A smart entrepreneur will always have his toolkit for growth ready. But a smarter one will constantly be on the lookout for free yet functional tools so that he can dedicate those finances for other things.
Having been there, done that, here’s a must-have toolkit for lean startups that every entrepreneur of today must have:
1. Social media management: HOOTSUITE and BUFFER
Hootsuite and Buffer are by far the most popular and easy to use social media dashboards. From being able to schedule posts and tweets, they also help you analyse and manage your brand’s online reputation.
2. Social listening: GOOGLE ANALYTICS
All you need is 5 minutes to setup your account on Google Analytics and get started – that too if your connection is a bit slow. This tool allows you to listen to the conversations around the keywords that relate to your startup. Be it for a research or damage control, you’ll never miss a conversation around you with this one!
3. Marketing research: SURVEYMONKEY
High quality real-time data is the key to a successful campaign, and there is no one who says any different. SurveyMonkey provides you with an easy-to-use tool to design quick surveys using the existing templates, distribute, collect data and draw meaningful insights from it for your digital campaigns.
4. Graphics: CANVA and PIKTOCHART
Be it graphics for social channels, presentations, newsletters, business cards or creating elaborate infographics, Canva and Piktochart are the only tools you need. What’s best? You won’t need a designer around to guide you through these tools.
5. Online appointment/meeting scheduling: CALENDLY
Calendly allows you to integrate with the Google calendar and allows you, and others to schedule appointments or meetings easily. It also sends you alerts to notify you of the same. Now never miss a meeting again!
6. Email marketing: MAILCHIMP
Just about every entrepreneur out there swears by MailChimp. A must have tool for every startup, it allows to manage subscriber profiles, create and send better emails, and analyse your email marketing campaign’s effectiveness.
7. Project management: TRELLO
Startups today mostly have remote working teams, and sometimes the time zones make it really hard to manage projects. Trello allows you to create lists, assign tasks and track progress section wise. It also lets you notify other team members in case a change has been made to a task at hand.
8. Wireframing/Mockups: BALSAMIQ
If you want a developer to understand what you need, you should be able to create a basic wireframe and user flow. Balsamiq is the most easy-to-use tool out there with intuitive options to ease the entire process.
9. Team management/Chat: SLACK
Stand up meetings aren’t a possibility when your team works remote. The best way to have a quick chat or collaborate on something is to use a common platform. Slack lets you stay in touch with your team, and also pen down all the random thoughts you have through the day, and run them through the others to take their view.
10. Business modelling: LEANSTACK
A popular BMC tool, Leanstack is perfect for putting together your business model in minutes. With a single page to ideate, less than 20 minutes to put it all together, you have an effective business plan ready in a jiffy!
11. Finance management: MINT
Mint is a startup budgeting and money management tool that facilitates expenditure plans, categorisation and analysis for focussed startups. It eliminates the need for creating spreadsheets and reports for the same.
12. Customer relationship management: ZOHO CRM
Zoho CRM is the most easy to use and comprehend customer relationship management tool. It lets you track, close and analyse sales activities closely to give you a holistic view of the entire sales cycle.
13. Launch/Demo videos: POWTOONS
Demo videos are the best way to introduce your products and services – especially if your concept is new in the market. Powtoons lets you create interactive, animated and interesting videos to onboard your customers easily. The easy-to-use tool works on a simple drag and drop functionality.
14. Presentations: EMAZE
Whether you’re pitching your concept to a VC, looking for a cofounder or trying to seek advice, we all need stunning presentations to be able to do so effectively. Emaze provides you with design templates, cloud integration and HTML compatibility.
15. Landing pages: UNBOUNCE and STRIKINGLY
Let’s face it, landing pages are the first thing that your potential customers see. And if it isn’t alluring enough or doesn’t send across the right business message, you’re probably going to lose them. Unbounce and Strikingly not just help create beautiful responsive landing pages, but also execute A/B testing before launching them.
Now that your toolkit is ready, time to get to burn the midnight oil and build your startup!