Starting Smart: Software Tools for Keeping Startup Costs in Check
Last updated on February 9, 2023 by
Saving Money While Running Your Startup: Part 4
When running a startup or small business, it’s important to use tools that improve efficiency for several reasons. Working smarter, not harder, is often the key to early success and surviving in the long-term.
As a startup founder or business owner, you typically have limited resources and need to make the most out of every dollar they spend. Efficiency and productivity tools can help automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks, freeing up valuable time and energy for more important activities.
You need to move quickly and adapt to changing market conditions as well. Certain tools can help streamline processes, making it easier for teams to collaborate and make decisions.
Because you are often working with a small team, it’s important for each team member to be able to work at their full potential. Efficiency and productivity tools can help reduce the workload of individual team members and ensure that everyone is working on the most important tasks.
You need to focus on their customer too, and efficiency tools often allow for better customer service and engagement as they can be used for analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), and other customer-facing tasks.
Additionally, you need to measure your progress. Efficiency tools can help with that by providing data and metrics that can be used to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions.
From communication to organization to automation, many tools are available to stretch your dollars and help your startup run smoothly, using tools that improve efficiency can be crucial for startups. They typically help maximize resources, improve teamwork, and increase productivity, which are essential for achieving success in a highly competitive market.
In this article, we’ll review some of the productivity tools for keeping startup costs in check.
Types of Tools to Think About
There are different types of tools you can use to help save money, improve efficiency, and increase productivity. This includes project management tools, collaboration tools, CRM tools, time management tools, and more.
Tools for Team Communication & Collaboration
Effective communication is crucial for the success of any team, and establishing clear communication processes within your startup can save you a lot of headaches. By utilizing different tools for different types of communication, you can ensure that the right message is reaching the proper person at the best time.
For formal communication and notifications, such as presenting projects, communicating with people outside of your organization, or updating teams on changes, it’s best to rely on email. It’s a reliable and professional way to communicate, and it’s also easy to refer back to in the future. For quicker messaging needs, chat programs are a great option.
For example, Google chat may be sufficient, and the same is true for Microsoft Teams. Other companies also use Slack to keep track of multiple chats across smaller teams and projects. This platform allows for more organization and can be especially useful for remote teams.
Voice-centered apps like Voxer can also be helpful, particularly for brainstorming ideas when real-time communication isn’t possible. This can be especially useful for remote teams that need to collaborate on projects but are working in different time zones.
Ultimately, it’s important to find the right mix of communication tools that work for your team and your specific needs. By establishing clear communication processes, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
As the old saying goes, time is money. Your brand-new startup can’t afford to waste time on inefficiency, which is where team-based project management tools come in. You can create a timeline together, assign tasks to your team members and keep track of when things are completed. This will make it harder for tasks or communications to fall through the cracks and help you avoid doing duplicate work.
Popular tools like Trello and Asana can help create timelines, assign tasks and track completion. This can prevent tasks and communications from falling through the cracks and reduce duplicate work.
Trello’s visual interface is suitable for small teams, while Asana’s task management—detailed breakdowns of tasks and subtasks—is better for larger teams. Both tools have different features, integrations and automation that can fit different workflows.
Project management tools:
Financial & Accounting Tools
Managing finances is crucial for any business, and software programs can be a great tool to assist in budgeting, inventory management, invoicing, and overall financial management when spreadsheets fail you. Keeping track of money flow is essential to ensure that you are spending and receiving money in an organized and controlled manner.
Using these software programs can also help your accounting team during tax season, as they can provide clear and organized financial statements. It is also an important tool during strategic planning and forecasting future cash flow. This is especially important when presenting your business to potential investors, as they will want to see clear and organized financial statements.
In a nutshell, software programs can help startups to stay on top of their financial management, saving time and money, and making it easier to present the company’s financials to outside parties.
Financial and accounting tools:
Data Management Tools
It is essential to keep track of all important documents, intellectual property, and financial statements from the very beginning of your startup journey. This includes things like clinical trial numbers (something specifically important to biotechs and pharma companies), sales data, research findings, and more. Keeping these records organized and easily accessible is crucial for the success of your startup.
One way to stay organized is by using a cloud-based data management system that can be integrated with other tools you are using. This allows you to store, organize and analyze your data in one central repository, which can be particularly useful as your startup grows. It’s important to evaluate the type of data you rely on and what you need to do with it.
For example, if you are engaged in clinical trials or other research related to your product or industry, you may already have tools that help you track and analyze your data. But, you may not have a way to organize it in a central repository, which is important as you grow.
Managing data in clinical trials is a complex, multi-faceted process that can be challenging and costly without the use of technology. A clinical data management system is a commonly used software for organizing and managing the large amounts of data generated during clinical trials.
You should also consider the security of your data, as sensitive information such as financial statements and personal data of employees should be protected with the highest level of security.
Simply put, keeping track of important documents and data is essential for the success of your startup, and a cloud-based data management system can be a useful tool for staying organized and accessible. Consider the type of data you rely on and what you need to do with it, and to protect it with the highest level of security.
Data management tools:
- Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
- Data Clymer
- Amazon Web Services
- Florence eBinders
- Google Cloud Platform
- IBM Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
Analytical tools are essential because they help you make data-driven decisions, which can be crucial to the success of your startup. These tools can provide insights about your customers, products, and operations, which can help identify opportunities for growth and areas for improvement.
For example, startups can use analytical tools to track website traffic, social media engagement, and conversion rates, which can help them to identify patterns and trends in customer behavior. This information can be used to optimize marketing campaigns and improve the customer experience.
Analytical tools can also be used to track sales and inventory, which can help you better manage operations and plan for future growth. By analyzing data on customer demand, it’s possible to make informed decisions about additional product development and inventory management.
Additionally, analytical tools can help identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and track progress towards achieving specific business goals. This can be especially useful if you’re seeking funding from investors, as it can demonstrate your progress and potential for growth.
Automation is a powerful tool that can be essential for startups looking to save time and money. Used correctly, these tools can decrease the need for manual labor, improve efficiency, and reduce errors.
Automation can be used for tasks such as data entry or scheduling social media posts, which can free up time and resources to be spent on research and development. Automation can also help to improve efficiency and productivity by streamlining processes and reducing the need for manual intervention. It can also increase output and reduce costs while also freeing up time for employees to focus on more complex and value-added tasks.
Other areas where you can use automation include customer service, lead generation, inventory management, human resources, financial management, cybersecurity, supply chain management, and quality control.
Using automation tools can free up resources and free up you and your team to focus on more important tasks.
Marketing & Sales Tools
There are various sales and marketing tools that can improve efficiency. Some focus on a specific function or channel while others offer a broader range of features. For example, a tool like Mailchimp focuses on email marketing only, while Hubspot offers email marketing in addition to ads, landing pages, and social media features. Software like Hootsuite can help you with your social media marketing, and even automate social media tasks.
An important aspect of these digital marketing and sales tools is that they help increase efficiency among your sales and marketing teams. Using a tool like Hubspot which is a CRM software can help maximize efforts, keep track of everything and convert visitors into leads, turning them into deals.
To track performance, free tools like Google Analytics can be used to understand where money is being spent and if it’s worthwhile. Additionally, it’s important to track all sales efforts to determine which activities work best for your business and alter the strategy accordingly.
For marketing, free tools like Canva and Google Search Console (GSC) can help create and implement an SEO strategy, saving money in both short and long term.
For companies in the life sciences, there may be regulations around the types of marketing activities you are allowed to engage in. Still, you should always check that anything you are paying for is working. Usually, analytics tools are integrated with the ads service you use.
Ideally, you have some time of your own or someone in-house who can take on responsibility early on to design and publish marketing material for you using this free tool and its many templates.
In addition, having someone take on the role of in-house SEO might be a good way to save money, especially considering that SEO is not for everyone. Spending some time early on using free tools to create and implement an SEO strategy can save you money in both the short- and long-term.
Marketing and sales tools:
Time Management Tools
The primary purpose of time management tools is to help you manage your time more effectively. These tools can help you become more productive, make better decisions about how you spend your time, and reduce the time spent on administrative tasks.
However, it’s essential to be mindful that getting excited about a new tool is easy. The real challenge is using it consistently. That’s why it’s crucial to have an obvious reason to improve your time management, such as having more free time, before selecting the right tool for your goal and committing to using it consistently.
Here are some ways time management tools can help:
- Setting clear goals: Writing down your goals can help you to stay focused and manage your time more effectively.
- Keeping track of tasks: Having an overview of all the tasks that need to be completed with deadlines can help you to prioritize and stay organized.
- Simplifying administration: Tools can streamline administrative tasks such as reporting and invoicing.
- Planning: Organizing your week and scheduling how you will spend your time in advance can help you to stay on track.
- Prioritizing: Prioritizing your tasks can help you focus on the most critical ones and avoid forgetting about them.
- Managing meetings: Tools can help you schedule, organize and manage meetings more effectively.
- Recording and analyzing time: Recording and analyzing your time on tasks can help you optimize your time and become more efficient.
- Reflecting and developing habits: Reflecting on where you can improve and developing new habits can help you to continuously improve your time management skills.
- Team coordination: Coordinating with your team can improve communication and help you to stay on track.
- Minimizing distractions: You can increase productivity and accomplish more in less time by reducing distractions and focusing better.
By making better decisions about your priorities, taking on more significant projects, becoming more efficient by working faster, communicating better, and having more free time, you increase your chances of succeeding and seeing your teams succeed and grow.
Time management tools can improve team collaboration by providing a centralized platform for tracking tasks, assigning responsibilities, and communicating progress. This can reduce confusion, improve accountability and increase productivity by ensuring everyone is on the same page and aware of what is expected.
Additionally, time management tools can help startups track time and expenses, providing valuable insights into how resources are used. This can help startups to identify areas where costs can be reduced, and productivity can be improved. By monitoring time and expenses, startups can be more strategic with their budget.
Lastly, time management tools can help startups to monitor progress and measure performance. This helps identify areas where improvements can be made. This can help startups to make more informed decisions and improve overall performance. By monitoring progress and performance, startups can ensure they are on the right track.
Using time management tools, startups can save costs by automating repetitive tasks, prioritizing important tasks, improving team collaboration, tracking time and expenses, and monitoring progress. This can help startups be more productive and efficient, ultimately increasing their chances of success.
Time management tools:
Document Management Tools
Document management tools are software applications that help organizations store, manage, and track electronic documents and images of paper documents.
These tools can help to streamline document-related processes, such as document creation, editing, sharing, and storage, as well as automate workflows and improve collaboration and communication. Used correctly, they provide a centralized, secure, and easy-to-use system for managing, sharing, and tracking documents.
Here are some ways document management tools can help startups to be more productive and efficient:
- Document organization: Document management tools can help to organize and classify documents in a central repository, making it easy to find and access the proper documents quickly.
- Version control: Document management tools can help keep track of different document versions so that the most recent version can be easily accessed and previous versions can be reviewed if necessary.
- Collaboration and communication: Document management tools can facilitate collaboration and communication by allowing multiple users to access and edit documents simultaneously and by providing tools for commenting and discussing docs.
- Automation: Document management tools can automate workflows, such as routing documents for approval, sending notifications, and triggering actions based on predefined rules.
- Security and compliance: Document management tools can help to ensure security and compliance by providing access controls, user roles, and permissions, as well as tracking and auditing capabilities.
- Mobility: Document management tools can enable mobile access to documents, allowing employees to access and work on documents from anywhere, at any time.
- Integration: Document management tools can be integrated with other software, such as project management and accounting software, providing seamless integration between different business processes and data.
Document management tools:
How to Save Using Productivity & Efficiency Tools
When it comes to saving money using productivity tools for your business, there are a few strategies you can employ. Before you start paying for these tools, it’s important to do your research and see if there are any free options available. One way to do this is by taking advantage of free trials offered by the tool providers. This can be an effective way to determine whether or not a tool will be useful for your business.
Another strategy to consider is using longer-term free versions of tools that have a reduced set of features. This may be a good option for a young company that is just starting out and doesn’t need all the advanced features offered by the paid version.
When it comes to integrating the tools you use, it’s usually cheaper to opt-in to additional products from the same company rather than starting with a whole new service. It’s also important to remember to ask for discounts and deals. Your account representatives may be open to negotiation on pricing to keep your business.
By taking advantage of free trials, using free plans or reduced feature versions of tools, integrating tools and asking for discounts, you can potentially save money on productivity tools for your business.
Summing Things Up (With the Help of Excel, Maybe)
There are productivity tools available to facilitate just about any part of your business, and what we’ve gone over is just a sample. Using products and services designed to organize, automate, and analyze can save you a lot of work, and therefore a lot of time and money.
Even though we have encouraged you to avoid unnecessary spending on products and services, carefully-chosen and properly-used tools can make your team more productive, and happier.
Other articles from the Saving Money While Running Your Startup series: