6 Stupidly Simple online tools for any Start-up

We have start-ups sprouting from every corner of this region. This is a good thing, and I applaud all the entrepreneurs and entrepreneur wannabes in East Africa! However, if Donald Trump’s opinions are anything to go by, only one out of every 10 start-ups will survive the first year.

One of the differentiating factors is the tools you use to manage your business. Most people launch into a business idea with no planning, no strategy, no business management and somehow hope some venture funding will drop on them from the skies! I took some time to compile these stupidly simple tools that can help you keep your start-up on point.

  1. Edicy
    It took me approximately 5 minutes to have this simple blog up and running for Sakanya. I am also made to understand that the IPO48 website was done on Edicy in less than 12 hours! Having a website is imperative for any business in this time and age, and for a start-up, chances are high that all you need is a simple 5 pager website to give you some online presence while you grow. It’s free, you don’t need any coding knowledge to get your website up and running and it comes with all the coding standards taken care of. If you ask me, you are better off with this tool than having your cousin’s friend’s mother-in-law’s daughter who just happens to be taking a course in IT doing some poor excuse of a website for you.
  2. Basecamp
    Projects literally manage themselves with Basecamp!! Ok, that’s a tag line they have on the website, which is quite misleading. On the plus side though, Basecamp is arguably the easiest to use project management tool on the internet. Think about it, a project is made up of three main things: Milestones, To-do lists and messages between project members right? Well, that’s all you get on Basecamp. Oh yeah, it’s free but you have to click on the free plan link on the plans page. (It’s in a really small font so please get your spectacles for this one)
  3. MailChimp
    I’ll admit something here. I have a weakness for any application that tries to make tasks look less serious. That funny chimp on this site just gets me smiling 🙂 On a serious note though, having a platform that allows you to send out your email marketing material, and goes even further to help you monitor the response to your e-shots etc is an essential element for a Start-up. Let’s face it, unlike in the case of a huge corporate, for you the Start-up, every single client matters! MailChimp is simple and straight forward, allows you to import your contacts from other sources such as Google mail or literally copy paste them from excel sheets (I love that feature!) and as always, its free!
  4. Netvibes
    Now this should be interesting. They say that information is power. Well, this tool let’s you contain and manage information that is of interest to you on one dashboard. Whatever your area of interest; IT, Entertainment, Sports you name it, you can dashboard it all on this platform. From Search Engines, to Blogs, to News sites to Social Networks you name it, it’s there. Next time you go to do that sales pitch you will have so much concrete information to back your bid that it won’t take long to close that job 🙂
  5. Highrise
    If you are serious about your Start-up business, then i’m sure you have some sort of CRM tool that you use to manage your contacts. If you don’t, then I’m worried for you. Highrise is another product from 37signals (these guys are renowned for the simplicity of their solutions such as Basecamp). If you already have an account on Basecamp then you won’t need to sign up again for Highrise. Same simple dashboard approach, sticking to the basics and helping you keep track of your leads, this tool is worth checking out.
  6. BillingBoss
    When I was a young Freelancer doing websites and other software left right center, this was one of my biggest headaches! Creating invoices, following up payments, worrying about taxes (something that took me quite long to truly master), receipting; I hated it! BillingBoss helps you manage this vital business element in a simple dashboard that is also available as a mobile site and as a mobile app! Create a customer, Create an Invoice, send it out and get back to work! I just love its simplicity! Yes yes, it recognizes local currency too so not to worry.

PS/ Allow me to mention that document management is also an important aspect of any business. Google Docs does an amazing job at helping you do this, allowing you to manage all your business documents on a Secure online platform (popularly known in Geekland as the cloud )

This is my first episode in the Double ‘S’ series. I hope it helps and I will appreciate your feedback 😉

Projects Manage Themselves with Basecamp

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