Building a startup is hard, and requires both willpower and good leadership. Looking for must-have tools to take your startup to new heights?
Building a startup is a lot like raising a child. How? A startup is characterized by excitement and ups and down, much like a child that can be a doll one second, and a disaster the next. Startups also require constant attention, as well as good leadership. Not to mention goals that need to be in place and given attention to in order for them to be achieved.
Whether you already have a startup or are thinking of building one, take the following 5 things into consideration. They will help you, your business, your employees, and most importantly, your sanity.
1. Internal Communication is Key
When talking about a company, there is a ton that’s in play. Different teams, different deadlines, and perhaps even different products. This is especially true for startups. Though you may not have tons of employees or multiple products to offer yet, you likely have different ideas, goals, and people to communicate with. Having good internal communication is key to any startup. It helps makes sure that things don’t fall through the cracks or get left behind. Imagine needing to apply for the most important conference of the year but forgetting to, and realizing that all the tickets are sold out. Bummer.
There are some really useful tools out there that are meant to help startups and companies practice good communication. You have likely heard of the most common one, Slack. Slack is popular among high-tech startups, but is extremely useful no matter your industry. The platform aims to transform the way teams work together by allowing them to talk and collaborate on different projects. It’s a great communication tool, much like instant messenger, that’s extremely easy to use. Need to ask someone from the sales team a question? Just message them on Slack. You can create private or public channels, and categorize them with specific hashtags so that you can find them easily among everything else. It’s not only a great way to discuss current ideas, but a good way to bring up new ones and hash them out between teams. Another useful communication tool is Evernote. It lets you jot down ideas, just like a notebook, the only difference is that it’s cloud-based. This means that you can access your notes wherever and whenever. You can also share your notes with team members or other people that need access in order to keep things moving and keep up with deadlines. One of the best parts about Evernote is that you can connect it with your Slack account so that everything get stored in one place.
2. Good Design Makes a Difference
Something that often gets forgotten or looked over within a startup is design. Founders become so focused on the main goal of the business, or making their first sale, that something as small as design may not seem important. But it’s important to realize that good design can be what leads to your first sale, or to your startup being featured in a major publication. Whether it’s the website, or marketing material like a 1-pager, deck, or brochure, good design makes a huge difference.
If you know the importance of design but simply can’t afford to hire a designer, try a program like Canva. The software is used by some of the biggest companies and is an incredible tool for all of your design needs. You can use the premade templates, or start a design from scratch. It’s good for everything including brochures, email templates, social media banners, and newsletters. You can experiment with colors, fonts, designs, and images all for free. But if you want to kick it up a notch, it’s worth spending the money for a premium plan, which lets you share designs with team members, upload your logo, and customize your brand elements.
3. Always Have Your Eye on the Prize
If you’re like most driven leaders, you probably spend your days and are kept up at night by ideas floating through your mind. If it’s not ideas, it’s to-dos, responsibilities, and emails to respond to. No worries, this is a good thing, as you should always focus on your goals.
But if you want to stay sane while chasing your many goals, use a project management tool like Asana or Trello. Asana is a web and mobile tool that helps you track all of your projects so you don’t have to store them in your mind or on sticky notes. You can see your startup’s overall goals, as well as small to-dos. When you need to write things down, just create a post in Asana, and either save it for later or assign it to someone else to handle. Trello is similar in that it uses “boards” to store your lists. You can also assign a board to someone. What we love about Trello is that it syncs with all your devices so you’re always up to date.
4. Keep Your Users and Customers Informed
Internal communication is extremely important for a startup. What’s also important, and perhaps critical to a startup’s success, is having good external communication. This can be with your investors, board members, or your users.
For investors and board members, it’s important to keep them updated and informed about the latest happenings in your startup. How’s the product coming along? How’s the audience taking to the latest updates? For users, it’s important to be in touch with them so that you stay in their minds. This can be done through newsletters, or update emails created in MailChimp. Mailchimp is a top email marketing service used by companies of all sizes. The tool lets you make lists like “investors” or “customers”, and create emails from scratch or use pre-made templates.
5. Practice Good Organization
With so much happening on a daily basis, you will want to stay organized. And no, an inbox zero is not the kind of organization we’re referring to. Think of all the departments and elements you have within your startup: legal, marketing, accounting, customers and so many more. Implement a tool like Dropbox or Google Drive to keep everything sorted. Create folders and store unlimited files and documents. You will know exactly where to look for something when you need it.
There are also professional tools that can help keep you organized like Zoho. The company offers a suite of online productivity tools that are used by over 25 million people. It’s an all-in-one solution that can handle anything from invoicing and accounting, to website creation. If you’re in need of a specific tool for accounting – one of the most dreadful tasks in any company – try Wave. It’s meant specifically for startups and small businesses, and helps you automate your invoicing, track your expenses, and manage transactions. Best of all is that it’s super user-friendly and intuitive.
See You at the IPO
There’s no doubt that building and running a startup is tough work. You have tons of responsibility, a lot of people to manage, and several ideas to run through. But if you take our 5 tips into consideration and make an effort to implement them, you’re sure to see results. We’ll see you at your IPO!