If you’re starting a business, it pays to have a dream and plenty of ambition. But it’s also critical that you have the right mix of tools to help you run your business effectively. In today’s day and age, there’s an abundance you can choose from. Though we’ll save you the trouble of sifting through the copious options among you and provide you the five essential tools you can put to work immediately.
Getting paid is crucial when you’re just starting out. Square helps you do this by turning your smart phone into a mini credit card reader. Just attach the device, and you’re ready to go – which makes it perfect if your business has a nomadic streak. Food truck operators, farmers who travel to different markets, even vendors at craft fairs have all made square a vital payment tool. And the best part is, it’s reasonably priced at just a small percentage of each transaction.
2. The Cloud
Granted, this is a large category that’s growing every day, but the cloud has so many benefits, it’s a must mention for any startup. For file storage and security, cloud-based providers like DropBox and Hightail are tailor made. They allow you to keep files off laptops or desktop computers that carry risks of being stolen or damaged. The cloud can also be a versatile resource for business-related software that can help with everything from accounting to sophisticated web design. Not sure if the cloud has what you need? A simple web search will let you know in an instant.
Mailchimp allows you to build and send mass emails to customers and prospects. You don’t have to be a designer to create attractive emails with links to video or other content – it’s all easily summed up in this helpful, hands-on platform. The value of Mailchimp lies in its simplicity and in the analytics it provides, including the number of recipients who opened your email, how many clicked on links and much more. Pull reports at any time and use the information you learn to refine your email strategy. Similar programs include Constant Contact, iContact and others.
Need equipment that’s expensive or difficult to finance due to a lack of credit history? An innovative way to get what you need without the bank may be Behalf. The company buys the equipment, and you pay them back – at rates anywhere from $10 to $30 per thousand on a monthly basis. So, a large-format printer that’s $10,000 might run you $100 per month – lower than many loans or credit cards.
You’re in business to get paid, but that can’t happen without invoices. Freshbooks understands this and allows you to set up automated invoicing with just a few clicks. You can set up repeat invoices for recurring clients, schedule them out and include simple reminders that allow you to stay on top of this end of the business while you take care of other aspects, like finding new clients to invoice. If you’re a right brain creative, Freshbooks may be the left-brain assistant you need to be successful.
When you have the right tools to start a business, there’s no limit to where your ideas and ambition can take you.