When I started my first company, FastPencil, in 2007, there weren't a lot of tools to get up and running quickly. But I knew it would be critical to leverage technology if I wanted to stay lean and get to first customer fast! So we immediately setup Google Apps for email and document collaboration. We also used Skype and a few other online services.
Today, there are a lot more services available for startups, and they're better than ever. Here's my basic startup toolkit:
Nimble Social CRM
Every company needs a CRM and most go straight to Salesforce, but I met John Ferrara from Nimble at a Social Selling conference and I'm blown away at what he has been able to do with social CRM. Some of you may remember John from the company Goldmine. Goldmine was one of the first popular CRM applications available. It helped you stay organized and connected to your contacts.
Nimble does all this and more... for today's social selling environment. I started using Nimble as I built out my new company, Radi8. It has been incredible. Not only does it help me stay organized and in contact with my prospects and leads, but Nimble gives me insight everywhere I go online. I highly suggest you give it a shot if you're just ramping up your startup.
If you don't already have it setup, take my advice and get Google apps for your business. It's easy to setup, you get email, file sharing, document editing and collaboration. It's fast and powerful. Don't even bother with Microsoft, this is the way to go for your startup.
Customer support is critical and Zen Desk does it better than anyone right now. You can setup a simple account and plug it into your web site for instant customer support. As you grow you can add features and users to handle the increased load.
You probably already have a stack and your developers are taking care of that for you, but if you don't, take a look at Heroku. You can quickly setup and start building out your apps with Heroku, then expand and add services as necessary. Whether you like Ruby, Node or just plain old HTML, Heroku makes it easy... and fast. And that's the name of the game right now.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Pages, etc.
Of course you should grab all the important social properties you can. Whether it's Instagram, Snapchat or just Facebook for your business, you can't go without social. One of the things we discovered while building Radi8 is that social drives organic traffic to your content better than any other program. But marketing managers seem to get overwhelmed with managing social. If you want to make an impact, invest in social for your business... social selling, social demand-gen, social network management, social analytics, social CRM. It's worth it.
I'm sure there are a few basics I'm missing, maybe I'll write about them in another post. But this should get your started. Remember, your goal right now in your startup is to find customers and validate your problems and solutions. Don't waste time setting up and managing user license for Microsoft, or screwing around with all the options in Salesforce. Get up and running fast, then worry about this stuff later.
Connect with me on Twitter (@MichaelPAshley) and follow along as we pivot Radi8 (@Radi8HQ) from a social selling app to a social demand-gen platform that will drive traffic to your content and give you insights into your social marketing programs.