Tools to Ease the Entrepreneurial Journey
We talked a lot about how important cash flow is to carry on the entrepreneurial journey. Nevertheless, it is just a piece of the puzzle that keeps your business going and growing. There are many other elements to consider (technical, management or marketing related), which weigh heavily.
We know it so well that running a startup and being an entrepreneur are no easy missions; there are so many tasks to deal with, so many to keep in mind. No wonder we get to read about ”entrepreneurial burnout” too often these days.
Luckily, the amazing world of digital products, of which many can be used freely, makes it possible to cope with low budgets, cutting costs and still managing the operations properly.
Here is a list of tools with free subscriptions that we use ourselves and are also recommended by other entrepreneurs. We got the tip from others and benefited greatly from using them in our work at ThinkOut, so we want to pass it on, for others to gain more time, productivity and cut the stress.
Project and Team Management
Trello – a collaborative platform to organize and delegate tasks, following their progress; it supports attachments (even as file links to Google Drive or Dropbox) and comments from the project members. It is great to manage current operations or specific projects from any place with internet connection.
Asana – another collaborative platform, similar to Trello, designed on the Gannt principles; it even has a Gannt chart export feature.
Google Drive – though it may seem common, Google Drive is an excellent online tool to store and share documents; it is very easy to use and probably all your team already owns a Google account, so they can all have access.
Dropbox – another great online tool for storing and sharing documents, similar to Google Drive, but it requires to download the app and create a Dropbox folder on your computer, which is synced with the online application each time you add files.
These task management and online storage tools work great together because the entire team has access to the files they need, anytime, anywhere, even specifically for each task.
Skype – usually favored for calling far away friends and family, it is just as much a good business tool. It helps to keep in touch with your team when you are not in the same office (or even in the same country); not only can you talk, but also share files or visualize the live screen to better explain what you need.
Sales and Customer Relationship
Pipedrive – a tool specially designed for the sales process. You can upload contact lists, set tasks (call, email, close deal etc.) and follow them. It is a great help for both the sales team and the manager as it offers an overview of the customer conversion status.
MailChimp – probably the most commonly used tool for sending newsletters. It is easy to work with, has built-in templates for different purposes and some useful stats. You can use it to keep your customers updated with the latest company news, greet them on special occasions, send offers and whatever you can think about to build “a beautiful friendship” with your customers.
Knowledge and communication
Besides the well-known social media channels, there are some more tools entrepreneurs can use to gather industry/market intelligence or communicate about the company/product.
Medium – is an online content platform with a collection of quality articles on various subjects from business, economy to tech, fiction, personal development and simple matters of life. The articles are written based on personal experiences and perspective, so you can get custom insight straight from the source. It is also a good place to write about your own brand/product/entrepreneurial experience.
Quora – a forum-like website, where anyone can post questions and answer on a wide variety of subjects. Professionals, public figures, and even politicians use it to engage in conversations with the public and share their knowledge. It is a good way to find straight answers from specialized people and position yourself as ”specialist” in your domain.
Radium – an index of relevant articles on the domain of your choice. No need to insist on how much time it saves.
WordPress – it is probably the most used platform to build free blogs and even websites. It is great for startups and young companies to present themselves and start “speaking” to the world.
Pexels – a free stock photo website where you can download good quality images for blogs/websites, newsletters or the social media. Of course, it would be best to have your own set of professional photographs, but if you can’t afford it yet or you are just in a hurry, this is a good place to look.
HARO – an online tool to reach out to journalists for free; not as efficient as a default PR campaign, but surely less costly. Use it to spread the word about your business. You just need to check your email periodically once you subscribe, to see if journalists ask for any information that you can provide.
These programs often require a paid subscription, following a free trial. If you consider, however, that your business depends on it, then it’s worth the investment.
Accounting/Billing Programs – we won’t name any particular Billing or Accounting app, as they work differently from country to country, depending on each national legislation and rules. Just browse the internet for such programs; you will surely find the ones adapted to the place where you operate. There are some accounting apps designed to be used by small business owners, without the need of an accountant.
ThinkOut – yes, our own cash flow management platform; it couldn’t have eluded our list, could it? Seriously, it is a platform that applies to any county, any accounting system, simply because these principles are universal and the platform is focused solely on cash flow planning and forecasting. Needless to stress out just how important cash flow generally is for a startup or any young company.