Being a founder of a single-person startup you become an orchestra-man, combining all the jobs and functions which normally are distributed through the team members. Here are the tools which will help you to handle with hundreds of tasks.
How many of you have faced situation, when you start a startup, but don't have budget to hire employees and don’t have committed team to work for your company development? In this case startup founder has to become an orchestra-man, combining all the jobs and functions which normally are distributed through the team members.
How to handle with it, when you have to deal with hundreds of everyday tasks on your own?
Being inspired by the latest discussion of this kind on inbound, I decided to study this question and explore what tools could be useful for automatization of variety of tasks in a single-person startup. Let’s have a look on the possible solutions which can help you the increase productivity and handle with variety of tasks while the development of your startup:
Task management tools
Launching startup is not that easy, but being in charge for a single-person startup development is an incredible challenging job!
With so many directions, tasks and to-do lists on the table it’s easy to overlook certain things. To avoid it you can use special tools which can help you to handle with variety of tasks and manage planning.
I advise you to try Todoist – one of the best online task management app and To-Do list on my opinion.
It is a project management application for personal and professional productivity, allowing users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet or computer. It allows you to plan your tasks on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You may set the priorities, turn on the repeat mode (tasks which are repeated from day-to-day, week-to-week) and set up reminders. If you work with the team you may choose the responsable for this or that task and follow the progress.
There are two grate things I love most of all in Todoist are. One of them is "karma" - some kind of gamification feature which let's you grow your professional karma depending on how many tasks you set up and how many of them you deliver in time. That's a great point to motivate yourself to make everuthing on time! :)
Another great thing is chrome app which allowa you to save any webpage link directly from the website to your tasks list.
The app is free, though additional features to enable collaboration and team work are available in a paid version.
Also try OmniFocus - an easy to use tool to help maintain a work/life balance.
Their approach is three-pronged: capture, organize, and sync.
OmniFocus starts by collecting all of your data, current to do lists, and anything that is on your mind. Once all of this data is entered, it can easily be organized into a more proactive form, allowing for you to reach your goals in a clear and timely fashion.
For email automatization
Most of startups I know use MailChimp (I've also used it at the beginning, before they enforced us to upgrade to the paid plan).
It has a "forever free" version of the service that lets you create lists of up to 2000 subscribers and send out 12000 emails. The downside is that there is some branding that you can't remove from your emails. For $10/month, you can then upgrade with a bunch more features. After that, upgrades are simply based on the size of your lists and total number of emails sent.
Also have a look at the ActiveCampaign – it is extremely advanced for it's price (actually cheaper than MailChimp for most subscriber plans).
Perhaps, it might be the best dollar for dollar value for email marketing automation. If needed you can upgrade to add a built-in CRM.
Another app WiseStamp can help you manage your emails and create a cool email signature including your photo or company logo, contact details, website address and social media links in one place.
It is a very easy to use tool and it is free if you don’t mind to have non-exhausting WiseStamp branding on the bottom of your emails.
For Internet Marketing automatisation
No matters what business you launch and how big or small it is, you need to have marketing activities from the very first day of launching your own business.
And internet is the marketing paradise where you can communicate with potential customers, create your brand story, promote your services and get your first clients.
I will not share stupid advices on obvious "must-does" when you start internet marketing, such as create and use your social media accounts, start make the blog, share useful content and so on. If you are smart and brave enough to start your own business you're definitely able to google for few minutes and get tons of advices, tips and growth hacks on how to make an effective social media campaigns and build a good content marketing strategy.
This post is about tools which may increase your productivity and help you to handle with the variety of everyday tasks when you don't have a large team to manage them. So let's see what tools can help you to automate your internet marketing tasks:
One of the important parts of internet marketing is social media marketing (SMM) activities, which mean that you have many accounts and public pages in variety of popular social media (where your customers are), which you should redularly keep updated to attract visitors to your website. And if you want to do it effectively and in parallel keep some time to manage the sales and general strategy (and few hours to sleep) - the fisrt must-have tool to automate your SMM activities should be choosing the social media reposting tool.
Among the most widely known are HootSuite and Buffer, I've tested them both so let's see what are the differences:
Buffer is a content publishing platform, letting you publish and schedule content to social networks.
It allows to schedule and share posts to Twitter, Facebook (profile, page, group), LinkedIn (profile, page), Google+ (page), and Pinterest throughout the day, at the optimal times. It may definitely simplify your SMM activities.
HootSuite is even more advanced then Buffer.
It is more a social media manager tool, which will automatically schedule your posts for the chosen time of the day to maximize your social media appearence, team work and smm campaigns.
You can set up posts for the next day or the whole week and pretend to be proactive with the SM appearance even without being online when you're posting! The basic plan (2 social accounts) is for free, which is a good solution for an early stage startup.
It is also a great instrument for engaging easily people based on your customized newsfeeds and keywords, but this option is only available on paid subscription (from $9.99 per month).
Here is a pretty good post by Ben Donkor with the detailed comparison overview of Buffer VS HootSuit, which will help you to understand all the differences between them.
Both of them are pretty good, but for my personal opinion thee are more-or-less tools for development stage startups or already operating business, when you have some team members already who can help you you with internet marketing efforts.
My tool of choice for a single person startup is Kuku.io.
It is a great tool which allows to easily create social media content, schedule posts to multiple social networks (for the moment they have 10 social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, VKontakte and others) and monitor social media activity.
Kuku is positioned as "intuitive social media management tool" and I should confirm that it is truly one of the reasons why I've chosen it for my needs. It is very user friendly: you don't need to spend time while exploring features and thibking on how does it work, everything is very easy to understand and operate.
It was developed in Belarus and very rapidly spread globally with multiply languages support (available in english, russian and french). Perhaps, I love this tool because being a startup themselves they are very flexible in pricing model, provide great support service and continuesly implement new features, which will cost you much higher on the competitors' platforms. For example the free version allows posting to multiple social media networks, 3 spots for social media accounts and 50 posts per month (which is actually enough at the beginning of your smm activities). If you want to get analytics you can switch to the "essential" plan which costs $9.99 per month.
When starting marketing your products or services most of the people begin to pay for advertising. In internet marketing you pay for banners on external websites, Google ads, Facebook advertisement and many other ways to spend your funds. But what if your marketing bidget is zero? You may find solutions which may help you advertise for free:
Snip.ly and Startafire are URL link shorteners that allow you to add a customized call-to-action snippet at the bottom of any page you share.
Just imagine: you may have your ads on the pages of the top websites, celebrity blogs and media, and that's for free!
Keep in mind: this will work only with the links you create with these tools and share. Still not bad to strengthen your company presence and attract additional attention to your products or your website!
Telling the truth I don't see much difference between Snip.ly and Startafire, they are pretty common. For me personaly I've chosen Startafire, my partner who is responsable for marketing uses Snip.ly, so it's up to you which one will suit your subjective criteria. Try both - they are free.
To create design and corporate graphics
Irrespectively of the field of activities, stage and industry your startup is active in you need to handle with lots of tasks connected with design and visualization issues. From creating a simple logo or illustrations to your marketing production to designing images a-la corporate stile for social media. For this you need a tool helping you to make it quick and beautiful.
The first one and the most suitable for non-professional designers tool which comes to my mind is Canva which makes graphic design simple for everyone.
It allows you to create variety of designs and professional graphics just with few clicks of a mouse. To create your image you may use millions of templates available on Canva or to upload your own and when add text, company logo, layout and anything else. It has basic free subscription and then you can by some advanced functions or images just for $1.
By the way, the illustratuon on the top of this post was also created by Canva ;)
To organize legal work, documents and contracts
Actually when you develop your business it is always better to have the lawyer in the team or a contract with an outsourcing legal company, who can take care and responsibility for all your legal issues. This will keep your safe and help you to avoid cruitial mistakes.
And again it's easy to give advices on how to spent budget, but what should we do with legal issues in a single person startup or a new business at the very early stage of development, with no team and no budget to hire a legal company? Who will take care of the contracts, agreements and other documents necessary to operate business processes?
Many entrepreneurs and startups I know just simply use document templates downloaded from the the internet. I would never recommend you to do that! You get them for free, but without any guarantees: without legal skils you may not even understand whether the template is of low quality or has some drawbacks, which can harm your business. Be aware of using legal templates from unknown sources!
As a free and quality alternative I use the documents section on the startups and investors direction InnMind.
They provide free templates of basic legal documents for startups and what is good - all these templates are controlled and updated according to the startups needs and changes in the legislation rules. Another advantage is that there are only templates from known and sertified lawyers, evety single document has the link to the legal company in which it was developed. This gives a guarantee that these docs are of a good quality and there is a responsable organisation behind them.
I usually download free templates from InnMind, but if you need some legal advice or additional adaptation of the templates - you may send the online request and get the professional legal support for startups for a low price.
Being an entrepreneur you need to have variety of online and offline meetings: with potential customers, partners, investors, clients, suppliers, etc. How to handle with this mass and not to get lost in scheduling and planning?
Google Calendar remains to be an effective, simple and free tool to organize, control and schedule your meetings.
It is essentially helpful in planning your schedule and keeping updated on the upcoming events, important dates and meetings. It is free and easy to use, and if you have a gmail account and have never tried google calendar - I recommend you to start using it asap.
If you don't use gmail or just not satisfied with it's calendar you may like Doodle or ScheduleOnce.
Doodle is a scheduling tool which can help to choose the best time and date slot for meeting with as many participants as you need.
It has free plan which allows you simply to schedule meetings and add them to your calendar and premium plans with advanced functions starting with $39 per year.
Many of my contacts also use ScheduleOnce as a convenient scheduling tool.
With it you can send direct link to your schedule to anyone you want to meet with and they can find and book a time that works for both of you.
As you can see, there are variety of tools and solutions which may help entrepreneur-beginner to manage tasks while launching and developing your business. Even if you are an early stage single person startup who tries to do the job for the whole team - nothing is impossible. Everything you need is to organize your daily tasks and implement the automatisation tools which will make you super productive. This will save your money and time to focus more on strategic goals without missing the small but necessary everyday to-does.
I've listed the tools I myself and my closest network of startups use on a daily basis to automate daily tasks and be more productive. But don't hesitate to let me know what have I missed and what your favorite tools for your everyday entrepreneurial life tasks? Let's see what other tools may play an important role for a single person startup development?