by Leo Welder

The first 4 tech applications every startup needs

Apr 18, 2016
Cloud ComputingProductivity SoftwareSmall and Medium Business

Startups that don't set up these four pieces of technology at the outset will likely experience inefficiency – and potentially expensive mistakes as a result.

cloud computing start
Credit: Thinkstock

When you launch a business, there’s a lot going on, from networking to finding the right workspace. With so many details to oversee, it can be hard to know which technologies are worth spending time on and which you can live without. With that in mind, here are four pieces of tech that every startup should get in the first few days of hanging out their shingle. Getting these in place right away can help streamline other tasks, smooth communications, and free up brain space.

Password manager 

In the interest of starting your business off with good security and strong organization, getting a password management tool on Day 1 is an absolute must. Password managers are great for a lot of reasons, but three attributes make them invaluable for businesses just starting out.

First, a password manager makes it easy to generate and store a different, highly secure password for each website. The best way to get hacked is to use the same login info for lots of sites or to use a familiar phrase or set of numbers. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most people do, and understandably so when there are dozens of websites you need to remember passwords for. Remembering complex and unique passwords isn’t realistic, which is where manager tools like LastPass, 1Password and Dashlane come in.

Secondly, password management tools allow you to organize and search through all the websites on which you have accounts, which can come in handy when you are trying to find an account that you’re having trouble remembering.

Finally, when you add employees or use contractors, you can share login info with them or have them share login info with you. This can be especially useful for bookkeepers, web developers, and copywriters.

To-do list manager 

When you start a business your task list will get long quickly. You’ll also think of things you want to do at random times – but you may not remember again later. A cloud-based to-do list manager that works across all your devices and computer is a great way to keep all these items in one place and at your fingertips.

Everyone has a different style, so no one list manager will be the right fit for everyone. Most will offer scheduling options, syncing, mobile apps, and reminders. The most feature rich will also let you chat with colleagues and share documents or webpages. Others simply offer a syncing notepad without a lot of extra features.

To-do list managers also allow you to prioritize, categorize and schedule your tasks. Plus, they are a great way to keep track of personal tasks that can easily get lost when you start a business. I go through my to-do list manager every night and use it to plan the following workday.

Domain/website/email address 

Yes, tackle them all at once – you can often make your life easier and save some money by doing them together. Even if you’re going to hire a professional to redesign your site later, consider making a basic site using a website builder when you first get started. Website builders are inexpensive (prices typically start at less than $5/ month), require zero programming knowledge and provide you with templates, images and tools to build a professional site quickly (Disclosure: I own the site, the site being linked to here, and have business relationships with many companies on the website).The process of creating your own website structure and writing the first pieces of content is a great exercise to thinking through how you want to present your business idea to the world.

An added benefit is that many website builders will include a free domain for the first year as well as a free business email address, or a discount on a third party business email address provider (like Google Apps for Work). This step will take you a long way toward creating your identity.

Virtual business phone number 

It may be tempting to use your personal phone number early on, but getting a separate business number right away makes sense for a number of reasons. Almost everything you sign up for or buy, and everyone you talk to, will want your phone number, so getting a business phone number in place early on will help you avoid having to re-enter all that information later.

It’s also extremely easy and inexpensive to get virtual number to use for your business. With a virtual number, you won’t need to get a second phone or pay for a second phone plan.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider Google Voice, which provides you with a virtual number for free. If you’re willing to spend a little money, a virtual PBX service will not only give you a virtual number, but it will also help your business project a larger, more professional image. Many virtual PBX services start at around $10 per month, and include a slew of features like set business hours and “departments” – even if each department is just you (Disclosure: I own the site, the site being linked to here, and have business relationships with many companies on the website). Prices for virtual PBX services are typically based on the number of minutes you use, which will be small in the beginning.

Starting a new venture can be daunting and at times overwhelming, but finding the right tools can help you stay organized and connected. By setting these four technologies up right away, your new business will have some key elements in place, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re moving forward in a streamlined, organized way.