• Luke Thompson

Top 5 Free Systems For Your Startup Business

So, you have a small business (or are considering starting one). There are so many different questions to answer before even getting up and running.

  • "What kind of supply chains do I need to establish to meet our product demand?"

  • "How will I gain exposure for my business without a large marketing budget?"

  • "What new and innovative tools are we going to use to stand out from our competition?"


All very important questions to answer, but the majority of them are specific to your type of #business and your industry. This list of my recommended Top 5 Free Systems for your startup or small business is built on foundational pillars of any business: Communication and Project Management.





1. Asana (Task Management)


At the current stage of your venture, you may or may not be using some type of project management software. I would highly recommend you start using something to track this information as quickly as possible.


When you start managing and tracking the individual tasks better, you'll see a direct correlation to your overall effectiveness because you're instantly able to answer the question "Does this specific task benefit the larger goal I'm trying to achieve?" If not, then you can at least prioritize it based on urgency.


Asana is great if you're flying solo and need to create working timelines by yourself or if you already have a multi-member team. It's also built to scale with your business, so start implementing it to see a positive increase in your #efficiency.


My Favorite Features

  • Daily Tasks, for prioritizing what is most important in my day, so that I can stay focused on what matters.

  • Portfolio View, for tracking the progress of our high-priority projects in one simple dashboard.

  • Workload, to see the amount of work each of my employees has on them for a given project, to ensure they're not being overloaded or setup to be burnt out.





2. Slack (Internal Communication)


Slack is a beautiful software that helps us quickly communicate across our entire team so everyone is kept on the same page. You can also create specific chat channels so individual teams don't get bogged down with other conversations that aren't relevant to them.

Inside the Slack user-interface

My Favorite Features

  • Integrations, for quickly receiving automated updates from other programs. I.E. Whenever someone completes an Asana task I assign to them, I can choose to be notified via a direct message inside of Slack.

  • Dark mode and added theme customization. You can even use your company color palette to create your own custom look!





3. G-Suite (Operational Tools)


The G-Suite is a free alternative to the ever-popular (paid) Microsoft Office that is becoming more and more outdated.


I'm still surprised at the number of people that are unaware of how powerful the G-Suite actually is. It's the backbone of a lot of our company operations, from jotting down quick meeting notes to building elaborate collaborative spreadsheets, G-Suite is about as legit as it gets.


My Favorite Features

  • Real-Time Collaboration. Since all of their services are in the cloud, it's extremely helpful to be able to have multiple team-members working inside of the same documents at the exact same time.

  • Triggering Events. Because of the live updates docs and sheets receive, I can use them to create triggers and push data to other systems.





4. MailChimp (Mass E-mail Communication)


Tried and true, MailChimp has been the go-to for e-mail based communications for a number of years now, and with good reason.


Whether you're just following up with your clients on services you provided for them, or are sending out sales offers, their free plan is a great place to get started and can scale with you as you grow your business.


The Free plan includes up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month, with a daily send limit of 2,000.


My Favorite Features

  • The ability to create automations based on users actions

  • Creating segments and groups specific to where someone is inside of your sales funnel. For example, this can help you avoid emailing a long-time customer with a "thanks for your first purchase with us" type of email.




5. Zapier (Automation)


Oh, man! Now we're talking!


Zapier has been one of my go-to services for a little over a year now and I can safely say that it has made my job (and life) so much easier.


If you're unfamiliar with this type of #automation, Zapier can create triggers and actions inside of a wide range of software to automate tasks and push data. Exciting, right?


For example, I have a weekly marketing report that is automatically sent to our Marketing Team inside of their Slack channel every Friday at 3PM so that they can see their most important KPI's for the current week at a glance.


The best part about it? I don't even have to think twice about generating the report and sending it over because it all happens on its own.

We use a service called Databox that does all of the heavy lifting for creating dashboards and pulling in various types of data. Here's how I have the automation workflow configured:it

  1. Databox pushes the stats from Google Analytics to my email address and attaches it as a .PDF.

  2. Zapier is set to trigger an action when is sees an email in my inbox including the very specific criteria I set for the subject line. I.E. "WEEKLY MARKETING REPORT".

  3. When Zapier recognizes the trigger it then sends the attached .PDF file to the "Marketing" Slack channel that I've designated and boom! It's all finished.


You can have up to 5 "zaps" (automations) on the free version of Zapier.


My Favorite Features

  • Tons of applications are supported. Like 1500+.

  • Conditional triggers for more complex automation. "if A happens, trigger B, but if C happens, trigger D"


This is honestly just scratching the surface of the power behind what you can do with Zapier. I have some more advanced Zaps I've configured that include over 10 different triggers and actions, saving that sweet sweet valuable time. Mmmm, tasty!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope that you've learned something new and useful. If you have any specific questions or want me to elaborate on anything I've shared here, please let me know!

©2019 by The Operations Guide.