Every young entrepreneur is strapped for cash yet looking for all the same products and services that big companies use. It is important to look professional yet also squeeze every penny when starting out. Here are 11 tools that will help you do both in the startup days of your venture.
1. Google Docs
What’s not to love here? Gmail, calendar, reader, spreadsheets and documents. Gmail is what you should be using for email, if your not head on over and sign-up! The calendar is basic but it is free and you can easily integrate it with whatever you or doing or on your phone. Google reader is where you should track the sites you want to read everyday (subscribe to 10 and make it a point to look at them each morning). Then the documents are great simply because they can perform the main functions of a program like word but also can be shared and edited by a group of people at the same time.
As far as were concerned here WordPress is the only real blogging platform available. This is a free and easy tool to add to your company website or to start building an online presence for yourself individually. The great thing is you can do much more then just blog with it. A lot of websites are powered off it and it can be easily customized like nothing else out there to get your first project off the ground and running.
Nobody likes accounting. Well Freshbooks can help. It is amazing for invoicing your clients and is decent at other basic accounting features. You can track expenses, create time sheets and log hours on projects. It is free to use up to three clients and then there are a few options to upgrade and access more features.
Don’t make the mistake of falling behind on your accounting as you will regret it at the end of the year!
Building an email list is still important for any business. Remember you own your email list, you don’t own your twitter followers or facebook fans. MailChimp has a great platform and makes creating and analyzing campaigns really easy. However the best part is it is free up to 500 subscribers to your list. So when your just starting out it is perfect to test out all the features of an email marketing campaign without actually paying for anything.
Even as you upgrade the prices are very reasonable and comparable to most other services.
We can’t talk enough about social media. The amazing thing is that many people forget all of these tools are %100 free! Never before has there been ways to connect, market and sell yourself to such a vast audience for the cost of nothing. Make sure you are using these tools for your business because if you are not you are missing out on opportunities in sales, interviews and partners.
Make sure to take the time to learn how to use these tools correctly. It is easy to sign-up but more difficult to make a productive impact.
Don’t rack up the minutes on your phone. Use Skype to speak with clients and business partners. You will find out that you will be on the phone a lot in the early days trying to make deals with just about everyone in the universe. Balance it out so you don’t actually have to pay more for your phone by using a service like skype as often you can…especially if its for regular calls with a business partner.
There are packages you can pay for but that depends on your individual calling needs.
What are you selling? Odds are there are some people on craigslist looking for that product or service. Or list your service in your home town or area. But even more importantly find deals on things you might need like a desk or comfortable chair. Even if your looking for a cheap apartment. Spend the time and check Craigslist everyday for that bargain you are looking for.
Don’t forget to check out cities all around you for clients or to list your work!
Odds are you are strapped for cash and your spending is tight. Make sure you create a budget for yourself so that up and down cash flow never truly prevents you from doing something, like paying rent. Mint is a super simple platform to track and budget yourself. Make a plan to manage what little money you have so you don’t find yourself in debt or spending more on a night out than you should be.
9. Google Alerts
One of the keys to success is to research and monitor everything! Alerts is a great service to track when a keyword is mentioned online. Set them up for your name and your business. You can also set it up for industry words to track news and updates in your field. You want to know when someone mentions your company so you can respond accordingly and this service delivers that notice right to your inbox.
Make sure you pick targeted keyword. Broad terms will give you millions of daily alerts.
You should know about paypal and the fact that it makes taking credit cards and other payments very simple online. The downside is it will take a fee when a customer pays you through it. However it is a great option to make things simple in the early days. Use it for small transactions under $1000 or even under $500. The fees add up to minimal amounts when dealing with small transactions like this. If your dealing in higher numbers make the effort and get that check.
Don’t forget you can also pay people through it if you don’t have a business card yet.
Music might be the one thing that keeps you sane some days when things are not going right or are just being tedious. Grooveshark lets you create you own playlist from just about any song out there. Simply pick a song you like and add it to your streaming playlist. Hypem brings together the latest songs from music blogs across the web. You will usually find tons of remixes and mash-ups of your favorite bands.
Both platforms are great to get away from your classic itunes playlists you’ve listened to 1000 times.
What other free tools do you use?
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