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Product management tools

Product management is an organizational structure within an enterprise that focuses on planning, forecasting, production, and marketing of a product at all stages of the development lifecycle. The purpose of the product management system is to design and develop quality products for the target audience of an enterprise while boosting the customer lifetime value (CLV) and creating measurable profits for the business as well.

Product Managers are trained professionals responsible for leading cross-functional teams to ensure the overall success of a product. It is they who set the product development strategy, roadmap, and marketing goals for products of a company.

However, to be able to create and implement a robust product management strategy, Along with improving product management skills, Product Managers must use the right product management tools and product management software. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today – the best product management tools and product management software that Product Managers around the world swear by!

Product management tools include product analytics software, product design tools, production management software, and development tracking tools. Since Product Managers are responsible for numerous strategic functions, product management tools make it possible to implement their ideas, organize them, and give coherence to the same. Product management courses from reputed institutions can help you understand more about various management tools and their functions.

The best product management tools and software that every Product Manager and aspiring Product Manager must know about! For new product managers, makes the career transition easy.

Top Product Management Tools for Product Managers

Axure

Axure is a wireframing-cum-prototyping product management tool specifically designed for midsize to large companies. The biggest selling point of Axure is that it lets your product and design teams create compelling prototypes without coding.

With Axure, your product development teams can create and document diagrams, customer journeys, or wireframes on the same page for easier collaborating and transparency. You can create diagrams comprising dynamic content, animations, conditional logic, math functions, and data-driven interactions.

Also, you can put together several different types of collaborative diagrams in Axure, such as flowcharts, wireframes, mockups, user journeys, customer personas, and idea boards. After you’ve completed a diagram, you can publish it on Axure Share and send a link to other team members to get feedback on the same.

Restyaboard

Restyaboard is a hot favorite among product management professionals. It is a highly visual web application that facilitates easy and seamless collaboration between team members. For instance, it offers visual boards, lists, and cards that allow you and your team members to prioritize and organize company projects. Every member can share links, input their comments/feedback, add attachments, and mention due dates via Restya cards.

The best thing about Restya is that it is highly flexible. It offers you the flexibility and option to customize and use it to fit your needs. And most importantly, it ensures full transparency between team members.

Read Top-rated product management software for Product Managers in 2020

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups is a UI wireframing product management tool designed to suit the needs of small and medium-sized businesses specifically. It allows you to simulate the experience of sketching on a paper/whiteboard on your computer itself. Using this tool, Product Managers can quickly create multiple mockups for testing and user feedback.

Balsamiq encourages team collaboration. So, all the stakeholders involved in the product development and management lifecycles can collaborate throughout the design and development process for smooth operation. This is the perfect tool for your enterprise if you are looking for a tool to promptly create simple mockups (instead of full-blown, elaborate prototypes) for testing and user feedback.

Jira

Another exceptional product management tool suite on our list, Jira, is excellent for team collaboration. This tool not only encourages agile development, but it also helps you track and monitor the entire product creation process. Jira can be used on a server, a data center platform, and in the cloud.

Product management teams can use Jira to help plan, schedule, and monitor software releases. It enables you to create user stories and issues, plan sprints, distribute tasks, record and report bugs, prioritize tasks, and track the daily progress of your teams.

Furthermore, with Jira, you can set up Scrum and Kanban boards according to your preference. The tool offers numerous out-of-the-box, real-time agile reports to help you track the right metrics. To top that, there’s an agile portfolio management add-on as well – Portfolio.

Aha!

Aha! is a roadmap product management software. It allows you to create a detailed plan of your product strategy and also track the product features throughout the product development lifecycle.

You can use it to get a comprehensive overview of your products, set different milestones for your teams, crowdsource ideas, create workflow boards for agile/lean/scrum methodologies, define the features and requirements, analyze data, and much more. The best part is that businesses of all sizes can use Aha! – from small startups to large enterprises.

OmniPlan

OmniPlan is a roadmap software explicitly created to accommodate the needs of startups. The tool primarily focuses on task management. Thus, it lets you highlight and prioritize important tasks, set deadlines, filter tasks by specific metrics (date, priority, etc.), automatically optimize resources, and much more.

OmniPlan offers a wide range of planning products, including OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and OmniPresence. You can either use the Standard version that includes all the basic planning tools, or you can opt for the Advanced version that includes additional features (for example, Earned Value Analysis, Monte Carlo simulation, network diagrams, etc.).

MindMeister

MindMeister is a Mind Mapping Tool that lets you “capture, develop, and share ideas visually.” This cloud-based product management tool can be accessed on Windows, macOS, and Linux from your web-browser itself.

With MindMeister, you can share your mind maps with as many partners/colleagues as you want and collaborate with them in real-time. Any changes made to the maps are visible to everyone. Plus, all the stakeholders can add their comments, vote on ideas, or discuss changes via MindMeister’s integrated chat platform. The best feature of this tool is that it lets you transform your ideas in the mindmap into actionable tasks directly.

Conclusion

While there are many, many tools out there to handle different product management requirements, the choice of the product management tool/software depends upon your specific needs. Thankfully, there is a host of free product management tools and product management software that you can try first, before moving on to paid versions.

In 2020, the working world was turned on its head, and most of us will have to learn quickly how best to Work From Home.

It seemed that working life was beginning to return to normal as lockdown eased, a long journey accompanied by a two-screen set up next to colleagues, as several companies steadily returned to the workplace.

But, with cases on the rise and the government asking us to work from home if we can, it seems that for the long term, we need to strap in tight. If you haven’t already downloaded them, here are 10 essential apps that will make going Work From Home full time again that much more organized…

1. Wave Invoicing

If you’re self-employed, keeping on top of your invoicing can be a real pain. But no invoices means no money, so that’s not an option. Wavelets you create and send personalized invoices, check their payment status, and automatically send reminders when one is overdue. No need to send the boys round. 

2. Expensify

Collecting receipts for your expense claims is not only a hassle, it often ends up with a late night in the office submitting them. Expensify isn’t the first app to process receipts using your phone’s camera, but its automatic sorting, GPS mileage capture, and automated reimbursements make it easier than ever. 

3. Otter Voice Meeting Notes

Otter is a voice recorder with a difference. Rather than spending whole meetings taking notes (and then promptly forgetting what half of them refer to), let the app record everything and it’ll use artificial intelligence to transcribe the conversation — it even splits the resulting text into different speakers. 

4. Slack

Sick of getting CC’d into about 50 email chains a day? Slack is a bit like a work chatroom, complete with mentions and notifications, easy file sharing, and invite-only channels for any need-to-know business. Don’t worry, you can still send private messages, so virtual office gossip is still very much on the agenda. 

5. FreshBooks

While Wave is great for invoicing and Expensify does what it says on the tin, FreshBooks is more of an all-in-one accounting tool. It also handles invoices and expenses, but throws in task-tracking, communication with clients, and allows you to take credit card payments. It’s both simple and powerful — the perfect combination. 

Read Free Tools To Handle Your ”Work From Home” Day Easier

6. Flow

If words and numbers aren’t your things, regular note-taking apps won’t be either. With its wide range of drawing tools and canvas types, Flow by Moleskine Studio is ideal for everything from rough sketches to detailed designs, particularly when combined with Apple’s Pencil stylus, plus it backs everything up to the cloud.

7. SignEasy

Having to physically sign documents is a pain in the biro, particularly if you don’t own a printer, but SignEasy makes the process entirely digital. Import the document from your email or cloud storage, sign on your device’s screen with your finger, and send it back. No pen or paper is required.

8. Dropbox

There are loads of cloud storage services out there but Dropbox offers a whole host of collaborative features while remaining secure and user-friendly. It allows you to access files from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection, with generous storage space and support for plenty of different platforms.

9. Restyaboard

With lots of people likely to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, managing a project can be pretty challenging. Restyaboard’s team and task management tools are ideal for making sure stuff gets done on time without too many late nights or last-minute panics. 

10. PayPal Here

You’ve probably used PayPal when buying stuff off eBay, but if you run a business that takes payments in person, particularly with shoppers being urged to use plastic instead of cash, PayPal Here lets you charge cards using your phone. You can even add a card reader to speed things up.

As businesses address the complexities of modern ways of operating, with many or most team members working remotely, many find that conventional methods of communication, file sharing, and time tracking are not necessarily effective.

Luckily, several creative and proven tools can help any business, regardless of size or industry, adapt to remote operation and maximize enterprise-wide communication, organization, and productivity.

Communication Tools

Communication is the key to any remote team. Team members need not only to be aware of day-to-day changes but also to feel connected to their teammates and team leaders to keep engaged in their work. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Slack: A top communication platform for many companies, Slack offers a better alternative to email. Featuring channels, or conversations organized by purpose, Slack helps teams streamline communication by having central spaces for certain topics. With dedicated channels, Slack ensures nothing gets lost in the shuffle. From one-on-one chats to group chats for project management or company news, Slack offers businesses consistent and reliable communication regardless of where work takes place.
  • Zoom: When instant messaging and email are not sufficient and your team needs to do some face-to-face communicating, Zoom is an excellent choice. Zoom offers video conferencing for one-on-one meetings or large groups. The program is entirely online, making it a great option for remote work. In addition to video and voice, it also has a messaging feature.

Task Management Tools

When operating remotely, one of the most important things to think about is how your team will manage tasks. What used to be done in person — reminding one another about deadlines, discussing project status, and more — must now be achieved virtually. Several top task management tools allow for streamlined communication and project management.

  • Restyaboard. Restyaboard is an effective, flexible task tracker and productivity app that helps individuals and groups keep track of tasks, assignments, and projects. Available for both mobile and desktop, Restyaboard allows project managers to assign tasks to different people via cards. As tasks are completed, cards move to the next section in the project pipeline. This helps everyone keep track of who is responsible for what and when. Also, multiple boards can be used within one Restya account, allowing employees to utilize it to manage their own tasks in addition to their business responsibilities.
  • Teamwork: Teamwork is a project management tool used by companies like Disney, Netflix, Spotify, and HP. It provides increased efficiency and accountability by allowing users to customize their workflow, easily see project assignments and status, and manage and optimize team tasks. It includes features like a timer for time tracking and billing, customized reporting, and intuitive communication tools. Teamwork also features integration with Apple, Microsoft, Google, and other top third-party applications.
  • Asana: Within Asana, which is available on desktop and mobile, projects can be created and assigned to specific team members. It offers advanced features like project timelines, priorities, dependencies, forms, and progress reports to help keep teams on track. Also, Asana can be integrated with other popular business tools like Google Suite, Outlook, Dropbox, and more.

File Sharing

Access to company documents is key to getting projects done. The top file-sharing platforms offer excellent file security and flexible file permissions to keep remote work organized and easily accessible.

  • Google: Google Drive and Google Docs are some of the easiest ways to share files with distributed team members. Google Docs allows for documents to be created, shared, and collaborated on in real-time. Google Drive allows files of all kinds to be uploaded, shared, and organized. With easy-to-use permissions, teams can ensure only those who need access to view or edit certain documents have it. Both Google Drive and Google Docs can be integrated into a variety of project management tools to help for better team organization.
  • Dropbox: Similar to Google, Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage and sharing system utilized by many businesses, both in-office and remote. It provides reliable, secure file storage with permission-based file sharing to help businesses keep their files organized and collaborative. Dropbox can be integrated with countless third-party apps, making it an ideal choice for businesses that utilize any of the other remote working tools listed here.

Redbooth

Redbooth helps teams easily communicate and manage their tasks, so projects get completed without too much hustle.

Redbooth is an open-source application for complex project management. It allows joint work and team communication.

With Redbooth, you can easily communicate, share files, and host HD video conference meetings. These capabilities make it a great alternative to Slack.

Restyaboard

Restyaboard is the most popular and powerful tool for project and task management that comes with a handy free plan. It is widely used by teams and productive users from businesses of all sizes.

Restyaboard has a creative interactive interface. You create cards in columns for different projects and you can move and remove cards across columns.

It works perfectly for assigning tasks and project managing.

Restyaboard also comes with four different plans, and the free one can cover most of a startup’s needs.

Also, Restyaboard can be accessed on any device and integrated with your favorite tools.

Ryver

Ryver is a powerful team collaboration app that comes with group chat, task management, and workflow automation.

Ryver is a communication and workflow automation solution with everything you need to organize your team in one app.

With Ryver, you got unlimited chat and file sharing, task management, and even the possibility to make voice and video calls. However, the only thing that’s not unlimited here is the number of participants you can add to a call, as it has a maximum of 5.

Infolio

Infolio is perfect for management, marketing, product, and design professionals.

Infolio is a task and project management solution for teams and individuals, packed with features, yet easy to use.

Built from the group up to be intuitive and simple, but flexible enough to accommodate teams of various sizes.

Create an unlimited number of projects, add tasks, organize tasks by lists and statuses, assign tasks to your teammates, add due dates, leave comments, receive notifications, and monitor the progress.

Treenga

Treenga is a task management tool that promotes working on a single task at a time.

Treenga was designed for product managers and UX designers that want to create, define, organize, assign, and easily track task completion.

Treenga promotes working on a single task at a time and allows you to create detailed tasks, so you can share them with your team and get everything you need to get the job done.

With Treenga, you can group tasks around your project structure or based on milestones or urgency.

The world has changed a lot in 2020 and many companies have noticed that not only is it possible for their employees to work from home, but it can also be profitable. 75% of remote workers say they are more productive when they get home from work because of fewer distractions.

For certain businesses, the move of their employees from home to work permanently has not been easy and the learning curve has been high. But knowing what tools to use is a great advantage, and there’s a tool for almost every aspect of your business.

In this article, we will look at the types of tools that will help your employees work from home permanently in 2020 and beyond.

What do you need remote working tools for your employees?

The remote working tool helps the employees work remotely more effectively and productively. It can also make it possible for them to work from home, from a cafe – or from the beach (if the company allows them to do so).

There is a wide variety of tools you can choose from, such as video chat software, communication tools, cloud storage, and project management apps.

Remote working software is always more effective when it can be integrated with other tools. This makes it easier for your employees to move from one tool to another without losing track of their work or data and allows seamless teamwork where documents are stored, shared, and updated by the entire team.

Let’s take a look at some of these tools and how they can help the employees who will work permanently from home.

Video Conferencing Apps

Just because your employees are working remotely now, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see them face-to-face. Rather than asking them to visit your office, you can use video conferencing software to give your meetings a personal touch that would otherwise be missing.

Video conferencing tools aren’t perfect, but they’re a decent option that helps you feel like you’re in the same environment with your team. They help to create moral, improve communication, and they can go a long way to ensuring that nothing is lost in translation while you’re planning a new project.

By now, there are hundreds of video conferencing tools on the market. Zoom has emerged to be a popular choice in recent months, thanks to its ease of use – all you need to do is share a link with your team members and they will be able to join your call. It offers high-quality video and audio and has undoubtedly been designed for team collaboration.

However, there are a lot of alternatives. For example, Google Hangouts is free video-conferencing software that’s easy to set up, comes with chat, and has a clean interface. 

Communication Tools

It’s a lot harder for the employees to keep in touch when they don’t share the same office space. But communication tools are a major help to remote workers. They make life easier for everyone, ensuring your team stays on the same page and stays up-to-date. 

A strong communication tool should be one that your team can access from any device anywhere. It can also centralize messages and tasks, and it is also better if it comes with text and voice capabilities.

If you’re a bit of a tech expert, or if you have someone on your team who’s tech-savvy, you could even turn the pre-built API into your own custom tool. APIs make it easy for developers to create their own communication software that remote employees can access.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage apps are the key to remote teamwork. The team will be able to access them from all devices, and the best thing about them is that they don’t even need to be overly complicated. All they need is WiFi and a shared folder that the whole team has access to. Then, if someone saves a file to a shared folder, the next person will come along and work on it. Cloud storage also updates instantly and automatically. Each time an employee makes a change, it is saved and tracked.

The best cloud storage apps include iDrive, which comes complete with an extra security physical hard drive, and Mega, a cloud storage tool with a 50 GB free plan.

Presentations

Presentations still have to go ahead, given the fact that the team operates remotely. And while PowerPoint has been a go-to presentation software for many companies over the years, there are many good alternatives available.

Many employees have tried to use Zoom to present their projects to team members, but its interface is not the most user-friendly, which may make it challenging to use as a presentation tool. Alternatively, the options include Prezi, cloud-based presentation software that brings presentations to life through a canvas that lets the employees rotate, frame, and zoom in on their presentations. 

SlideShare is another common presentation app that’s seen as a “social sharing” alternative to conventional slideshow tools like PowerPoint. Using SlideShare, the team can embed their presentation to blogs so that anyone unable to attend a live presentation can watch it later.

Project Management Software

When you have projects that require remote control of your team’s tasks and coordination of responsibilities, you will need to use project management tools.

Top-notch project management software, such as Restyaboard, helps your team streamline and organize workflows, share documents, work within budgets, stay on top of deadlines, and manage important details. In the process, they help remote employees keep track of tasks, eliminate back-and-forth emails, and move forward together as a team. When a team member has completed a particular task on a project, they will check it off so that the next person can come along and start their task.

Another advantage of project management software is that it can also help you change deadlines and schedules if one of the remote employees falls behind due to unexpected circumstances. Also, with the additional report bonus, you as an employer can monitor the work done by your team. This ensures that even if you don’t work side by side with your team in the office, you can still keep up with their progress.

Conclusion

The world has changed considerably in 2020 and if your employees are going to work from home permanently from now on, it’s very important that you choose the right tools. And when it comes to ensuring that the remote team functions well, tools are the greatest weapon.

8 Powerful tools to make your Startup smarter in 2020 to help the founders and their employees accomplish tedious and repetitive tasks efficiently.

1. The Name App

It is important to have a unique and easy-to-remember business name brand recall. This particular tool saves you a struggle to find the correct domain name for your startup. What’s more, it also helps you check the availability of your username and decide the names of social media profiles that align with your company. Simply sign in to the official website of The Name App or download it from the App Store of your Apple device (Sorry, Android users, you’re going to have to do with the website for now)

2. GrowthHacker.tv

GrowthHacker.tv is a place where you can watch interviews of successful growth hackers and entrepreneurs who have made their mark in the digital world. Interview videos continue to be played on the website in a loop that is freely available to visitors. But if you want to have access to past video recordings, you’d need to sign up, which is paid for. But wait a minute, that’s not it. If you are visiting the website, for the first time, you could get a promo code to access the content of your site as a premium member for a week.

3. Moosend

Building e-mail campaigns can be simple. However, delivering them at the right time can be challenging. That’s why you need an email marketing platform like Moosend to get started. Moosend will give you access to automation features to create, schedule, and monitor the performance of your email campaigns. You will get to know Moosend through their free forever plan, offering unlimited emails to up to 1,000 subscribers. Paid plans would allow you access to premium features starting at $10 a month.

4. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services usually referred to as AWS, is a web hosting service offered by the Amazon e-commerce mogul. Possibly one of the most secure web hosting services currently available, AWS is scalable, flexible, and currently provides over 90 services including database storage, content delivery, and other features and functionalities.

Read 10 Best Startup Tools for 2020

5. MailChimp

To run an effective email marketing campaign and keep your audience up-to-date on deals, you need an efficient newsletter service. This is where MailChimp is coming into the picture. MailChimp is a name that doesn’t need any introduction to the tech world. Great news, MailChimp provides a free startup kit with all the necessary features. Paid services start at $10 per month. Additionally, you can do that, take a look at ActiveCampaign and see which suits you prefer.

6. Aytm

There are many survey tools available on the market today. What sets Aytm apart from all these tools is that it not only allows you to create a survey form but also lets you reach out to the right audience who would be interested in taking these surveys. A quick tip: keep your questions open and get better insights.

7. Glasshat

Glasshat comes across as a super-efficient SEO tool that helps start-up owners plan their SEO and other digital marketing activities. This tool provides a list of activities and also teaches new entrepreneurs why a particular activity is important for their startup. By using Glasshat, it would be a smart idea to add a Yoast SEO plugin to your WordPress site so that you can change your web content according to the SEO guidelines.

8. Restyaboard

Restyaboard is a web & mobile based project management tool that was built for improving workflow. Eventually, and inevitably, the efficiency of Restyaboard made it a prominent name among almost all startup owners across the world. This project management software allows users to assign tasks as per their status, add assignees & get activity feed, view log reports, and a lot more. 

As the world is increasingly dependent on digital technologies, more creative ideas for online start-ups are coming to the table. This is evident in Startups 100 Top 5, which sees five web-based companies taking top spots.

  • Trouva
  • Neos
  • Cudoni
  • Perlego
  • Tempo

1. Trouva

Helping over 900 independent boutiques around the world compete with eCommerce giants, Trouva fills the gap between the high street and people’s living rooms. In reality, Trouva has been a lifeline for its partners in the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling 70% of them to continue trading. This dedication, along with its super-strong finances, won it the top spot in the Startups 100.

2. Neos

Snatching the second position overall on the first-ever Startups 100 application is no mean feat, which demonstrates that having a distinctive and disruptive product will make a difference. Neos allows consumers to buy their smart home gadgets and integrates smart home insurance with leading insurance firms. This combined product offering saw customer acquisitions surpassing 150,000 in less than a year – amazing stuff.

3. Cudoni

Buying and selling luxury products is very different from the regular eBay listing, which is why Cudoni has seen a lot of early-stage growth.  It offers ‘total comfort’ by taking care of everything, from photography to fulfillment. And its figures speak for themselves – working on the commission, Cudoni expects to sell more than 100,000 luxury goods to 100 countries in 2020.  No wonder celebrities like  Millie Mackintosh trust it.

Read 10 Best Startup Tools for 2020

4. Perlego

College, university, even online courses – these are costly activities that are much more costly when you take into account the reading material you need to complete the course.  Perlego saw a gap that had to be filled. Offering subscription-based access to a large digital library of academic books, the start-up has seen a 116% monthly rise in new subscribers and has just raised $9 million in funding.  Certainly a worthy 4th place winner.

5. Tempo

We should all agree that recruiting is hard work.  It’s taking time, money, and a lot of patience. Luckily, Tempo exists to up the pace. Claiming to shorten the ‘time to recruit’ to only four days and to reduce  costs by 65%, the machine learning pairs applicants and companies based on ‘rich-format CVs.’  With the likes of Monzo, Bulb, and ASOS on board with their smart recruiting strategy, Tempo’s third Startups 100 entry sees it cruise to 5th place.

If you’re thinking of starting a business or improving an existing one, you’re going to need the right tools for the job. So, in this post, we look at 10 key apps for startups that can make your workflow more efficient and lead to an increase in business growth.

1. A productivity suite

Before you can do anything exciting in your business, you’re going to need some apps that can take care of the boring (but very important) things: a reliable email account, file storage, and productivity tools.

The industry-leading productivity suites which provide all the above are Office 365 and G Suite (formerly Google Apps).

However, it can be quite hard to choose between them — there a lot of pros and cons to weigh up. As such you might like to read our Office 365 vs G Suite comparison review. This explains the core differences between the two productivity suites, as well as outlining what alternatives are available.

2. A website or online store

It goes without saying that you’ll need a website for your business. But with many website building platforms available, it’s important to make the right decision regarding which one to go for.

Portfolio sites/brochure sites

If you’re not intending to sell services or goods online — i.e., your website is more of a portfolio or ‘brochure’ site with business ultimately taking place offline — then Squarespace is often a good bet for startups because it’s easy to set up a site with it, the templates are attractive, and you get support included with your plan.

WordPress is another great option for portfolios or brochure sites — and one that will give you more control over the aesthetics and the functionality of your site — but there is a bit more of a learning curve involved.

Online Stores

If you’re selling products and services online, more thought is required. Although it’s tempting to just embed a Paypal button on a web page to handle online transactions, there are many more sophisticated options available to you that will serve you better.

Ultimately, if you’re serious about e-commerce, you’re going to need a platform you can use to build a fully functional store: one that can adequately cater to things like product variants, shipping, tax rates, and abandoned carts. Big hitters in this area include Bigcommerce and Shopify.

If you’ve already got a website, and want to turn it into an online store, you might find that Ecwid is a good solution for you (it’s a ‘widget’ that’s designed to add e-commerce functionality to any existing site). 

Tip: when it comes to the aesthetics of your website or online store, you might find that simple web-based design tools like Crello offer a cost-effective way to create graphics or animations for it.

3. An email marketing tool

A large mailing list is VITAL to the growth and long-term success of a business.

Not only can email marketing provide a fantastic return on investment, but it’s also a great way to share content widely (something which can build great brand awareness and even improve SEO).

Many new business owners think that a mailing list is simply a bunch of email addresses stored in an Excel spreadsheet that gets emailed via The outlook from time to time.

Taking this approach is a big mistake. Dedicated email marketing tools allow you to capture email addresses via your website, host a large mailing list online, create newsletters, automate communications, and track results easily.

There are many great apps available — but based on value for money and reliability (respectively), our favorites are probably Getresponse and Aweber.

Read 10 Best Startup Tools for 2020

4. CRM

CRM stands for ‘customer relationship management’, and these days the acronym is usually used to refer to cloud-based software that allows you to keep track of and manage the business relationships between your organization and your leads and clients.

Typically, a CRM app will allow you to capture, organize, and analyze leads track communication with leads, and clients allocate tasks to your team.

  • manage your ‘sales pipeline’ (i.e., identify leads and track how the process of converting them to a client is going) 
  • manage customer inquiries via a support ticketing system

Now, as with email marketing, many new business owners rely on Excel to handle all this sort of stuff – which, as with mailing list management is a bad move when there are so many more sophisticated options available to you.

Hubspot offers a very functional free version of its CRM tool — this is a good introduction to the world of customer relationship management.

Other cost-effective options involve Capsule or Nimble.

Which product is right for you will really depend on nature and the complexity of your business, but either way, finding the right CRM tool will usually be vital to ensuring that it grows successfully.

5. Growth Hacking Tools

Once you’ve got your website live and your email marketing app sorted, the next thing you’ll need to do is grow the number of people visiting your site and join your mailing list.

Now, there is a multitude of tools to help you do this. For example, you’ll find apps that let you run A/B tests on your site pages to find out which is most likely to convert a visitor to a subscriber; tools that let you create video recordings of your visitors’ behavior on your site and analyze it; and ‘welcome mats’ which encourage mailing list subscription before any other action is taken on your site.

You’ll find an exhaustive list of growth-hacking apps over on the Kissmetrics site, but for me, there are two particular aspects of growth hacking to zoom in on and prioritize when starting a new business: social sharing, and lead generation. You basically want to make it as easy as possible for somebody to share your content or subscribe to receive more of it.

Tools like Sumo can really help you here, providing everything from sharing buttons to live chat to data capture ‘welcome mats.’

Other similar services worth investigating include Addthis and Sharethis.

6. Cloud-based accounting

Cloud-based accounting apps are increasingly popular and worthy of serious consideration over traditional spreadsheet usage.

A cloud-based accounting solution is connected to your bank account, meaning that all your transactions are imported into your accounting software in real-time (i.e., no more copying and pasting transactions from your online bank account into a spreadsheet).

Not only that but these apps you to raise branded invoices and produce detailed reports at the click of a button. They can give you access to an in-depth analysis of your company finances, and make preparing a tax return significantly easier.

Because of these advantages, if you use a bookkeeper, it often makes sense to hire one that works ‘in the cloud’.

Industry-leading cloud-based accounting apps include Xero and Quickbooks.

7. Keyword research tools

It’s all very well having a business and a website to go with it — but if you’re not ranking highly in search results, it’s not going to be a success.

One of the best ways to improve the performance of your website is to make sure that you are publishing content that people are actually searching for. To do this, you’ll need to perform keyword research.

Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush are essential for this kind of work.

8. Notebooks and To-do lists

Notebooks

An oft-overlooked aspect of running a business is the amount of note-taking it involves.

From capturing brainwaves to taking minutes to jot down a phone number of a potentially useful contact, you will find yourself taking a host of notes in your business life.

So, it makes sense to take them in the best possible way – and in my view, that’s digital, using a dedicated note-keeping app.

There are a plethora of note-keeping apps out there to choose from – but Evernote’s got to be one of the best.

It allows you to place text, images, files, and research all in one digital workspace which you can then share with friends, colleagues, and family. You can access Evernote across all your devices, meaning your notes are always with you.

If you use a productivity suite like G Suite or Office 365 however, you may find that their ‘Keep’ and ‘OneNote’ products meet your needs perfectly well.

To-do lists

To-lists have been part of running a business since the year dot. They’re a surprisingly vital part of running and growing a business: without them, nothing gets done.

As with much else in the business world, they’ve now moved online. And again, there are loads of options available.

Todoist is a simple but effective app for managing, as the name suggests, your to-do list. It works across devices and is available as a Chrome extension too, meaning your uncompleted tasks are always following you around (perhaps I’m not selling this as well as I should). Nifty features include being able to turn emails into tasks and categorize tasks by project.

Wunderlist is another good option.

9. GDPR compliance tools

With the introduction of GDPR — data protection laws designed to safeguard the privacy rights of EU citizens — business owners now have to meet strict requirements with regard to how they capture data and use cookies.

Adhering to GDPR laws on data capture is reasonably straightforward, but it’s quite hard to adhere to the cookie laws. Your website needs to display a cookie banner which not only informs your visitors that cookies are being used but also allows them to give prior consent to them being run.

This is quite a challenge from a technical point of view, but there’s a new tool called Cookiepro which we’ve discovered and which we recommend to our clients as a way of ensuring compliance (particularly where hosted website building products like Squarespace, Shopify, and Bigcommerce is concerned).

You can choose to set up Cookiepro yourself (which will require a bit of time and effort) or alternatively pay a one-off fee to get assistance. 

10. A Social Media Manager

Most businesses end up struggling to manage several social media profiles at once. It can be tricky to keep on top of them all or analyze what’s working and what’s not across all your channels.

This is where an all-in-one social media management tool like Hootsuite is invaluable. You can use tools like Hootsuite to manage all your social media accounts in one place; schedule messages across your profiles; measure your social media campaign performance and assign tasks to your team messages to ensure that all messages
generated by your social media activity get answered.

All this improves your social media comms or frees up time to do other important stuff!

Alternatives to Hootsuite include Sendible and Buffer. 

For startups and small businesses, smooth collaboration is key. Today’s digital world requires every member of a startup team to be familiar with online collaboration tools, especially if they often work remotely.

There are lots of great tools out there that are free to use and have all the features your team needs.

Here are the 5 best collaboration tools for startups that will make every entrepreneur’s life easier.

1. Slack

Slack is an incredible tool for both groups and one on one communication. Slack allows you to break up your conversations into “channels” making relevant information easy to find. To add to the convenience, Slack comes with an easy to use a mobile app and integrates with many other tools such as Restyaboard, Trello, JIRA, and Twitter.

2. Skype for Business

Skype for Business is available as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 package, which comes with the full Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.). Skype for Business features all of the stuff you’d expect from a product with Skype in the name: instant messaging, audio calls, and video chat. But it also has features businesses need to keep safe and compliant, like local hosting and permission control.

As part of the Office suite, it also deeply integrates with your calendar and contacts from Outlook, as well as documents from Word and Excel. Are you an existing Microsoft customer? You probably already have this! If not, it’ll set you back $8.25/user/month.

Read Top 10 Startup Tools You Should Use in 2020

3. Lifesize

Lifesize allows startups to have video, web, and audio conferences along with the option to record and share meetings. It also makes it easy to integrate video from almost any platform available, giving your startup the look and feel of a top-tier business without the top-tier cost.

4. Join.me

Join.me is one of the best options when it comes to connecting and collaborating with your team. This tool gives startups the ability to share audio, video, whiteboard, live chat, and enable users to share control over their screen. The rich range of annotation and remote access features also makes this tool great for sales demos.

Join.me can be used for free, but to lift the participant cap to 5 and host unlimited meetings, you’ll have to buy a plan starting at $9/user/month.

5. Zoom

Zoom — ranked the #1 meeting tool by Gartner in 2018 — is a fast and reliable video conferencing software that works great for internal and client meetings alike.

It features screen-sharing, annotation, and cloud-hosted meeting recordings that you can automatically upload and share. A great use case to keep your team in the loop is to use a fixed room for recurring team meetings and integrate it with Slack to automatically Share the recording with participants afterward.

Zoom’s pricing starts at $14.99/host/month — and just one host can have up to 100 participants. 

Remote work has been a popular advantage among employees. Here are 5 tech tools that do businesses to support remote work and effectively manage remote performance.

The world of work has undergone a significant change in the last few months. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, companies around the globe had to move to remote operations — some for the very first time.

Although change has not been without its challenges, it has also been a positive development in many ways. Remote work has long been a popular advantage among employees, who are generally happier and more productive when they are allowed to do telecommunications. And once people start working from home, they don’t want to go back: 99 percent of remote employees said they want to work remotely for the rest of their careers at least some time. It’s no wonder why: Remote work can provide employees with a better work/life balance, provide a sense of autonomy, and save a lot of stress (especially when you consider how frustrating the morning journey is for some people).

Yet, as with most things worth having in life, remote work arrangements aren’t easy. They require time to roll out effectively and effort to maintain themselves over the long term. Managers need training on how best to support remote employees, and companies need to provide remote workers with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs off-site.

If you don’t have the right technology in place, remote work can easily become an aggravating and isolating experience for employees. So what tools do businesses need to support remote work and effectively manage remote performance? Below are five types of tech tools that are essential to every remote work initiative:

1. Task Management Software

Whether they’re working remotely or on-site, employees can only stay productive if they know what they are doing, what is expected of them, and when their tasks are due. Keeping track of all that information can be difficult, especially for remote employees and their managers. That’s where project and task management software comes in.

Tools like Restyaboard allow employees and their managers to set priorities, assign tasks, and establish deadlines. Perhaps most importantly, they also foster accountability by allowing all involved parties to track progress toward tasks together. Ultimately, task management solutions facilitate effective communication and crystal-clear expectations, two vital drivers of success in a remote work environment.

2. Time-Tracking Software

This is an admittedly controversial topic, and many managers believe tracking employees’ time is more harmful than helpful. They argue that the time spent on work isn’t as important as the work that is achieved, and therefore companies should monitor goal progression and task completion instead of hours at a desk. Some leaders also worry that mandating time-tracking software indicates a lack of trust in employees, which can ultimately result in decreased productivity and morale.

However, for organizations just getting started with remote work for the first time, time-tracking software can help to smooth the transition by assuring managers that work is being done. Certain tools, like Restyaboard, even take periodic screenshots of employees’ screens, so managers can see what they’re actually up to.

Read How to Manage a Remote Team Effectively During COVID-19 Pandemic

3. Performance Management Software

Performance management needs to be carefully planned when employees are working remotely. Managers need to make a special effort to maintain regular communication, deliver feedback, and check-in with employees to ensure they are getting all the support they need.

Tracking the performance of a large virtual team can be a difficult task, especially if you are meeting with your employees on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss performance, as most forward-thinking companies are doing today. To keep on top of performance, progress, and productivity, companies should consider investing in cloud-based performance management software. Such software facilitates remote check-ins, helps track objectives and key results, and monitors individual employee development while also tracking team goals.

Remember, while remote work can offer many benefits, some employees may find it isolating at times. Your performance management system should be designed to support employees of all kinds through the building of relationships and the encouragement of continuous communication.

4. Team Communication Tools

The reality is that communication is very different when your employees work off-site. They can’t bond near the water cooler. They can’t simply turn around to ask their colleagues a question or pop by their manager’s office to discuss an issue they may be having.

Most remote teams rely on team communication tools such as Slack to facilitate in-the-moment discussions between colleagues and managers. Many contemporary team communication tools allow for the creation of various channels dedicated to different topics, including informal channels where employees with common interests can socialize virtually with one another. What’s more, with team communication tools, you can spare yourself a lot of unnecessary emails.

While platforms like Slack are great for quick connections, they cannot fully replace face-to-face communication, which fosters relationships and maintains levels of engagement in ways that chat platforms simply cannot. That’s why your team communication tools should also include videoconferencing software like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. These can be especially effective venues for team meetings or one-on-one performance conversations.

5. Cloud Storage and File-Sharing Services

Because your remote team members will be distributed around various locations, you will need a central cloud-based storage solution where employees can easily save and share important files. Google Drive has become a popular solution for this purpose; its functionality that allows multiple employees to work on one document simultaneously makes it an especially powerful collaboration tool.

File-sharing services can prevent a lot of the confusion that arises when many different versions of the same file are flying around. With everything saved and securely stored on the cloud, you can also be sure no important information will be compromised by tech problems on the employee’s end.