Whether you are selling a product or service (or maybe not quite sure yet), it can be daunting to know what to choose to help you get ahead and stay on top of your priorities. It’s senseless not to use the cloud. Especially In the fast-paced world of startups, it can be easy to go down the rabbit hole of web-based applications in order to help you do your job better and faster. It can also be tempting to sign up for everything that comes across your inbox and/or social media feed.
We believe there are a few things you should look for when evaluating which tech or app to use for your specific workflows and business operations.
If it’s hard to find what you need or find your way around the user interface – you won’t use it, and it’ll possibly cause you to spend more time and cause more stress than if you didn’t use anything at all.
Features and Benefits
Robust set of features: Does it actually DO everything you need it to do? If it’s missing one or two things, you’ll end up regretting your choice to go with this app.
What is the help situation like? Is it a bot that spits out canned responses and sends you to their FAQ page? Or is it a real human who you could talk to by picking up the phone if you wanted to?
Does it work with the other apps you use? Today, most integrate with other apps that make sense for good functionality. It doesn’t make sense for tech to exist in a bubble. Be sure to check out the app’s integrations page see if they play nice with the ones you may already be using.
Do the developers keep the app updated? One way to find out is to subscribe to their email newsletter – which will typically contain information about new releases, updates to features, and potentially even tutorials and the like.
Is the pricing in line with what you can afford? If not, does the amount of time and energy it saves justify the extra cost? If it’s a freebie or you’re using the free plan, will you ever need to upgrade? It’s important to make sure the price is in line with your revenues.
Always do the demo if possible! This is the best way to test-drive and see if you’ll really use the app. If they offer it, do the screen share demo where a sales person shows you around. Even better – try out the free trial – although be prepared for the time investment of the learning curve.
Perhaps the most important thing about using a new application is getting real, live, social proof from your network. In our opinion, this is where social media really shines. There’s something to be said for crowdsourcing opinions, but there’s something amazing to be said when those opinions are coming from those you know and trust and have their own measure of success. Speaking of…
Here are our top apps for productivity.
This app is one of our faves. (Check out our in-depth review here) Not only can you pre-plan out your social media posts, you can put them into the “ReQueue” and CoSchedule will send out messages for you at intervals you set. You can house content, set up reviews, and see everything within a Calendar view. Managing multiple social media accounts? You can do that with CoSchedule too, and use their “View-based” calendar. This app alone saves us multiple hours each week. In fact, they send us a nice little recap email of exactly how many hours are saved and we <3 that! If you need a social media scheduler on the simpler side, check out Hootsuite.
Touted as one of the best email marketing automation platforms out there, this multi-task web app should be in every small business owner’s toolbox. Not only is it easy to set up, but it’s drag-and-drop interface makes it perfect for non-web or tech-savvy people. You can do everything from create emails and landing pages to pop-ups and forms. Best of all, the basic plan is free.
This online app is amazing, and the best thing about it is that it works for those who need to see things visually on a calendar as well as those who can digest a spreadsheet with ease. With so many integrations, ease of use, and customizations available, this is a no-brainer addition to your tech stack.
Freshbooks is an all-in-one accounting and invoicing cloud-based application for startups and small businesses. It really is great for not only keeping track of clients (you can even use it like a mini-CRM if you want). We particularly love the new retainer feature for keeping track of our Limitless Creative clients. They do have an app so you can track expenses on the go as well, a must-do for busy business owners.
Stripe is a wonderfully-modern and user-friendly way to collect payments. They integrate with almost everything out there, and they offer a safe and secure way for your clients to pay online.
Busy people use lots of accounts. So. Many. Logins. It can be such a time suck and organizational nightmare to have to constantly switch between apps – but Shift makes it easy to aggregate all of these websites and apps into one dashboard. Infact, we have connected multiple Google accounts (think Gmail, Drive, Adwords, etc) plus communication apps like Slack, Evernote, Whatsapp, Amazon, Box, Google tag manager, Hootsuite, Free Conference Call, Facebook Business…the list goes on. It also aggregates extensions.
A great spot to keep up with the big picture of our finances. Use it to set up bill payment reminders, see how your investments are doing, and always know your checking account balance.
We like this for conference calls and screensharing. We’ve tried lots of online conferencing but this one has proven the simplest. It’s free – it works well – it texts you when your call is coming up – nothing to download and install – and best of all – the hold music. (!) Check it out to see what we mean.
This free Chrome extension has been useful in more ways than we can count. Not only does it take screenshots, but it an also take screenshots of your entire screen (think long websites where you need to see the entire page at a glance.) It’ll also record your screen up to 30 seconds with the free version. A must-have if you need to “show and tell” to clients or colleagues.
Once you’ve gotten up and running on all of these fabulous apps, you’ll see how easy it is to make every day tasks simpler and less time-consuming.
Looking for an app to outsource all of the creative projects on your plate?
While our service isn’t an app, per-say, we are a super-simple way to let you get back to focusing on running your business with reliable, efficient, and cost-effective monthly creative services. No hiring, no interview, no unexpected costs or fees. Check out our Ongoing Creative Support service to learn more, below.
A Workbook for Startups
A powerful and comprehensive conversation-starting tool for developing your brand’s core messages. You’ll need this before you start working on anything visual.