Premium member Amy Chandler is the co-founder of Comms Hub, an Adelaide based business making web design, digital marketing, and PR more accessible (or in other words a godsend) for small businesses. Here she shares her top tools to get your startup off the ground in 2018.
Amy writes …
When you start a business, you’ve got 99 problems but extra cash ain’t one.
We started our business with a pocketful of dreams and about $1000 in our hand. From that first $1000, we’ve bootstrapped our way to profitability by scrimping, saving and continually looking for better and smarter ways to operate online.
If you’ve ever wondered how it’s financially possible to start, launch and manage a moderately successful startup in today’s digital world, we’re about to spill the beans. Because we’re seasoned over-sharers, I’m going to take you through the laundry list of tools that allow our business to not only operate, but also grow on a monthly basis.
But first, a little background on us for context: we’re a digital marketing bar for small businesses. Small businesses can pull up a stool at our online bar and order the digital support they need to grow their business without the hangover of ongoing agency fees (hallelujah, amiright?). We’re also 100% online which means we don’t face the typical bricks-and-mortar costs which makes a big difference to our bottom line. But still, we’ve faced our fair share of startup costs. Being a digital business, most of our costs can be categorised as software, content management, e-commerce platforms, web hosting and design platforms, etc required to meet the needs of our clients, but there’re also a number of platforms and tools we use to work more efficiently.
While it’s impossible to list every expense or tool we use without this article being as long as Beyonce’s awards list, these are the main tools we use to keep costs down, get stuff done and grow our business.
By sharing this list and pulling back the curtain on our business (our outgoings are $850 a month), we hope you’ll find some gems which will improve your profitability too.
Honestly, how confusing is the whole ‘how do I actually start a business thing?’ To simplify the process, we used Honcho – an online ABN registration and business name registration for just $39 per month. You can literally start your business in about four minutes. We use their online chat all.the.time to answer any silly business questions we might have.
Need a domain? No problemo, we used Netregistry to acquire our domain and still use it regularly for our clients for just $14.95 per year so that’s about $1.20 each month.
If we could put a ring on Stripe, we probably would. It’s super easy to take and accept credit card payments.
The go-to eCommerce platform today, Shopify makes it ridiculously easy at just $79 per month. But on a serious note, if any website developer says they are going to build you a custom eCommerce website, make sure you ask them: why can’t we just use Shopify? Save yourself tens of thousands and use this awesome hosted eCommerce app. It’s so super simple to use, hassle free, budget friendly and we love it to bits.
Another tool we are seriously fan-girling over. If you’re anything like us, accounting costs and the whole making the numbers add up thing can be a little daunting. But with Xero, it’s about $25 a month to manage every financial aspect of your business. We take photos of our receipts on our phones through the app and then reconcile our bank statements in one click on the go. Side note: We also hire a Xero bookkeeper as well and spend about $235 bucks a month sorting that shit (excuse our french) out.
We swear by this one! It’s an app-building software with website and graphic components for only $79 per month.
Running for $850 a month wouldn’t be possible without the Microsoft BizSpark program. It’s totally free and gives startups access to $120k worth of free Microsoft support. We’re not joking. Run, don’t walk.
Hubspot may just be the best thing since sliced bread. It’s an all-round next level customer relationship manager for only $65 per month. When someone jumps on our website and completes a contact form, Hubspot shows us what web pages the customer visited, what they organically searched for in Google to find us. You create profiles for your customers, save notes, etc. Seriously, it’s like Big Brother for your business.
We use Canva for Work a lot to make social media graphics for our clients. It’s the best $4 we could spend a month.
Because we haven’t got 2,000 subscribers yet, we’re still on a MailChimp forever free account. We manage our email lists, email automation and email marketing all through MailChimp and couldn’t recommend it more highly.
We track and monitor our website performance like an air traffic controller checks the flight path. Did we mention, IT’S FREE?
A trusty tool that connects Stripe and MailChimp for free for $49 a month.
Have you noticed how much the first page of Google has changed? Organic listings are no longer the first thing you see. In fact, most users now have to scroll down (a lot) to see an organic listing result. When we launched, we wanted to get to the top of Google fast so we use Google Adwords to help us funnel leads to our website every single month. Our budget varies but is pretty small because we’re a startup so let’s chalk that up as around $300 per month.
The hottest and most visually pleasing project management software out there today is completely free.
Disclaimer: We have no relationship with any of these tools other than fangirling them and using them for our business every day.