The startup landscape is never dull. New ventures rise and fall, and the way business is done keeps evolving. Largely thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to open up (virtual) shop and turn into reality what was once a sketch on a napkin.
At the same time, however, running a startup has never been more challenging. Marketing, sales, and growth continue to demand more effort, and new solutions are introduced practically on a daily basis.
Whether you’ve already launched your startup or you’re in the pre-launch phase, take a look at our list of the best tools to use in 2021. We’ve covered areas like communication, automation, and marketing. Hopefully, our picks will make your day-to-day operations just a bit easier.
Running a startup also requires you to stay on top of a lot of legal and financial paperwork you have never before come across. In fact, most business owners will single administration and legal out as the most challenging part of running their business.
LegalZoom can help you establish a corporation or an LLC, it can help you with your tax-related paperwork and business compliance, and you can always find a lot of very useful information through the website as well. There is also the option of talking to an attorney if you have more specific questions, or are simply unsure about the next steps.
An alternative to LegalZoom is Incfile. They provide many of the same services and there are pros/cons to both services. Here’s a good LegalZoom vs Incfile comparison post that goes over both services in detail.
Finding the right tool (or set of tools) to grow your online business can be an incredibly difficult task. What if there was one tool that could handle all of your most urgent sales and marketing needs, and enable that initial growth you are looking for?
Systeme is an all-in-one free tool that helps you build your online business from the ground up. It lets you create sales funnels, run email marketing campaigns, create affiliate programs and sell and host online courses, among other things. You can also use it to build your website and automate your marketing efforts.
For starters, you want to be able to map out your idea and business plan from start to finish. And while there’s nothing wrong with that napkin we’ve mentioned, you might want to consider creating a mind map.
A tool like Mindomo will allow you to create mind maps and brainstorm with your partners or friends. It’s a great asset for ideation and project planning alike. Essentially, you can use it as a roadmap to success.
Plus, it can be a great walk down memory lane in five years’ time, when you come back to your original mind maps and compare how things have panned out.
Technically a plugin and not a separate tool, WooCommerce is a great platform for ecommerce websites. And the best part is that it integrates with WordPress.
It does have its fair share of glitches, but it’s still pretty straightforward to use. It comes with plenty of integrations and additional plugins, allowing you to customize your ecommerce store to no end and at a fair price. You can use the platform to manage everything from shipping, discounts, customers, and stock, so it’s a great all-in-one solution.
If you’ve already chosen WordPress as your CMS, adding WooCommerce to it is the simplest step. You won’t have to worry about website migration.
Alternatively, you can use Shopify, the other most popular ecommerce platform on the market.
It comes with:
- its own website builders
- plenty of pre-made templates you can use and customize
- point of sale elements that will allow you to grow your business safely and steadily
The good thing about Shopify is that it also comes with some amazing support. Even the community itself is always ready to chat and offer advice to new startup owners.
To remain relevant in today’s market, you need to establish a social media presence. Hootsuite is a tool that can help you stay on top of all the different social platforms and keep track of the different ads you’re running. Essentially, it’s there to help you manage your entire social media marketing campaign from a single dashboard.
Post scheduling is also available, sling with performance tracking in real-time. You can use the data you gather from the tool to further improve your paid ads as well as your organic and manual posts.
To convert as many of your visitors as possible, you will need to invest in conversion rate optimization and ensure you are developing a highly effective solution.
Optimizely is a tool that allows for endless A/B testing – of your product, of your website, of the new features or new products you are developing. It’s there to help you A/B test practically anything to do with your brand online.
With this tool, you will be able to take UI and UX to the next level, ensuring that what your customers see is what they really get. And that, in turn, will help ensure they keep coming back for more.
Answer The Public
But in order to be able to convert visitors, you first need to entice them to visit your website. With the help of Answer The Public, you’re able to pinpoint content ideas and searched-for queries your audience is typing into their search boxes.
You are then able to turn that information into blog posts, FAQ pages, and marketing campaigns that truly fill a need your audience has expressed. This will give you a competitive edge and bring you closer to your customers than ever before.
To reach your customers, you also need to know their contact emails. Hunter.io allows you to find any business’ address within seconds by searching a website for all emails connected with it. Then, it’s up to you to choose the right person to contact.
Manually looking for emails is not a difficult task by any means, but it is highly time-consuming. You would be much better off spending that time crafting the best possible outreach email.
A good alternative to Hunter.io to check out is snov.io. You can read this Hunter.io vs Snovio comparison post for more information on how the tools stack up against each other.
Once you have their email addresses, you need at least a semi-automated way of reaching out to your potential leads. Buzzstream lets you send out emails in bulk, manually or automatically, and it will take on the hassle of email marketing and cold outreach.
Whether you’re running a sales campaign, looking to improve your guest posting game, or just need to handle a large volume of emails, this tool is for you. Use it to manage different email marketing projects, craft templates, and stay on top of your inbox(es).
Hemingway can help you ensure all of your content is not only grammatically correct but written well and in line with your target audience’s preferences. Essentially a word editor, it can help you analyze your content for readability and cohesion.
It will highlight the parts of your copy that could be improved, and you can then choose whether you want to take the recommendations into account. You will also be told which grade the content is written at, helping you simplify your sentences if necessary.
To stay on top of every aspect of your startup, you need a project management tool. There are thousands of them on the market, but one of the best ones is certainly Monday.
It allows you to create your own workflows, and it is completely customizable. It’s also highly visual, and you will learn how to use it within a day. Rest assured, you’ll quickly fall into the habit of using it to track your tasks, project progress, employees, incoming and outgoing payments, and so on.
The tool is also available on the go and from any screen. Plus, it offers plenty of integrations with other productivity tools and data sources.
If you want to create checklists or process documentation, procedures, and step-by-step guides for your employees or clients, Process Street is the tool you need.
It comes with procedure and process templates already built in, but it also lets you create your own from scratch. Never again will you have to write out complex documentation when onboarding a new employee or client. All you’ll have to do is refer back to the list you’ve already created and shared.
To stay in touch with your customers, you might want to try Intercom, which offers both chatbots and live chat. This is perhaps the best conversational AI solution on the market today.
Intercom allows you to offer customer support and improve your conversion rates by getting in touch with leads at the right time. Best of all, it works for businesses of all sizes, from international conglomerates to local startups. The sheer size of the tool means they’ve already ironed out all the kinks, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of modern tech packed under its hood.
Another tool built for communication, collaboration, and sharing, Lark is your one-stop shop for all chats, calendars, and document sharing. It’s a relatively new tool on the market, but it has still managed to attract quite a bit of attention.
Lark has an integrated messaging system that supports text, video, and audio calls, plus the option to delegate certain tasks to the app’s virtual chat assistant. You can also create calendars to keep everyone on track. Lastly, it allows you to share files and connect emails, ensuring you never have to switch between apps to find a piece of information again.
When I Work
You may also want to be able to track your employees’ time and tasks. Most project management tools offer this option, but they can get pretty chaotic and messy rather fast. You might find it takes too much time to decipher who is doing what.
When I Work lets you schedule and track time easily and from a very visually appealing environment. It lets you manage your teams (and their time off, shift trades, and the like), keep them accountable, and ensure they can all communicate with each other seamlessly.
Running a successful startup is also about honing your skills further and continually educating yourself and your staff. A platform that enables you to learn just about anything, Skillshare can give you the leg up you need to take your business to the next level.
From very niche skills to the more widely-used ones like design and photography, you will be able to learn about practically anything on the platform. Best of all, you can let other members of your team share in your journey. Overall, it’s great for widening your horizons and coming up with the next solution and direction for your startup.
To Sum It up
All of the tools on this list can help you tackle a certain aspect of running your business. You may not need to use all of them, especially as there are certain overlaps between them and the solutions they offer. You may need to opt for just a select few to ensure your startup runs smoothly.
If you can, always use a free trial and test out a tool before you commit to using it over an extended period. No matter how good it is on paper, it may not suit the needs of your business.