A start-up owner needs to wear many hats at the same time, and this one-person show needs some support. It is never easy to do sales, marketing, accountancy, and planning while thinking about the next big idea. In this craziness, the savvy entrepreneur will try to find some tech tools and apps to rely on. Here is a list of a few essentials which are reliable, user-friendly and will save some valuable time.
When you are leading multiple projects, it is easy to lose track and to miss important details or tasks altogether. A great project has a clear timeline, complete with milestones, team members and feedback for each stage. There are currently two tools, each with its loyal fans.
The first one is Trello, which offers an overview of each project divided by stages. The user can add as many steps as they want and customize the layout. Each task has dates attached, but if you need more of a calendar view, we recommend Asana instead. It comes with timeline and calendar views, and you can use these if you want to see how you can split your time between multiple projects. Asana is the tool of choice for most IT teams.
Accounting and Finance
One of the most dreadful activities for new business owners is keeping track of their expenses. Luckily, there are a few tools out there to make cash flow tracking easier and invoicing faster and more accurate.
Quickbooks is a multi-platform tool which is designed to help small businesses keep track of their accounting in a user-friendly manner. The close competitor is FreshBooks which offers mainly the same business proposition and a bit of project management.
We also love Expensify, especially if your business forces you to keep track of bills, travel costs, and other similar expenses.
When it comes to managing your finances, it is also essential to choose a flexible bank which offers great DIY options, like BBVA Compass bank. Always ask about packages or facilities for start-ups and never be afraid to negotiate with the bank.
Depending on your business vertical, you will need to think about online marketing through different channels. An encompassing tool is Hootsuite which lets you manage all your social media channels in on place. You can start with three platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram/Twitter) and go to the paid version when you need more.
When it comes to looking at website metrics, one of the most useful tools is Moz. It shows how your page ranks against competitors.
Of course, this list would not be complete without MailChimp, the all-powerful, WordPress mergeable e-mail marketing suite. Send newsletters, vouchers and keep track of the opening rates, or export all these in another tool to centralize.
Sales and CRM
When you are just growing your business, you need to keep your customers (and leads) happy, and well taken care of. There are several CRM (customer relationship management) tools out there, but we would recommend Hubspot. In a comprehensive dashboard, you can keep track of customers, prospects, including all the communication you had with each of them and track progress.
Knowing where each entity stands along your pipeline makes it easier to track actions and make the necessary changes to move people further down the sales funnel. Closing a sale just means putting the client in maintenance and upsell mode.
Reporting and Business Intelligence
Proper feedback makes a company grow, and analytics offers a clear perspective on what works and what doesn’t. The problem is that most start-ups have modest budgets and reporting software usually designed for large corporations doesn’t come cheap. However, there are SaaS solutions like Qlik View and Zoho or even Sisense which offers its tools for free to qualifying start-ups and has been voted as the best BI Software of 2018.
Some of these tools are interconnected or double as CRM services, so you need to explore if you need a distinct solution, or you could use only one, which is versatile enough.
Even if the previously mentioned tools save you a great deal of time, when it comes to connecting them and eliminating as much redundancy as possible, you might be looking for solutions again. We love Podio and Zapier most. Podio doubles as a project management tool next to automation workflow in the paid version, while Zapier interconnects platforms like GSuite, Dropbox, social media and more.
The best thing about such tools is that they require no coding knowledge, just a bit of logic. Anybody can use them and improve workflows of the organization by removing some steps which would otherwise be done manually. This also prevents some errors which are due to copy-pasting.
We hope we have inspired you to adopt some modern solutions to free your time and grow your company.