If you have ever started a small business, you know there is a litany of business tools and software applications available help you on your path to success. The problem is that there is a lot to choose from with varying costs and capabilities.
Over the past year, I have spent many hours vetting the right solution for Statehood Playing Cards, which, inevitably, depends on the maturity of the business and its anticipated growth.
As a startup, balance was what do I need now, what will I need later, and can I keep the whole package under $150 bucks a month.
Here is what I came up with.
Web Host and Domain
Everleap (<$5) - With the 5 site pack its $160 dollars annually. I also pay an annual domain registration fee of $8 for the domain and SSL for $15 dollars a year. I've used Everleap for several years and find their site hosting services and customer service exception. It's not for everyone, but if you some background in website development, it's a good choice.
Wave and BlueVine (free) - For a new startup, you can't beat better than free. That's what you get with the combination of WaveApp and Bluevine. Wave is in online cloud-based accounting app. If you don't need advanced reporting capability, it's a good place to start. Bluevine is my online bank. In addition to to providing a free bank account, you get a free debit card and 1.5% interest on deposits --- which means it is better than free. My anticipated evolution will be from WaveApp to Quickbooks to Netsuite as sales increase.
Shopify ($29) and Amazon Individual Plan (free) - For online retailers, there just isn't a way around using a combination of Shopify and Amazon. Shopify is much easier to use than Amazon and has a large enough online presence and many useful integrations with marketing and shipping apps. Amazon, however, is amazon.
Apptivo ($15) - There are a lot of options when it comes to running online marketing campaigns. I find Appitivo to have most robust features for the price. Their customer service is also really good. I mainly use Apptivo for email marketing. One reason I selected Apptivo was its CRM integration with my phone service, RingCentral ($30).
In addition to Apptivo, I also use the standard apps that are necessary to advance your online presence: Google Analytics, Facebook, and Twitter.
ShippingEasy ($31) - ShippingEasy integrates seamlessly with my Shopify and Amazon stores.
There are a few applications I have not covered like Kickstarter, which is free. Good luck selecting the tools and applications to get you business off the ground. As you can see, there is a lot to consider: integration, cost, ease of use, features, scalability. Post a comment if you would like to know more about my specific experience with a particular application.