Starting a business is no easy task, maintaining a lean approach to your time and spending is a way of life. Here’s a few live savers that have helped us along the way.
We help fast growing businesses adopt modern, online tools and software in place of their clunky and limiting enterprise apps. As these businesses become more invested in digital, in their marketing and their operations, this in turn increases their profits, and improves their efficiency.
New businesses have a distinct advantage by adopting these tools, processes and schemes from the start, and moving faster than their established counterparts.
Whatever stage your business is at, this list of resources will make running a business (and your life!) easier.
Google drive combines free cloud storage with the power of office, free. The website’s using drive page provides you with a run down of the main features and benefits. You can grab the application that keeps your files in sync, whilst you can also access any files you sync from any web browser, at any time.
The creation, editing and sharing opportunities for documents and spreadsheets alone make this one of the greatest resources available to businesses, especially those who aren’t looking to splurge on an Office 365 subscription. Combine this with Google Mail for Business and you have a very robust and scalable way of managing your business.
There are so many CRM tools out in the world, the range really is ridiculous. We have tried dozens, some complex, ugly, feature ridden behemoths, others lean but missing crucial benefits that you would expect. We can honestly say Pipedrive is a total surprise and exception to the trend and here are a few reasons that we love it to bits.
Pipedrive focuses on the sales pipeline, allowing you to visually manage and progress deals right through to completion. It is INSANELY customisable, with options from creating multiple, bespoke funnels to adding any field into organisation, deal or people records (which are then instantly accessible via their API with no extra nonsense) so you can capture information unique to your business.
The range of integrations that it will work alongside is another list of amazing digital tools that you should take advantage of, and another reason for its success. You can start your free Pipedrive trial now and costs are based on a per user scale to grow with your sales team. (They also have a kick-ass, useful blog!)
Slack is a chat application, except it’s a whole lot more than that as well. Working across web browser, desktop, mobile and tablet apps – this single tool has eliminated all internal emails and improved our internal communication so much we don’t remember life before slack.
If you work remotely, or with multiple people, communication is one of the single most important things to prioritise. Slack makes sending messages a doddle, whether it’s to a single person, or a group of people. You can create private and public channels or rooms, direct message and even set reminders from the chat interface. If you have ever used IRC, MSN or another chat system, this will give you the warm fuzzy feeling that the others never could.
The real beauty of this system is the way it catches files and links that you share in conversations, makes them easily accessible and even searchable. Say goodbye to trawling through endless emails and chat logs looking for that one link or image shared with you months ago.
Slack’s interface makes communication simple, and the free account does not debilitate its usefulness in any way. With a host of customisable permissions and options, you can really make this tool an asset for your business.
Project management systems have a similar problem to CRM tools. There’s too damn many of them, none of them feel right and some are just gigantic, slow, cluttered enterprise programs in disguise. Yeah, we’re looking at you Atlassian.
Teamwork Projects is a freaking gem. There is no other way to describe the amount of slick, useful functionality crafted into a well thought-out platform, combined with the most reasonable cost plans you could want.
This tool makes the process of creating, organising, managing and tracking multiple tasks and projects simpler than a cheese sandwich. It’s packed full of functionality, but not so much that it will get in the way or complicate the core offering. Want task lists? Check. Tagging, Assigning, Quoting, Prioritising and Templating? You got it.
For the OCD project managers out there, it even gives you Gantt charts and reporting. So, how’s that other slow, bulky, project system looking now, huh?
Dropbox, is the original file syncing system. Whilst we use Google Drive for our office, management and document side of things, Dropbox is the ideal counterpart for sharing large assets and files with other companies or throughout your team.
If you have to send a large amount of images or documents, Dropbox is the preferred method. Simply upload or sync them to dropbox, and share the URL via email. No more massive emails stuffing up your inbox, lovely.
Accessible through desktop, mobile and tablet applications and of course the web browser, you’ll find it will integrate with various makes of NAS drive’s, which we find perfect for local backups of large assets as well.
Crunch is a combination of accounting software and real accountants. Essentially accountants on tap with one of the most user-friendly accounting platforms on the market with real, friendly customer service.
Crunch manages invoicing, reminders, accounts, Payroll, VAT and other tax payments. It provides sales ledgers, reporting and has a bunch of useful bolt-ons to make running a business that much simpler. For your subscription you get the platform, a dedicated account manager and access to an accountant to answer any questions. They offer bookkeeping as a service, partner bank accounts and integration with their software and their fee is split between the essentials and a fully fledged accountancy package.
We’ve tried other software and more traditional accountants in the past, but wouldn’t dream of using anyone other than Crunch now.
F6S is a lot of things, it’s well known in the UK startup community for the role it plays in access towards linking equity investment for companies and investors. The part that we love about F6S is its gigantic database of deals available to startups and businesses who want to take advantage of big and small products from tech companies.
This provides a huge range of other potential tools to suit your business and the trials to use them, even if you may have to filter through some junk to find them.
Bonus: Broadband Connection Vouchers
The final entry in this list isn’t a tool or service as such, but something we want to make sure is shared, because we don’t see it advertised enough and only found it ourselves by chance.
If you’re serious about starting a business where digital will play an important role, a good connection is one of those things you can’t take for granted. If you’ve graduated from working out of coffee shops and leaching their free WiFi, the Government’s Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme might be worth a punt to see if it’s available in your area. The chances are it is, and a number of potential providers are available to service your needs.
This grant effectively gives you up to £3000 to cover the cost of improving your internet connection or installing a new one at your place of business.
*Update – This scheme is now closed, however, it’s always worth checking to see if any Government funding is available for your business. Visit GOV.UK *
That’s your lot
Whilst not exhaustive, these are our favourite resources that we believe will help others who are starting their own business or looking to make themselves more digital and efficient.
If you’re looking to improve your digital marketing or have new aspirations for the potential of your website, that’s where we step in. Don’t be afraid to get in touch, and let us know via a tweet or comment if you’ve found this list at all useful.