The best thing about a startup? The ability to direct your own growth, the chance to nurture your own product, and the opportunity to organize your own team.
The scariest thing about a startup? The challenge of directing your own growth, being responsible for shipping your own product, and organizing your own team.
Diving headfirst into a startup is clearly a double-edged sword. Is there a way to mitigate the potential pitfalls and focus, instead, on the “best bits”? Sure thing: there’s an app for that. The linchpin that often makes or breaks a startup in its early phases of growth is not just the ethic and values, the team and hard work, the value of the product, or its strategic implementation, but, rather, small details like productivity, communication and analytics. Often, company culture is on point but the tools used are not up to par.
Sometimes, a thousand paper cuts bring down an otherwise successful startup. Instead of focusing on MVP — Minimum Viable Product — new business owners can end up focusing on the aspects of their businesses that should really be automated and “outsourced” to apps that will help them save time and gain clarity and focus.
So we’ve collated a list of the best apps, based on 5 different aspects of a typical startup, for you to explore and then employ, STAT.
MoneyPenny is a one-stop shop accounting app that works just as well for freelancers as it does for startups and enterprises. A cloud-based SaaS, it goes beyond simple billing and invoicing features. Expense tracking is made simple with intuitive tax categories and snap-and-go receipts that can then be assigned to expenses.
It also ensures that late payments never fall under the radar again, with automated recurring invoices so companies really can set it and forget it. Time entries marked with its built-in time tracking function can be turned into invoices for one-time clients and live team time tracking made for organizing and managing team productivity.
Also a cloud-based program designed to make startup accounting rapid, current, and QED (Quite Easily Done), it is intended for freelancers and agencies alike. The best thing about Wave is its negligible setup time: it takes almost nothing to set up invoices and track time, and its dashboard allows users to access all aspects such as payments, bills, and receipts from one pane. It also connects directly to bank accounts and uploads transactions on regular, weekly intervals. Keep in mind that it cannot track time.
With limited time in a work day, you’ll want to save pockets of time where you can and the Workflow is the best startup app for just that.
Workflow allows users to create unique home screen shortcuts that connect and perform batches of tasks together. Think of it like Zapier for your workflow. With simple drag-and-drop commands, Workflow automates complex tasks and focuses on creating shortcuts. It is accessible and operates within other apps like Safari and Evernote.
Think a to-do list is only for you? Think again. Small teams, like those in a startup, can now collaborate across a to-do list thanks to the Wunderlist app. It allows teams or groups to access, track and complete tasks as well as set up and share higher level goals. Like a true team-based app, it also allows users to assign tasks, add comments and set due dates and reminders that are then visible to all members and appear on each member’s personal list.
For startups working on a SaaS solution or for agencies who primarily showcase their product or service using their website as the main hub, making use of analytics takes precedence in their marketing and advertising efforts. When done right, analytics act like a feedback mechanism, allowing teams to gain insight not only into their customer and competition but the very experience and functionality of the website itself. The best analytics suites can tell you what’s working — and, more importantly, what’s not and how to address it.
A SaaS in itself, CrazyEgg is used by other SaaS companies and e-commerce, sales, and product-based companies. CrazyEgg’s USP is that it’s essentially a read on UI — or, User Interaction — combined with a basic to complex understanding of sales and funnels. It “maps” four aspects using a combination of four tools: heatmap, scrollmap, overlay, and confetti.
Heatmap shows companies where visitors are clicking on a site — the “hotspots” of your website. Scrollmap helps you see how far down visitors are scrolling so that you can map where the “drop off” point occurs in the page. Overlay helps companies gain a deep insight into every element on the page while Confetti is all about traffic: where is your traffic coming from and what users are clicking to get to your site.
Google Analytics (GA) is the classic go-to for simple or complex analytics that track user actions and help companies understand the nitty-gritty details of traffic. Using features like campaign tagging, goal setting, and email marketing integration, Google Analytics, when done right ,can be used to not simply gain data but to drive actual goals of a startup. Besides setting up goals for your business, the platform is broken up into 3 major aspects: user acquisition, user behaviour, and desired actions.
This app is a free, open-source analytics platform meant for individuals, small businesses, and enterprises. You can choose to self host and download the software which can then be uploaded to your own server or you can go for a subscription model to cloud hosting services. Of course, the analytics software can also be installed and accessed on iOS and Android. The best part? Instead of remote-hosted services like GA, users own and control their data. Piwik also offers features such as Ecommerce Analytics and Real Time Visitor Maps. What more could you want in an open-source solution?
For startup, customer acquisition, especially in the beginning, is all about customization. In the front end, this means knowing and communicating with your individual customer via email marketing. In the backend, this is all about segmentation and automation.
Customer.io focuses on mapping customer actions and allows you to create workflows and automated messages based on these self-same actions. This means that newsletters stay relevant not only to what your user has done before (made a purchase versus not), but also helps you reach out after periods of inactivity, capturing users that may have otherwise fallen through the cracks. And, besides the active messaging, Customer.io also allows you to gain data insight through tracking conversions and noting events or actions taken in-app.
Infusionsoft is an incredibly powerful email marketing service that combines the power of CRM analytics and marketing automation into one mega powerhouse. Infusionsoft allows startups to grow more holistically, without having to try and integrate separate apps with each other. Among the plethora of its features, it allows businesses to organize both online and offline contacts through powerful tagging and segmentation, collect data about specific customers’ behaviours, and then actually set a baseline by scoring their marketing interactions. This means hot leads are prioritized right away. Companies can also track engagement and customize follow-up messages based on these data-driven customer profiles.
Since email marketing’s click-rates and effectiveness is seriously in question in 2016, Salesforce email automation solution, Marketing Cloud, bases its functionality on a customer “journey”. You can automate the entire customer lifecycle with Journey Builder and you can communicate this to an entire team and analyze campaign performance in 5 different channels.
Remember the GTD method? The Hit List app allows startups to employ this incredibly effective productivity and project management method into app form. Using priority tagging, integrating well with the Mac keyboard for shortcuts, supporting attachments and featuring a timer function, the Hit List app starts off with a simple premise of “tasks” but empowers it with its multiple features.
A beautiful graphic user interface is not the only Trello feature startups will want in their life. This new and upcoming project management tools allows individuals to organize their own workspace and projects on “cards” and then collaborate, track tasks, add attachments, due dates and notes at each step of the way.
Basecamp is a popular and widely-used app for project management, which is undoubtedly the lifeblood of any startup. Basecamp is great not only for consumer-facing startups but B2B startups as well. Teams can collaborate not only with each other, internally, but also pull external clients on to their system and work together in this format. Basecamp is extensive enough to include all the regular features of collaboration, such as task assignment, timers, support for attachments through document manager, threads for communication as well as Campfire, a team communication tool and Breeze, a mailing list service.
Using these apps, new businesses can focus on their core functionality and grow the strength of their offerings. Don’t waste time on the details of daily operation when these apps can take all of that off your plate and give you the free time you need to make your company a success.
Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.