Being an entrepreneur is no easy task, and while patience and perseverance are desirable qualities, having a few tools of the trade puts the odds of success in your favor. Startups run on lean budgets and small teams, and rely on software and applications to lighten the load. These tools are more than just methods to help lift administrative burdens: They help startups grow during their early stages -- the most crucial of all. Here are seven tools you should be using:
Kissmetrics is a funnel analytics tool that monitors the activity of your visitors from the first point of engagement to conversion and beyond. Repeat customers constitute the bulk of sales for most businesses, which is why the ability to home in on retention is so important. You'll be able to see exactly how effective your startup is, generate custom retention (and other) reports, and gain detailed insight into visitor movements.
Kissmetrics also allows you to create effective split-testing campaigns. As a startup, you should always be split testing to see what works best for your business. Split test your email campaigns and landing pages and use analytics to make tweaks that improve conversion.
Hotjar offers heat-map technology that allows businesses to analyze visitor behavior to increase sales. Heat maps reveal how potential customers are interacting with your website -- where they're clicking, where attention is focused, where you're losing engagement. This information is invaluable to burgeoning startups that need to make a solid first impression to convert customers.
To help you keep your business on track and make better financial decisions, you'll need a system that reports pinpoint financial details. Unless you're a well-versed accountant, going the DIY route is highly time-consuming and the threshold for error is much higher. Outsourcing your accounting works if you have the budget, but strips you of some control.
Tools like botkeeper automate your bookkeeping needs through a mix of tech and human-based support, whenever you need it. Use the software to access a series of intuitive dashboards that streamline bookkeeping tasks. Track expenses, create invoices, pay bills, generate reports, and monitor progress via a dashboard that extracts data from QuickBooks.
As a startup, you most likely have a limited budget and time. Canva aims to bring out the graphic designer in all of us. It lets you easily create designs: infographics, e-book covers, presentations, blog and newsletter graphics, invitations. The program's extensive library of customizable fonts, shapes, and images makes it simple for users to create professional-looking images for Web or print.
Canva also allows you to create teams so that co-owners can work on different parts of a longer series of slides. Examples that come to mind are pitch decks and SlideShares. Perhaps the team wants to create a series of ads that roll out over time? No problem: Canva has you covered.
Social media is essential for small business, but managing your social media strategy can be confusing and time-consuming. Buffer is a social media management software application that allows users to schedule, publish, and analyze posting activity across a variety of platforms. It's easy to use and helps the team stay efficient. Based on your particular audience engagement, Buffer can post automatically on your behalf during the most popular times. And because data is everything, the "Analytics" tab features rich reports that aid your overall social strategy.
The power of video cannot be underestimated, especially when your startup is product-related. Marketing and explainer videos are among the best ways to differentiate your brand. Video marketing statistics speak for themselves: According to Unbounce, including a video on your landing page can increase conversion by 80 percent; according to Invodo, 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others.
PowToon is a powerful tool that allows users to easily create stunning explainer videos and product demos. Major companies like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Google use the application for their own videos. Users with no coding or design abilities can bring concepts to life with PowToon's extensive library of templates and graphics. Take a look at its video-based case studies to see how animated videos have helped other businesses increase engagement and sales.
Entrepreneurs are under immense pressure to make early decisions that shape their companies for years to come. Let's face it: Half of all businesses fail within the first five years. Project management software like ClickUp helps startups eliminate risks by providing the foundation for a clear trajectory.
While there are a handful of options on the market, ClickUp nixes the one-size-fits-all approach by letting users customize the software to match their workflow and choose how they want to display projects. Integration with Slack, GitHub, JIRA, and Todoist also makes it simple to manage communications and progress in one area.
As an entrepreneur, you're tasked with running the ship: managing development projects, getting press, content marketing, social media, website design. There's no easy way through, but each of these tools is designed to help you glean further insight about your business, and save you time and money. Test run each tool with its trial version. Keep in mind there's more of a learning curve with some tools than with others, but once you've got a handle on things, automated day-to-day operations are just around the corner.