Here at Crunch, we’ve pooled our online resources to come up with an essential toolbox for the eager-self starter. Each of these 11 tools will not only help to streamline business processes, monitor progress and make day-to-day life an awful lot easier, but all are completely (or almost completely) free. All hail the digital age of enterprise.
Boomerang is a free, intuitive Gmail plug-in is essential for anyone who spends a lot of time emailing and who relies on timely responses. I work in digital content and spend a lot of time writing to editors and attempting to compile unique and engaging pitches. However, if my emails are landing on the recipient’s blind side, all that time I have spent is completely wasted. Boomerang allows you to target and schedule your emails at specific times; you can also program it to tell you if you don’t receive a response within a specified time-frame.
LinkedIn is the Aladdin’s cave of the business world – it’s not only a brilliant way to connect with other like-minded people, learn from their experiences and get yourself noticed within your market, it also allows you to target specific groups and take part in relevant conversations. LinkedIn is a fantastic way to follow up with a new connection and ensure you get the most of out of networking events, and it’s fair to say that it’s one of the most important tools for any start-up venture. Furthermore, with the introduction of LinkedIn’s news feed, Pulse, you can tailor business news and insights to suit your specific needs and ensure you’re constantly on top of your game.
Basecamp is a robust project management tool that allows different departments, partner organisations and sister companies to seamlessly collaborate. Last year, Basecamp reportedly helped over 285,000 companies finish more than 2,000,000 projects and is the world’s number one project management tool. Basecamp now offers a 6-day unlimited-use free trial and charges around $20 a month after that. Well worth it for the to-do list function alone.
Google blows my mind. It is, in my opinion, the best thing that’s happened to digital communications since dial-up was replaced by wireless networks. Aside from the obvious search, locate and browse functions, the additional software and plugins make life so much easier. Google is a start-up’s best friend – it’s a toolbox in and of itself, providing a plethora of useful instruments including Drive, Documents, Spreadsheets, Hangout, Search, Chat, Calendar and the almighty Gmail.
Hootsuite community management tool allows you to effectively oversee all social media accounts relating to your business – including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn – all under one log in. You can schedule hundreds of posts at once and use the social analytics tools to effectively plan your social media strategy. Scheduling Tweets also allows you to experiment with the effectiveness of content posted outside working hours. TweetDeck is also great for managing several Twitter accounts at once, although it doesn’t provide a full social media overview.
Chances are you’ll have many accounts, all with different login details and a company policy that prevents you from storing them on your hard drive. If this is the case, Passpack allows you to store and manage all of our passwords in a safe, encrypted online file.
This is particularly useful for the writers amongst us. This knowledge engine will generate facts to aid you in whatever piece of content you’re writing. For example, if you wanted to know what a specific currency was worth at a certain time, WolframAlpha will tell you.
Flickr creative commons search
The copyright laws are often too overlooked on digital platforms and you could too easily find yourself in a spot of bother through using an image without the right to do so. Flickr creative commons search, found through the advanced search option, filters only images that have been tagged as available for commercial use.
Using the powerful online survey platform, you’ll be able to make smarter and more efficient decisions, while being completely in control of your data. SurveyMonkey allows you to design your own survey, choose how these are distributed, and analyse the results with absolutely no need to outsource to a third-party company.
Streak is another Google plugin and CRM tool that tracks sales, hiring processes, investors, partnerships, vendors and real estate, all from within your email. This is the perfect tool to help you stay on the same page everyone in your company will become more useful as your start-up continues to grow.
The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a fantastic free alternative to Photoshop. Gimp is particularly useful for cropping and changing image resolution for upload to the web, with a plethora of tool options that leaves Paint weeping at the finish line.
Photos by and Jess Liotta and Colin Liotta