In recent years, the Internet has democratized entrepreneurship in a big way. It no longer takes an army of employees and a $10-million-dollar Series A to launch your dream company. With a great idea, hard work, and the right tools, your business can be not only up and running, but competing with the big boys, in a matter of hours!
Here are a few great tools that help my startup, ZinePak, run smoothly and can assist in the successful launch your company, too.
1. Google Apps for Business
Google Apps for Business is one of the most powerful collections of tools for any business, and with plans starting at only $5 per user per month — it’s one entrepreneurs can’t afford to go without! Google Apps allows you to centralize your team’s communication and integrates email, storage, calendars, video meetings, forms, and more into a single hub. Plus, there are dozens of great plugins to make Gmail even more powerful. (A few of my favorites are listed here.)
Basecamp is an online project management tool that allows teams to collaborate on jobs of all kinds. Basecamp is the single most important tool we have at ZinePak. It keeps everyone organized and on schedule with intuitive and powerful calendars, to-do lists, and discussion boards. The company offers a 60-day free trial. I’ve personally suggested Basecamp to more than a dozen of my entrepreneur friends, and every one of them has loved it. No matter what your business is, Basecamp helps you be better at it. Plans start at $20 per month (for unlimited users) after the trial period.
Contracts are critical to the success of every startup, because one misunderstood point or miscommunicated detail can potentially make or break your business. EchoSign is a great tool for quickly and easily capturing legally-binding signatures on contracts, purchase orders, and more. Customers can sign documents from their computers, phones, or tablets. With an enterprise-level tool that’s this simple to use, there is no excuse for a startup skipping the critical step of having clients sign on the dotted line. Prices start at $15 per month.
Fifteen years ago, companies spent millions of dollars building enterprise-level email systems to communicate with their customers. Now, entrepreneurs can choose between literally dozens of free and low-cost options. For ZinePak, MailChimp has been the best option. It’s packed with powerful analytics to help you reach customers at the right time and in the right way. And, with hundreds of beautifully-designed templates, it takes mere minutes to design and send your first campaign. If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers in your database, MailChimp is free to use. Score!
Edgar is a social media scheduling tool (like Buffer or SproutSocial) that helps your posts and updates work harder. Edgar is the only social tool designed to help you create evergreen posts that are automatically re-shared strategically over time. The more you use Edgar, the more powerful (and intuitive!) it becomes. The tool is currently in beta, but it’s changed the way our team thinks about social sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Since being an entrepreneur is an around-the-clock job, here are three mobile apps I love that help keep me focused and save time:
EasilyDo is like a personal assistant in your pocket. It connects to all of your accounts to help keep track of things that are important, like meetings, birthdays, and tracking information. You can also connect your social accounts to aggregate the most relevant posts into a single digest. It’s a great time-saver, and it’s free!
Most entrepreneurs I know (yours truly included) are very competitive…especially with themselves! Winstreak is an addictive to-do list that lets you track your success with your to-do list items over time.
There’s seemingly never enough time in the day to read every article, blog, and business story that sounds interesting. Pocket lets you bookmark content from any device and save it for later. Saved content is viewable without an internet connection, so it’s an awesome way to turn a subway ride or plane trip into a learning session.
Are there other apps that have helped you start or grow your business? Leave them in the comments section below!