Running a startup takes commitment and skill – but you already know that. If you’re looking to save time and preserve your budget, there’s an array of business technology to explore. Read on as we discuss these digital tools and how they can help your startup thrive.
Productivity and Planning Ahead
A productivity and planning tool is crucial for organization. As a small business owner, you need to juggle dozens of projects, tasks, and ideas at any given point. Your team probably relies on email communication and shared Google calendars already.
Those options are a good start, but business technology is much more efficient. Recurring tasks, tight deadlines, and multistep projects are simple to streamline. A digital tool can also be accessed online from your mobile or desktop device. That means no more piles of sticky notes or planners forgotten at home.
Evernote is a note taking tool for multipurpose use. Businesses commonly used to create and share meeting notes and files. It also comes with a built-in calendar, daily reminders, and supports mind map templates for big projects.
Slack is a channel-based messaging platform. You can facilitate easier communication between workers and assign users to specific channels. This keeps conversations organized around a central topic. It also supports voice and video calling for an all-in-one solution.
Trello is a list-making tool that cuts down on miscommunications. Users can create cards with attached files, deadlines, instructions, checklists, and so on. These cards can then be organized in a calendar format and assigned to specific members to ensure clarity.
Email marketing made simple
Email marketing is invaluable to small businesses. The ROI on this tactic is 42:1 – or $42 for every $1 you invest. While email marketing is undoubtedly effective, it can also be time consuming. Few business owners feel they have time to collect addresses, create marketing messages, and disperse them.
We encourage you to look for services that simplify this process. There are a variety of benefits available that differ from platform to platform. Most tools offer templates and bulk email distribution. Beyond that, segmenting your subscribers and personalizing emails are the best ways to boost effectiveness.
Drip is a comprehensive email tool with a focus on personalization. This service comes with simple subscription add-ons and pop-ups for your website. Drip sorts subscribers into subgroups and tracks how effective each campaign is.
Constant Contact supports social media linking in their templates and lets free users send unlimited emails. You can also browse a library of free stock photos, add interactive polls, and use their A/B testing tool for subject lines.
Digital marketing plans typically cover a range of social media sites in addition to eCommerce portals, blogs, and more. Get Response allows you to combine all email subscribers across 16 popular platforms. It also segments customer groups and tracks sales conversion metrics for each campaign.
Social media management and marketing
There’s no denying that social media marketing is effective at reaching potential consumers. In addition to widespread use, most consumers rely on endorsements and public profiles to choose which businesses they support.
At the same time, effective management of your social accounts demands a lot of time. You might consider hiring a marketer just to lighten your workload. Of course, that costs (a lot) of money. The following tools help you save your finances for other needs without sacrificing results.
ContentCal is a piece of business technology dedicated to planning your social media campaigns. They offer limited tools to design posts. However, your team can upload, edit, collaborate, and vote on content drafts. It also automates your posting schedule to keep your followers engaged.
BuzzSumo is a unique tool that helps you optimize which type of content you produce. An account gives you access to extensive analytics, like what content receives the most engagement in your niche or from direct competitors.
Hootsuite offers a variety of business technology services. We’re highlighting their Analyze tool specifically. This allows you to track and dissect your brand’s performance across social media as a whole and on specific platforms.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
In terms of business technology tools worth considering, CRM software is borderline required. Succeeding without it is incredibly difficult, no matter what size your business. Each service offers something a little different.
What stays the same is the ability to track sales and contacts. You might be able to forecast sales, track potential leads, or automate the perfect time to reach out and close a sale. CRM saves you time and money by ensuring that your team is effective and self-sufficient.
Agile CRM offers a free account equipped with all features for up to 10 users. Whether you stick to the free plan or move to a paid tier, you can automate much of your workflow. It sends alerts on leads, compiles contact lists, and even automates your voicemail according to your schedule.
Hubspot allows unlimited users on any of their plans. Their top tools help you assign leads to specific team members and check on the conversation flow. Startups can also opt-in to CRM training and onboarding, with qualified businesses earning up to 90% off the program.
SugarCRM is an open-source platform that’s ideal for customizing your workflow. It’s a great option for businesses with more than 10 people who want to collaborate on sales. You can also create a flowchart for customer sales to optimize how you approach each one.
Cloud-based accounting and payroll software
Even the most savvy entrepreneurs need help with accounting and payroll. The elements of business management require constant upkeep. It includes everything from tracking accounts payable and receive to distributing payroll and reporting taxes.
The right business technology choice for your startup will depend on a couple of factors. The first is how many people you employ, and the second is whether you want to cover both accounting and payroll in the same program. You might opt to keep things separate if you have a business partner willing to share the workload.
Freshbooks is one of the most popular choices for small business accounting. They have reasonable prices and multiple tiers to scale up with your business. You can use it to create all types of financial reports and add credit card processing to your services. It also integrates with a myriad of other management software.
Wagepoint is a payroll-only tool for small businesses. It’s powerful enough to track most employment forms, including W2s, W3s, and 1099s. You can check your math against local, state, and federal tax codes, as well as share pay stubs with your employees.
QuickBooks Payroll is an all-in-one solution. It combines financial reporting, time and attendance tracking, tax prep, and payment disbursement into a single program. Despite its flexibility, the software is easy to navigate and built for non-accountants.
Website and SEO analytics
You undoubtedly put extensive time and effort into your brand’s website and general online presence. Make sure that your effort pays off with analytic business technology. There are a wide range of programs that track ultra-specific metrics or display information in broad strokes.
The options offered below are just the starting point for evaluating your strong points and performance. Keep in mind that most web hosting platforms offer free analytic tools. This includes platforms like SquareSpace, WordPress, and Shopify.
Google Analytics is a free tool that provides a significant amount of data. It’s not the most user-friendly to people without analytic experience, but summaries and tutorials are widely available. Google Analytics tracks how your audience finds your website, which pages are most popular, and so on.
Optimizely is an online program that helps you refine a website that’s already successful. It constantly runs A/B testing to see which layouts, titles, and pictures generate the most interest for your website. It’s a useful tool to create an adaptive site that responds to trends in your traffic.
Crazy Egg is an excellent tool to optimize a website that’s established but not excelling. There are a variety of features available, but business owners primarily use it to identify hot and cold spots on their site. It alerts you to menus, pages, and banners that customers don’t click so you know where to focus your attention.
As a new business owner, it’s important to maximize your resources without eating into your budget. Whether you’re saving time on labor or saving money by using multipurpose tools, these are all solutions worth exploring.
Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive. We recommend you compare business technology to find the best tools for you.
Thank you for reading our guide to these essential programs and tools. Any one of these will simplify your work life. You can then focus more attention and time handling aspects of business that fall within your interests and specialty.