Jump-Start Your Startup Process With Ingenious Apps Like Canva, Grasshopper and Slack
Starting a business is a thrilling yet challenging experience. Thankfully, the Internet is here to provide accessibility to hundreds of small-business tools such as traffic analytics, mobile marketing and more. If you’re new to the world of entrepreneurship, these seven essentials are for you.
A self-declared “business in a box,” Hopscratch provides everything you need to start a brand-new business within the span of two weeks. Those who don’t have the time or energy to research the nitty gritty on how to start a small business need not worry. Hopscratch doesn’t even require that your business is named before you start.
With services such as email setup, tax organization, legal paperwork, logo, letterhead and business card design and so much more, Hopscratch eliminates the stress of building a business from scratch by performing everything for you -- all with super-fast turnaround and all for a low monthly cost.
The best part? Hopscratch serves all types of entrepreneurs, brand-new and experienced. New business owners no longer have to stress about navigating the worlds of legal work, graphic design and website creation as they build their businesses. Serial entrepreneurs no longer have to waste their valuable time with the same old startup processes they go through with every business Hopscratch takes care of it for them.
Entrepreneurs who prefer to be involved in the start-up process can opt to “DIY” for free via Hopscratch. By accessing the site’s various business tips and guides, both new and experienced small business owners can polish their startup skills at their own pace.
A great tool for marketing, Canva is a free desktop and iPad platform that allows users to create gorgeous banners, presentations, social media graphics and more without any previous design experience. The program takes 23 seconds to learn, according to Canva’s website, and comes with easy-to-use templates for newbies while allowing more experienced designers customize their creations with advanced features.
While most of their thousands of clipart images, filters and layouts are free, users of all types (business, personal, and academic) can purchase extra items for $1 a piece which is charged to the user only once the entire design is published. For those who want to add depth to their existing graphic design skills, Canva offers the Canva Design School, a free learning experience filled with educational tutorials, workshops, newsletters and more. Canva’s ever-growing design database is perfect for creating the marketing graphics your business has always dreamed of.
Businesses nowadays are being created out of home offices, collaborative workspaces and our favorite cafés, and entrepreneurs on the go don’t have the time or resources necessary to install hefty, expensive phone systems for their growing companies. Without them, though, how will entrepreneurs stay connected with team members, freelancers and customers?
Grasshopper allows entrepreneurs to turn their smartphones into professional business lines without having to purchase extra hardware or install time-consuming software onto their devices. With a simple smartphone app and some easy set-up, business owners can acquire a company phone number with toll-free area codes and vanity numbers, if desired, that connects to their existing devices.
Grasshopper also allows business owners to set up extensions for partners, coworkers and employees around the world, so customers can reach exactly who they need. Grasshopper even transcribes business voicemails, sends faxed documents to the user’s phone and lets the user send text messages from his or her business phone number. For as little as $12 per month plus $0.06 per minute, entrepreneurs can appear a thousand times more professional to those they call and receive calls from.
Finally, communications between team members, supervisors and employees can be compiled into one organized space. Slack is a downloadable desktop and mobile platform that supports instant messaging between teams where separate “channels” (or chat rooms) are differentiated by hashtags. Users can share files with their teammates by dragging and dropping them into the right channel, making it easy to send spreadsheets, documents, images and more without cluttering a teammate’s email inbox.
Slack’s brand-new call feature, currently only available to about 50 percent of Slack users, allows teammates to call each other individually or through conference calls within the platform, eliminating the need for users to download third-party apps like Skype or Google Hangouts in order to communicate with audio and video. Slack provides users with timely desktop and smartphone notifications as messages and files are shared, and every single aspect of Slack is searchable, making it quick and easy to find projects in a snap.
Though LeadQuizzes is currently in its beta stage, it’s already leading the lead-generation industry with its highly-engaging quiz templates and responsive interface. Many users in a wide variety of industries are generating upwards of 20,000 leads per month by using the platform.
With an average per-lead rate of $0.94 for managed clients and compatibility with most existing email software, LeadQuizzes allows entrepreneurs to easily customize quizzes aimed toward current website traffic, social-media fans and respondents to virtual advertisements. Its clean design responds quickly to consumers’ devices, shifting its formatting to look just as stunning on mobile as it does on users’ tablets and desktops. LeadQuizzes makes it easy for any entrepreneur to grow their email list and bring in new clients or customers.
6. The Business Journals
You could probably spend a great deal of time searching for upcoming small-business events in your city, but you don’t have to. The Business Journals do it for you.
As a media solutions platform that specializes in providing comprehensive business coverage from “local, regional, and national perspectives,” The Business Journals regularly deliver entrepreneurship event calendars for large cities across the U.S. By glancing through the calendar every once in a while, new entrepreneurs can view and register for hundreds of small business events, opening up opportunities for marketing, networking and skill building.
There are hundreds of to-do list apps on the market, but none of them organize your daily life like Todoist. With this clean-cut application, available for nearly all platforms including iPhone, Android, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and more, users can divide large projects into sub-categories, receive due-date notifications via mobile, color-code their to-do list items by priority and even assign tasks to other Todoist users.
For users on the go, Todoist is capable of sending out location-based reminders throughout the day via SMS, email or mobile notification. Todoist Karma, the program’s productivity-tracking algorithm, neatly graphs how frequently you succeed in completing your to-do list, both in general and by project category. With this feature, users can realistically plan out how long it will take for them to complete assignments in the future, then build more accurate schedules.
Those who are new to starting a business from scratch have less to worry about with these seven web-based essentials. Which ones are you planning on using to lighten up the start-up process? Which products and services can you recommend to a brand-new entrepreneur?
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.