When you’re starting up, you don’t always have access to experts in every field or the finances to purchase amazing custom software to help your new business run smoothly. When you're wearing the hat of a marketing director, finance director, web developer and more, any hacks and tools that can save you time and/or money are a huge win. Louise Stevenson, co-founder of osha-clean.com - a platform which helps busy people who need their windows cleaned book a window cleaner - shares some of the tools that help them run their business smoothly.

Louise and Mark - Osha Clean

Hootsuite

Tools should make your life easier. They should either save you time or save you money. As a start-up, social media is critical to getting your brand out there and engaging with potential customers and suppliers. However, done well it’s also massively time-consuming and not everyone at the start-up stage can afford to pay someone to focus on social. But there are plenty of tools out there that can help. At osha-clean.com we use Hootsuite to help manage our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Hootsuite allows you to check your feeds all in one place, schedule posts so that you can spread them out across the week (but do them all in one go) and look at your analytics so you can see how people are engaging with you. A word of warning though! Whilst scheduling some of your tweets and posts is really helpful, it shouldn’t replace an engaged and reactive social media strategy, so you still do need to get on there and respond in the moment to be truly engaging.

Basecamp

Basecamp is a recent discovery for us at osha-clean.com. We’ll be launching our first crowdfunding campaign in a few weeks time and Basecamp is the tool we’ve been using to project manage the campaign. If you’re working on an important project where collaboration is key, Basecamp allows you to keep everything in one place. You can store and share documents across your project team, share direct messages relating to the project, and keep a full project schedule and to-do list allowing you to monitor all of your critical tasks. With a crowdfunding campaign there are so many elements to think about and discuss alongside your day to day business, and so keeping it in one place has saved us a lot of time.

Canva

Let’s be clear, nothing can replace a brilliant graphic designer. However, good design work costs money - and whilst we’d never create important brand and campaign assets ourselves, there are some things you just need to rustle up quickly, like an image for a Facebook post or blog. Canva is a great, free tool that allows even the most creatively-challenged of us to put something together quickly and professionally. It’s very easy to learn and includes plenty of templates with the different dimensions for social media. You can also upload your own brand colours and logos etc, so you can produce simple and effective design work quickly and for free.

MailChimp

Here’s a tool that even we haven’t made the most of yet, it has so many features. We’ve linked up MailChimp to our website and CRM so that we can easily send well laid out emails to our customers and suppliers. It’s very easy to use and can work in tandem with many of the other tools we use such as Facebook. MailChimp can help you manage your marketing subscriptions, automation and more and has recently introduced even more features to its free version. We use it to send regular newsletters to our suppliers and special offers to our customers. You can monitor response rates, see how many people have opened your email and even test different elements of your emails such as subject lines and imagery.

And many more…

There are so many tools and tricks out there that make life easier for small start-up businesses, these are just a few of the ones that we’re currently using. Most of these we’ve found by talking to other people in our network - so if you’re looking for something that makes life a bit quicker and easier, ask around and see what other people are doing, and don’t keep them to yourself when you find them!

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