For those sharp minds in the midst of beginning their startup or business, a quick Google search will show you that there is no shortage of tools out there to help advance your business. With the overwhelming amount of information on the web, the tricky part comes in deciding which tools are best suited to your business. Especially at the beginning phases of starting up, money may be on the short side, and that’s why we’ve come up with four inexpensive (and in some cases totally free!) tools that every entrepreneur should have.
1. Organization & Project Management Tools
With all of the tasks and projects that come with starting a company, followed by the many projects managed by (hopefully) different employees, it can be challenging trying to keep track of everything. Trello is a free – yes free, organization tool that makes managing tasks and a team seem like a piece of cake. Lists are made into cards where members can be added to show who is working on what. With the addition of dates and ‘completed’ columns, keeping on top of numerous tasks and employees just got easy. Another great free tool you could take advantage of is Google Suite. Armed with spreadsheets, docs and a presentation program (slides), means you’ll never lose data due to a sudden shutdown or power failure again.
2. Invoicing Software Tools
Invoicing – even the word itself is dull, but with any business, this is a key component that cannot be ignored. After all, transfers both ways have to be legally documented. For entrepreneurs just getting started, Wave is the perfect FREE tool for getting started – allowing small businesses to send professional invoices and receipts in seconds. You may think that Excel is perfectly enough for your business as it begins its journey, but a ‘real’ accounting system will make everything so much easier. And for those of you with a little extra cash to spare, you could try out Xero for a slightly more advanced invoicing software option.
3. Customer Relationship Management Tools
So you’ve got your organization skills down to a T, and your invoicing system is on point, but what about your interactions with new customers? A CRM (customer relationship management) tool is key in engaging with customers across a wide range of channels. With a solid CRM software tool, you will be able to close deals and interact with potential and existing customers in a whole new light. Zoho is a free CRM tool that will allow you to simplify the way that you interact with customers via many mediums, and provide your business with analytics and reports regarding your customers’ lifecycle. Another great option is Insightly which for a few extra bucks is perfect for managing customer relationships and it will even link to other platforms that you are using (such as MailChimp, Google Docs, Trello etc).
4. Cybersecurity Tools
In a world where cyber attacks are forever increasing in both severity and quantity, it is important to implement a cybersecurity strategy from the word ‘go’ of your new business. Make sure to keep all of your software updated by using a free patch management tool such as Comodo to keep on top of things. As a startup, you may be adverse to taking on added expenses, but the expense of losing all of your hard earned work through ransomware, malware and data breaches puts things into perspective. Cybersecurity is one of the biggest IT investments that you must make. Be sure to look into the best of the best antivirus software (including firewalls) and DDoS mitigation tools to keep your company in the clear.
Another way of protecting your business against malware attacks and hackers is through the use of a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN will effectively hide your true IP address, making it near impossible for malware to target your computer or device. The sharing of important data will also be encrypted, giving hackers an incredibly difficult task should they attempt to harm your devices or steal sensitive data. Hackers tend to stick to vulnerable and weak systems – because why make a task more difficult than it needs to be? To get the best VPN for Android, iPhone, or any computer, be sure to do your research and find the right one for your business.
And there you have it – the four must-have tools, that every entrepreneur should be equipped with when beginning the birthing process of a new company.