Quite possibly the biggest challenge that we face as a small business is choosing which applications, products, and services to buy when we have an unmet need and which vendors to trust. So what’s a small business to do when faced with a myriad of options and no obvious “right” decision.

Enter Best Vendor. BestVendor helps people at startups and small businesses make faster, smarter purchasing decisions through social recommendations. Their vision is to become the first place you go whenever you need to figure out what to buy for your business, much like Amazon is for books and Yelp is for restaurants.

Their initial offering is a give-to-get community in which you share and rate a few products that you use in your business. In return, you’re allowed to see what products and providers everyone else uses and recommends, including companies in your industry and individuals in your social network. BestVendor recently conducted a survey of 550 individuals at startups with up to 100 employees with the objective being: To figure out the “Startup’s Toolkit” — the products and providers leading the way among the nimblest and most tech-savvy new businesses. The results are both vindicating (knowing that I’ve made similar purchasing decisions to other start-up companies across many of the categories) and quite revealing. Among the more interesting facts:

  • Google Analytics, Gmail, Quickbooks top list of 10 most popular startup tools.
  • 71% of startup execs use QuickBooks.
  • 59% of startup execs use Salesforce for CRM.
  • MailChimp is leading email marketing system for startups, with 30% using it.
  • Idea Paint: “We painted our office with this stuff and it turned our walls into whiteboards!”
  • 39% of startup execs use Dropbox for storage.

They also created an awesome infographic (and I love good infographics) detailing their findings:

BestVendor Start-up Toolkit Infographic

You can read more about the survey, download a .pdf of the findings, or get yourself a full-sized version of the infographic on their website: BestVendor.

If you are responsible for finding and choosing technology solutions for your business, BestVendor may be a site worth keeping an eye on. Here’s my question for readers: what other resources do you use to make technology related purchasing decisions? Word of mouth? Research? Social Networks? Something else? Let me know if the comments below!