I am an entrepreneur at heart. I strive to keep expenses low and my ROI as high as possible. I put together this list of my favorite top 5 inexpensive tools startup entrepreneurs need when getting off the ground. Each tool listed covers a basic need. There are more expensive services out there, but they’re not all created equal. Despite what we often here, you don’t always get more when you pay more. Not in the world of online services at least.

  1. Web Host

    Every entrepreneur needs to set up a domain and hosting. I use and recommend Bluehost.com to my clients for both. They have a variety of affordable plans that can fit any business including a free domain name for the first year. Plus if you ever want to incorporate a store or online payment processing into your website, Bluehost makes it extremely easy to make your site secure with your very own SSL Certificate. Many other hosting providers require someone technical to set up the SSL layer. Bluehost does it with a click of a button for a very affordable price. They also just launched a new plan that comes with WordPress automatically installed. Pricing starts at just $3.95 per month for a basic setup.

    Cost: Plans start at $3.95 per month (WordPress Choice Plus plan recommended, starting at $5.95/month)

  2. WordPress Web Site

    Nowadays you don’t have to be a designer or a programmer to have a beautiful, functional website. You just need WordPress.

    “WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app.” – WordPress.org

    I set up all of my clients with WordPress websites because I want to put the power and control in their hands. You don’t need to rely on a developer or technical person for support (unless you want to). WordPress is a tool that is simple enough for anyone to learn. WordPress includes a user-supported library of hundreds of thousands of plugins to help make your life easier. Some cost money, but many more are simply free to use. If you can think of it, someone else has likely created a plugin to help you do it on your website. If you want to take your site to the next level, I also recommend the Divi page builder by Elegant Themes. Divi is drag-and-drop design at it’s finest! Elegant Themes has hundreds of themes to choose from, too. SimplyYesMarketing.com runs on WordPress + Divi and their theme called “Extra.” I love it!

    WordPress cost: FREE!
    Elegant Themes cost: $89 per year, or $249 one time

  3. Email List Service Provider

    Every business needs a place to manage their list of customers with room to grow. GetResponse is my new go-to email service provider. I love how easy their tools are to set up and use, especially when it comes to setting up auto-responders. Plus, they don’t just offer email marketing services. They also include landing pages and webinars. What more could you ask for? How about top-notch customer service with great step-by-step guides and tutorials. Oh, and if you’re an Affiliate marketer, GetResponse is Affiliate Marketer friendly. You will love GetResponse. Plans include a 30-day trial and start at just $15 per month (or less if you pay for a year or two upfront) and a FREE 90-day training program.

    Cost: Free 30-day trial, $15/month after that

  4. Payment Gateway

    I use a few different payment gateways, but at a basic starting point, everyone should at least have a business PayPal account. They are free with no monthly fees or subscription costs. PayPal simply takes a small percentage of each transaction (2.9% + $0.30 per sale). There are no hidden fees. Simple to use and easy to access. Plus, as an entrepreneur, PayPal Credit provide 6 months 0% interest on purchases over $100. This is not just good for you, but also good for business when you add it as a payment option on your own checkout pages.

    If your customer management system takes credit card payments and they do NOT integrate with PayPal (this is rare but I’ve seen it happen), I then recommend either Square or Stripe. Often times one or the other is accepted by CMS tools. Both Square and Stripe are free with minimal per-transaction fees. They also offer daily or weekly automatic deposits into your checking account for any payments received. I like getting my money without having to request the transfer -sorry PayPal. I’m still hoping you eventually add that feature.  Out of the 3 listed, I personally use Square the most for in-person and online transactions.

    PayPal Cost: Free account, 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (manual funds transfer to your bank)
    Sign Up for PayPal
    Square Cost: Free account, 2.75% per transaction (automatic funds transfer to your bank in as little as 1 business day)
    Sign Up for Square
    Stripe Cost: Free account, 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (automatic funds transfer to your bank every 2 days, weekly, or monthly)
    Sign Up for Stripe

  5. WordPress Plugins

    Now that you have a website up and running, there are a few FREE plugins that I recommend to help you manage and keep your shiny new site safely up and running. I have a long list of other WordPress plugins that I love to use, but not everyone needs them. These are just the basics!

    • Wordfence – this is one of the first plugins I install with all WordPress sites I build. Wordfence has paid levels of service, but even their free version helps keep hackers from accessing your site. This is important!

      FREE for basic
      Plugin Details: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/
    • Akismet – this plugin has a free option (even though they don’t make it appear that way – just don’t sign up for their paid options, basic functionality will still be available to you if you skip that step). Akismet is a spam-fighting machine. It will automatically (and correctly) mark blog post comments on your site as spam without you having to sort through which ones are legitimate and which ones are not. Legitimate comments will still get through and be waiting for you to approve or respond to before appearing live on your site.

      FREE for basic
      Plugin Details: https://wordpress.org/plugins/akismet/
  6. Stock Images

    Pixabay - Cup of CoffeeWhen you’re getting started, paying for a stock image account can be rather costly. But not to worry. There are plenty of royalty-free, creative commons licensing stock image sites out there. My personal favorite is Pixabay. They have a decent collection of stock photography and illustrations that are free for commercial use without attribution.  Just buy the artists a “cup of coffee” from time to time to show your appreciation. The image used on this post is one from Pixabay.

    Cost: FREE or a “Cup of Coffee” donation
    Create an Account


I hope you found this list of 5 inexpensive tools startup entrepreneurs need to be helpful. If you have any other tools you would recommend for startup entrepreneurs, I’d love to hear about them.