Kickstarter, a bank loan, personal savings: as a startup, it doesn’t matter where your capital’s come from, the chances are there’s not nearly as much as you’d like. In the early days, you’ve got to know how to stretch your budget, eek out savings wherever you can, and take advantage of all the free stuff out there. Luckily, there’s a wealth of ways, means, and software that won’t cost you a penny.
Sending out invoices, processing payments, and generally keeping track of your cash flow is crucial for any business, new or old, but it’s also the one of the most time-consuming and mind-numbing tasks. Freshbooks (free for up to three clients) is a bookkeeping app that manages to make it all feel less like a chore. It’s user-friendly, you can design custom workflows for specific tasks, and there’s even a personal business consultant on hand. Of course, if you feel out of your depth where money matters are concerned, it’s always worth considering an accountancy firm that has experience of handling startups.
If you’ve failed to notice that social media is important for growing a brand, then you might just want to take a moment to consider it’s place in your business objectives. Twitter, in particular, has massive potential, being one of the few places where small companies can really compete with the big boys. SocialBro is a cloud-based suite of twitter analytics tools that’s free for accounts with less than 5,000 followers and lets you analyse competitors and discover potential followers.
Okay, it’s not strictly a tool, but it’s surely worth a shot? Especially if you think you’re the Next Big Thing. The 11th Annual Startups Awards has recently opened for entries and the reasons for entering might be obvious but they bear repeating: winning or being nominated will provide invaluable press coverage, impress potential investors, help you to network with peers and clients, and even attract new talent to your business. You can enter the awards here.
There will be a lot of distraught people should MailChimp ever change their “Forever Free Plan”. It’s hard to believe that such a vital tool, with so many features doesn’t require you to part with any of your hard-earned cash. If you’re going to be doing email marketing (and you probably should) then MailChimp gives you personalised forms, designer templates, and various analytics tools. And you can send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers – combine it with Twitter and you can grow your audience in no time.