There is the hard way, and then there is the easy way. This is the business tool list I wish I had when I started. Download these apps and productivity tools, and you can thank us later...
Side note: I am a low-fuss, ‘less tech is better’ kinda gal. I have consulted for businesses that have had so many systems in place and so many messages pinging you from multiple platforms, it’s just confusing, distracting, and not to mention, very costly (these subscriptions add up!). So, if you’re running a startup in Asia (or anywhere else in the world for that matter), my advice is to keep things simple and streamline your resources. Here’s my hit-list of essential business tools and productivity apps for any startup. Psst.. if you like work hacks then you’re going to want to check out our list of tips on how to be more productive in the workplace too.
THE BEST BUSINESS TOOLS TO GROW & MANAGE YOUR COMPANY
Ok, this is the BEST accounting software out there. It is so simple, easy to use, and it makes accounting seem kinda easy. I love checking into Xero (I do it on the daily) as it gives very clear dashboards on business performance. It also stores all of your receipts and allows you to send e-quotes, which saves a whole lot of time and headache.
2. Google Analytics
If you don’t have Google Analytics, SET THIS UP NOW. It’s another critical tool for any business with a website, giving you great data on your traffic, demographics, referrals, page ranking and even the pages that people are ‘bouncing” from (AKA – the pages that need work!). Spend some time in here and get used to exploring your data. You’ll learn what your customers are loving, and what they’re missing.
I have grown to love G-Suite. I was a little resistant at first (being the non-techie that I am) but now I love Google Docs, Google Forms, Gmail, and every other feature within this mega-tool. My favourite feature is the ability to edit and tag someone in a document, meaning you can get their input on a specific point without having to craft an email. It’s another could-not-live-without resource!
4. Active Campaign or Klaviyo
Email marketing is such a great and affordable ‘owned’ media – one that I think small businesses don’t use enough. We use Active Campaign, predominantly because we have such a large database, and we don’t have an e-commerce element. For e-commerce businesses, I think Klaviyo is a great choice. But whatever your business, you need a good CRM tool – it manages all of your contacts in one place, nurtures leads, delivers emails (while avoiding spam filters), and it means you can manage unsubscribes and follow-ups. Other options to consider include ConvertKit or Deadline Funnel.
A recent addition to our staple of subscription bills, this is an Instagram scheduling app that most social media managers love. If you want to block-plan your content (which you do!), optimise your hashtags and post at prime engagement times, you need Planoly (or something similar). This one is around $29 USD for three users and two accounts, with Pro features that include templates for stories and tiles too.
Their tag line is ‘the online design tool everyone is raving about’ – and they are not lying. If you don’t have a graphic design background, this is for you. In fact, we have a full-time graphic designer in-house, and we still use Canva! Basically it makes designing Powerpoint documents, sales presentations, business cards – anything you need – really easy. And it’s free!
7. Receipt Bank
This is probably the ‘luxury’ on the list. This app enables you and your team to photograph receipts and upload them directly to their expense forms. It saves time and takes away the tedious photocopying and record-keeping for taxi receipts and coffee bills. At about $35 a month (it gets more expensive the more receipts you put through) it’s not exactly necessary, but Receipt Bank is definitely a nice tool to have!
Anyone with staff in Singapore, Hong Kong or Bali needs simple payroll software. I used to do payroll manually in Excel and it was painful… and not just for me. So if you have more than one staff member, make sure you sign up to something like SimplePay – so you don’t waste your time figuring out all the tricky payroll calculations. This starts from around $12 a month.
It’s really quite simple. Don’t go overboard with the business tools, but do use a concise collection of really good resources that cover your key bases. They really do make start-up life so much easier! P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read about how to be more productive in the workplace.