It doesn't take much to kick off a new business, especially with so many tech tools now available. Whether you start your new business as a side venture or a full-time career, you'll see the same set of challenges many other entrepreneurs face. Dealing with the management and day-to-day operations of a new business will often require more hours than you have in a day. With the right solutions in place, you can skillfully juggle everything until the time comes that you can afford to hire a team. Here are a few tools to consider as you build your startup environment.
Starting a business can be isolating, especially if you're working alone. An advisor can make a big difference in the early days, but experienced professionals aren't exactly waiting around to help new entrepreneurs. Networking events can be a great way to connect with potential mentors, but if you're limited on time and resources, technology can help. Hopscratch assigns every new member a business advocate who provides advice and tips along each step of a leader's journey. Businesses also have access to help with forming an LLC, advice for handling accounting and taxes, and website and business card design tools.
Before you complete your first job, you'll need a way to invoice your clients. Some of your clients will have their own invoicing systems, requiring you to create an account and input your financial information. For many others, though, you'll need a way to send and manage invoices. Due.com includes time tracking, invoicing, and reporting features that make it easy to get paid. If you do business outside of the U.S., you'll have support for more than 100 countries and tax systems.
Electronic Document Signing
Every time you launch a new client relationship, there will be documents to sign. You may be asked to submit tax forms certifying you aren't a salaried employee or sign non-disclosure agreements. You'll likely also have work agreements or contracts to put in place to make sure you'll get paid before you put hours into a new project. Adobe Sign takes the built-in signature features in Adobe Reader to the next level, including a mobile app that lets you sign documents on the go.
User Experience Testing
Whether you're creating an app or a website that demonstrates what your business does, you'll need to make sure it's built to engage customers. UserTesting gives you immediate access to a crowdsourced group from the site's million-plus membership base. You can choose the users who test your site and get help with creating a list of tasks for those users to try out. This service takes user testing to the next level, giving businesses access to videos of testers interacting with their websites and mobile apps as they use them.
SBA Loans and Grants Tool
A little money can go a long way when you're starting a new business. While grants are difficult to find, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has a financing tool that can lead you directly to the opportunity you need to help you get started. From that page, you can also get advice on building a business plan, as well as tips that apply to other areas of building your new business.
Social Media Management
There are many dashboards available to help you manage all of your social media accounts in one place, but few are dedicated to helping you better utilize your followers. SocialRank combines a business's Twitter and Instagram accounts, allowing them to search followers by interest. You can also filter followers by most engaged, most valuable, and most followed to find those who are most likely to share your posts with others. Once those lists have been created, followers can be grouped and exported as lists to Twitter or saved as a CSV file to make it easy to engage those followers specifically.
Starting a new business can be exciting, but it also means long hours and hard work. With the right tools in place, you can spend less time on administrative tasks and more interacting with new clients. This will ensure your business grows, allowing you to bring in valuable employees who can further take some of those administrative duties off of your daily task list.