Starting a business is always hard work – but the startup boom has seen growth in businesses servicing startups’ needs.
This means it’s never been easier to achieve scale and professional quality, especially in the early days, with very little effort (and money).
In order to get your startup sorted, here are my top 10 essential tool picks for any new startup.
Today, businesses live and die by their online presence – and there’s no simpler way to get one than with Squarespace. Designed from the ground up for the non-coder and non-designer, with Squarespace it’s easy to design and build your own beautiful website. Set your own free custom domain, pick from a template and insert your own copy, images and functional elements as you need them. What’s more, Squarespace offers simple commerce functions, metrics tools and $100 Google AdWords Credit for business users. Subscriptions are very reasonably priced, starting at $18 for businesses per month when billed annually, or $26 on a month-by-month basis.
Many small business owners find themselves spending hours after hours pouring over a shoebox of receipts and invoices, pay slips and paperwork. Xero is a simple and intuitive piece of accounting software which helps you crunch the numbers and stay on top of your cash flow without all the overtime. Process expense claims, keep on eye on inventory, invoice suppliers, reconcile bank transactions and pay your employees all in one simple dashboard, and in real-time. Xero has the added advantage of integrating with over 500 business apps, such as PayPal, eWay and, naturally, Dropbox Business. Plans start from $25 a month for smaller enterprises and go up to $60.
Regular emails are a great way to keep your stakeholders up to date with your progress, particularly in your startup’s infancy. Mailchimp makes it easy to send beautiful HTML designed emails en masse, to your investors, suppliers, potential customers, friends and family. With Mailchimp you can pick from a template or create your own from scratch. Embed a simple signup form on your website, include video and images in rich designs, track opens and clicks – even test A/B subject lines for the best result. Import and split contacts into separate lists for personalisation, and include custom name-drops thanks to Mailchimp’s support of dynamic content. The free plan, aptly called Forever Free, is great for businesses on their first feet – for subscriber lists no greater than 2000, and 12,000 emails a month.
Trello helps you cut down on internal emails, get better visibility over who’s working on what, and keep everything you need in the one place. When you use Trello a virtual dashboard lists tasks and allows you to post comments for instant feedback. You can also upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and invite as many people to your Trello Board as you need. Overall, it’s a great collaboration tool that helps you organise projects of any size. And better yet, it’s free to sign up.
As a developer, Segment enables you to integrate a number of analytic tools fast and efficiently. You can collect customer data with one API and send it to hundreds of tools for analytics, marketing, and data warehousing. You can track customer interactions once, on any platform and combine multiple data sources into one platform.
In the early days, things can change quickly and you have to be adaptive. Slack is a messenger app and collaboration tool for teams to stay on the same page at all times. Forget numerous emails back and forth and forgetting to CC in relevant recipients each time. In Slack, each job, project or team can have its own channel, designated by a custom-made hashtag. Team members can be added to this channel as need be, and everything from pictures, to audio, video and larger files can be transferred directly through chat. Pricing is very fair, starting at zero for very small teams, to $15 billed monthly for teams with greater needs, such as guaranteed uptime, 24/7 support, and directory syncing with services like OneLogin, Okta and Ping. Slack is bringing out an option specifically for large enterprises later in the year.
If you’re working in B2B sales, you’ll definitely want to take a look at Rapportive. It’s a plug-in for Gmail that integrates with LinkedIn and allows you to see profile pictures of the people who are contacting you along with their job title, company, and connections that you might have in common – all without leaving your inbox.
8. Dropbox Business
More than 150,000 businesses and organisations around the globe have adopted Dropbox Business as a file storage and collaboration solution. The integrations available also mean that Dropbox Business can work seamlessly with Salesforce, Xero, Docusign, Office 365, Adobe, and more.
9. LinkedIn Solutions
Making necessary introductions with investors, industry specialists and suppliers is vital for a small business with a big idea – and there’s no more widely used platform by professionals than LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers a variety of solutions for professionals looking to network, such as their Premium membership offering which lets you send InMail to unknown connections, boost your visibility and easily track visits to your LinkedIn profile. A lesser known offering by LinkedIn is LinkedIn Sales Solutions, or LSS for short. A lot has been written about social selling – the art of proposing a business opportunity to potentially interested parties through friends of friends. LSS makes social selling easier, allowing you to track organisations in the news, recognise key decision makers within an organisation from a distance, and when the time comes, to make contact for the greatest chance of success.
Streak is a tool that allows you to run CRM inside Gmail. It’s a great tool for organising deal flows and making sales systemised for everyone in your team.
Henry Weaver is the Head of Community at Fishburners, Australia’s largest startup co-working space