Starting a business is an expensive endeavor. That’s why many first-time entrepreneurs choose to forego the overhead costs of an office and run their businesses from their homes.
Thankfully, the right tech tools can help you efficiently grow your startup from the comfort of your own house, saving you both money and time. Below, 10 Young Entrepreneur Council members shared their best tips for leveraging technology for your home-based business.
Members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer tips for choosing technology to help you run your home-based startup business.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF YEC MEMBERS.
1. Use G-Suite
If you’re non-technical and on a tight budget, there’s nothing better than G-Suite. Email, spreadsheets, written documents, forms, video calling—almost anything you need as you’re launching can be managed via Google’s products, and most are either free or extremely cheap. Assuming you’re a one-person shop, efficiency matters too. The one other piece of software that might be worth investing in is an email optimization tool like Superhuman or Mixmax. These will help you prioritize your inbox. When you’re drowning in work, doing the high-priority things can make all the difference. – Aaron Schwartz, Passport
2. Check The Wi-Fi Situation When You Travel
I’ve worked abroad in emerging markets for 10 years, running billion-dollar financial businesses. These days, being a “nomad entrepreneur” is increasingly the norm. However, before you go dreaming of conference calls held beachside, check your Wi-Fi. In the U.S., we are so used to a strong connection that we lose our minds when it turns off at 30,000 feet in the air. The rest of the world is not so lucky. One of the most important parts of the businesses I run abroad is that they are located in city centers where we can control our Wi-Fi provider. Good companies are built on strong foundations. – Codie Sanchez, Cresco Capital Partners
3. Invest In Multi-Tier Software That Grows With You
One of the most effective ways to leverage tech when you work from home is to make sure that you invest in software that’s able to grow with your business. In other words, start out with a free or beginner version of the software to see if it fits with your business. If so, continue using the software and upgrade to better versions as your company expands. The key is to find technology that grows with you, not one that you have to grow to match. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
4. Streamline Your Tech Stack
Starting out, it’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, but what you need are free Google tools like Google Analytics and Google Drive and a solid task-tracking tool like Asana. Beyond this, make sure you are tracking your finances from day one, and use the Slack free version to keep in touch with employees on the go. These products will have no trouble scaling, and you can add essential human resources and marketing tools as and when they become necessary. There’s nothing wrong with switching tools once your business really starts to thrive, so try to keep your operation light and cost-effective early on. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International
5. Approach Tech With ROI In Mind
With the rapid growth of SaaS solutions on the market, it’s easy to fall victim to dozens of subscription-based products, hoping to boost your business as a result. Start lean instead. Sign up for team collaboration or a messaging platform first. Find a great product-/project-management tool for weekly planning. Then, carefully vet every single application against positive return on investment opportunities. There are loads of enterprise-grade tools we would love to use in the near future. But their potential is unlocked when 50-plus members are fully on board and use them on a daily basis. At a small scale, their efficiency is constrained, while costs remain steep. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
6. Have A Dedicated Space For Your Tech Setup
Even if it’s just a closet or a closed-off part of another room, you need a dedicated workspace. In my case, we used a sunroom that was built as an addition to my office. I have a sit/stand desk, a laptop with a stand, a large monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. I also splurged on a high-end desk chair. I have a second desk with no computer on it in the same room so I can spread out with my notebook and draw or sketch websites I’m building. I use a nice set of floor-standing speakers connected to my computer to play music, and I also have a webcam and a headset in case I need to conference people. Having the room be “your” space and no one else’s is so important, especially when you have a family! – Erica Douglass, 1Up Repairs
7. Tap Into Online Freelancer Sites
Hiring freelancers is a great way to grow your home-based business. Whether you need help on your website, content marketing or social media, you’ll be able to find freelancers to help you grow and can eventually bring some of them on as full-time employees. Some freelancing sites I’ve used in the past were Upwork and LinkedIn’s ProFinder. Once you start converting some of the freelancers into full-time employees, you’ll want to get a messenger system such as Slack to keep you communicating efficiently. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
8. Keep Your Remote Team Synced
You don’t need complicated technology. The simpler the tools, the better, and it applies not only to the new business but to any business. If you are starting your business from home, I assume that you are working with a remote team. And if this is the case, make sure you provide everybody with open access to all the necessary information at any time. Free tools like Google Drive, Slack or Skype could be fine for a start. As your business grows, you’ll see what technology you need to make the workflow more efficient. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. Harness The Power Of Virtual Assistance
Harness the power of virtual assistance to grow and delegate your team long before you’re able to hire full-time employees. I love using sites like Upwork to build teams and departments. Google Voice, a remote receptionist service and online scheduling tools can make a big difference for keeping track of customers. Communication tools like Zoom can help with running meetings with your remote staff and clients. Also consider using free organizational tools like Trello boards to keep track of lists, progress and planning. – Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage
10. Look For Free Project Management Tools
There are so many free tools out there that a startup can use to run their business while working from home, including Slack, Skype, Asana, Trello and Google Docs/Sheets/Analytics. In fact, you can probably find a free tool for just about every business need you might have—but of course, there might be some limitations that come with it. If all your team members are working remotely (like we are at Hubstaff), you should definitely utilize communication and project management tools like Slack and Asana, for example. – Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff