1. Cloud Computing & Storage
Although the wide plethora of different systems that make up commercial clouds is growing enormously in popularity, many small business and even their more tech friendly startup counterparts are still not using it anywhere near enough.
If you’re just getting your startup off the ground, this has got to be a habit that you don’t fall into for a number of good reasons. For one thing, the cloud, be it in the form of remote storage options, remote computing power and access to powerful hardware tools, gives your little company the potential for access to far more services and tools than you could normally afford as a newly formed startup. All of these become available to you at a relatively low access cost and little in the way of any actual systems maintenance costs.
Furthermore, by buying access to cloud services, you can more cheaply and easily compete with other players in your field who are almost certainly going to do the same thing eventually if they haven’t done so already; it’s better to beat them to the punch.
Finally, the cloud, as provided by companies like Oracle, Microsoft and Google, or on a smaller scale by services like DropBox, makes sharing data, saving information and collaborating internationally with company partners much, much easier than ever before; both information and tools can be shared instantly across numerous different, geographically separated machines.
2. Video Conferencing and Calling
The technology of video calling and conferencing has truly matured during the last few years, and with the wider availability of high speed internet access, more powerful computers and far better video coding and rendering, it has become accessible to even startups with the lowest possible budgets.
This means that you have no effective excuse for not using this powerful communications and collaboration tool in your new business. If you’re doing any sort of partner based work or dealing with employees and contractors that are separated by any sort of distances, using video calling technologies like GoToMeeting, Skype, Intercall and more robust systems like Jabber, maintained by Cisco, can be an enormous cost saver.
Applied well, especially in conjunction with other remote sharing technologies like cloud computing and storage, video conferencing can really allow you to create a completely decentralized location free office. In essence, you could turn your startup into a “micro multinational”, a small business with the international sharing and communications capacities of a much larger company.
3. The Mobile Web
Most of already access the mobile web individually through our numerous personal devices such as smart phones and even tablets. However, taking advantage of it personally is not the same as systematically building it into our startup as an established growth tool.
To do this, you need to develop a more fleshed out philosophy about the mobile web and implement it firmly in your company’s practical activities. What does this mean? For one thing, you should make sure that you and every other employee or partner are mobile connected through 3G, 4G or at least Wi-Fi mobile access through your own or company issued smart devices (tablets, phones). You should be using high quality mobile devices and working together to share a core series of collaborative mobile apps and communication tools so that you can not only be in full contact whenever needed, but also able to work together even if everyone is on the go.
Special company issued phones would be a great idea and you should connect them with at least some startup friendly apps like DropBox, mobile video calling tools (Skype, Tango, ooVoo, etc.), social media mobile apps and finance tracking apps like Mint. All of these would be a great starting point for integrating your startup with the mobile web’s collaborative power.
4. A Mobile Friendly Website
Your startup should be working towards getting itself visible to customers and making sales as quickly as possible. Not only will doing this create some really useful early cash flow that you can support yourself on, it will also develop your brand presence from an early point that builds momentum that much faster as you grow.
One of the key tools for developing this brand visibility is your own company website. But, to take this old and basic business tool a step further, you should focus on creating a site that’s as usable as possible to as many people as possible on all their diverse devices. This means a mobile startup site and you can develop this either by creating a website whose design is mobile responsive (responsive design) creating a redirecting mobile URL of your site (an m. site along with your usual www. Site) or by turning your web presence into a downloadable mobile application through which your fans can pick up the latest your company is offering and even buy it in-app.
Whether your company is still in development or already nicely fleshed out, you need to get it visible and creating actual customers/users/fans as soon as possible, and a flexible, mobile friendly website is the best way to do it.
5. Social Media Presence
Social media isn’t too new but it still gets forgotten by a surprising number of startups, despite being one of the best viral, person-to-person marketing tools ever seen. For a newly founded –or funded—startup, creating a social networking presence is vital.
You need to kick start your social media presence as soon as you have a message to deliver to your target market and a product or service to explain to them. Start with the major social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and work your way into others like LinkedIn (ideal for professional networking) and nicheier, specialized social media that might be just right for your company’s industry. Connect all of your accounts to your actual business site and share updates or content between the two regularly.
With social media, you can slowly build a vase of fans with which you communicate regularly, have conversations and explain what you’re all about. Doing this effectively and sincerely can create willing customers that are ready for your businesses cool new product or service even before it’s on sale.
Best of all, you can use this wide two way conversation between startup and fans to develop a better product by actually testing the water and asking everyone who’s interested about what they’d like to see you sell, how they’d like to see you price it and what would really help them out.