t care for, and shop around if it isn’t for you.

Board portal software – OnBoard

Board portal software is a platform that allows all stakeholders to have collaborative access to the same assets. They can access necessary documents, manage availability, annotate and share notes, review past minutes, reports, and materials, and update documents for everyone in real time.

For startups, this kind of cohesion is crucial to ongoing organizational success. You’ll have many meetings with external investors and other stakeholders, and organization is critical.

OnBoard is a secure board management platform that drives real-time collaboration and effective management.

screenshot of OnBoard meeting software dashboard

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With Zoom integration, you can host meetings, sign documents, build notes, give presentations, manage tasks, view past briefs, and chat with a secure messenger all in one platform.

It’s easy to use, easy to navigate, and guaranteed to keep you on track from the top down.

Marketing and Growth Tools

Successful bootstrapping requires consistent growth, and growth requires marketing. With the right suite of tools, your marketing efforts will drive growth from the inside out.

Email marketing – Zoho Campaigns

Zoho wins again for being the most cost-effective.

Zoho Campaigns’ Forever Free plan includes 2k contacts, 6,000 emails/mo, and five users.

This is MUCH more affordable than other better-known platforms like MailChimp. And you retain all of the functionality you’ll need for lucrative email campaigns, including compliance checks, ready-made templates, and integrated signup forms.

(Bonus points: it also integrates with Zendesk and Google Workspace, making your life a whole lot easier.)

Email Finder – ContactOut

ContactOut draws from a vast contact information database to help users find the email addresses and phone numbers of professionals across various industries.
The tool has a free version that lets users find 4 emails and 2 phone numbers per day. The premium version starts at $79 per month.
The tool’s main feature is an email finder Chrome extension that lets users find the email addresses of LinkedIn users, as well as the contact information of decision-makers associated with company websites. It also has other useful features like people and company search, email verification and CRM integration, making it useful for recruiters, sales teams, and marketing professionals who need to connect directly with decision-makers.

SEO research tool – KWFinder

You’re going to need an SEO research tool to scale organic traffic with content marketing. You can get by with Google Search Console for free for a short time, but if you truly want to be competitive, you’re going to need SEO data.

Ahrefs is a powerhouse SEO tool, but it’s quite costly. The cheapest payment tier is $99/mo and goes as high as $999/mo.

If there’s room in your budget, go for the powerhouse.

If you’re wanting to start lean, we suggest Mangool’s KWFinder.

screenshot of KWFinder SEO research tool

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KWFinder starts at $19.90 a month. This price tier gives you everything you need to create and scale optimized content with an intuitive interface.

Any content management system

To put it plainly, you need a blogging platform. What blogging platform you have will usually depend on where you build your website.

Many companies build sites on WordPress, and some are custom-made. Whatever setup you have, make sure you have blogging capabilities with a sensible editor that’s easy to use.

You don’t want to be pulling your hair out every time you want to publish a new blog post or add a new web page.

Formatting should be simple and easy to integrate, and photos should be easy to add and resize. Extra points for helpful optimization plugins.

CRM software – Hubspot

Hubspot gives you a comprehensive view of your sales pipeline and is 100% free.

Like most tools of its ilk, you can add paid features. But the truth is, the free tools are more than enough without shelling out the simoleons.

You can keep every team’s work cohesive with Hubspot since it includes free tools for marketing, operations, customer service teams, and sales. You stay organized in one place and avoid paying for half a dozen different subscriptions for many platforms.

Financial Management Tools

You want to be certain that your startup’s finances remain organized. Choosing the right tools to support your business’s financial management upfront will save you many migraines later.

Revenue growth planning – Close’s Revenue Growth Calculator

Especially as a bootstrapped startup, you need to have a tight plan for growth which ensures sound risk management and enables you to smartly invest resources and efforts. Close’s Revenue Growth Calculator will help you with this essential process.

You insert a few pieces of info, including a realistic desired annual growth target, your revenue model, and your current revenue numbers. Based on that, you get a quite accurate estimate about the number of leads you’ll need to get where you want to be.

The tool neatly displays a monthly number of necessary leads and the necessary conversion rate. This also lets you realistically adjust your goals if you determine you don’t have enough resources to achieve them.

Close’s Revenue Growth Calculator is free and particularly aimed at startups and small businesses working in all sectors.

Accounting software – Zoho Books

And Zoho wins again!

Like the other Zoho products on this list, Zoho Books has it all without a faint-inducing sticker price.

Zoho Books covers payables, receivables, inventory, time tracking, banking, reports, and everything you need to keep your business tax-compliant.

If your business makes $50K or less per year, you’re eligible for the free plan. From there, pricing tiers rise from a modest $20/month to $275/month. There’s a slight discount for all plans if you pay annually instead of monthly.

Invoicing and billing – QuickBooks Online

While not the cheapest software (Zoho has a free invoice tool), QuickBooks Online is the most comprehensive.

The lowest tier starts at $15/month, but you’ll get the most out of it if you subscribe to their Plus plan ($45/month) or higher.

Screenshot of Quickbooks dashboard

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This tier allows you to mark expenses as billable and lets your clients pay in increments.

All plans allow recurring invoices, and you can accept ACH transfers and Venmo payments in addition to charging cards.

Security and Data Protection Tools

Good data security is vital to any business, especially those in the digital space. Passwords, privacy, backups, and protection from cyber-attacks are all vital to the successful continuation of your startup.

Here are some tools we suggest for your security.

Password management – LastPass

The modern worker juggles many different platforms in their work and personal life. Each requires a password for access. To add to the complexity, every password you use must be unique and 8–12 characters long. Then, there’s also the challenge of securely sharing passwords among team members who share profiles, tools, or platforms.

Enter LastPass.

LastPass securely stores usernames, passwords, and even credit card information. Even better, it auto-populates forms and login pages, taking out the memory work for your passwords while keeping them secure.

The Premium version also allows for secure password sharing. This means you can share passwords with your team without the fear of security breaches.

Data backup and recovery – Datto ALTO

Data loss is a huge threat to startups, and many aren’t prepared for it. In the pursuit of growing fast on limited capital, data recovery and backup solutions aren’t top of mind.

But one critical loss can catastrophically affect your business, even grinding it to a standstill.

Datto ALTO is a business continuity and disaster recovery solution that can quickly get you back in business if the worst happens.

Datto ALTO includes verified backups, restore options for any scenario, instant virtualization, and ransomware protection.

Since the complexity of your business will determine the size and complexity of the product, you must request pricing through the Datto website to get a breakdown of what price to expect.

Cybersecurity software – Huntress

No business is immune from cyber attacks. You want to put a good defense in place so you can grow your business without fear.

Huntress offers just that. With stellar end-point detection and response managed by their team of experts, you can rest easy.

screenshot of Huntress cybersecurity dashboard

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Huntress provides 24/7 security monitoring. They detect, investigate, and isolate threats before they become catastrophic to your business.

As a founder, you don’t have time to monitor cyber threats yourself. You also can’t afford to leave yourself vulnerable by not addressing cyber security until it’s too late.

If it meets your needs, you may start a free trial without needing a credit card and proceed from there.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right tools can save you hundreds of hours and endless resources.

Technological advances have made it easy to automate mind-numbing tasks. While some tools need setup and have a learning curve, it’s well worth the effort. If you set your business up effectively from the start, it will run smoothly as you go.

Use this list as a starting point to explore what’s right for your business. All-in-one solutions save money. But don’t be afraid to shop around and try several free trials until you find the right fit.

Once you’ve found what works, your business will be set up to continue growing for years to come.

Author Bio:

Kelly Moser is the co-founder and editor at Home & Jet, a digital magazine for the modern era. She’s also the content manager at Login Lockdown, covering the latest trends in tech, business and security. Kelly is an expert in freelance writing and content marketing for SaaS, Fintech, and ecommerce startups.