The apps that help you bootstrap
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a business idea today, and have that business up and running tomorrow?
It used to be that bootstrapping a business was, well, challenging. If you weren’t exceptionally tech-savvy, or you lacked deep pockets, it was an arduous task that required time and capital. But now, with the easy availability of SaaS solutions, it’s possible to have a fully-functioning business in a week or less, on a budget that doesn’t require venture capital funding.
The best part? Most of these solutions will grow as your business grows, so you can put all your focus on making that growth happen, instead of wrangling infrastructure tools.
Here’s a suite of SaaS products you can use to quickly take your business from pop-up shop to the real deal.
You can’t run a business without getting paid, after all! When it comes to payment processing, Stripe is an easy choice. Most online shopping cart and invoicing tools offer easy integration with Stripe, and instead of high monthly fees, you’ll only pay 2.9% + $0.30 for each successful charge. And there’s no refund fees, setup fees, or card storage fees. If you’re processing monthly payments, consider combining Stripe with Recurly to make everything run smoothly.
ZenPayroll’s goal is to make doing payroll delightful—which isn’t usually the word that comes to mind when you’re faced with that task. Judging by the rave reviews on social media, though, they do the job well, simplifying everything from paying employees automatically to filing and paying taxes automatically. Pricing is very reasonable too, starting at $25/month + $4/per person (for a team of five plus the business owner, you’d be paying $49/month).
Hiring new talent can be a big task, but OnboardIQ can help you manage the hiring process and streamline the countless emails (and attachments, and background checks…) that go into it. It’s specifically intended for on-demand workforces (which more and more startups are making use of), but looks like it could work just as well for traditional employees, and integrates with apps like Wufoo, HelloSign, Typeform, and more.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one option, Zenefits could be a fit. It integrates with your payroll solution (including the previously mentioned ZenPayroll) and gives you one place to view and manage employee benefits and insurance. There’s also HR tools that help you with employee on-boarding and departures, and compliance-tracking tools for benefits and time off. (Check out how Zenefits is using Highfive to train new hires.)
Whether you’ve got one employee or a whole team, it’s a good idea to have a handle on where employee time (and your time) is going. Harvest just does that, letting you track employee time, view and approve timesheets, track expenses via the mobile app, and more. It’s also got some powerful forecasting features that let you see where future employee time is going to go. You’ll pay $49 for a team of five, with the forecasting features being an additional $5/user/month.
As your business grows, your expenses will too. And once you’ve got a team of people tracking their expenses, the paperwork can be a headache. Expensify helps make expense reports easy for everyone involved, from the mobile app that lets employees scan receipts, to the online view that collects it all in one easy-to-see dashboard. Pricing starts at $5/user/month.
Talkdesk is for the business that needs a call center, but doesn’t want to outsource to a call center. It gives a professional browser-based interface to let your customer service agent take notes, transfer callers, and more. Talkdesk also integrates with Salesforce, Zendesk, Shopify, and other apps, so that you can view the history of the caller when you’re talking to them. Pricing starts at $19/agent/month.
On the other hand, Grasshopper is great for when you don’t have a full customer service team yet, but want to have business calls routed to your phone while maintaining separate business and cell numbers. It’s especially useful for remote teams, giving you the option of having an extension for each team member. And voicemails get transcribed and sent to you via email. All plans offer free activation, and they start as low as $12/month.
And of course, as your customer base grows, you’ll probably want to implement a helpdesk or ticketing system to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Two popular choices are Groove and Zendesk. Groove has a free starter plan, and Zendesk’s starter plan is $1/agent/month. But Groove Plus (which is roughly comparable to Zendesk’s Plus plan) is $15/user/month, vs. $59/user/month. Both options offer a free trial, so there’s no reason not to test them out and see which one works better for your team.
Gone are the days when keeping track of customers and leads needed to be done inside a clunky spreadsheet, or an enterprise CRM app that’s total overkill for what you actually need. Now, you can get CRMs that work with your inbox and your browser, are accessible on your phone, and work with your workflow, instead of just overwhelming you.
Two options are and Streak and Nimble. Streak integrates with Google Apps and is flexible enough to work with your existing processes. In addition to giving you an easy way to track leads, it also superpowers your email with features like email tracking, the ability to snooze an email thread until a later date, linked inboxes, and more. A free plan is available and paid plans start at $19/user/month.
For a more social approach, there’s Nimble. Nimble pulls together data from social media to give you a full view of your contacts, letting you keep up with customers or potential clients on social media. It also lets you keep an eye on your social inboxes and mentions from one central view. You can track deals, note meetings, and set follow-up reminders. There’s browser and inbox extensions (for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Outlook, and Google Apps), mobile apps for iOS and Android, and it integrates with Hootsuite. And at just $15/user/month, it’s accessible for a small team.
Project management and productivity
Managing people is a big part of running a company, and there are plenty of tools that can help with that (including several with freemium models). Asana is always a favorite, and we have a list of eight more tools for remote teams as well. Make sure to take a look at them, too, and you’ll have everything you need to get your business off on the right foot.
And finally, if your growing company needs a single solution for video conferencing, web conferencing and screen sharing, try Highfive! Our video conferencing devices are affordable enough to deploy in all your conference rooms and huddle spaces today, and to add more as you grow. Plus get unlimited access to our free apps for computers and mobile devices for every employee on your expanding team.