How to Run Your Entire Business with 10 Cloud-Based Tech Tools
Spotlight Analyst Relations co-founder Rick Nash shares how cloud-based solutions drive efficiencies and reduce barriers to entry for startups.
Entrepreneurs have countless expenses to take into consideration when starting a business. When Andrew Hsu and I founded Spotlight four years ago, we knew the company's success hinged on our ability to manage operating costs.
By running our business in the cloud, we have been able to minimize operational expenses and create efficiencies across the organization, while delivering on our promise of exceptional client service. In fact, we run all of our enterprise systems for around $6,000 per year. By comparison, Spotlight gives each of our employees a $100 per month phone stipend, which adds up to $19,200 per year. It’s pretty remarkable what we’ve been able to achieve by leveraging cloud-based technology – and for a fraction of the cost of traditional enterprise systems.
At Spotlight, we use cloud-based platforms for project management, invoicing, email and file storage, human resources and recruiting, and even office security. Here are the 10 cloud-based tools we rely on to keep Spotlight running efficiently and economically.
Asana (Web-based project management tool)
Asana is the project management system from which we run our entire business. It is used to track client projects and workflow, and allows the team to work cross-functionally. We also use Asana for measurement and reporting.
Expensify (Expense management software)
Expensify is a web and mobile application that allows our team to quickly and easily create and manage expense reports. Expensify’s intelligent automation handles our expenses in real-time and integrates seamlessly with other tools we use, like QuickBooks.
BambooHR (HR software & management system)
BambooHR is a hidden gem in terms of cost to value ratio. This tool centralizes employee information and helps streamline HR processes, including hiring, on-boarding, employee training and formal reviews. BambooHR also disseminates job postings to free job boards, helping drive in-bound applications.
FreshBooks (Accounting & invoice software)
FreshBooks is specifically built to support the needs of growing businesses like ours. We use FreshBooks primarily for invoicing, but it has other capabilities as well, including time and expense tracking.
Lucky Orange (Real-time web analytics)
This tool provides real-time web analytics as well as historical statistics to see what keywords, locations, referrers, tweets, languages, etc. are driving traffic and behaviors on our site, all filterable by behavior tags. It provides us with insight on what people are interested in and helps us understand potential needs of prospects.
Dropbox (File hosting service)
Dropbox is essential for any business that needs to share documents with a team. The cloud-based, file synchronization service allows us to store photos, documents and videos in the cloud and share them easily among our team.
Gmail (Web-based email service)
Gmail was an easy choice for us. It’s free, secure and can be used on all devices, including Android iOS and desktop. Plus, Gmail labels make it easy to filter and organize emails.
QuickBooks provides accounting software geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses. It helps us track, organize and manage our finances, including financial reporting, tracking of income and expenses, and quarterly and year-end tax preparation and filing.
SurveyMonkey (Online survey software & questionnaire tool)
SurveyMonkey allows us to create free, customizable surveys to gauge client satisfaction and NPS scores. SurveyMonkey also offers a suite of paid back-end programs that include data analysis, sample selection, bias elimination and data representation tools.
Nest (Home automation systems)
We use Nest Security Cameras to protect our building and the resources inside it, including our people. Nest Security Cameras offer 24/7 live streaming and real-time alerts.
For many startups, cost to entry is a significant and sometimes daunting barrier. However, with the tools and technologies available for entrepreneurs today, there’s never been a better time to start a company.
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