Authors Posts by Avishai Sam Bitton

Avishai Sam Bitton

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Hi, my name is Avishai. I am the Founder of Oribi. I love Internet Startups, PC gaming, Star Wars, Blogging, Photography, LinkedIn and Chess. Feel free to drop me a message and connect with me on all the socials, you will be surprised by the amount of free advice I giveaway.

It is often suggested that we don’t communicate as much now that we are all “glued to our phones,” but I would like to argue that the opposite is true. There are now more ways to communicate than ever (which is not necessarily a good thing, but that’s for another time) and the real struggle is working out what is and isn’t worth your time.

A lot of social chatting apps, such as Kik (remember that!) and the classic Whatsapp, have been critiqued to death, and there has, of late, been a trend for apps that are specifically for teams or businesses to use on projects. As easy to use as Facebook Messenger is, it’s not wholly appropriate for work messages, and Whatsapp would require you to have the phone numbers of all of your colleagues (and for them to have yours. No thank you!).

Two of the big dogs of team communication are Slack and HipChat, but which is the right one for you and why should you care about them?

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The first reason that these services are a great investment is that email is not always practical when you are trying to have a back-and-forth discussion about something. Reply-all emails are not the solution and can be hard to follow, whereas instant messages are much more user-friendly and evoke a lot more idea sharing and collaborative thinking.

Furthermore, they can be accessed on a variety of devices, quickly and easily. For example, both Slack and HipChat have native apps on iOS and Android, as well as Windows and Mac desktop apps and a web browser version for those reluctant to download anything. The messages are kept updated across all versions so you can simply pick up a conversation on whatever device is closest at any time.

File sharing is also a great reason to use apps such as these. With simple sharing of photos, documents, and videos, it saves time sending across devices, especially for those quick things you want to send for immediate feedback.

One of the biggest differences in the two apps is their pricing. Slack offers a free tier which keeps your 10,000 most recent messages and allows you to integrate up to ten apps and services. You can also use voice and video calls between two people, and each person gets 5GB of storage. The next tier is the standard and costs $8 per active user per month if billed monthly, or a reduction to $6.67 if paid annually. This doubles the storage per person, allows unlimited app integration, searchable message archive, and priority support. Finally, the Plus membership which has a whole host of perks including 24/7 support (with a guaranteed 4-hour response) and 2-GB file storage per person.

The important thing to note here is that Slack charges per active user, which means that even if you sign your whole staff up if someone doesn’t use it, you don’t pay! They are also pretty generous in helping out nonprofits and educational establishments with special rates.

HipChat has a much simpler payment plan, with the Basic plan being free, and the Plus plan costing $2 per user per month. For the extra money, you get unlimited file storage (as opposed to the 5GB available with free) and unlimited searchable message history where the free plan has 25,000 messages. You can also share screens with the group and video chat too, on the Plus plan.

Slack is used by such big names as Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Ticketmaster, Linkedin, Time and Airbnb, whereas HipChat’s list is not quite as extensive but still impressive, with Fitbit, Squarespace, and Expedia using their app.

There are two huge areas in which the two differ greatly and looking at reviews, are the most polarizing aspects. The first is the design of both. Although customizable, many prefer HipChat’s interface as it is less “messy” than Slack, although they do both take some getting used to. For example, Slack doesn’t use capital letters for names of channels, groups or users (oh, these creative types!) which is a bugbear for some, as is differentiating between channels and groups at all!

That said, HipChat is not known for its reliability – an important aspect when you are working on something important. Slack, on the other hand, is quick to load and easy to use with reliable servers.

Both seem very secure, although Slack do operate a lot of extra compliance and assurance programs to really ensure data is kept safe.

Although on the surface both apps seem to do exactly the same, there are some unique features to them both.

For example, it may seem small, but there is a lot of love for HipChat’s ability to have custom online/offline status’ – something that is not yet enabled in Slack.

One of Slack’s best features is Slackbot, which is not only designed to help you around the app but also can be used as an online todo list to yourself and by using ‘/reminder’ can even be used to set reminders for certain days and times. In fact, notifications on Slack are exemplary. You can set your own highlight/notification words which will let you know whenever particular things are said and by @’ing a member of the chat, they will receive a specific notification. In fact, you can set your status to ‘Busy’ which will mute all notifications unless your name is mentioned – great for those chats that go off topic!

Link expansion on Slack is also particularly aesthetically pleasing and makes seeing what is being sent, a lot easier. There is also the option to ‘pin’ specific messages or documents to the top of a group or channel, to keep order and organization.

Although both have their merits, Slack really does streak ahead of HipChat. The slightly busier user face aside, the support is great, notifications go above and beyond, and it is really user-friendly – particularly with customization and extra features. Also, although ‘Slack’ isn’t the coolest of names, ‘HipChat’ sounds like it was ironically named by someone’s grandpa!

The process of running a new startup business has become more and more common in recent years. People are beginning to realize that all the resources are out there to launch their own startups whenever they want. Of course, it’s not exactly easy, but it’s something that is certainly more doable than it was a decade ago. Because of that, many more people are taking the plunge and choosing to launch their own businesses.

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There are plenty of important areas when it comes to running and managing a business. And the most essential one is payment methods. Companies need to be as flexible as possible because this is how they secure sales and repeat business. And the good news for business owners is that technology is rapidly changing the face of modern business. Thanks to developments there are now multiple payment options that small companies can offer their customers. As well as the regular card and cash payments, there are also payment processing services such as Square and Stripe.

These have emerged over the past couple of years as two of the most popular and important payment processing services. Plenty of business owners around the world are making full use of them as much as possible. They have even had endorsement from big-name brands such as Starbucks! But, which is better, and which is right for what sort of business? Let’s investigate below by looking at the differences between the two to get an idea of which is the preferable choice.

What is Square and How Does it Work?

Square, Inc., to give the company its full title, is a financial services merchant that began as a mobile payment system. It was perfect for individuals in services based businesses, such as electricians, plumbers, and fast food trucks. The idea being that it made the whole payment process much easier. These people were able to take credit and debit card payments safely and securely, using simply their phones.

The company was co-founded by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2010. And it started as a modest system to help small businesses operate on the go. It provided free adapt era that could be used remotely to take payments, and there was a fixed-rate processing fee. Since then the company has progressed and developed along with society. In 2013 they released the Square Stand, which allows businesses to use their iPads as registers. This has led to the company making headway with accredited businesses as well.

Square has obviously proven a huge hit in the business world, especially among small businesses. And it was recently valued in the region of $5 billion! The future looks bright for Square, and my well expand to service other nations outside of the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan!

What is Stripe and How Does it Work?

As we know, Square provides mobile debit/credit card processing, but Stripe is a different kettle of fish. This is a service that provides solutions for web-based merchants. It is purely focused on online transactions rather than face-to-face payments. For that reason, it’s ideal for companies with an online store and strong internet presence.

In recent years we have seen a massive increase in the popularity of online shopping, and how widespread it is now. There’s no doubt that Internet shopping is winning the war against the high street. For that reason, Stripe has never been in a stronger position than it currently is. The service is invaluable for online developers who want to integrate payment processing options on their websites and stores. Anything from gig tickets to electronics can be bought using Stripe.

Stripe charges a higher transaction fee than Square, and this is likely due to the online nature and the increased risk of fraudulent use. However, there are plenty of benefits to Stripe, and, being valued at $3.5 billion shows how popular and successful the service is.

In Closing

So, looking at the two different methods, it’s easy to see the advantages of both. But which is better? Well, the answer to that largely depends on the business you run. If you are a services based business, and you’re on the move at all times, Square is perfect. However, if you are a brick-and-mortar company with an online presence, you will want to try Stripe instead.

Q3 is right around the corner and I haven’t posted anything useful in a very long time.  I decided the best way to bring Startup Bloggers readers some real value is to recommend 2 posts that are must reads for any entrepreneur.

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1. How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

SEO is still alive and kicking and Viper Chill shows us how the big names continue to get unlimited amounts of free search traffic.

2.  The 2017 Guide For Growing Your Email List 1K in 30 Days

SumoMe is one of my favorite products, they also have an amazing blog with really great content regarding email lists, and this specific post is one of their finest pieces of content.

Did you find these posts useful? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!

Currently there are four website builders that seem to be jostling for the top space; these bring Jimdo, Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. Therefore it is difficult to know which to pick particularly as they can be worlds apart although very similar in looks. So how should you make the choice? Trying all of the website builders out can be draining therefore this article will summarize the pros of each saving you the time and energy allowing you to eliminate those that do not suit your needs.

How popular are they?

The popularity factor of a website builder should not really have bearing on your decision and it is more of an interest, before we look at the pros and let’s see how the top for website builders are currently trending on Google:

  1. Wix
  2. Squarespace
  3. Weebly
  4. Jimdo

From this we can deduce that Wix is getting the most online searches and this is hardly surprising as they are responsible for publishing nearly 80 million websites.

Let’s now take a look at the pros and cons that have been suggested by users of these website builders, and this should be able to give you a better idea of whether they would be the right choice for you.

Wix

Professional templates

Wix is able to offer customers over 510 professional templates to choose from or alternatively it is possible for customers to create their own unique design. The templates offered by Wix are already formatted, structured and populated with content so it is easy to just pick your favorite one. All of the templates are completely user ready.

Drag and Drop Interface

Wix is simple to use, customers just need to drop and drag the elements that they need, for example images, text etc and place them where they are needed and there are no restrictions of where these elements are placed.

Help and Support

Wix offers phenomenal support and users have the option to click on the main help button which is located at the top of the page, and every element used also has a unique help button. Wix also offers email and phone support if you need further in depth help

Squarespace

Designer templates

Squarespace offers mobile responsive designer templates that are designed to get attention. Their templates are minimalistic, clean and sophisticated with high quality finish and give the impression that months have been spent building and polishing them.

Responsive interface

Squarespace allows the user to resize their browser and content including images, text etc and it will adjust automatically to provide optimized viewing. This is a must if users are going to be accessing your site using a mobile device.

Styling

Squarespace provides comprehensive styling options which most of the other website builders don’t unless you know how to edit codes. Squarespace offers a style editor that makes it easy to undertake custom styling without the need for codes; this covers everything from the background images to thumbnails.

Weebly

User Friendly Website Builder

Weebly does not overwhelm the user with lots of complicated, fancy choices, the users are provided with the necessary basics. Weebly’s interface is very spontaneous to use which is perfect for all levels of users particularly if you worry about technology related tasks. It is possible to build an above average website within an hour.

Mobile Responsive Templates

Weebly’s latest templates are all mobile receptive so the website looks professionally regardless of how it is being viewed. Making changes to the templates are easy as content can be automatically changed from one template to another which gives the user ultimate flexibility.

Pre – designed Page Layouts

If you have no idea where to start with regards to page layouts, Weebly has over 40 pre set pages to get users started. They have a good choice of popular layouts for the home, about, contact etc pages.

Jimdo

Strong online Store Tools

The ecommerce tools offered by Jimdo provide support in terms of inventory tracking, orders in and out and pre set email responses to customers. The user can also set up discount codes for promotions and tag additional products for cross selling. Jimdo makes managing an online store simple and this is why it stands out from its competitors.

Free Platform

JimdoFree is a free platform which provides the user with enough tools to build a comprehensive functional website, there is no pressure to upgrade to a paid platform and there are no time limits on how long you can be a free user.

Community Forum

Jimdo has a huge multi lingual community forum facility allowing users to post questions and find answers from fellow users and the forum moderators.

It all depends on your needs

As you can see all of the website builders have their own strengths, however my recommendations based on what you may be looking to produce would be as follows:

  1. Ease of use – Wix or Weebly
  2. Style and professional design – Squarespace (promotion code) and Wix
  3. eCommerce builder – Wix, Squarespace or Weebly

If you are looking for direct comparisons between Wix & Weebly you should check out the following:

Weebly vs Wix – the key differences for startups

When it comes down to making a choice I suggest that you sign up for a free account with at least two of the providers and test them. This is the only way that you can really get a feel for what works best for you.

It is true that building is an investment of time and money, more so a time investment therefore it is vital that you conduct your own due diligence and check which website builder you are most comfortable with.

As you probably know by now, raising capital is no easy task. Despite this, there are a range of things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance. Here are our 12 tips.

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Decide on the size of your business

Whether you’re building a business to make big bucks or a smaller company that will provide financial security, you need to be clear about what you’re looking to achieve. The two are very different paths and you need to choose one.

Location, location, location

So you’ve decided whether you’re looking to create a small, local business or take on the world. If it’s the latter you may well need to move. Raising money for a high impact business cannot be done from just anywhere.

Get involved

It needn’t matter if you have little to no experience as an entrepreneur. To get into the entrepreneur game and make a big impact you should immerse yourself in the world of successful entrepreneurs. Attend conferences, network and as questions.

The team is all important

One of the most important things you can work on is your team. Having a team that is capable and invested in what your company is about can make a world of difference. It’s when they come under pressure that you’ll be able to see how functional they really are.

Choose your mentor wisely

While you will undoubtedly pick up some great advice from those who run billion dollar corporations, it may not be particularly relevant to your business. Finding someone who has been successful in your area is certainly beneficial.

Work hard, play hard

Working hard and playing hard should go hand in hand. It’s okay to have fun with your business – sometimes that’s what provides the best ideas. Experiment with your business and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Failure happens

Not every idea you have is a winner – that is the same for everyone. If it doesn’t work, look at how you can change it. Alternatively, look at other ideas. Every entrepreneur fails at some point and this can often provide the greatest lessons.

Know your stuff

Take the time to learn the various terminologies – everything from how venture deals work to how you should value your business. By improving your understanding of what you’re worth, you have a better chance of attaining deals in the future.

Don’t do cold calling

It may seem like showing initiative, but requesting funds from every single investor is something many people already waste time on. A lot of business plans go unread. Try to be selective and try to get a relevant referral.

Know your space

This one is all about having situational awareness. It’s important that you know who your competitors are and what they’re doing which is easy enough thanks to the internet.

Investing more than money

Having someone write out a check is certainly great news. Regardless, there are a range of other investment options available – many of which offer more than money. that offer much more than money. This can include mentorship, classes and services.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself

Again, failure does happen. What’s important is how you react when you do have a setback. Those who take the time to change things up and further improve tend to be successful.

Handling projects without project management software in the 21st century is often an uphill struggle. Good intentions and a well-planned strategy don’t necessarily guarantee success. Just one mistake can ruin months of hard work. One way to better the chances of your small business is to find good project management software. The following 6 are all great options. What’s more, they’re free.

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10. Zoho Projects

With Zoho Projects you can have an unlimited number of users. While there is a 10MB storage limit, there are absolutely no limits on functionality in the free version. There is an option for users to upgrade for the cost of $20 per month.

Pros

A long list of features has led to Zoho Projects being compared to the likes of Facebook in terms of its intuitiveness. Waterfall enthusiasts will appreciate the various Gantt chart options which let users set more complex tasks as well as milestones. Furthermore, Zoho Projects offers the option of timesheets and reporting. Creating reports needn’t be complex as it’s possible to select from 50 templates.

Cons

The main disadvantage is that free users don’t get to try out the document management system of Zoho Projects’ due to the 10MB limit in storage. The paid versions offer between 5-30GB.

9. BamBam!

It may be that you haven’t come across this particular project management software before. But that doesn’t BamBam! shouldn’t be seriously considered. With this option you can complete as many projects as you want, and there’s no limit on disk space. However it does limit its free version to a maximum of 10 users. If you’re looking to upgrade, it’s at least $70 per month to add more users.

Pros

Optimized for Agile development, BamBam! doesn’t limit storage and features time and issue tracking. It does integrate with other applications from BamBam’s parent company, 84Kids. These include time tracking with Chime and code hosting and deployments with Springloops. With its top SSH performance encryption, BamBam! claims that they’ve not once recorded data loss since the launch of the suite in 2006. Lastly, BamBam! gives the option of user permissions and lets project managers invite their clients to monitor the progression of their projects.

Cons

There’s no compatibility with any other project management method due to BamBam! being specifically designed for Agile.

8. Bitrix24

Completely free for up to 12 users, Bitrix24 is a project management system with features that rival PM’s current software BaseCamp. There’s an option to upgrade for over $99 per month.

Pros

Users have the option of whether they want to use the cloud or self-host via the Bitrix24’s very own server.  Some of the PM features are particularly good with Gantt charts as well as layered task options. There’s also time tracking and time management and even the option of employee workload planning. Communication can easily be made thanks to features such as group chat, video calls and instant messaging. There’s even an alternative to DropBox. 5GB of cloud storage for free allows easy document sharing while an additional GB can be added for as little as 25¢a month. Some of the most recent updates include an employee work planning tool which allows managers to assign hours to specific tasks and then compare those to the hours used by the employee. There’s also the option of creating task templates containing subtasks and checklists.

Cons

The free version may be somewhat limiting for some small businesses largely because of the limits on user profiles. The $99 price tag may put off those who are strapped for cash. Also, Bitrix24 doesn’t yet allow task dependencies or indeed an automatic way of creating invoices. However these features are coming in Autumn of 2015.

7. Trello

Trello uses Kanban, a method for a project management system that allows its users to move cards based on tasks to create a visual picture of a project’s development. It allows unlimited projects and users but there is a limit of 10MB storage on the free version. However upgrading to Trello Gold is easy. Simply get a new user to join and your storage will go up to 250MB for a year. Otherwise it’s just $5 a month or $45 for the year.

Pros

You’ll be hard pressed to find project management software that’s as intuitive as Trello. It’s interface is simple – the alignment of cards simply shows users what stage a project is at and what’s up next. The front of a card typically has a task label while the back can have all sorts of information from who’s working on the task to when it’s due. Trello also provides a calendar enabling everyone to work together on projects with ease.

Cons

Trello’s simplicity means that it is missing some key features. There’s no good way in which a user can explore a project with a high level of detail. Task lists cannot be seen broken down by user or due date.

6. 2-Plan Project Management Software

2-Plan certainly stands out thanks to its three free symbiotic programs which are 2-Plan Desktop (a project management-system), 2-Plan Team (a project management tool that’s web-based and has multiple hosting options) and Work 2-gether (a task management board for projects by one team). All of the aforementioned options are free but some users may wish to pay for the extensions.

Pros

There are a wealth of features with 2-Plan. Just some of these include creating animated graphical WBS, building control systems for projects and crafting project milestones – and this is just on the desktop version. With 2-Plan Team off-campus teams can easily coordinate as well as track time on particular tasks. Meanwhile Work 2-gether can be compared to Trello in the sense that it also used the Kanban system. The pro accounts are fairly priced – to upgrade Work 2-gether fully it’s just $15 a month.

Cons

While 2-Plan does offer a vast array of features, some of them can become overwhelming for teams that lack time for reading the heavy manuals. What’s more the free option is somewhat limited. For example, Work-2gether only allows businesses to use two taskboards with the free option while the team size is limited to just three.

5. Asana

With approximately 40,000 customers and a whopping 400,000 users, it’s fair to say that Asana is very highly regarded and perhaps one of the most popular apps for project management. It’s also free for up to 15 users.

Pros

Asana was designed by Dustin Moskovitz – the co-founder of a little known social network called Facebook. Needless to say the task-management system is incredibly intuitive and works particularly well for teams that are looking for interaction in real-time. With Asana, users are able to visualize goals, track time, provide tasks with priorities and have updates on the project from within the program. There’s also a calendar to mark the tasks on the dashboard itself. On top of this Asana has also added an Android app. This let users convert tasks to projects, have conversations and use dashboards. It’s constantly adding new features.

Cons

One of the main disadvantages of Asana is that it doesn’t allow offline use. Another negative for some is that it’s not always as intuitive as it could be – making it difficult to find things.

4. MeisterTask

MeisterTask offers unlimited users and projects. It also has apps for both iPhone and iPad. Free users are given two integrations (for example Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive and Zendesk).

Pros

From time tracking to issue tracking and collaboration with internal and external users, MeisterTask has all of the important features you could wish for. Exchanging files is no problem since there’s no storage limit. The project boards allow versatility depending on which methodology is being used. They’re also customisable allowing teams to create Kanban, Scrum or even a mix of forms. Also, the layout is particularly easy on the eyes while the Trello-style communication is super simple and has instant updates.

Cons

MeisterTask is still in its relatively early stages so there are many projects which simply haven’t reached launch yet. These include Gantt charts, CCPM, Toggl integration and an Android app.

3. GanttProject

Another free open-source project scheduling and management tool, it has been compared to Microsoft Project due to the features offered and its overall complexity. The GanttProject system is able to generate Gantt and PERT charts as well as produce HTML and PDF formatted reports. Its scheduling and time management tools are very versatile.

Pros

In theory, there’s no limit to what can be done with GanttProject. Users can quickly create schedules that are structured for any project. Task assignment and the implementation of milestones are both offered. Project managers are able to identify problems within the workflow thanks to the open-source software, meaning companies can target areas to improve on.

Cons

If you’re unfamiliar with project management software then GanttProject is probably not for you. It has been said to be overwhelming while the only support available is via the online forums.

2. Producteev

With free unlimited users and projects, there may be no reason for some users to upgrade to Pro unless they require Outlook integration or personalized support. Producteev has many features including allowing users to create tasks in multiple task lists, real-time communication among users, measurement of results and progress tracking. It also lets users easily transform emails into tasks.

Pros

One of the biggest advantages of Producteev is that it’s very easy to navigate, while features and functions are self-explanatory. Filtering tasks by people, project, deadline and so on is very helpful. Simple file sharing is possible through attachments or the likes of DropBox.

Cons

Although excellent, there are some drawbacks. For example, it is missing some features such as integrated billing software and time tracking.

1. Freedcamp

With so many fantastic features, it’s no wonder that Freedcamp takes top spot on this list of the top 10 free and open source project management software. For a start, unlimited users and projects is a big plus. Its beautiful design with countless functions is a joy to use and its simple communication is particularly noteworthy. There’s 200MB of storage for free and it’s just $2.49 a month to upgrade to 1GB.

Pros

Businesses that are looking to progress over time will love Freedcamp. The free version can last businesses a long time while upgrade is very cheap indeed. One example is add-on components which start at $2.99 for GoogleDrive integration. Meanwhile storage upgrades can be purchased for as little as $2.49 for 1GB. However the free version is perfectly fine. Administrators have a great deal of control being able to limit the permissions of users right down to clients. The software also offers time tracking, various templates and invoicing. Users never need to fall behind because discreet notifications pop up when updates are available. Although there’s no mobile app Freedcamp’s website is optimized for mobiles.

Cons

Some people have said that there may be a learning curve in terms of the site navigation while others have claimed they’ve been unable to save multiple milestones at the same time. Some missing features include Gantt charts and subtasks.

As your business grows, it becomes more and more vital that you have impeccable customer service.

For even small companies can benefit from the right customer relationship management, though many believe that they are too small or too small-time to really utilize CRM software. This is completely false. When it comes to CRM, the only requirement is that you have customers that need to be contacted, questions and complaints that need to be handled, and the knowledge that software handling your customer relations is sometimes the best course of action. Zoho Vs. SugarCRM vs. Sales Force While it may seem logical to keep your CRM in house and to handle it on your own, since you know your company better than anyone, the reality is that technology like CRM software makes your life a hundred time easier. It does more than just stay on top of your contacts. It keeps track of your marketing, of your sale numbers, of email listings, and even your documents. And when it comes to CRM systems, there are none better than Zoho, Salesforce, and SugarCRM. But which is right for your business? We have the side by side comparison to help you find the right software for all of your customer relationship management needs.Customer Management System Each software is going to be rated by what features it has, how accessible it is, how expensive it is, and how easy it is to customize it to your business. You already know how important it is to be able to customize things to your needs—the same goes for CRM. Ready to start? Here is our comparison of Zoho, Salesforce and SugarCRM

Zoho

Zoho was one of the first customer relationship management software to hit the shelves. In operation since 2006, it’s eight years of experience show in the way that it evolves and operates. With lots of different features to choose from and the ability to build your own features as necessary, it’s going to be difficult to beat out Zoho in this CRM showdown. Like any software, however, it does have its own drawbacks and limitations, but there are plenty of options, even for those who only want to utilize the free version.

What It Does

When it comes to CRM, you want something full-service. You want it to both capture leads and make your life easier and more productive. You want things to be streamlined and you do not want to have to worry about whether or not your CRM is working, even if you are not prompting it to. This is the beauty of Zoho. Zoho is on and working to improve your business relationships, whether or not you are in the office. You get real-time tracking and real-time reports on individual customers, not just on your base as a whole. Did one of your customers come to your website, put some things in the cart, and then leave? Zoho will let you know, even pinpointing where each customer is on the sales funnel. You can even keep track of your competitors, see what they are doing and learn how to utilize it for your business. It even keeps you up to date with all of your social media profiles. Now more than ever, it is vital that you stay on top of social media, not just keeping your page updated, but replying to questions and concerns that your customers leave there. From sending invites to connecting with customers, you are covered with Zoho.

How It Does It

Zoho takes CRM into the cloud, keeping all of your information safely stored on the web, so even if your physical system crashes, you’ve got all of your customer information and data completely backed up, ready to go. That also means that you’ve got your customer relationship management wherever you go. Like most people, you are probably more mobile than you realize. You want to be able to stay up to date whether you are sitting in your office or on the train home. Business is no longer focused just on a single location. Your business may not even have a single location. If you work from home (and from wherever you have to be at the moment), you want to be able to access your CRM even on your mobile device. Zoho is available on Apple and Android products and even syncs with any Google App, from emails, to docs, to calendars, to tasks.

Price

If you’re an entrepreneur, you are in luck. For up to three users (which could be two more users than there are people in your company), Zoho CRM is completely free. You get everything from lead management to social CRM, for $0/month. If you need more power, there is a standard, professional, and enterprise system, which are $12, $20, and $35/month/user respectively. Each step in the plan has more features and makes your life even more productive.

Customizability

Zoho is probably one of the most customizable pieces of CRM software ever made. If you need a custom feature, there are developers standing by to make it for you. You can even build your own feature. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0yKvr4BWvA





If you thought that running your business was a fulltime job, just wait until you start marketing that business. While you already know that marketing is absolutely essential, you also know that it can be expensive, and if your startup, like most startups, are strapped for cash, it can be daunting to consider investing what little spare cash you have in what essentially feels like a gamble. These days, however, there are plenty of ways to spread the word about your business without draining your bank account and without that much risk. Here are ten tips to get you started…

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Pick The Right Audience

You might think that casting the widest possible net is the most effective way to find customers, it will actually be more cost effective to find your target audience and to market directly to them. These are the people that will actually want to hear your message. Don’t assume that just because you think everyone can use what you’re selling, everyone is your target market. That will make crafting your marketing message impossible. Really think about the people who will purchase what you have, and if you can, narrow it down to one ideal customer, one pretend person to whom you can tailor all of your marketing materials.

Consider Hiring A Marketing Department

We know you don’t necessarily have the funds to go out and hire a crack team. But you might have the cash to hire on one person who really knows the business and how to build a message that your audience wants to hear. They don’t have to be the Mad Men, they just have to get the job done. Better yet, have everyone in your company start studying up on marketing and marketing methods. This will be cheaper than hiring a new person and because the people already in your startup are probably the most familiar with it, there’s one better to help build your message to the world. Having your marketing in house is much more effective, especially at the startup phase, and will save money in the long run.

Don’t Be Afraid To Partner

In this stage, it’s like that the only people that have heard of your company are your family and friends (no offense). A great, low cost (or no cost) way to get your name out there is to be active in your industry, especially on blogs and forums. Offer to guest post, leave helpful comments, write reviews, and get your business reviewed by others in your field. Generally, established companies will take a liking to new startups and be willing to help them out, hoping that you’ll repay the favor when you’re rich and famous.

Invest In Email Marketing

Email marketing is the grandfather of online marketing—but it’s also still a huge favorite and one of the most effective strategies. And there are plenty of services that will manage this for you, for only a couple of bucks a month. The most important thing to remember with email marketing is not to spam your customers. If they are getting constant emails from you, they will unsubscribe from your list. When implemented correctly, however, with relevant content in a template that is easy to view both on mobile devices and typical computers, it can still be effective.

Work Your Social Media

Everyone is on social media. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but most consumers who are going to be interested in your startup are also going to be on social media. Work those connections! Social media accounts are free, so get your startup’s page online as soon as possible and start filling it with relevant content. Share at least once a day, but no more than three times a day. You don’t want your name to be clogging up the consumer’s screen. When your followers, fans, or friends ask questions, answer them right away!

Become An Industry Authority

Once your website is online, start using it to build your reputation. A blog that pumps out lists of helpful tips relevant to your field, or that writes step-by-step instructions, or has other useful, friendly updates will become a first-stop when someone wants to know something about the field. While it’s nice to have your name recognized at all, you really want it to be recognized for being an expert in the field.

You Can Have A Widespread, Low-Budget Marketing Campaign

It would really boost your company’s profile if you had the budget for the same kinds of marketing campaigns that big companies have. Until you are one of those big companies, you might think you are relegated to small-time marketing. That just isn’t true. Think about what your target audience wants. Would they benefit from an industry-related app? Would they participate in a Facebook contest? Get your following involved and get them to do your marketing for you. Creating something that your followers want to share is the first step to a viral campaign.

Always Be Professional

Our society, even in the business world, is becoming more and more casual. So much so that we have begun to believe that it is alright to casual in our business dealings. How would you feel if you showed up to a business meeting in a suit and tie and the owner of the startup you were meeting with was in jeans and a t-shirt? How you present yourself matters, especially in these early years, when you want to be taken seriously by your industry. Meet your deadlines, dress appropriately for the meeting, and be polite and courteous, even if someone else is not—this is especially important in responding to bad reviews.

Never Leave Home Without A Business Card

Never walk out the door without a few business cards in your pocket. You never know who you are going to run in to, and the last thing you want to do is scribble your name and phone number of a scrap of paper. The same goes for all of your marketing and networking ventures. When building your business, you need to be on and ready to pitch your company one hundred percent of the time. Keep in mind the concept of “elevator pitches.” What if you were on an elevator with a potential investor and only had thirty seconds to introduce yourself, explain your business and convince them to invest? What would you say?

Learn How To Make An Impression

The ultimate goal of all of your marketing endeavors should be to leave an impression. You want to be remembered, in a good away—in a way that makes the viewer want to investigate your company further or even make a purchase. Every industry is saturated with startups, and many may even be in your niche. How do you stand out when it feels like there are so many other companies vying for the same customers? Be clear, concise, and buzz-worthy. Be as unique as possible, but don’t be afraid to look at what your competitors are doing well. If they are succeeding in an area you are not, try to figure out how you can turn what they are doing into something your business can use, too.

Don’t feel overwhelmed! It feels like a lot to heap on top of your other responsibilities, but once you incorporate marketing into your day-to-day life, it will begin to become second nature. It will be easy to market your business because you know what makes sales and what doesn’t. You’ll hone your strategy as time passes, through trial and error and you’ll be seeing the returns in no time!

This post was inspired by an earlier post I wrote on imonomy’s blog

As a startup your manpower resources are limited. Your time is limited too, so there are some tools that become lifesavers. The best tools do cost money, but they pay for themselves by saving your time and by converting more readers into buyers.

Marketing

The most popular tools are not always the best, either in terms of cost or features. You need to look at reviews and think carefully before you commit, especially to an auto-responder. There are other email automation tools that I think are essential and some of these are free for basic users.

Nourish

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Nouri.sh is a free email marketing tool that converts an RSS feed into an email newsletter that your users can sign up for.

RSS is a technology that most people are unfamiliar with, but most blogs still have an RSS feed. Some people would have you believe that RSS is dead. It isn’t, and you can take RSS feeds and make them accessible to more people.

Nourish lets you convert multiple RSS feeds into a newsletter that you can send to people as usual after they subscribe. This gives you a newsletter similar to a Paper.Li one, with branding in the free option the same as Paper.Li.

You do not need a separate auto-responder because there is a built in email management system that sends up to 1,000 emails a month for free.

If yours is a small niche then the free Nouri.sh account is all you will ever need. There are paid plans if you need to send out more emails.

WiseStamp

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WiseStamp is a great way to make your company emails stand out. When you send emails to customers it would be nice to have a way to make them stand out from the crowd.

WiseStamp is simple to use under the Google apps platform. There are personal and company plans so there is a plan that is ideal for every situation. An entrepreneur or blogger can start off with a $4 a month plan with no branding.

All the plans gives you an opportunity to put your photo, phone number, social media contact details and promotional messages at the bottom of every company email you send.

GetResponse

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Every business needs to communicate with its customers and potential customers on a regular basis. Yes, you can send emails through your webhosting service but there are problems. Emails are often opened on phones and tablets, so their design needs to be responsive so that they look good no matter what size of screen they are viewed on.

Free email services have limited or no analytics included, so you never know whether your messages have been opened or deleted. Free services also lack A/B split testing, so improving your open or click-through rate is largely a matter of guesswork.

An auto-responder is the best way to follow up with people who sign up to your email list. It allows you to send sequences of emails that you have carefully designed to lead contacts towards making purchasing decisions.

GetResponse is a superb email marketing system which costs less than other auto-responders and it offers more options than most.

It has email design and auto-responders as you would expect but it also has landing page design, A/B testing and powerful analytics. Everything is integrated into one interface, which makes it much easier to use than popular alternatives that do not have any integral landing page functionality.

Email design is easy by using and customizing any of the hundreds of responsive templates that are available to subscribers.

Being Grateful

I am glad I am a blogger now rather than a few years ago because these tools all make my life so much easier. WiseStamp and Nourish are new services; early adopters will stand out and will be at an advantage, especially with WiseStamp. This is one of those tools you never realized you needed, but once you have it you would never be without it.

GetResponse has been around for a while and is becoming widely recognized among bloggers as one of the prime email marketing and automation services.

Over to You

How do you see these three tools being useful to you? Are there any other email marketing tools that you could not live without? Please share your thoughts using the comments section below.

Email

The cold email is our century’s version of the cold call. Like a cold call, the same trepidation and confusion can stifle the efficacy of your cold emails. But as with any marketing emails, there is a formula that you can use to ensure that your emails are well-received and actually result in better connections and better sales, in the long run. While some people will still swear by the “intro” formula, many business, especially small businesses that do not have the connections they need in order to make intros work properly, are finding that the right cold email can work just as well, if not better, than an intro. If you are looking to improve your marketing emails or the efficacy of your cold emails, we have the ultimate guide.

Set up a system to record who you’ve contacted, at which email address, with which marketing email, and when.

This can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet. The key is to have a record that you can refer back to on a regular basis, first to ensure that you are not emailing the same person over and over, and second, to send out follow-up emails. If you are going to opt for a spreadsheet, make it clean and navigable.

Excel has plenty of tools that make it easy to sort alphabetically, by the date the email was sent, or by the date the follow-up email needs to be sent. Because this is fairly low-tech, however, it will not provide you with reminders. You will have to stay on top of your own follow-up schedule, and because you usually need to wait a couple of days before sending through the follow-up, this can be difficult to stay on top of without a reminder system.

There are plenty of other online tools that you can use to use to remind you to send out emails, but we will get to those in a later section. Even making a simple list of names and addresses, so that you have a record of who has been contacted and who hasn’t and the address you have used to get in touch with them. Organization is key, as the last thing you want to do is bombard a recipient with emails. Getting on top of and staying on top of your system will also help you track your response. Don’t guess—know.

It is also a good way, if you are sending out different types or styles of cold emails to different recipients, to measure and analyze which are working and which aren’t. Though you don’t want to go crazy with A/B testing, it is good to look at what works and what doesn’t and how you can improve your marketing emails.