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8 must-have tools to help build a start-up

Are you a start-up or planning to get into the big bad world of business? Turning a great idea into a great product requires hard work and the right tools. Hassan M Kamal has created a list of online services/ websites and tools to help you turn that big idea into an amazing product

1) Knowledge If you think, you can do it all by yourself, you are wrong. The Web works because you can connect with those who have already done what you plan to. Ask questions, or read up on their experiences.

8 tools

>> Gibbon.co: If you wish to acquire new skills, be it html editing, CSS3, accounting, start-up troubles, or anything that may possibly come your way, this site offers valuable advice and tutorials from industry experts around
the globe.
>> Thehappystartupschool.com: Insights, news, views, tutorials and more on all thing start-ups. This website run by entrepreneurs who have been associated with some start-ups in their career, offers valuable tips and insights on problems that start-ups may face.
>> Google these terms to brush up your online marketing knowledge: Google AdWords, Affiliation Programme (Amazon/ Flipkart/ EBay), Google Analytics, Customer Relationship Management, Project Management.
TIP: For new developments on business technology, try these sites: Mashable.com (for updates on technology updates and posts), Startupweekend.org (for tools, programmes, and more), thinkwithgoogle.com (data, analysis and insights from Google).

2) Customer Relationship Management
Zoho CRM: While most people swear by the efficacy of customer relationship tools like Salesforce and ACT, if you want to save some bucks in software, go for Zoho CRM. The service is free and allows three users to be connected to it at the same time. There’s a mobile app also on Android, as well as corporate email (check below). One can link Google Drive or Dropbox account to it, to sync your files.
TIP: If you are an app/business process developer, you can try the Bonita Community software, that helps you design, process, manage projects etc.

3) Social Marketing
Hootsuite/Buffer:If you want to stay in touch with your customers on social networking sites 24x7, but are too busy with other jobs at hand, create a set of tweets or Facebook posts in advance, and post them automatically at regular intervals with Hootsuite/Buffer. At the same time, get basic reports on your performance on social networks. Though the free versions are a bit limited, if you just want to schedule a tweet or post on Facebook, try Later Bro, which is another amazing product.
TIP: Read more on social marketing on Socialquickstarter.com.

4) Online Marketing
Mail Chimp: Remember the newsletter from your bank, publisher, library or restaurant. Well, believe it or not they can be very useful in keeping your customers updated about recent developments in your company. And, while there are many companies offering this, Mail Chimp, till today, remains one of the most sought after email marketing service. Select from its responsive templates, and you are ready to go. The best thing is it’s free for up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 customers, and allows you to add your followers on Facebook into the system.
Also try: Survey Monkey.

5) Customer feedback
Typeform: Getting customer feedback is always a tough task especially if it’s complicated. More so, if you have to build it from scratch by yourself. With this in mind, Typerform will be a rescuer for start-ups who may not be proficient in tech-know-how, as it gives you complete control over how to build a form using easy-to-use drag and drop tools. It’s less annoying for you and your customers.

6) Accounting and billing
Expensify: Lose the paper receipts and go digital with your business expense records, bills and receipts. This is a free application available for desktop and mobile devices to help digitise bills and receipts. It also has a compliance algorithm so you are in command for approving expenses. Add bank account, credit/debit cards and say good bye to paper work. Scan bills or click pictures of them on the go, and the app will update everything to your account. And yes, it works offline as well.

7) Operations Management
Trello: This is a great app to help create a list of tasks and share it with your employees, allow them to update their progress. All tasks are listed under the employee's name in tabular form. And it’s for free.

8) Website building
Strikingly: Create beautiful one-page websites at no extra cost using this free website builder. All you need is a domain name (which you can easily purchase from Godaddy.com or Bigrock.com, and sign-up for their hosting services, to use Strikingly to build your own one-page website).

TIP: For start-ups on a budget to create a new website, use a WordPress based theme. There are plenty of website themes available for free, with plug-ins that support e-commerce, etc. If you are into single-page websites, try OneEngine theme from Enginethemes.com.

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