So you want to start a business. You probably know your business model, your start-up expenses, your potential client base and your goals. But have you thought about the technology and the tools you need to reach those goals?
If you haven’t, no big deal. Here’s a list of some basic and some not-so-basic tools that will help your start-up get right up and running.
MiFi devices are essentially just wireless routers that behave just like a mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. When you’re launching a business, you need to stay tuned in to everything that’s happening – even when you can’t be in the office. This type of device gives you 100% certainty that you have an Internet connection when you’re on the go.
Hotspots to consider: Karma, FreedomPop, Jetpack and Liberate.
2. Internet at the office.
Hotspots are perfect for running business when you are literally on the run – but when you’re back at headquarters, it’s just as important to have a solid infrastructure that keeps you connected.
More and more co-working spaces (great for entrepreneurs starting a business that doesn’t have a permanent office) are getting hooked up with fiber optic Internet from providers like Verizon FiOS or Google fiber to just do that – Google’s fiber connections are particularly fast (1000 Mbps).
3. MacBook Pro and Apple Airport.
Although maybe a pricier startup cost, investing in a MacBook Pro is honestly worth it for the amount of time you’ll be spending on it. Plus, it’s compatible with an Apple Airport, which allows you to print wirelessly by plugging in any USB printer.
Both devices are fast, which is an irreplaceable quality when time is weighing down on you.
Honorable mentions: Paper shredder, back-up power supplies, tablet devices.
Businesses of all sizes use Dropbox, a virtual cloud-storage space, to keep files in one place at all times. You can save important documents in Dropbox and access them wherever you are, as long as you have Internet (or bring along a MiFi device!).
It’s important to make sure that you can tap into your business at all times, so having everything accessible from any device is one of the smartest things you can do when you’re building your business.
If you’re experiencing a bit of writer’s block in the business plan department, you can get all the help you need from Enloop. Think of Enloop like a business plan blueprint. It walks you through writing a customized plan for your business and helps you shape the idea and ultimately the success of your business.
Things can get messy when you’re trying to get off the ground. Organization is going to be your best friend. Trello is one example of a content-organization system that is easy-to-use and can be shared among a team of people.
With Trello, you make “cards” with tasks, reminders or projects on them. You can move them to different columns as they reach different stages of completion. You can assign people to the cards, add labels, stickers, due dates, comments – anything to make it as interactive and effective as possible.
What do all these software programs have in common? They’re available for free. You can upgrade to premium accounts, but if you’ve just spent start-up cash on hardware and other expenses, these are great freebies to add to your toolbox.
Honorable mentions: Evernote, Hootsuite, DashLane.
Depending on the size of your startup, you might be looking for investors. If you want to impress, try the Prezi web app. Forget Microsoft Power Point. With Prezi, you can present information in a sleek, different way that makes your presentation stand out – in a good way.
You can use zoom-in features, present from an iPad, and make complex data easy to understand.
Mint is a financial app that keeps track of your expenses. If you’ve set up a separate bank account for your business (which you probably have), you need to make sure you’re staying profitable.
Mint is a great app that you can customize for any budget – put in goals and timelines, and Mint will tell you have much you need to be saving to hit that goal.
You’ve got presentations and financials under control, so now you need an app to keep track of how your customers think you’re doing so far. Zendesk is an app for customer service that collects conversations among your clientele and picks out “tickets” that need a response.
It integrates with other applications (like JIRA), and is tracked so you know your performance and how it compares to others in your field.
Honorable mentions: Skype, WebEx, Expensify.
About the author: Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design. In a former life she was a graphic designer based out of New York, NY. She actively (some would say obsessively) follows entertainment news and pop culture. You can reach Alex via her email.