It is easy enough to call yourself an entrepreneur, but if your startup lacks some essential tools, you won’t be a business owner for long. Fortunately, we can help you set up your startup’s space with the basic equipment you’ll need, regardless of your industry, product, audience or any other defining factor. Without further ado, here is what your startup needs ASAP to function effectively:
Network and Internet
It doesn’t matter whether you build things, sell things or do both — you won’t be able to do anything if your office isn’t properly networked. Computer networks, which typically include Internet connections, are easy to install and facilitate cooperation amongst your employees. First, you’ll need a modem and wireless router; then, you can follow these steps to get your network set up fast.
Then again, a network won’t do you any good without devices to connect to it. Computers are essential tools for nearly all work that must be done throughout the modern workday. You should be able to provide at least one desktop computer to each employee, or you should make your BYOD — bring-your-own-device — policy clear to workers from the start.
Just as Internet access and network connections don’t do much without computers, computers aren’t effective tools without the right software. Applications can dramatically reduce the time and effort needed to complete essential business tasks. Fortunately, there is a wealth of software developed specifically for brand-new startups — and much of it is free. Here are a few of the software tools you will certainly need ASAP:
- Accounting. Impeccable accounting is critical for startups because they can succeed or fail on pennies. However, because accountants are expensive to employ, you might consider turning to the following apps: FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Kashoo or Wave.
- Marketing. Startups whither and die without effective marketing, but marketing campaigns can be extensive and difficult to manage. Instead of hiring a huge team of marketers, you can control your marketing efforts using these apps: Mailchimp, Hubspot, Optimizely and Buffer.
- Collaboration. Collaboration should be smooth and productive. The right software can facilitate teamwork in your office, helping employees in different departments (or different cities) contribute effectively. Some popular apps include: Slack, Quip and Google Docs.
- Project Management. As leader of your startup, you should have complete control over every project — at least until your business grows. Until then, you can use these tools to manage your projects more effectively: Asana, Trello and ProofHub.
- HR. When your company consists of you and only a handful of employees, you might be tempted to skip HR altogether — but considering the range of responsibilities included in HR, ditching it entirely is a bad idea. Instead, replace living, breathing reps with one of these digital alternatives: Zenefits, BambooHR or Gusto HR.
Though computers replace telephones in most intra-office communications, you should still have phones and service to accept contact from outside your office. Clients, vendors, consultants and more will often prefer to reach you over the phone, so you should be able to broadcast your office phone numbers. Not all employees require a handset, but managers, sales teams and divisions with common external contact should be well-equipped.
If your business isn’t accepting payments, you are doing something wrong. To function as a typical business and accept payments from customers, you need the right tools. At the bare minimum, you should have an online payment portal accessible by clients; if customers can visit your business to make purchases, you need credit card terminals and point-of-sale systems to manage transactions. As your business grows, you will likely need to expand your payment equipment, so choose a provider that is flexible as well as affordable.
Even in a paperless office, you will need to scan, copy and print. Computers, mobile devices and other tools make producing hard copies less necessary, but there will eventually come a time when you desperately need to print a document. Basic multifunction printers aren’t expensive, and until your company grows, you will probably be able to get by with just one.
In the midst of significant cultural concern about privacy, your startup definitely needs to make data security a top priority. While much of that effort will be spent erecting strong digital defenses, you also need to police your physical data — which means effectively destroying printed materials that contain sensitive information. Instead of tossing every document in the trash, you should first shred them thoroughly, ideally with a mechanical shredder.