All posts by richbilt

Research

Whether researching a new or existing market to understand customers and competition, or looking into Intellectual property rights to protect your idea, research is an important part of the process for any start-up business. Here you’ll find our links to pages about different types of research.

Market Research

Intellectual Property and Patents

 

Intellectual Property & Patents

For many businesses, exploiting and protecting Intellectual Property (or IP) rights is a core business activity. So it’s essential you do your homework to find out if others are treading on your toes – or if you’re infringing others’ intellectual property rights.

Here are a number of resources that will help you search various countries’ patents and find IP information.

You can perform free searches of the US Patent Office and find EU, German and Japanese patent documents at FPO, a free resource that includes blogs and articles on IP. You can also visit the US, EU and and UK patent offices directly, all of which have plenty of free tools and resources covering patents, copyright and trade marks.

If you’d like to license out your own intellectual property, Creative Commons offers a simple, standardised way to protect and share your IP.

Computer Tune-up & Maintenance Tools

When a computer’s new, it should run flawlessly. But as you use it and install software and applications, it’ll start to slow down. That’s usually because things like temporary files begin to clog up your hard drives, and registry entries and file links become corrupted or broken.

In these cases, you probably need the help of computer tune-up and maintenance software. These tools remove unnecessary links and corrupt files and attempt to clean your computer’s operating system to return it back to an optimised state. Below are some free tools designed to restore the health of your computer.

PC tune-up and maintenance software

Piriform’s CCleaner is one of the highest recommended tools for PCs. It has a free version and can be set to run in the background to monitor your system and keep it optimised. Similarly, IObit’s free Advanced System Care is great for optimising  and includes a registry cleaner and spy/adware removal tool.

Mac tune-up and optimising software

You can download the free Mac version of CCleaner which is great for optimising your Mac as well as offering online security and cookie management. OnyX is a free utility for verifying startup and system files and system maintenance.

Inspirational Marketing Articles

How do you get your business noticed? How do you use social media to create a buzz? On this page, we’ll link to great case studies and reading gathered from around the web.

If you find any great marketing resources we should share, please use the submissions box at the bottom of the page.

How Dropbox, Reddit, Quora, Foursquare, Groupon, Tinder & Airbnb promoted their fledgling businesses. A Fascinating article found on Reddit. 

Business Startup Fascinating Articles

Inspirational and instructional articles for startups will be linked below. If you come across great articles that you think must be shared with the startup community, please use the submissions box at the bottom of the page.

How Dropbox, Reddit, Quora, Foursquare, Groupon, Tinder & Airbnb promoted their fledgling businesses. A Fascinating article found on Reddit. 

Website Tools and Utilities

If you own or run a website, you’re always going to need tools to check it’s fit for purpose. Here are a selection of free and insightful tools you’ll find useful.

SEO

For a tool that quickly crawls your website and finds important SEO-relevant information such as meta tags and page errors, Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a fantastic utility that allows you to quickly audit your website. It works on Windows, OS X and Ubuntu.

Links

To check your site for broken hyperlinks, download Xenu’s Link Sleuth – available for Windows/Ubuntu (instructions for running on OS X available on the site). Running the app will scour your site and report on various errors and broken links.

Free Mockup and Design Tools

It’s always useful to be able to mock-up what a screen will look like before entering the asset creation phase. But it can be a little daunting if you’re unused to paint or photo-manipulation software.

However, there are some tools which have been created to make the design of websites and software that bit easier – if you know where to look…

Balsamiq isn’t free software, but the trial version is fully functional for 30 days which should give you time to design whatever it is you need on a smaller project. It’s available through the browser or to download for Windows and Mac – and is just a fabulous and easy to use mockup design tool.

Invision offers a fully free version which allows you to not only create wireframes, but is also a collaborative design tool used by lots of larger software companies.

There’s a 15 day free trial version of HotGloos wireframing and website mockup tool, thereafter their starter plan is €4 per month. However, MockFlow offer a basic free account for one designer with their wireframing and collaboration tool. MockFlow is also particularly intuitive to use.

Free Video Players

Built-in system video players are useful but are often limited in their ability to play all video formats – especially older videos. So if you’re struggling to play a video or would just like something better, y ou might want to try one of these class-leading video players instead.

Videolan produce the massively popular free VLC media player which is great for playing more or less all video files, DVDs and audio formats. It works with on Windows, Mac, Linux as well as iOS and android devices.

Kodi (formerly XBMC) is a fully-featured free and open-source media centre and video player for OSX, Windows, iOS, Android and Linux which is great for media play back as well as streaming over networks.

For a Windows-only player that’s adept with more or less any codec, Potplayer is hard to beat and is widely thought of as the best Windows video player.

Best Free Firewalls

Firewall software protects your computer, tablet or phone by monitoring the data coming in and out of your device to ensure nothing nasty gets in.

It’s important that all your devices have up to date firewall and antivirus software installed and working at all times. And while the software that comes in-built with your hardware will often do an adequate job, there’s a couple of problems.

First, adequate might not be quite good enough to protect you from the latest threats. Second, after an introductory free period, they’ll often quickly start to charge. Obviously you don’t want to pay, and the good news is there’s no need as there are some excellent free firewalls around.

Here, we look at the best free firewalls for your business PC or Mac.

Best Free PC Firewalls

Zonealarm is probably the best-known free firewall available for the PC. It is simple to install and widely regarded as offering good quality protection.

Another well-regarded, back to basics free firewall is Privatefirewall. It allows you to control access to your computer from websites and gives secure access to trusted programs while working silently in the background.

Free Mac/OSX Firewalls

Macs usually come with their in-built firewall software turned off.  Which is weird because Macs are prone to hack attacks too. Go into ‘system preferences > security & privacy’ to check if your firewall’s on or off (and turn it on).

The only other popular firewall for the Mac is Murus. The lite version is free for personal and business use and has a simple interface which is relatively easy to configure.

Free Websites

Every business wants and needs a good quality website. But they can be a real drain on resources – whether paying for your domain name and hosting or administrating the content.

But there are ways to reduce the cost and time spent on creating your website, and it’s never been easier to do things yourself  with just a small amount of know-how.

Follow our links below and you’ll discover lots of free and low-cost ways to find your ideal website address and quickly get up, running and productive.