The Best Online Tools for New Startups
By MELINDA CRUMP
According to a new study done by Intuit Canada, roughly 53% of new start ups are being run on a part-time basis. More often than not, startup owners are working full-time somewhere else while growing their part-time business on the side.
To help these part-time entrepreneurs gain the traction they need to grow their businesses, we’ve compiled a list of the top tools used by startups to run their side ventures smoothly, even if it’s on a budget. In no particular order:
- TickSpot (http://www.tickspot.com/): Remember when punch cards tracked employee hours? Now there is a web-based product that enables you to punch time online, from your desktop computer, mobile device or tablet. Tick ranges from $19 to $149 a month and is used to track the amount of time employees spend on each of the business’ projects. This tool will give you a precise picture of where time is being spent, which is very valuable. Remember, time is money!
- Basecamp (https://basecamp.com/): Basecamp allows owners to manage projects and assign tasks to team members online, in one place. Projects are managed with to-do lists assigned to employees with due dates. Team members notify each other when tasks are complete by checking off assignments. Users can also share files, videos, and graphics for each project. Depending on the number of projects you need to track, Basecamp accounts can range from $20 to $150 a month or $3,000 a year for unlimited projects.
- MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com/): If you need a tool to send out email marketing campaigns or regular newsletters, MailChimp is a fantastic option. MailChimp tutorials make it easy to set up an email campaign. You have the choice of personalizing your email by selecting themes, adding your own code, or purchasing iStock photos. Startups can set up an account for free and upgrade later on.
- QuickBooks Online (http://quickbooks.intuit.com/online): Tracking finances is extremely important when running any business. QuickBooks is an application created by Intuit to assist businesses in tracking their finances. QuickBooks is available online and can be synced to your bank account, create invoices, record expenses, retain customer and employee information, issue payroll, and keep track of sale taxes. The program ranges from $9 to $29 a month, including a chance for a free trial.
- HootSuite (https://hootsuite.com/): HootSuite is the one-stop-shop for managing all of your social media platforms. It is a social media management centre used either on the desktop, iPhone, iPad or android devices. Most of the well-known social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, WordPress and LinkedIn, can be linked to your account and it allows you to view and toggle between outlets. Social media posts can be scheduled in advance to save you time. You can also collect analytics to evaluate levels of engagement over time. HootSuite is free or $9.99 a month (add-ons are extra)
- Evernote (http://evernote.com/): Evernote is a cloud-based program where document files are created and stored, and accessible from your desktop computer or mobile device. Images, web pages, and videos can also be stored and shared. Depending on preferences, there are add-on apps available, such as one which fully scans a paper document and creates a file within the notebook. Evernote has a business section where collaboration is made easier for $10 a month.
- Skype (http://www.skype.com/en/): Skype is a great communication tool for startups for little to no cost at all. This program is a voice/video calling service that has the option to instant message as well. Skype-to-Skype calls are free but you can also make calls to mobiles and landlines for a fraction of the cost of a regular phone package.
- Shopify (http://www.shopify.com/): Shopify is a simple solution for individuals and companies interested in ecommerce. Shopify allows you to create an online store fast and provides themes to allow you to design your online storefront. It is easy to track and ship orders and if you use Shopify’s payment gateway there are no transaction fees. There is also a POS system for iPads if you choose to have a physical location of pop-up store. Depending on the needs of the business, prices range from $29 to $179 a month.
Got other handy tools you can’t live without or think other startups should know about? Leave your suggestions and recommendations below in our comments section!