The ultimate checklist for startup agencies

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If you can design

Don't spend tons of dough on software. GIMP is an amazing open-source program if you want a free version of Photoshop. GIMP is capable of versatile graphics manipulation with a custom interface, photo enhancement capabilities, digital retouching, and hardware support.

Irfanview is also fantastic. It happens to be one of the most popular (and free!) programs for viewing photos, converting file formats, batch processing, and more.

Save time, because time is money

Manage your time wisely with services like, a marketplace to find reliable people right in your neighborhood who can help you get your to-do list done.

A similar service called Fancy Hands also provides low-cost assistants and help for entrepreneurs. They'll help you schedule travel accommodations, dinner reservations, and execute various types of tasks related to research.

But wait, there's more! is also another helpful marketplace for small services, starting at $5. (Yep, that's right, only 5 bucks!)  Services include graphic design, video, animation, online marketing, writing, translation, advertising, programming, and more.

If you're working with a team and have employees or contractors, manage them easily with ShiftPlanning and take the hassle out of scheduling, time clocks and payroll. There's nothing to download or install with full mobile access and browser support. They're basically available anywhere you have an internet connection.

Increase work productivity

Personally, I'm obsessed with optimizing work productivity. It's essential if your goal is to get more than four hours of sleep per night.

Check out Yammer, a private social network (like Twitter) for your company. Use it to collaborate across departments and geographies to manage deliverables for your clients. Access it from the web, your mobile device, or tablet. Yammer supports various API integration so you can customize the experience to best match your needs. Best of all, it comes with analytics and security so you can monitor and control Yammer.

Throw away your flash drive and get on Dropbox. Take your files and work wherever you are. Dropbox is a free service with premium plans (if needed) that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. This means any file you save into your online Dropbox account or folder on your computer, phone, or tablet will save and sync so you have access to it anytime, without the hassle of transferring files from device to device.

Need a way to remember everything?  Meeting notes?  Ideas?  Things that inspire you?  Get Evernote to help you capture and access your information from anywhere. For example, if you take notes on your mobile phone with Evernote during a meeting, it will automatically be available and accessible on your desktop computer when it's time to get things done or refresh your memory.



Clayton Mitchell
Clayton Mitchell November 27, 2012 at 9:32 PM

While I do think there is some valuable information in here, I'm a little miffed that you would recommend 99designs as a source for design work. This is a site that is damaging the marketing community - no agency, that will need to bill at a relatively decent hourly rate should be supporting this website. There are decent opportunities to get good work out of that site, yes, but it's allowing companies to go around agencies, which makes it more of a struggle in the industry. Sure, I get that the landscape is changing for agencies, but cheap and inexpensive doesn't mean quality a lot of the time (I've never seen a submission from a designer through that site that includes trademark research). I could go on, but I think the focal point of my statement is clear.