When you’re starting out, you’re faced with thousands of decisions that are all competing for your limited time. But to get your startup moving, you need to prioritize your needs and lay the groundwork for your business to thrive.
Free, low-cost software allowed us to build our business efficiently and prolong key hires. By investing in tech that takes care of routine business needs, you can limit your spending and boost your company’s chances of survival.
Here are five programs that helped us get off the ground and can help you, too:
Dropbox is a great tool to keep track of the files that your entire team needs to access. Dropbox offers cloud storage and file syncing for free. Many tech startups create and store their files and data in too many places, making it difficult to stay organized and work efficiently. Dropbox offers easy-to-use technology and has a business-specific version for larger organizations.
This widely used tool for measuring and evaluating website traffic peels back the layers of your business by tracking clicks, conversions, website visitors, and sales. It offers basic and premium options so you can choose a package that fits your unique needs.
I recommend the Chrome extension, which shows where website visitors click on your page. Third-party software can be clunky, but this integrates easily into your browser. Every company needs to monitor its analytics, and this is the best tool for doing that.
This social media manager connects to every social platform you use and makes advanced scheduling and posting hassle-free. Some businesses think they need to hire a social media manager at the beginning, but this software allows you to delay hiring a social team and puts your social media profiles on cruise control. The pro version lets you maintain up to 100 profiles with minimal effort, but the free version also offers awesome features.
This is the #1 online phone system for entrepreneurs. It enables you to use your smartphone to seamlessly connect a virtual office building of employees with phone extensions like an in-house business would. You can set up multiple lines and funnel calls to the right person or department — no receptionist required.
It also helps small startups appear much larger and more professional than they might be. If you want to look like you have 10 employees instead of two, Grasshopper can give that impression to your customers.
This cloud-based accounting system is perfect for small businesses. It tracks your money, whether it’s coming or going, and it lets you monitor your team’s progress. It offers other helpful features, including individual expense tracking, and it gives you the option to upload photos of receipts. After a 30-day free trial, basic packages start at $19.95 per month.
FreshBooks is incredibly intuitive. It easily integrates with the apps you use for receiving payments, such as PayPal. With such a cheap and simple platform, it seems silly to hire someone to manage your accounting.
These five programs will take care of many of your basic startup needs, but it’s important to choose solutions that work for your unique business. When vetting potential apps or software, set up Google Alerts to monitor the buzz surrounding them or regularly visit VentureBeat to anticipate new tools that are surfacing in your industry. Building a comparison table of pros and cons can also point you to a viable solution.
When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to take off at full speed with your idea and knock out obstacles as they arise. But it’s much more prudent to prioritize your needs and build the framework for your business first. By leaving the minutiae to proven, budget-friendly tech, you can focus on developing and delivering the best product or service possible.
About the Author
J.R. Garrett is co-founder of LogoGarden, a free DIY logo creation platform. J.R. has years of startup and management experience, including early- through late-stage VC portfolio businesses. He and LogoGarden are passionate about providing helpful resources to entrepreneurs and startups.