Your first 6 months are a tough grind – we used to have a saying around our last start up when people used to ask us how our day was going? Often we’d simply reply “Loving the grind!” a.k.a. getting on with the day to day, trying to move the biz forward and not get caught up in admin / trying to make things perfect.
It’s in this spirit of entrepreneurial efficiency we thought to share this post. There were many apps we trialled with the goal of taking time-consuming / non-value adding tasks out of the way. Some were great. Some were not.
Here were our collective favourite 6.
Note: we’ll stay away from pure social apps. Preference for this list is for those apps once you’ve done most of set up on desktop, the app alone can be enough benefit.
1) Network network network: MeetUp
You benefit from the help of others immensely in start up mode (ie feedback, sharing contacts, introduction to customers … Flearning over beer). You’re so busy, however, sometimes reminding yourself of upcoming meaningful get togethers is half the challenge, let alone getting there, seeing who’s going to decide if it’s worthwhile … Add to that post-event follow ups and pre-event RSVP lists and the MeetUp app is well worth the download.
Why we love it: loads of helpful groups, networking events, helpful calendar / dashboard to keep you organized.
Similar apps you may like just as much: N/A – none have the volume of groups as MeetUp.
2) Track your expenses: Shoeboxed Australia
During your first few months of start up, you will have tons of receipts floating around your desk, laptop bag, inbox, kitchen table, your car … Finding time to sit down and itemize them all so you can consistent view of your ongoing expenses will be just about the last thing on your to do list. BUT you need to get it done so you can get on to other things! That’s where Shoeboxed comes in. We’ve got mates who swear by their service – using the app, you take pictures of the receipts, at a convenient time for you pop them all in the mail to Shoeboxed who have actual people review / itemize / categorize them all … Quickbooks / MYOB / Xero compatible, there are lots of other goodies in the service as well.
Why we love it: take pictures of your receipts on the spot, human-verified receipts service.
Similar apps you may like just as much: OneReceipt, ExpenseMagic, ReceiptCatcher.
Cost: App is free – paid monthly plans depending on your processing / storage need. See full pricing here.
3) Manage call frequency to important people: Contactually
Hopefully in your first few months you’ll be meeting lots of helpful people: potential partners, investors, mentors, other entrepreneurs … You’ll likely connect with each of these people differently – some by email, some on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social apps. To get a common view of all these people you know, categorize them into “buckets” (e.g. “Investors”, “Potential Partners”, “Support Network” …) and then assign routine follow-up call cycles to each, Contactually is a dream app! We started using this ourselves – bringing your contacts all into one common dashboard alone is a value-add, then you add on the tools to set reminders to follow-up which each person. THIS is how you get the full benefit of your contact network! Contactually is not a full CRM solution, which depending on your needs may be what you need. However, if what you’re looking to achieve in those first few months is simply to get off the ground and use those around you, then this may be what you need initially.
Why we love it: centralize all your contacts from email, social and other sources then set routine call cycle reminders to get the most out of your existing contacts. SUPER simple contact import tool which actually makes the process fun.
Similar apps you may like just as much: ContactChamp.
Cost: App is free – paid monthly plans depending on your needs. Full pricing here.
4) Don’t forget ANYTHING: Evernote
When you’re in start up mode, you’re naturally in ‘ideas’ mode as well – they’ll pop into your head suddenly, an article in the paper will give you an idea, someone will suggest you call their buddy, then …. Think of Evernote as an electronic, organised version of a desktop full if post it notes, magazine clippings, reminders and to-do lists. It’s easily the most integrated note-taking app on the App Store – able to be link into CRMs, email marketing solutions and loads of other handy tools.
Why we love it: user friendly interface, loads of storage space, you can save links / audio files / images …
Similar apps you may like just as much: Google Keep, Simplenote, Microsoft OneNote.
Cost: Free. You can pay to upgrade for other features – we never needed to.
5) Team Collaboration: Trello
As you get off the ground, you’ll quickly be juggling to-do lists with others (interns, potentially your co-founder ….). Trello was the simplest app we could find to set up a common tasks, attach some easy milestone dates, note take and let each other know how you’re doing. It’s certainly no Microsoft Project – but that’s the point: it’s easy to use, you’ll be up in minutes, and you’ll smash through your tasks … together!
Why we love it: super easy to use, easily invite other users to view task lists, real-time notifications on task updates.
Similar apps you may like just as much: Asana, Basecamp, Wrike.
6) Outsourcing: Airtasker
Virtually the hardest thing an entrepreneur can experience at first is the need to do everything themselves. EVERYTHING, no matter how menial or repetitive it is. Hopefully you’ll quickly get to the point where you’re able to identify these non-value adding bits of your to-do list to consider giving to others … but then you need to find someone to do them (and for cheap). For simple errands, repetitive admin, easy-to-complete projects and such, Airtasker is a great app to access crowds of cash-hungry, capable people in your local area who are more than happy to take these tasks off your to-do list, for a negotiated menial fee. Think of it as Freelancer for easy stuff.
Why we love it: profile management let’s you view users’ previous projects, up-front-negotiation and payment
Similar apps you may like just as much: oDesk, eLance.
Cost: App is free, on completion of any task a $2 + 5% of the task’s value fee is added.
What apps helped you out the most during your first 6 months? Drop us an email or let us know by leaving a comment below!