Essential Business Tools Every Startup Needs for Success
Posted on 6th October 2017 in Business
Written by Freya Hughes
Does your computer desktop look a bit like this wall of tools? A mess of various spreadsheets, it can be easy to lose track of your business’ movements. We know that sometimes this can be so stressful that you feel like you’ve lost all control, so here’s our round up of the best tools for entrepreneurs on the market today.
Building a strong foundation to your startup is imperative. At Xerocon 2017, our friends at Enterprise Nation (see how Emma operates day to day) reported that last year, 600k new businesses started in the UK alone. Now that’s some serious competition, so you need to make sure you’re ready to make your business stand out. Selecting the right tools will help you streamline your day, so you’ll find you have a lot more time to work on your business’ growth and success.
If you come to the proverbial table under prepared, it’s going to show in your financial success… Or failure. You may be tempted to reach for your laptop and put everything into spreadsheets, but there’s so many tools out there that are much better suited to your needs – and some of them are completely free.
We have a range of tools we use here at FUTRLI, and some of them are perfect for a startup level business. We’ve listed our favourites, and a few extras that are perfect for startup entrepreneurs…
The beauty of the Google Calendar tool is that it’s linked to all of your other Google accounts, so setting up meetings and sharing events is made easy. We use it for all of our internal and external appointments, and with the handy feature of making any diary entry into a Zoom meeting, it saves us a lot of time and faff too. Keeping an eye on colleagues’ / employees’ calendars allows you to keep constant tabs on their whereabouts and plans too, so booking in team meetings becomes a breeze.
Keep up communication
We use Zoom very frequently. It’s so much easier than a phone call or email because you’re face-to-face with the person you need to speak to. Sharing your screen means you can show your team or customers exactly what you mean or want, which raises efficiency in your workplace. The basic free package allows you unlimited minutes for one-to-one meetings, and you can hold group chats with up to 100 others. When you’re on the go, or email is frustrating you, hop on a Zoom call to get things done quicker.
Emails are constantly clogging up your inbox, and more often than not they’re unimportant and slowing you down. We use Slack in the FUTRLI office, as it works as a professional instant messaging service. Group or individual conversations save a lot of time, and notifications on your desktop means you know when you’re needed. Sharing files is quick and easy, and added emoticon and giphy features means you can have a laugh with it too.
Manage your projects
We use Trello, predominantly in the marketing team, to keep track of where we are with our promotional projects. For example when we’re working on a blog post much like this one, the author can make a check list of all of the elements needed in the piece. Others on the team can log in and check up on the blog’s progress, add suggestions and tag other staff to get their opinion too. With different columns, like ‘writing in progress’ or ‘complete’, we all know exactly where we are with everything.
Keep on top of your cash
The world’s leading cloud accounting software, Xero keeps going from strength to strength. Use the tool to sync with your bank account, so you can log in and see what’s happening at any time, from anywhere (with an internet connection, that is). Nobody has time to manually create invoices and chase them, so let Xero do the heavy lifting with its automated reminders and online payments.
As much as we’re bias, we wouldn’t run FUTRLI without FUTRLI. Our integration with Xero (and QuickBooks Online) means we don’t need to manually update our actuals, and we always know how we’re performing against our budget and multiple what-if scenarios. The ability to check in on your numbers any time, knowing that all of the information is updated in real-time means you can rest assured everything is ticking over nicely. But if you’re a bit of a worrier, we’d suggest you turn on the alerts function, which will notify you if you’re approaching a programmed limit in your spending. Using the presentation mode means you can show your team and/or investors how your figures are doing, and show how people are performing against their targets.
Nurture your customer relationships
Plenty of relationship management tools all in one place means it’s a lot easier to keep your customers happy. The user-friendly interface means it’s perfect to startups, and you can save up to a million contacts, which is plenty when you’re a new business! You can browse your deals marked into categories by your team, like fields and tags for certain customers. Automating marketing activities is made easy, which means you can keep on top of your customer relationships, rather than worrying about forgetting people.
We use Intercom to keep up with our customers. It’s an easy-to-use CRM system, in which everyone’s details and status are clear to see. If ever a customer has a question, an in-app messenger will alert us so we can hop on to the site and help. With a ratings feature, you can also monitor how well your team are dealing with issues and problems that might crop up – so it injects positivity into everyone’s day.
Keep the money rolling in
When you receive an hard copy of an invoice, it can easily be left at the bottom of your ‘to do’ pile. Stripe allows you to accept payments with ease, working seamlessly with Apple Pay, Android Pay, Alipay and Bitcoin. They are great for time-saving and accuracy, and when integrated with, FUTRLI you can see insight into customer payments against forecasted figures. This is a great tool to see how you’re performing against your targets.
Say goodbye to huge stacks of receipts and old train tickets – instead simply snap a picture of your stub with your smartphone and upload it to Receipt Bank. The data will shoot into your account, so your financial data stays up to the minute. You can even set up rules within the app to command payments to be made when and where you want. This one is trusted by thousands of businesses, and accountancy firms, and we can honestly see why.
Say hello to industry peers
With a huge amount of categories, create you own meet up or join an existing one. This is a great way to make new friends and business associates in your area. Use the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone and check in with what’s happening in your area. This is great not only for networking purposes, but it’s going to remind you and tempt you into having fun in your precious free time. When your life revolves around your company, it’s important to maintain a balance. So whatever you’re into, be it cooking, sport, fashion of craft, have a look at who you could meet up with.
While we’re sure you’re already on LinkedIn, or you’ve at least heard of it, this is an incredibly useful tool for entrepreneurs. Use the chat bar to connect with old acquaintances, and join specific groups to ‘e-meet’ your industry peers. Posting updates, sharing relevant articles and showing some love when connections post is going to get you noticed. The more active you are, the better! Just make sure your profile is up to date and you’re ready to go.