When you are starting a new venture, using the right tools to organize things and keep yourself as efficient as possible is a great way to ensure you make the most of your time and know exactly what is going on at a glance.
Here are four types of tools you should ensure you have. There are various options available at different price points, ranging from open source free software to enterprise level applications and SaaS, so we have focused on what you need from a tool, rather than which tool you should go for – that depends on your business and budget.
A Good Webinar Solution.
You will no doubt want to be able to communicate with remote employees or freelance staff, clients and potential investors, without having to travel around too much. While simple VoIP products like Skype and FaceTime can be useful for quick video chats, what you really need is a proper solution with webinar tools so that you can give presentations, collaborate on work, and do more than simply see the person you are meeting with online. Generally, these systems work on a SaaS (software as a service) basis where you as the subscriber get a code you can give to other people you want to attend the webinar and they can use to access the meeting via a web portal. This means that you won’t need all of your contacts to have the same system or any special software installed to be able to hold meetings with them in this way.
A CRM System.
Another essential for your start-up, whether you sell directly to the public or to other businesses, is a good CRM (contact records management) system. If you have ever attempted keeping track of all your leads, contacts and customers using a crude spreadsheet, you’ll understand the benefits of products like these that allow you to not only record contact information for all of the people you are interested in, but also to log interactions with them. Systems like this make you appear more efficient to your customers when all of your team can access them, as you never end up with someone talking to a contact without all of the information about previous interactions your business has had with them. Nobody likes receiving the same sales call twice or having someone repeat the same questions they have already answered once when they are contacted to follow up on a customer service issue, and a CRM can help you avoid these embarrassing situations as well as making it easier to track your leads and conversions.
A Good Shared Calendar System.
This may sound trivial, but do not underestimate how difficult it can get to schedule meetings if you can’t see other key people’s availability at a glance. A shared calendar system such as you get with MS Outlook can be a huge time saver, and can add new meetings or events directly into people’s local calendars on their phones and laptops so that you can manage attendance and availability for all your on site and online meetings very easily.
A Project Planning Tool.
Whether your work is project based or not, a product that can create Gantt charts to assign resources, show dependencies, and help you see whether things are on track can be useful for all kinds of things, from planning marketing campaigns and product launches to more formal projects you might undertake for clients. Understanding basic project management is important in any management role, and a good project planning system (along the lines of MS Project, though less expensive and free tools are available) will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, making following your activities and moving things around to meet key dates far less of a headache.
Equipping your startup with the right tools not only helps you look and feel more efficient, but can save a huge amount of time and money. What it can also do is help you generate data about your business, so you can streamline it further in the future. These tools will show you how much time you spend in meetings, how often you interact with key people, and much more, that will be useful information further down the line.