Our Survey Says: Smart Startups Use…Contributed by bizhive

You know how every toolkit needs a hammer, a screwdriver & a wrench?  Well, ditto with the best startup toolkits.  We call these “functional essentials” – the stuff you gotta do/gotta have/gotta use if you are going to get the jobs done.

Having helped over 150K Small Biz from across the US, bizHive is uniquely positioned to see these “functional essentials” in action, to witness “best practices” that lead to real growth success.  And when it comes to the tools that specifically help Startups survive & thrive in Year 1, we’ve observed first-hand the essentials embraced by the best.

Here are those very same “functional essentials” that we think should be part of every startup’s’ toolkit – regardless of the startups product or service.  In other words, we find these needs & the tools that address them cross categories, geographies, and even Founder aptitudes.  Get ‘em & you increase your chances of success.  Don’t get ‘em & prepare for a harder struggle.

 

As always, we like to focus on the key areas of Small Biz success: sales & marketing, operations & finance.  Check out our Ultimate Startup Toolkit Guide here for specific products.

 

Sales & Marketing Toolkit Essentials

 

  1. Automated CRM & Prospect Sales Tracking – for businesses that depend on individual-by-individual sales, it’s habit to use by-hand tracking methods to keep up with where prospects are in the pipeline.  No more.  Smart Small Biz are leveraging a wave of new savvy & simple apps that help manage the complex communication path to all future customers.
  2. Automated Marketing – new advertising & promotional channels now come in so many forms you need an air-traffic control system to keep up.  And that’s just what smart Small Biz are using – dashboard apps that organize, deploy & even track your marketing, from e-mail to Facebook to digital coupons.
  3. Mobility – with 65% of all consumer searches now conducted on smart-phones, smart Small Biz are getting ahead of the mobility curve in how they reach, engage & sell to their customers.  From having a mobile-responsive website to click-2-call functionality, from installing a virtual point-of-sale system to an in-store messaging transponder, expect mobile to dominate new Small Biz marketing capabilities for years to come.

 

Operations Toolkit Essentials

 

  1. Cloud Everything – smart Small Biz are following Big Biz to the cloud, leveraging the universal hub’s speed, access & security.  Most Small Biz start with cloud-based bookkeeping & accounting, but quickly realize that the cloud forms the ideal platform for collaboration with employees, vendors & even customers.  Other management functions like inventory control, payroll, staffing & training are rapidly finding their place on the cloud with dozens of new providers of apps & services emerging rapidly.  Learn more – “Step Up to the Cloud.”  
  2. Big Data Tools  – don’t be afraid of the word “big” – in this case it means “big impact.”  So while we hold the word “Small” dear, smart Small Biz know that the benefits labeled as “big data” are too big to ignore.  Big data should really be called “big insights” gathered by & within technology – insights to customers (how many? who are they? what do they like?) to the stuff you sell (how much? how often? where is the next breakout?) to the way you time everything in your business (when is it needed? when does it expire? when will I make the most money?)  
  3. Self-Defense – the threat of cyber-crime on Small Biz is unfortunately growing exponentially, because for better or worse, Small Biz have many things worth stealing (customer data, transaction identity info, credit card data & more.)  Ignorance is no excuse as the penalties for cyber-negligence are enormous & rising.  Smart Small Biz are investing in technology & even in new insurance options to de-risk these threats.  Learn more – “Secure Your Small Biz.”  

 

Finance Tech Toolkit Essentials

 

  1. Forecasting – few Small Biz like the detailed work of accounting, but Smart Small Biz will love financial forecasts till the end of time.  New dashboard apps & network tech provide connections between all the money-parts of your operations, providing not just a bird’s eye view but an eagle-eyed look ahead.
  2. “Offsiting” – many Small Biz are getting the books out from under their own roof, or at least off the hard-drive under their desk.  This most often means taking accounting to the cloud, or at least to a trusted Accountant’s pro-encrypted server.  
  3. Outsourcing Record-keeping & Archiving – here, too, Smart Small Biz have pushed old filing methods with their paper & cabinets & shredding to big outfits that can better maintain historical financial records electronically.

 

While trends come & go – it’s in their nature! – smart Small Biz are always asking “what’s new & how will it help me grow?”  Count on bizHive to help you get these trend-based jobs done today!