When you’ve made the decision to start a business, figuring out where to start and the tools to use can seem daunting. We suggest tackling it step by step to get up and running quickly and with minimal effort. To help we’ve put together a list of tools that we think are essential to any business starting out.
Google have a suite of products under their GSuite platform which include email hosting, document management and collaboration tools including calendar and all for as little as $5 a month per user. It’s super easy to set up and ultra reliable, you’ll be able to use your email address with your domain name – so don’t think you’re tied to using @gmail.com. Well worth a look.
MailChimp is an email marketing service used by more than 12 million people and businesses around the world. MailChimp’s features and integrations allow you to send marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. It provides detailed reports help you keep improving over time.
Campaign Monitor gives you everything you need to run beautifully-designed, professional email marketing campaigns to grow your business with drag-and-drop simplicity. Pick from hundreds of professionally-designed templates or make your own branded campaign that looks great on every device.
More than 200,000 designers, agencies, and amazing companies of all shapes and sizes rely on Campaign Monitor to manage their email marketing needs.
Never miss a call and give customers a professional welcome when you’re away from the phone. OfficeHQ have staff all over Australia and will answer your phone when it rings out or if a call is declined. They’ll answer the phone with your company name and take a message for you. It’s a great first impression for customers when you’re unable to answer the phone. (Disclaimer. We use OfficeHQ and have teamed up with the team there to provide a great offer)
Office and Parking Space for your Business
When you’re starting out it’s easy to feel that you’re on your own when you sit alone. The prospect of leasing an office can seem very daunting. You’re going to be busy setting up and running your own business so we suggest starting off on the right foot and renting an office near by from a business with spare space. Rubberdesk is the Airbnb for offices, where you can rent as much office space as you need by the month. You’ll be around others to stay motivated and to potentially collaborate with – so why not give it a go.
You’ve found the office and now need somewhere to park the car – well the folks at spacer.com have a solution for you that doesn’t involve expensive carparks. Spacer is a marketplace for storage and parking – putting you in touch with people who have spare space to rent. It’s affordable and easy.
Social Media Tools
Hootsuite is one of many tools referred to as a “Social Media Management System” or tool. It helps you keep track and manage your many social network channels. It can enable you to monitor what people are saying about your brand and help you respond instantly.
Hootsuite is the most widely used platform for managing social media. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube. Additional integrations are available via Hootsuite’s App Directory, including MailChimp. The company has more than 10 million users in over 175 countries.
CrowdFire app is the jet-fuel to your social media campaign. The app tracks your Twitter and Instagram stats, displays followers, unfollowers, inactive users, admirers and more.
With over 10 million users, CrowdFire allows you to manage your Twitter and Instagram accounts far more effectively by tracking your stats and post impressions, finding inactive users and unfollowers.
Google Drive is a file storage and synchronisation service created by Google. It allows users to store files in the cloud, share files, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with collaborators.
Store your files securely and access them from any device using Google Drive. You can also open and edit your files from any device. You automatically get 15 GB of storage for free and you can buy more storage.
Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronisation, personal cloud, and client software.
It simplifies the way you create, share and collaborate. You can synchronise files across devices, all accessible via the website and mobile apps. They use a freemium business model, where users are offered a free account with a set storage size and paid subscriptions for accounts with more capacity.
With dapulse, you plan your projects and work on them, creating real and fluid planning. A tool your team will actually use, dapulse comes with built-in addiction. It saves your team huge amounts of time on meetings and gets rid of painfully long email threads.
Today’s teams need the ability to work together dynamically. You need a place to centralise all communication and keep everyone engaged and focused on what matters. dapulse shows who’s responsible for what. This gives people incredible recognition and accountability for their work.
Slack is a fantastic communication tool. It surely reduces the need for email and acts as a real-time collaboration platform. The channels are super flexible and allow for public or private communication strings focused on project specific or role specific chat.
It’s meant for teams and workplaces, can be used across multiple devices and platforms, and is equipped with robust features that allow you to not only chat one-on-one with associates but also in groups. You’re able to upload and share files with them too, as well as integrate with other apps and services, such as Skype for video calls, and you can granularly control almost every setting, including the ability to create custom emoji.
Beginning with the hiring process and through project completion, Upwork makes it easy to communicate with and pay your freelancers online. This includes Upwork Messages, which allows for real-time sharing and collaboration.
Upwork has twelve million registered freelancers and five million registered clients. Three million jobs are posted annually, worth a total of $1 billion USD, making it the world’s largest freelancer marketplace.
Freelancer is a platform, which as the name suggests puts freelancers around the world in touch with clients who need work done. There’s everything from copywriting to website development and at all price points. Run competitions for work – especially useful for graphic design work. With the competitions you put your design spec out there with a prize for the winning entry and freelancers contribute their designs. These competitions work best when you provide feedback on the entries that you like and why, as the best freelancers will read your feedback and respond with tweaks and improvements. If you’re getting a logo designed this is where we’d go.
Shopify is a complete ecommerce solution that allows you to set up an online store to sell your goods. It lets you organise your products, customise your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders — all with a few clicks of the mouse.
Shopify API allows developers to create applications for Shopify online stores and then sell them on the Shopify App Store. Shopify Payments allows merchants to accept credit cards without requiring a third party payment gateway.
Strikingly is a website builder that allows the user, with little or no development experience, to create mobile optimized websites within minutes. The website builder also includes built-in SEO features, social media plug-ins, page analytics, and form/email collecting functionalities. They aimed the product at both individuals and small businesses to showcase portfolios, digital resumes, events, start-up projects, and to create personal branding websites.
Understanding how customers use your website is crucial. You put a lot of sweat into getting the business this far and sometimes the things you think are obvious are confusing to your customers. Hotjar is a freemium tool that lets you see how users are actually using your site – recording mouse clicks and where they scroll. You’ll quickly see where customers are having difficulty and dropping off and be able to tweak and repeat until you get it right.
Optimizely is a leading experience optimization platform, providing website and mobile A/B testing and personalization for the world’s leading brands. It meets the diverse needs of thousands of customers worldwide looking to deliver connected experiences to their audiences across channels. To date, those customers have created and delivered more than 30 billion optimised visitor experiences.
Financing Your Startup
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology.
Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected, a kind of assurance contract. There”s a 5% fee on the total amount of the funds raised and unlike many forums for fundraising or investment, Kickstarter claims no ownership over the projects and the work they produce.
AngelList is a U.S. website for start-ups, angel investors, and job-seekers looking to work at startups. The site allows start-ups to raise money from angel investors free of charge and serves as an online introduction board for tech start-ups that needed seed funding. They offer market channels via a social network dynamic on the site, meaning that when someone invests in a company, you can its progress and investment activity.
Finally, check to see what the government is doing to help small businesses through grants and funding.
If there’s an area not covered here – get in touch in the comments – we’d love to hear your feedback.
And enjoy the ride!