If you're trying to get a startup off the ground, you need the right tools for the job.
With a startlingly high startup failure rate of 90%, you need more than just an idea to ensure the survival and growth of your business.
In this article, we'll share the top software for startups that can help make your internal workflows more productive, simplify work tasks, and increase business growth.
What kind of software can you get for startups?
The emergence of COVID-19 has highlighted the need for digital applications that are nimble, practical, and cost-saving.
Thanks to these digital solutions, companies worldwide were able to maintain seamless team collaboration, work remotely, and ensure smooth business operations during the pandemic.
Here are some examples of tools for startups that can kickstart your company's growth:
Project management tools
A project management tool comes in handy when working with multiple stakeholders, reporting project progress, and communicating in real-time.
Work organization tools
Before you mapped out your startup idea, you would likely have used some business apps to make your vision come alive.
Find some basic apps that can take care of the simple but crucial daily tasks and schedules, such as:
- A professional email account to communicate with your staff, vendors, customers, and other key stakeholders
- Cloud storage to keep all your official files, folders, and documents in one, unified space and accessible to remote employees
- Productivity tools including a time tracker for your team and apps such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace (or G Suite)
Having a website is essential for doing business, even if it’s a simple, no-frills webpage. With multiple website building platforms available — including WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and more — every startup founder is spoiled for choice.
Consider these questions to arrive at a decision:
- Will you be accepting payments on the site?
- Do you need a content management platform on the website?
- What's the nature of business? Is it e-commerce, B2B services, or just a static portfolio website?
- Do you or your team have expertise in managing the website platform?
Email communication tools
Did you know that email marketing has an ROI of 4400%? That means that spending even $1 on email marketing can give you a return of $44.
For the long-term growth and success of the business, you need to employ email marketing.
Using robust email marketing tools for startups lets your team capture prospects’ email addresses on your website, send them periodic newsletters, and effortlessly automate customer communications.
Customer relationship management tools
A survey by SuperOffice found that delivering an outstanding customer experience is the number one priority for over 49% of businesses.
Using customer relationship management software (CRM) can give you a decisive edge over your competitors. Investing in CRM tools for startups allows companies to:
- Personalize customer experiences across platforms and devices
- Provide real-time access to customer data
- Automate customer-facing marketing and sales activities
- Centralize all business activities and keep them customer-centric
Accounting needs to be done — even if you find it boring. With accounting and bookkeeping so crucial for business success, many startup founders have chosen to use cloud-based accounting apps.
Digital accounting applications can import all your transactions in mere minutes, so you can forget about spending hours struggling with spreadsheets.
Can startup software and tools help save money?
Running out of cash is every startup founder's nightmare — and it’s one of the biggest threats to startup success.
Startups struggling with cash flow issues can avail of free or low-cost tools to automate daily work tasks and free up time in the day, letting your team focus on strategic aspects of the business.
The challenge is to stay under budget while still ensuring that your team has all the resources they need for delivering quality work. We’ve rounded up a few tips to help you save on software for startups:
Use versatile apps
Ever wondered why Netflix is so popular? One of the primary reasons is that it collects all your favorite movies and TV shows in one place.
Keep this in mind when choosing software for startups and go for the one that will give you a versatile range of tools.
For example, Wrike offers interactive Gantt charts, shareable dashboards, task management, external and internal collaboration, custom workflows, real-time reports, resource management, time tracking, and other functionalities for teams of all sizes. If you were to buy all of these apps separately, the cost would be much higher.
Pay as you scale
Tools for startups that offer per-user pricing are great for smaller teams. Then, as your team grows or you need more features, simply upgrade to a higher plan.
There’s no need to pay extra when you don't need the full deal — save your cash for other projects.
Improve client experience for less
It doesn't make sense to buy a separate app for sharing mock-ups or project designs with your client. However, client experience is important and you want your team to get it right.
Find out if your chosen application allows you to onboard internal and external stakeholders to improve communication and collaboration. Look for software that enables you to exchange files seamlessly, make decisions quicker, and deliver projects on time.
Can you get free tools for startups?
Reid Hoffman, who founded Linkedin in his mom’s basement, said that “starting a company is like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.”
However, there are several free tools for startups that can help you affordably assemble anything you want. If money and time are short, how do you start?
Pick web applications
The time of buying software on CD-ROM is long gone, as are the legacy systems of yore that required you to house expensive hardware in your office basement or server room.
In light of the pandemic, companies of all sizes have realized the value of cloud-based applications. The cloud can keep your business running with employees working remotely worldwide, minimizing disruptions.
Besides being cheaper, it also lets you scale as the business grows — what’s more, the host company handles all the tech stuff for you. Just pay as you go and cancel whenever you need to.
Choose open-source software
Open-source products are becoming trendy for a reason. Developed by a global community of developers and programmers, they are typically offered free to the end-users. Though they may need tech-savviness to operate, they come at zero monetary cost to you.
A good example is the Linux operating system, which is widely used worldwide as an alternative to Windows. Open Office software is a zero-cost alternative to the popular, but comparatively expensive, Microsoft Office.
Try a Freemium plan
Everyone likes free samples, right? After you’ve had a taste of a great cookie brand, you have no hesitation in buying their larger-sized pack on your next supermarket visit.
Freemium products are similar in nature. They are offered for free by software companies in the hopes that a percentage of free users may upgrade to a premium-priced product if they like the basic one.
In the freemium model, the basic version remains free forever and may satisfy the needs of your small startup for many months before you need to upgrade.
For example, Wrike’s free plan offers unlimited users, meaning it’s suitable for teams of all sizes. Its centralized work management platform can be easily upgraded when you need more advanced features.
Things to consider before choosing software for startups
In a bootstrapped startup, you have to budget for every possible need. Deciding on software can be a regular and ongoing expense for your business. To help make the process easier, here are the key things to consider before choosing software for startups:
- Is the user interface intuitive, modern, and easy to use?
- Do you need to spend hours learning how to use the platform? Are there tech support, live chat, or video tutorials available to shorten the learning curve?
- You likely use a number of tools already. Is the software compatible with these?
- Is the pricing of the software scalable and accessible for your team size? Do you have an opportunity to take a free trial or use a free basic version before upgrading?
- Does it allow you to share files, folders, and other assets easily with your team?
- Is the tool robust enough to have multiple uses, or would you need to buy separate software to meet your specific domain needs?
Recommended tools and software for startups in 2021
Wrike: You're likely wearing multiple hats in your company to control costs and keep operations nimble. Having a versatile work management solution can come in handy. Wrike lets you prioritize goals, streamline workflows, and get more done faster. Maximize resources, improve collaboration with your key stakeholders, and keep track of project progress, all with Wrike.
Optimizely: Easily adjust your website landing pages to launch A/B tests with robust analytics.
Unbounce: Build, publish, and A/B test landing pages without the need for complex tech.
Zapier: Save time by using Zapier to automate tasks between web apps. For example, Zapier can automatically create Wrike tasks from emails and add events to your calendar without you lifting a finger. You can also create “zaps” that link Wrike to a host of other apps.
Google Analytics: This tool gathers all of the information you need to analyze your website traffic.
Google Calendar: If you host your email domain on Google Apps, Google Calendar is an easy way to send event invites, RSVP to meetings, and share availability. In addition, it allows you to compare your schedule to your colleagues’ — perfect for scheduling meetings.
Skype: This popular IM, phone, and video conferencing tool is an app of choice for instant messaging and hosting team or company meetings.
GoToMeeting: This web conferencing tool allows you to switch speakers, which is great for remote team meetings. Use it to host monthly all-hands internal meetings and get your employees to quickly join the call with personal links.
Join.me: If you need to share screens with co-workers or clients, drop them a join.me link. The viewer only gets access to the part of your screen you decide to share, which helps maintain your privacy.
Salesforce: One of the most popular CRM tools around, Salesforce organizes your entire prospective customer pipeline from the first sales contact to the close of a deal. You can see every contact and every conversation in one central hub.
SnapEngage: SnapEngage lets you chat with customers instantly. Insert a "Live Chat" button at the bottom of Help pages so that customers can ask questions as they browse.
Desk: Part of the Salesforce suite, Desk is a simple and easy-to-use ticketing system. Any email requests go to Desk immediately, where customer service reps can provide the information and help required. A great solution to ensure nothing gets lost in a support email inbox.
Box: Box is a cloud file storage system that allows you to edit docs collaboratively. Your personal account gets up to 10GB of free storage, with security features geared toward the business-minded.
Dropbox: Another great cloud file storage system — files have no size restrictions, and you can get 2GB of free storage space. It's simple, straightforward, and easily syncs with your computer..
Google Drive: If you already have a Google account, using Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is a no-brainer. It's completely free to store and share with 15GB of space in the cloud. Additionally, you can collaborate with others and edit the documents right in the app.
Marketo: You don't need any tech-savvy to create great emails with email automation tool Marketo. This means your marketing person or team doesn't need to bother the development team to get things done.
Mention: Mention lets you see if your brand has been mentioned anywhere on the web in over 42 languages. Maybe you'll find out that Spanish-speakers love your company or that everyone in China relies on your tool. You can also connect your social media platforms to react to article mentions without leaving the app.
Capture: Take a snapshot of your entire screen, select a portion, or even capture a video of yourself performing some action. After you pick your image, Techsmith Capture lets you edit it with text, boxes, and arrows to drive the point home.
Buffer: Buffer is a handy tool for scheduling social media posts on multiple platforms. Say you have 10 articles that you’d like to post on Twitter. All you have to do is add them to your workflow on Buffer and schedule them in a single click. This way, you won’t spam your Twitter followers with 10 consecutive updates — and you’ll never lose track of the content you’ve shared.
Buzzsumo: Want to know which content is performing best with customers? Buzzsumo lets users generate valuable content insights to discover popular ideas and topics, create content, and monitor its performance.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social media accounts. Features include easy Tweeting and scheduling, keyword and hashtag tracking, and custom list creation to single out updates from important influencers.
Tweetdeck: Very similar to Hootsuite, Tweetdeck is great for tracking mentions, hashtags, and companies related to your product or industry. Tweetdeck's advantage is that multiple people can log on to the same Twitter handle at once.
Bitly: Everyone knows it shortens URLs, but Bitly can also be used to track how many clicks a link has received. This can help you analyze your messaging and social media placement.
GoToWebinar: Webinar tool GoToWebinar invites attendees to click a link to join a session. They can submit questions for the host to read and answer during the session. It also generates reports to show how many people logged in, the level of audience engagement, and more.
Xero: Want a simple software for your accounting needs? Xero can fill that gap effortlessly. It allows you to simplify business tasks, pay bills, claim expenses, and connect bank account transactions. In addition, Xero has a handy mobile app that means you can do your accounting on the go.
Why Wrike is one of the best tools for startups
Life as a startup is fast-paced and your business needs to be prepared for all eventualities. Your team doesn’t have time to waste, so employ simple, scalable, and reliable tools to help them get their work done faster.
Wrike can help your organization deliver successful projects with valuable features such as Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and premade templates. Empower your team by letting them customize your Wrike dashboard with the details they need to maximize individual and team productivity.
Start a free two-week trial today to see how you can simplify your work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.