Duncan Stockdill, CEO & co-founder of Capsule.
From email marketing and video conferencing to customer data management and financing, there are thousands of apps available but what works and what doesn’t?
How can entrepreneurs decipher which tools are right for their business and which would be a waste of their already stretched budgets?
Here, Duncan Stockdill, CEO of Customer Relationship Management software specialists Capsule, advises which business apps can help start-ups get up and running during the embryonic and chaotic early days, work remotely and deliver long-term tech support as the business grows and develops.
Here are 10 apps and tech platforms which should be on every start-up’s shopping list.
- Organisation tools
If your work and to-do lists are a chaotic mess of paperwork and disorganised online folders, then Notion could be the ideal solution for you.
It offers four integrated tools so you are not switching between tabs, sites and multiple documents. It allows you to write, plan, collaborate and get organised by integrating documents, task and project assignment and manages workflow so the entire business planning process is streamlined.
- Helpdesk software
Helpdesk software facilitates improved productivity and efficiency within a business by freeing up management time.
However, there is a misconception that helpdesk software is just a complaint and query tool. In reality, it is so much more than a means to receive and respond to messages from customers – it can also deliver sales support and track marketing effectiveness.
HelpScout is a great start-up option that allows you to share email inboxes with your team, live chat with customers and create help articles and advice services all in one place. In short, it delivers timely and expert customer resolution which is essential to improve the overall customer experience.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Business growth relies on building customer relationships and making more sales. A CRM system can pull in all the data from all the other apps a business uses to give directors a single version of the truth – one big picture of contacts, sales pipelines, daily tasks and monthly reports – are integral to delivering these prerequisites for growth.
CRM platforms keep businesses focused and organised, delivering a more integrated and personal customer experience. Making customers feel special and understood is key to building loyal relationships.
Systems such as Capsule allow you to build a customisable contact system with thoughtful personal customer insights – along with powerful sales and forecast reporting plus alerts for meetings and task list assignment – so deadlines are never missed and customers are never disappointed.
- Team chat apps
As more and more people work remotely, it is vital for everyone to keep in touch whether they are office, home or on-the-road based. An efficient and flexible comms system like Slack allows you to bring your company together with a virtual office so that colleagues from across different locations are kept in sync, informed and included in team updates or project discussions.
Slack allows you to chat securely either individually or in organised groups – so you get work done more efficiently and collaboratively.
- Finance tools
Understanding your real-time cash position is vital for any business and in particular during the early days when cash-flow is a key consideration.
Accounting systems such as Xero allow you to access business-critical financials anytime and anywhere. It allows you to send invoices, manage expense claims, look at online transactions and view reports, and then securely share them with accountants or team members privy to such information.
- Website builders
Creating a website doesn’t have to cost a fortune. From a simple one pager to an e-commerce site, DIY website builders like Squarespace enable businesses of all sizes to have an online presence, with no coding expertise required.
- Email marketing
Email marketing is quick, cheap, responsive, highly targeted and can be used to deliver relevant and useful information to clients and prospects in a highly cost-effective way.
Start-ups don’t need a complicated system to send out their emailers. Platforms, such as Mailchimp, are easy to set up and navigate, offering users HTML templates and reporting features which tell you who has engaged with each email. Its app also allows users to send campaigns, check analytics and add subscribers while on the go.
- Password manager
Reusing passwords across numerous accounts is poor practice, opening your business up to multiple data breaches. Yet having a million and one passwords to remember relies on a very good memory.
A password manager like 1password takes that burden away, saving login details and ensuring your business’ most important information is stored securely.
- Video conferencing
With most employees working from home during the coronavirus lockdown, video conferencing tools like Zoom have been a lifeline for companies.
Whether it is a team meeting or a client briefing, a video conferencing app has become the new office, allowing for ‘face-to-face’ meetings without physically being in the same room.
- Workflow automation
Apps like Zapier connect the apps you use every day, automating processes to help you work more efficiently.
It works by setting a trigger and an action. For example, if someone added in a new sales opportunity to a Google Sheet document (the trigger), the action might be to populate your CRM system with the same information. A secondary action might be to then post the sales opportunity on Slack.