From the CMS and project management platform to data storage and the business phone system, there are several things to consider if you’re to ensure your tech stack can support everything you want your growing business to achieve. Here’s what we think is the perfect tech stack for startups and why.
Brief Intro: What’s a Tech Stack?
For those of you who might not be sure, a tech stack is the collection of software tools and programs that a business needs to run. And of course, as the business grows, so might the tech stack.
So, What’s the Perfect Tech Stack?
Before we start, keep in mind that the specific tech stacks can vary because different businesses specialise in different areas and have their own needs. But, on the whole, startup stacks should consist of:
- A Messaging App
- CRM System
- CMS System
- Accounts/Banking Apps
- HR/Payroll Tools
- Project Management Software
- Social Media Apps
- Analytics Tools
- Secure Data Storage
- Reliable Business Phone System
A Messaging App
Why You Need a Messaging App
From keeping your team in the loop about important company-wide news to building relationships, messaging apps help with internal communication. It’s often more convenient to exchange news via a messaging app than it is to email or hold meetings. Meetings are time-consuming and constantly sending company updates via email can lead to cluttered inboxes and important client emails getting buried beneath this company chatter.
Which Apps are Best and Why?
Slack and Stride are great for startups because their free subscriptions allow you to have every basic functionality you’ll need (such as unlimited users, direct messaging and chat rooms). Plus, their interfaces are user friendly and they offer a variety of different ways for a team to communicate.
With both, you can:
- Send a direct message.
- Message multiple people at once and add additional people after creating that chat.
- Add attachments to your messages.
Hipchat allows you to set custom online/offline statuses, unlike Slack. But, creating multi-person chats is more difficult and notifications are said to be unreliable. In comparison, Slack’s notification system worked well across all devices and included reminders and unread message prompts. This can make Slack a better choice if you want to ensure your team (particularly your remote workers) will always be kept in the loop.
Why You Need a CRM
A CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) ensures that businesses can easily manage its relationships and all the data associated with them - for example, prospect and customer contact information. A CRM allows your entire team to better manage everything they need to drive success.
Which CRMs are Best and Why?
InfusionSoft and HubSpot are two of the most popular CRM systems. Both are great at contact management and help you close more leads, but HubSpot offers a more user friendly interface. It’s also suitable for a variety of industries as it’s an all-in-one marketing suite, featuring a built-in CMS tool and over 150 integrations.
In contrast, InfusionSoft is better suited for eCommerce businesses as it offers a built-in shopping cart feature and order forms - something that HubSpot doesn’t offer (though there is the new Shopify integration).
Why You Need a CMS
A Content Management System lets you alter your website easily, add new web pages and share blog content. Content is key to a growing business because it helps you get your message out there and establish a name for yourself - if you can get your content to rank on search engines. A good CMS makes the publishing of your content much easier and cost effective. This is why they’re essential.
Which CMSs are Best and Why?
WordPress is the most well-known platform and accounts for 25 percent of all sites out there on the web. With its many custom plugins, themes and third party tools, it’s a favourite of many businesses.
HubSpot is another CMS that’s growing in popularity. One of the great things about HubSpot is that it’s an all-inclusive marketing suite - meaning that it offers all the tools you might need for your marketing strategy, from blogging to analytics. It even has CRM capabilities which is ideal if you want to keep your sales and marketing data streamlined.
Why You Need Accounts/Banking Tools
You might be fine without an accounts tool if your business only has a handful of employees. But as your business grows, you’re going to need one if you’re going to stay on top of your finances.
Which Accounts/Banking Tools are Best and Why?
Zoho Books and Xero are two great tools for startups. Both have intuitive dashboards that break down your data into easy-to-read summaries. They also come with handy features, such as bank integration, custom invoice creations and tracking tools so you can accurately follow your billable hours.
However, Zoho Books offers multi-currency and multi-language support while Xero only offers it in their Premium package. Xero’s top tier package is more expensive than Zoho Books, but it offers a greater range of sophisticated features, such as advisory tools designed for your accountant. This makes Xero a better investment for a fast growing company.
Why You Need a HR/Payroll Tool
Similar to an accounts tool, your company might be able to stay on top of payroll and employee details when you have a small team. But as you grow, it can be difficult to manage them all. HR/payroll tools can help you stay organised. They can help delay the need to have a dedicated employee just for HR and Payroll.
Which HR/Payroll Tools are Best and Why?
Gusto and FreeAgent are two of the best payroll providers for small businesses. Gusto appears to be more suited for fast growing companies as it offers a wider range of features - such as lifetime accounts for employees, multiple pay rates and payroll on autopilot. However, FreeAgent has PayPal, Stripe and GoCardless integrations and a universal plan, in contrast to Gusto’s three pricing plans. See which suits your particular needs best.
Project Management Software
Why You Need a Project Management Platform
To-do lists and post-it notes might be the epitome of a busy office worker, but if you want to ensure maximum productivity across the team, you need to be using a project management platform. Otherwise, teams might be working on tasks at different paces which can lead to miscommunication and inefficiency.
Which Project Management Platforms are Best and Why?
Trello and Basecamp are great choices for startups because of their intuitive, user friendly interfaces. Trello, with its focus on visual display boards, is best for smaller teams. The drag and drop cards are interactive and allow teams to keep track of task details. But Trello’s task boards aren’t suited for complex projects.
Basecamp is comprehensive yet straight forward, offering communication and collaboration tools. Although it’s not as easy to use as Trello, it’s still highly user friendly and caters for more complex and detailed projects. It’s more expensive than Trello, but is a great investment for companies who are looking to grow. Here’s ours, for example.
Social Media Apps
Why You Need Social Media Tools
Social media tools are essential if you want to save time and effort when you’re scheduling posts. Without such tools, you’d have to open up multiple tabs on a browser, log into different social media accounts and construct separate posts.
Which Social Media Tools are Best and Why?
Hootsuite and Buffer are platforms that allow you to create and track social media campaigns. You can manage multiple social channels at once and analyse the content you’ve posted.
However because Hootsuite is a social media management tool, it’s better at managing while Buffer is a content publishing platform so it’s better if you just want to schedule and publish posts. Hootsuite lets you engage with the content you’ve posted, such as replying and retweeting. Buffer doesn’t let you respond to content but you can schedule retweets. Ultimately, the tool you pick depends on what you want from a business perspective.
And if you want some tips, CoSchedule is a great site.
Why You Need Analytics Tools
It’s all well and good posting content and carrying out a marketing campaign. But if you didn’t track and analyse your progress, you wouldn’t know how well you were doing. And that would mean you wouldn’t know how or where to improve. That’s why you need an analytics tool.
Which Analytics Tools are Best and Why?
Google Analytics is the most popular digital analytics tools. Ideal for businesses of all sizes, it allows you to analyse details about your website’s visitors in depth, such as where they came from, how long they stayed and what device they used. More sophisticated features such as Advanced Segments let you classify your visitors based on how they react to your site. This level of detail provides you with the valuable insight you need to ensure your business keeps succeeding.
Secure Data Storage
Why You Need Data Storage
Businesses of all sizes need somewhere to store their data. Using only physical hard drives is a thing of the past now and many businesses prefer cloud-based software because of a variety of benefits. These include team collaboration, data can be easily moved around, increased data security and team members are able to work from anywhere.
Which Data Storage Tools are Best and Why?
G Suite and Office 365 are two of the most popular cloud-based tools and many startups may wonder which is better. Office 365 offers more plans than G Suite but that doesn’t make it the better choice. It depends on what your business needs and how it works. For example, if you’re constantly working with Microsoft documents, Office 365 will be better (G Suite allows you to convert documents but it’s more convenient to use a MS tool).
But, G Suite is designed to be run in-browser (which can reduce hardware costs) and offers unlimited file and email storage as long as you buy five or more G Suite accounts. In contrast, Office 365 plans cap at 1TB. In addition, the more affordable Office 365 plans cap the numbers of users to 300 while there’s no limit with G Suite plans. There are many more reasons but ultimately, it depends on what your business needs.
Reliable Business Phone System
Why You Need a Reliable Business Phone System
Phone comms are still a key part of business and help forge more ways for companies to connect with their customers. But you do need to ensure you pick the right one.
Traditional landlines come with long, expensive contracts and needs new hardware every time you take on a new hire. But there are other options.
Which Business Phone Systems are Best and Why?
Cloud-based phone systems and internet based phone providers (known as “VOIP”) are popular choices. Although both require an internet connection, there are some key differences.
VOIP allows you to get phone service delivered through your internet connection instead of a local phone company. A cloud-based phone system allows you to get phone service through an app. So, unlike VOIP, you don’t need a business phone. You can use your own device.
Both business phone systems are preferable to the traditional landline but a cloud-based phone system is arguably more suitable for startups primarily because they allow your team to make and receive business calls wherever they are. Plus, you can switch between local, national and even international phone numbers so your business can seem much bigger than it actually is to your customers.
Want to Find Out More About Choosing the Best Business Phone System?
It’s essential you choose the best business phone system for your company needs and goals. We touched on it briefly earlier, but if you’d like to learn more, download our free guide to Choosing a Phone System below.