It can be a hard life being a startup founder, especially when you’re looking for fast-growth. You’re working all hours juggling the roles and responsibilities of most of an entire team – from finances and HR, to marketing and project management.
You might have a co-founder, a CTO and perhaps even a few staff, but, before you’ve made it big enough to hire a huge team, you need some tools to help you do things as efficiently as possible.
We’ve put together a list of some of the tools we use every day as a small business, often recommending them to the early-stage startups we work with. Most are entirely free, the rest are low-cost, all of them mean you can put your focus where it deserves to be – on growing your startup.
Marketing for fast growth
In our busy digital world, staying on top of social media is something most people struggle with, without having a startup to contend with. Yet its use is almost always fundamental in marketing a product or business.
Using a scheduling tool means you can prepare and plan your social media strategy all in one go and let the platform post for you at the times when your users are most engaged.
Talking of most engaged users, Tweriod tells you when your Twitter followers are most active so you can target your message more effectively. It’s free for your first 1000 followers too.
As a startup, understanding if your marketing strategy is working or if your site is attracting leads in the way you want should be high on the list of priorities.
Although it can appear a little intimidating at first, Google Analytics’ free platform can provide you with some simple metrics to measure success. Its wide use also means, if you get stuck, there’s plenty of advice out there on how to get set up as a startup.
Like this interview with Reva Minkoff on Google Analytics for Startups:
Whether it be pitching to investors or presenting at a conference, having a polished and professional looking slide deck is a must for startups.
Slides is a great easy-to-use tool that allows you to build, collaborate on and share slideshows.
You do have to pay a small subscription fee (starts at $5/mo) if you don’t want your slides to be public, but it’s otherwise free.
You’ve got a great old list of people that have said they’re interested in your product or business, but need a way to keep them up-to-date without having to send hundreds of separate emails.
MailChimp is a great tool for building custom mailing lists, newsletters and emails at its most basic and connecting to Shopify for targeting campaign creation, and A/B testing at its most advanced – to keep your followers excited and in the loop about your business.
Project tools for efficiency
A great tool for teams, this one is perfect for general project management, sharing information on collaborative ‘message boards’, assigning tasks and creating ‘to-do’ lists that you can actually find again to tick off.
At Simpleweb we create new groups for different teams (e.g. Sales and Marketing) and for each new project so everyone involved can stay on top of where everyone else is (including our clients).
As well as offering completely free versions of Microsoft Office software, Google Drive is a powerful tool for storing, sharing and collaborating on documents and files with colleagues.
We use it for making essential documents accessible by the whole team, for proofreading each other’s work, gathering feedback from the team on projects and even for ordering our lunches from happiness officer Georgie.
AirTable is a bit like Excel for people who hate spreadsheets. It takes all your business data and organises it into a readable format using a system they call ‘blocks’. For example, we use it to ‘block’ together easy-to-read summaries from the applications we receive through our startup investment form.
But it can be used for a tonne of other useful things like event management, product launches, digital asset management and content marketing management too.
We can’t get enough of Slack at Simpleweb – we’ve even written blogs about the weird and wonderful conversations we’ve had as a team using it (and why we switched from Campfire to Slack in the first place).
But really, for small teams and startups – whether remote or in the same office, Slack is a vital tool for easy communication and chat – be that purely with emojis, in groups or teams and for different projects or with clients via video or audio.
Operations, Finance and HR for small business
FreeAgent was designed with freelancers, startups and small businesses in mind and makes storing contacts, tracking project budgets, managing finances and sorting out expenses super simple.
Perfect for small teams, PeopleHR lets you (and your team) track all your HR-related admin such as employee contact information, start date, salary, holiday and sick leave all in one place. And at £2 per employee/mo, it doesn’t break the bank.
A simple platform to put all the contact information your team will ever need to know. Great to avoid the otherwise inevitable nagging from your colleagues for a client or investor’s email address.
You can create different address books with different levels of sharing and permissions for different types of contacts so that confidential details stay confidential – and label others to make it easier for your team to find the ones they need. Functions to import contacts from social networks and sync address books to your phone make nice additions to this simple bit of kit.
If you’d like to discuss your startup or project, get in touch with Simpleweb today.