It’s all about apps! When you’re starting up a new business whether it’s a small, one-man operation selling handmade products from home or a thriving fast-paced office environment with swanky city center facilities, it’s important to lay a solid foundation to ensure that your digital transactions are safe, secure and protected from the risks that might compromise your data, your customer information or your productivity. There was a time when this meant kitting out your business with bespoke, custom built microprocessors specifically designed for your business needs. Now, with the mobile app market rising to face the challenges of 21st century business it’s merely a case of choosing the right apps for your business.
That’s not to say that mobile apps are likely to supplant traditional computer network support and IT consulting. Many businesses (especially larger businesses) still have complex networking needs that are most certainly best left to professionals. In the tech world, as in most spheres, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and while this is not intended as a definitive guide for every business, it is our hope that you will appreciate the breadth and diversity of mobile apps for every element of building your startup’s infrastructure. Since it’s important to know exactly what your startup needs then some of these applications and services may well be of use to you.
If you’re looking to start a business then we’re betting you have an idea with a USP and you’ve done some rudimentary market research to demonstrate that there’s a you shaped gap in the market. Your first stop is registering your domain.
If you need to build your telecoms infrastructure at this point, you can use Google Voice to fulfill all your communications needs virtually for free but if you’re likely to need to use VOIP then using Nextiva is a great solution for those who will need to use physical phones.
Building Your Online Presence
When you start your project you’re likely to want a distinctive online presence, even if it’s just a placeholder that you’ll later jettison in favor of something more refined. Strikingly is a great way of establishing a very professional looking online presence within an hour making it perfect for placeholder sites. If you’re not technically minded then Bitnami has a catalog of applications that can help you get the most out of your website or online store incorporating WordPress (for online content and blogging), Magento (for online stores), Sugar CRM (for managing customer relationships) and Discourse (for creating a forum).
While many platforms like WordPress have a portfolio of really professional looking templates or themes, they can stand out to those who are particularly internet literate. ‘Off the peg’ themes can be telling and potentially imply a nascent or inept business. Therefore, you may wish to enlist some help from an experienced web designer who will imbue your content with a brand new, unique, custom made theme built for your specifications. You’d be astonished at how reasonably you can purchase a really beautiful and professional looking site design. You can find freelance designers hungry for work at PeoplePerHour.com or view online design portfolios at Dribble or Behance. Likewise coding geniuses can be found at Upwork and Angel List.
Whatever the nature of your business, you should be using your platform as… just that, a platform! Your website should be regularly updated with unique content that demonstrates your own perspective, knowledge and experience (it is, after all, the one thing that none of your competitors will have). If, however, you need to outsource then you can find bespoke content management solutions from services like FatJoe.co.
If your startup requires a lot of collaboration between yourself and other contributors then communication via email, text messaging and phone calls can be tiresome. Slack is a wonderful mobile app that puts you in touch with your collaborators or workforce wherever you go. You can assign teams, create working groups and communicate with each other at all times and receive push notifications whenever anyone posts so you never miss anything. Asana is a wonderful app for creating and assigning tasks to different users who can then alert you when a task is completed or pending review. Oh, and if you have need of a word processing platform, for the love of humanity don’t use MS Word. Google Docs is a much more intuitive and user friendly word processing app that allows for much easier collaboration enabling you to share the document with as many collaborators as you like and each collaborator can make notes, annotations and changes if they are granted editing privileges.
If you plan to make a living through online sales then the right platform is essential, but keep in mind, as your business grows and prospers your definition of the right platform may change. Here are some common eCommerce tools that should suit a broad range of needs:
WooCommerce – Easy to use, cheap and professional looking, it’s ideally suited to WordPress users.
Shopify – Another simple to use and good looking tool but one that also takes a hefty commission from your every sale.
Magento – Easy to use but very cookie cutter in appearance and will need some programming / design knowledge (or outside help) to customize it to your needs.
For accepting payments, you should employ Braintree, Balanced Payments or Stripe. Each of these should plug seamlessly into whatever eCommerce solution you’ve chosen.
If you’re looking to be the new Loot Crate or Blue Apron with an online subscription service then CrateJoy makes it really easy to set up everything you need for subscription based eCommerce.
Whatever the nature of your startup, there’s never been a better time to use the wealth of apps and services out there to help transform your vision into reality!