As a start-up business owner, your budget is tight and every penny and pound you make defines the difference between growth and becoming one of the notorious 50% of start-ups that fail in their first year. During the first fledgling stages of your business, you need to harness all of the (free) help and support that you can garner, and with this in mind here we present seven essential tools for the start-up business.
For harnessing social media: Hootsuite
Hootsuite leads the way within the social media marketing realm. It provides a singular place for you to conduct all of your (now seriously essential) social media marketing tasks, with features here including: Coverage of 3 social media profiles, basic analytics, basic message sending, access to Hootsuite’s core apps and 2 RSS feeds.
Of course, if after this tool has empowered your marketing campaign you find that you can afford the full version (with prices that start from £6.99 a month) you may want to unlock the further features, such as 50 social profiles, advanced analytics and up to two team members.
However, with that said the free version is more than sufficient for getting started!
For capturing those inspirational ideas: Evernote
Had a brainwave for a fresh advertising campaign whilst on the train? Perhaps you experience those lightbulb marketing moments whilst in the most unlikely of places with only your mobile to hand. If so, then you need Evernote. This suite of tools truly helps you harness your ideas, with features including tapped notes, web articles, handwritten notes, and images found online and snapped whilst out and about.
For essential market research: Survey Monkey
Survey Monkey is the ultimate option for those who want to gather data about their target market. Not only can surveys here be put together quickly, easily and free from cost, but this online tool additionally features clean cut designs to guide your participants from question one onto survey completion.
As a member signing up for the free plan you’ll look forward to 10 questions for up to 100 responses as well as standard email support (you can always delete any current survey and replace it with another at a later date).
For super easy accounting: Wave Accounting
The Wave Accounting service is the rather impressive looking online app for easy accounting. It’s completely free, robustly secure and provides for unlimited invoicing, payroll administration and streamlined management of business receipts.
Perhaps most usefully of all, this online app also allows for plenty of analysis of your finances and can even be used to break down your sales to plan ahead for the upcoming months. These reports can be visually displayed within a variety of different charts, and provides an instant overview of your finances once you log in, including invoices that you’re owed in the next 30 days, as well as bills to be paid out – ideal for always staying one step ahead of any potential financial hiccups.
For business booming lead generation: suiteCRM
You may well have heard of the unstoppable force that is Salesforce – a platform that leads the way with lead generation. That said, priced at £45 per month and upwards this is also a platform that makes for too big of an investment for most SMEs in their first few months.
However, there is an alternative: suiteCRM, and whilst this is an all-round CRM system, it does have a dedicated sales pipeline area for you to manage, qualify and convert your leads.
For super star customer service: Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM is the perfect choice for supporting your growth during the early stages of business and is free whilst you have 10 users or fewer. Features within this system include contact management, social media management, workflow automation and even lead gathering if you find that the suiteCRM doesn’t fulfil your needs, or if you simply want a CRM system with integrated lead generation.
For solid organisation: Google Suite – and the star of the show Google Calendar
This isn’t so much a singular tool as a whole suite of tools that work hand in hand. Because of the nature of them (and their clean integration with one another) it’s apt to put them into a singular entry upon our list.
Pivotal to the way in which they interact with one another is Google Calendar; this web app can provide for a schedule full of events where attachments can be attached, notifications can be set, videos calls can be made and fellow Google calendar users can be invited.
To finish it all off you can add the Google Calendar app to your phone (complete with alert system) to keep you organised even whilst on the go.