Personal Small Business Enterprise

Matching Technology With Your Business Growth: Operating on a Budget

After you’ve gone through the process of honing your business idea using mentors, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, it’s time to start selling your product or service. However, the reality of funding shortfalls may be a hurdle you’re facing, and there are many different ways you can deal with this problem. For example, with little or no financing, many startups begin by bootstrapping – a combination of frugal thinking, creativity and planning. Done right, entrepreneurs can accomplish what needs to be done, even with limited funds.

If you’re looking into bootstrapping at your startup, here are three business tasks that you can do with web-based tools on a shoestring budget:

Project management
If you’re working with partners or a small team during the early bootstrapping phase, you may wonder if you need any project management tools other than a chain of e-mails and a spreadsheet. While it’s possible to get things done using informal assignment of tasks, periodic check-ins etc., small teams usually benefit from a project management system to manage what has been done, what needs to be done, who is doing what and when. Without a project management system, startups can experience duplicated efforts, avoidable delays and communication breakdowns.

In order to obtain affordable, predictable monthly billing and avoid large upfront costs, many startups choose to use online project management tools like Basecamp to manage multiple projects with team members from a centralized location. Many online project management tools are user friendly, intuitive and do not require software installation by any team members.

Traditionally, most startups collaborated from a single geographic location during the bootstrapping phase. Because technology has evolved dramatically over the past decade, there are now many online tools on the market that allow team members from all over the world the ability to collaborate in the cloud and securely share and store files. Many startups turn to affordable cloud-based unified communications services like Office 365 to communicate and collaborate with internal team members. Office 365 provides the ability to have virtual meetings where participants can share and create documents and communicate via text, video and voice chat.

In the early bootstrapping phase of a startup, a lot of entrepreneurs have to crunch the numbers themselves and many encounter accounting or bookkeeping challenges. Even small accounting errors in a startup can potentially become a big problem.

Cloud-based accounting apps are ideal for startups looking for ease of access to their financial information at a low cost. By leveraging the cloud to manage their financial data, entrepreneurs have access to their accounting programs from any location across a wide range of mobile devices. In addition to the standard inclusions – such as payroll, invoicing, deductions, expenses, balance sheets and tax calculations – some applications also offer time tracking (great if you charge per billable hour) and accept online payments from your customers.  Furthermore, financial records are all stored in one place and data is backed up automatically, eliminating the need for version upgrades and maintenance costs.

The bottom line
Starting a business is one of the most exciting times for any entrepreneur, but it does force them to do a lot with very little. Web and cloud-based services and apps can help entrepreneurs cost-effectively accomplish many essential tasks such as project management, collaboration and accounting. By finding the right apps for your business, you can utilize and stretch out your limited financial resources to accomplish the tasks that need to get done.

Tell us about the startup phase of your business. What were some of the creative solutions you did with limited resources?

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