What’s the most important piece of technology (software or hardware) a new entrepreneur can invest in early and why?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
Rapportive is a free browser extension that enables you to find the person behind any email address in Gmail, including their full name, title, social profiles and more. This is an extremely valuable tool in the early days of your company as you’re seeking out new partnership contacts, business development deals, potential customers and all sorts of people.
2. Google Analytics
Many startups make the mistake of creating a website or blog without setting up basic tracking mechanisms to see how customers are interacting with their sites. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Even if you don’t have the resources today to analyze and act on the data, you should start collecting it from day one so you can use the data down the road. And Google Analytics is free!
3. Amazon Web Services
If you are a technology entrepreneur and you aren’t using AWS, you are probably wasting a lot of valuable time and money. I would personally recommend using its services like OpsWorks, which makes setting up Web environments very, very easy! Also, be sure to look at how well its services can work together and which ones work best for your business.
4. A Project Management System
If you are like me, there are a million projects, tasks and even companies floating around in your mind, inbox and desktop. You need to keep them organized and on task. Track them with a project management system. I personally use Basecamp for my personal projects, as well as within my company. I highly recommend trying a few to find the one that fits your style the best.
5. Any Software or Hardware That Can Boost Efficiency
Any software or hardware that is going to boost you or your team’s efficiency should be an investment. If a piece of software can give you a 10 percent efficiency bump every week, then that’s an extra four to eight hours you can work on something else that’s useful for your business.
6. A High-Quality, Fast Computer
This may seem like a simple tip, but having a reliable, easy-to-transport, FAST computer is one of those things that will save you lots of headaches. When I first started, I went for the most basic, cost-effective model I could find. As a result, having lots of windows/tabs/programs open at once would cause the computer (and therefore me) to slow down. Not worth it!
7. A VoIP Phone System
A VoIP phone system and salesforce.com CRM are great examples. I know someone who used a VoIP phone system to start looking at the metrics of how many calls his sales team was making and comparing it with how many leads came in versus how many closed for each individual. He was happy to see that low call volumes and the average time spent on the phone directly correlated to the close ratio of leads to a sale.
We’ve all read “The Lean Startup” — pivoting and agile development is a necessary part of the journey. At the core, JIRA is a bug-tracking and workflow engine that comprehensively allows development productivity.
9. New Relic and CloudFlare
They always say it’s a good problem to have when your servers go down — it means you’re getting a lot of traffic. Well, yes sure — but no, because it hurts your brand and reputation. Monitor the activity of your servers, and see what you need to optimize to be online 100 percent of the time. Check out services like New Relic, CloudFlare, etc.
10. Email Marketing Software
Once you have the basics — smartphone, computer, etc. — I’d invest in email marketing software. Everyone needs a “warehouse” to store contacts, users, leads, etc. to have a way to communicate with them in the future. Remember: not everyone who comes to your site is ready to buy what you’re selling today. Having a channel to reach them in the future is essential.