Whether you're managing social media, sharing documents, or managing a project workflow, there always seems to be a new tool that does it better. At a startup, these tools aren’t just a matter of convenience, but rather a way to save money, increase productivity, and manage both internal and external communication. I’ve broken down our favorite tools here at NEU into 10 categories necessary to sustaining growth and improving efficiency. The sequence of categories progress in the same way starting a business would. Here’s how we tackle the issue:
1. Storage, Email, and Analytics - Google suite
With Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Analytics, G suite provides cloud storage, email, analytics, and much more all in one. Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files, and more with Google Drive. Personally I enjoy having files on cloud based storage because it ensures our data remains safe, archived, and accessible. Gmail is a no-brainer, but Google Analytics is a free platform that should also be taken advantage of. It provides the data you need to make intelligent business decisions, and takes only minutes to set up.
2. Internal Communication - Slack
It’s time to graduate from GroupMe. Slack provides a slick UI for communicating internally and even allows breaking down your team into sub-groups called channels.
3. Project Management - Asana
Asana's easy-to-use interface keeps each team member in sync with group tasks and projects, which is pivotal to company growth. Their fairly new storyboard feature is an office favorite.
4. Hosting - Shopify
Shopify is an awesome e-commerce platform that makes it easy to build, setup, and manage an online store. Although many opt for the slightly cheaper Amazon Web Services (AWS), when it comes to e-com, there's no better choice than Shopify. What AWS saves you in money, Shopify saves you in time. As a busy store-owner, you don’t want to waste time worrying about your server working or being secure.
5. Finance - Quickbooks Online
All businesses need accounting. Quickbooks provides excellent UI with robust support and integration
6. Design, Wireframing, and Prototyping - Adobe Creative Cloud
The Creative Cloud gives you the entire collection of Adobe desktop and mobile apps, from essentials like Photoshop and Illustrator to innovative new tools like Adobe XD,
7. Social Media Management - Hootsuite
Hootsuite streamlines all your social media accounts to one dashboard. Not only can you scheduling post, but you also have access to insightful analytic information. This is the go-to social media tool for startups.
8. Customer Relationship Management - SugarCRM
There are plenty of CRMs out there to manage customers effectively as they move through your sales pipeline. We like SugarCRM because its highly customizable and its approach across all modules is standard, so if you learn one, you've learned them all. That said, it's not one-size-fits-all, so leave suggestions in the comments if you're a fan of another CRM.
9. Email Marketing - Mailchimp
Mailchimp allows you to manage contact lists and send emails for your business. There are templates for newsletters, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. Integration with many different e-commerce platforms means that MailChimp can send your customers emails tailored to their preferences and purchasing patterns.
10. Fulfillment - Shipstation
Shipstation integrates with more e-commerce and shopping platforms than any other software. Allows you to integrate multiple selling channels and import all of your orders. A couple of our favorite features include printing shipping labels in bulk and order automation.
Choosing the right tools is one of the most important investments a startup will make. The entire team hustling and using technology to automate any recurring task allow each team member to maximize their own and the startup’s full potential. I’d love to hear feedback on tools you use in these categories, especially, if there are any I’ve left out. Going forward, I’ll be highlighting new tools, plug-ins, and add-ons that can supercharge your tech infrastructure.