Tools are an entrepreneur’s best friends, and with the increasing popularity of SAAS’es (software as a service), there are tools to help you with almost any work activity, from automating tasks and increasing your efficiency to allowing you to communicate with your team better. The issue, however, lies within this choice and the sheer amount on offer.
Lucky for you though, we’re tool junkies.
To make this easier for you, we've done all the research and trials and waded through the river of marketing lingo to find you the easiest-to-use and best-value-for-money tools for your startup.
These tools will be relevant for most entrepreneurs regardless of the industry in which you’re operating. Early stage startups will most likely see the benefit, however if you’re a veteran team looking to make your lives a bit easier, then you’ll definitely find something here that will help.
So, in no particular order, here are the 7 tools that we believe every startup should be using;
We’ve all had those moments at work in which we realize we have become carried away with unnecessary tasks that, honestly, we should just call procrastination. Enter Rescuetime.
Rescuetime is a time management app. It works in the background and logs all the time you spend undertaking various tasks on your computer and measures your productivity based upon your activity and time spent on specific tasks.
From answering emails to time spent on search or social media, the Rescuetime breakdown provides a real insight into time spent on certain activities and shows you how (un)productive you are.
Time is a precious commodity and we’ve found that even the knowledge that Rescuetime is tracking us has encouraged us to find a new focus. Who doesn’t love a challenge!
Rescuetime is free to use however there is a paid version that gives you extra features. These include the ability to block certain sites for a specified period of time, alerts to remind you to take a break when you’ve been working for a long time, or to get back on track if you’ve been distracted.
Pricing: Free to Use, Pro Version at $72/year, or $9/month
There are more to-do list/project management apps than you can poke a stick at but we’ve always stuck like glue to Todoist due to its ease of use, pricing, cross-platform availability and alerts system.
On the surface, Todoist is an app that simply allows you to list down things to-do, and tick them off. It has a simple, clean UI and is intuitive to use. You can assign tasks into projects, break tasks into sub-tasks, and set reminders or recurring events easily using what Todoist refer to as ‘normal language’. However, hidden within its simple UI is great, great power. You can invite other users into projects for collaborations, receive alerts when shared tasks are ticked off, and add notes to tasks for others to see. You can also upload files to projects for others to use.
We think the best feature of Todoist is that it is cross platform; there is a dedicated app for Android and iOS, and you can install it on either Mac or PC, so you’ll have your tasks everywhere you go.
Hint: There's also a nifty feature called ‘Karma’, which gives you points based upon how productive you’ been. Use this along with Rescuetime and there is no end to how productive you can be!
Competition: There’s a lot of hype around Basecamp however it can be much more expensive, is not cross platform (which means tedious logging in every time you want to use it) and in terms of UI, there is no comparison!
Pricing: Free to use, $29/year if you want extra features like mobile push notification reminders, file uploading and project templates
Instapage is a landing page builder. Good landing pages are the most effective way of building an email list, and everyone knows that the money is in the list.
Instapage makes it super easy, even if you don’t have a coding bone in your body. It’s WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), and the drag and drop system is one of the most intuitive (and bug-less) we’ve used so far. There are also some really effective templates to get you started.
Of course, what’s the use of building a landing page without the ability to perform A/B testing? Instapage lets you perform unlimited A/B testing, allows you to build multiple versions of the same website, and then provides you detailed reports on which one is working best.
Instapage can also integrate easily with Mailchimp (number 4 on our list), Google Analytics and a whole host of other websites
Competition : Unbounce and Leadpages appear to be the closest competitors however Instapage has been much cheaper and easier to use.
Pricing: Free to use, but there are paid accounts starting at $29/month
Oh look at this; Mailchimp! If the money is in the email list, then Mailchimp is the bill press. For any of your automatic emailing lists, Mailchimp is the one to go to. Easy to use, with an intuitive interface, you can set up multiple campaigns, emailing lists and automation sequences. This means you can effortlessly set up automatic responders, hook your users with drip-feed campaigns, and easily send global EDMs to keep all your users updated with sales or news.
Mailchimp also has super sleek templates to use and modify, as well as detailed reports, insights and analytics on your campaigns. You can also find profiles on all those subscribed to your list, enabling you to gain audience insights and to schedule and target more effectively. There’s also the ability to collaborate with your team members, integrate into widely used platforms like Wordpress, and there is a plethora of mobile supporting apps. In the right hands, Mailchimp is a serious weapon for any company. And on top of that, it’s free to use!
Competitors: When it comes to drip feed campaigns, Drip is a close competitor. However, it is far more expensive.
Pricing: Free to use, with upgrades starting at $10/month
Developed by the taco loving AppSumo team, SumoMe is in fact a whole suite of tools that allows you to do a bunch of amazing stuff. These tools will help you optimise your website and build a bigger email list. Amongst the suite of tools are; (1) a heat map, which allows you to see where people are clicking on your website, (2) content analytics which show you how much content your visitors are viewing, and (3) good-looking popup and scrolling boxes encouraging people to subscribe to your emailing list. There’s also tight social networking integration so your visitors are encouraged to share anything interesting they read on your website.
SumoMe is all free to use, easy to install on your website, and can really do wonders to your website performance.
Competitors: There are a bunch of heat mapping services out there, but we love
SumoMe because it’s free and has a whole range of effective tools that would usually cost a lot of money. Also, the developing team at AppSumo has an amazing blog – check it out here.
Pricing: Did we mention it’s free?
BuzzSumo (no relation to AppSumo) is a content discovery tool, which shows you the content that has been the most popular with a particular topic or website, or the biggest influencers in a particular sphere. It’s an awesome way to do research on what topics resonate the most with your audience. Paid accounts allow you to set up content alerts so you’re always kept up-to-date with trending topics.
We have to admit, the paid accounts is a tad pricey for what it offers, especially if you don’t have a strong enough focus on content marketing to justify it. However, the free version is great to do preliminary research, and if you do plan on your content marketing being a money-maker, then definitely look into getting the other features.
Competitors: We haven’t yet found anything quite like this, but if you know something similar, please let us know!
Pricing: Free to use, plans start at $99 a month
7. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is one of the tools found within the suite of Google Adwords. Its preliminary use is allowing you to research keywords to use in your Google ads, and showing the predicted competition, search volume and Cost per Click. However, it’s also a good way of looking up what people are searching for, which is an excellent method of generating content ideas or validating a product idea; you’ll be able to find out if people are looking for a way to solve the problem you’re trying to fix!
Keyword Planner is free to use. You’ll just need to set up a Google Adwords account to be able to use it.
Competitors: Nothing like Google out there!
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and we couldn't include every great tool under the sun. Use something you can't live without? Leave us a comment below of what tools you love to use!