Thinking of starting a new business in the coming year? While aspiring small business owners can’t plan for every eventuality, they can take steps to ensure their startups are well prepared. One of the best ways to do so is to assemble a large virtual toolbox. These days, there are numerous online tools available to help small business owners with everything from accounting to HR. Here are 10 tools that will help you start a business in 2016.
Almost every small business requires some amount of funding to get off the ground. If you’re prepping your startup for a 2016 launch and hope to do some equity fundraising, consider joining AngelList. Along with finding potential investors, AngelList lets entrepreneurs keep up with their competition, learning from their successes and failures. And because investors pay setup prices and carrier interest, the cost to the startup is zero.
Many new business owners operate from home rather than shelling out precious cash for an office. One of the benefits of Dropbox is that it lets companies save important documents and files in the cloud, where clients and hired help around the world can access them. As an added bonus, Dropbox has the ability to send large files with ease.
Formerly a joint venture between Elance and Odesk, Upwork is an invaluable resource for new businesses seeking freelance help. Not only can you access a shortlist of experienced freelancers in multiple fields, like writing, programming and design, but you can also utilize the site’s proprietary matching technology to find the best person for the job. Once you’ve identified possible candidates, you can interview and hire them online.
A leader in online accounting platforms, QuickBooks lets small businesses create custom invoices featuring their own unique branding. Not only does this enable startups to look more professional, but well-managed invoicing practices can also help them get paid on time. Additionally, the QuickBooks software allows owners to create budgets, view profit and loss statements and prepare for tax season by documenting all expenses, just to name a few features.
MailChimp lets small businesses keep in touch with customers and clients by sending professional-quality email newsletters. Not only does MailChimp offer multiple attractive templates, but it also lets businesses email up to 2,000 subscribers free of charge. As an added bonus, users can utilize custom workflows to send more targeted campaigns and integrate their MailChimp accounts with apps like Facebook and Twitter for a more holistic online marketing experience.
These days, no business can survive without a professional-grade website that is fully responsive on all devices. One of the top-choice content management platforms, WordPress allows for simple, affordable website creation. Simply choose a template, create a domain name and start building your site. Additionally, WordPress optimizes SEO and social sharing in order to ensure your site is found on Google and other search engines.
Social media is a highly visual medium, and new businesses need to find ways of reaching their target audiences online. While hiring a graphic design team can be too expensive for the average small business owner, startups can take advantage of services like PIXLR. If you run a particularly photogenic business, PIXLR can be used by you or your social media team to ensure that all the photos you post to Pinterest or Instagram appear both attractive and professional.
8. Google Hangouts
It’s increasingly common for a startup owner to work with people all over the country and even the world. With Google Hangouts, businesses can video chat with remote contacts for no cost. Confer with contractors, interview potential staff, or conduct sales meetings, all from the comfort of your own home. As an added bonus, you can talk one-on-one or invite up to 10 associates for a group conversation.
Paying contractors and collecting fees from clients can be a serious burden for the small business owner who’s already pressed for time. With the venerable PayPal service, users can send and receive payments easily. Once money arrives, you can either transfer it to a checking account or spend it directly through the site. Want to make it easier for customers to purchase your goods online? Simply add the PayPal checkout button to your site so customers can use PayPal to buy from you.
When launching a startup, you probably aren’t thinking about potential legal issues. However, the truth is that there are multiple reasons that a new business could need legal advice. Offering both monthly flat fees and pay-per-document options, Legalzoom is an affordable way to get the legal support your company needs. Additionally, Legalzoom offers specialized help for startup founders who need assistance with choosing a business structure or filing for licenses and permits.
Starting a new business comes with numerous challenges, not the least of which is finding qualified help at a price that won’t break the bank. Fortunately, modern technology has created plenty of tools to help entrepreneurs succeed in business without going over budget. Choose from among the above tools and help your startup succeed in 2016.