As a startup, your bottom line is stretched thin enough. What you need is powerhouse tools and platforms that can accelerate your growth without overextending your funding. In this article, we explore five free tools that will help you with everything from project and social media management to calendar booking. With just these few tools, you can perform an incredibly wide-range of business necessities. Once you have them integrated, performing day-to-day tasks becomes simple, centralized, effective, and productive. Of course, the free version of any tool has its limitations, which can be solved with upgrading to a more powerful pricing tier and version. The platforms we’ve chosen still offer a lot at the free level: they’ll have your company communicating, planning, executing, designing, and posting to highly professional standards with no extra costs.
Trello is the master of project management. Here, small (and even large) teams can manage workflows through comprehensive lists and cards. Whether you’re in the middle of a product sprint or simply trying to plan a design workflow, Trello is easily one of the most effective ways for teams to communicate. The workboard templates are incredibly comprehensive and specific, and can be used by almost any business. The free version gets you: Unlimited cards, unlimited members, unlimited storage, unlimited activity log, and up to 10 boards per Workspace. (And custom backgrounds and stickers just for fun!) https://trello.com/
Hootsuite will execute a comprehensive social media strategy and calendar for you, all for free! Scheduling and reviewing posts across all social networks is simple and intuitive. While analytics are not available with the free plan, you can run multiple social media accounts and schedule a limited number of messages. This limited plan does give you a feel for the dashboard and will serve a startup company well as you grow your audience. The free version gets you: 2 social accounts, 5 scheduled messages, 1 user seat https://www.hootsuite.com/
Calendly is the best way to ensure you get rid of those back-and-forth scheduling emails. With so much going on, calendar conflicts are bound to happen and the calendar of a startup team can very quickly get overwhelmingly complicated. Calendly is the automated scheduling software that syncs with your current calendar to handle all your bookings, reminders and follow-ups. Calendly’s free version is incredibly comprehensive, allowing for unlimited scheduling of meetings through your own personalized booking link. It is the simplest way to simplify your work day, for free. The free version gets you: 1 calendar connection per user, personalized booking link, unlimited scheduled meetings, unlimited one-off meetings, meeting notifications, limited integrations including Google, Slack, Zoom, Google Meets, Office 265, Outlook and iCloud https://calendly.com/
At its core, Slack is a messaging app for businesses. However, more than just a messaging service, it is a communication revolution. It may seem that with the free access to emails, Slack isn’t a necessity. However, Slack has entirely replaced internal email in many organizations. Communication and collaboration become nearly instantaneous with instant messaging, file sharing, direct one-on-one calls, and link sharing. Slack digs your company out of their email box and increases the speed and the organizational quality of information to such a high degree that it has made itself integral to the success of any organization. The free version gets you: messaging, channels and files in search results, 10K of message history, 10 apps and integrations, 5GB of file storage per workspace, 2FA, direct messaging outside of your company, one-to-one calls and limited analytics https://slack.com/
Canva is the easiest way to bring professional designs into small teams (sans dedicated designer). This software allows full customization of templates for social media, presentations, and much more to bring your next pitch deck to the next level and impress potential investors and clients. You can collaborate with other team members, even on the free version, and basically design absolutely anything yourself. The free version gets you: 250,000+ free templates, 100+ design types (social media posts, presentations, letters, and more), hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics, member invites, 5GB cloud storage https://www.canva.com/
We couldn’t close the article without throwing in a bonus platform. Notion is a one-stop shop to centralize information; from organizing and planning to taking notes and building roadmaps, this powerful tool has endless uses. Notion is incredibly customizable and can be altered and modified again and again to fit your team's needs. But the best part is it’s design; the user-interface is intuitive, easy to navigate, and frictionless to use. While not “necessary,” it is a perfect add on and honourable mention in this bonus section. The free version gets you: Unlimited pages & blocks, sharing with 5 guests, syncing across devices, API https://www.notion.so/This week is Small Business Week (October 17-23), an annual celebration of entrepreneurship. Every year, close to 10,000 entrepreneurs gather to learn, network and celebrate the people building businesses across the country. Check out Events this week that will help you and your team build the resources and tools to succeed.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.