Building up your new startup is tough enough. Finding a good idea is a mere fraction of the overall challenge. You’re building a commercial business so you’ll need to be ready, organised, flexible, detailed and of course excelling at communications is mandatory. This can be made more complicated in a world where so much more is handled remotely. However these days there are some great tools to make things a little easier as you set about your daily tasks and get organised. If you set up good systems from the start it will also help you have your house in order when it comes to various rounds of fund raising.
Having personally been through this process on multiple occasions there are a number of tools I think help a huge amount from day one. Not just to organise, but to create, communicate, strategise and execute. Most tools I list below have cross functional integration (many have api’s or plugins to each other). They are cost effective, (many free to get started with small teams) and by the time you start shelling out for paid versions, you’ll likely be appreciating the value they bring to your business.
So if you are just setting up your startup up (or if you have a business that needs to change up a gear) … trust me, these tools will help.
Here’s my essential list of twelve tools I regularly use:
- Asana – Organise and structure your entire business, tasks and projects (Free and Paid Versions)
- Google Suite – Storage, email, collaboration, documentation ($5 per user per month or use Free google acct)
- Slack – Team Communication (Free and Paid versions)
- Lastpass – Store your passwords and notes securely (Free and Paid versions)
- Biteable – Making quick great looking videos. An amazing tool! (Free and Paid versions)
- Adobe Creative Cloud – all the tools you need for design (Free Trial. Subscription from around $50pm)
- Miro (Formerly Realtimeboard) – Mindmapping, UX / app planning (Free and Paid versions)
- Envato Elements – for graphical assets, templates and stock imagery (Some free assets or subscription)
- Zeetings – Online control and access for presentations. (Free and Paid versions)
- Jira – Technical team organisation, tracking, planning. (Free Trial. $10 flat pm for up to 10 users)
- BitBucket – Code repository (Free Trial)
- Xero – For keeping your books in order (Free Trial)
My tip is to kickoff with Asana, G-Suite and Slack. They work for any business and will help you get your house in order fast. I love Asana for creating tasks / projects and assigning responsibility to people and knowing what teams/individuals are up to. Asana also reduces a lot of inbox clutter if you use it well.
You may not need all the creative / tech tools (depending on your startup) but don’t pass up taking a look at Biteable (used to create quick videos to showcase your new idea to others) and Miro (formerly Realtimeboard) which is a great mindmapping tool. As for the boring finance stuff, Xero keeps the house in order well, and the mobile app is good for dealing with those pesky receipts and expenses.
Of course there are many many others worthy of a mention (instead of Asana you could look at Monday, Trello, Basecamp etc) and all the above tools have worthy competitors. (You can use alternativeto.net to find competitors). Many of the above I selected because over the years trialling various products with teams, these worked well. All these tools have stood the test of time, continually evolved, are flexible, good value and are well supported. I never stop evaluating other options and constantly review alternatives to see if there is a better way (I don’t like being stuck or locked into systems – I avoid walled gardens where possible).
Worth mentioning that I still use PowerPoint for face to face presentations. I’m not a PowerPoint hater – it works well and its cross platform. Office365 is a good product especially if you still feel comfortable with Word, Excel etc but I don’t find the collaboration features are as good as Googles. I also use Feedly (app and site) to track all work related websites, news, competitors, trends in a single daily feed. Very handy.
Don’t forget, old fashioned pencil, paper, whiteboards / smartboards are still essential. A lot of the time, these tools are a place to store, evolve or share things you’ve produced in the office – be it a quick thought, meeting notes or some scribbled diagrams.
Tip: For Rapid Prototyping tools check out my earlier post here.
Finally a word of caution…
These online tools are there to augment the stuff you need in the real world. These tools exist to help assist you, but they need to be used well. Take time to learn how they work. I’ve seen them misused, misunderstood and even over relied on and this can cause issues. When you decide to commit to a system after trialling it you also need your whole team to buy in. Your team needs to know which tool to use for any given occasion and it needs to become habit. As soon as one person decides they have ‘a better way’, many of the benefits of the tools can be lost. (There’s always ‘that person’ who that thinks putting everything in email and attaching word docs is the best way to operate. PS. They’re wrong.)
Got any other suggestions for other great tools? Please leave a comment.