Apps, workflow tools, and the right decision-making processes will make your startup more agile in 2022.
We tend to believe the big dogs of enterprise have the best tools and tech. After all, those big dogs have tremendous capital on hand. Therefore, they must have access to the best technology, the best systems, and even the best employees. But that’s not the case. In 2022, tech and tools for startups will give you the edge.
As startups, we’re free to find ways to be nimble and fast, while the big dogs are bogged down in ancient systems that are too big, too slow, too static, and too deeply enmeshed in the business to withdraw. We can also develop new relationships with designers and partner with the idea people (the “ideators”).
This article will explore some of the most exciting tools you could consider for your startup. From human resources to data storage, we’ll take a look at some of the keenest tools for startups out there.
And we’re open to more! If you’ve got a great startup or a powerful new tool, let us know about it in the comments below.
Then, we’ll think about other ways your startup can be dynamic and scalable, even in the face of competitors who seem to have a monopoly. (Here’s a hint: some tools aren’t technology at all.)
Now, let’s get into those tools for startups.
Google Workspace: Emails, Documents, and Tons of Free Storage
Okay, the irony is not lost on us that we’re citing Google as a tool to out-maneuver the big dogs. As far as big dogs are concerned, Google is practically god-like at this point, providing businesses and consumers around the globe with everything from pay-per-click advertising to domain name registration and online shopping to live traffic maps.
But if you think back to the late 1990s — remember, back when email was a fad — you know how much the host of company email addresses and the related storage could cost.
Save on Servers (And the Utilities Associated With Them)
It’s easy to see why startups in the 2020s are so active in adopting Cloud technology. Obviously, small businesses don’t want to invest in in-house servers and tech teams to manage them, and Google’s ready-to-go cloud infrastructure solves many problems.
As we adopt more work from home (WFH) and hybrid work arrangements post-pandemic, you must assume your startup will rely heavily on fast, secure communications and affordable data storage. But there’s more than just emails and data storage to consider.
Google recently published some self-serving studies comparing their services to Microsoft Office 365.
In their words: Google Workspace consistently drove bigger impacts in [four] areas that businesses care about most:
- And fast access to information
If you’re hopping in bed with Google, the only thing to remember is that they’re politically motivated. If your political position aligns with theirs, well, then go for it. But if you’re reluctant to support certain ideals — things like a carbon-neutral goal to battle climate change — then seek another platform.
Next up, let’s think about Slack as one of the top tools for startups.
Slack for Startups
Slack is a relatively new business communication platform developed by Slack Technologies, and it’s now owned by Salesforce. Think of it as a project management and communication platform offering IRC-style features, like specific channels, persistent chat rooms organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging.
It’s a brilliant idea for startups employing many WFH and hybrid employees and those looking to reduce their real estate costs with co-working situations. It’s super user-friendly, and as of December 2021, the uber-low price points — $0, $6, or $12 per month — are alluring.
Now let’s switch gears away from communications and data storage and think about people.
Rippling Makes It Easy to Scale Your Workforce
Successful startups will need to hire employees and manage them smoothly. But according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average human resource specialist earns about $63k per year. That’s a significant cost to plan for, especially since you’ll need it ad infinitum.
Since top talent is seeking WFH opportunities around the nation — if not the entire globe — you’ll need to manage payroll and benefits in a more dynamic way. Overtime regulations in California, for instance, might be much different than those in Texas. You’ll need to stay compliant with every state where your employees reside.
Rippling makes it easy to scale your workforce, and it happens to mesh well with other tools for startups like GSuite and Slack, mentioned above.
Speaking of compliance, there’s another hurdle you can manage now with apps and platforms.
Compliance Apps — Stay on Top of Regulatory Changes
A study published by Thomson Reuters says 69% of firms expect more regulations over the next few years. 29% believe those regulations will be significant. From emissions to refrigerants, overtime hours to privacy concerns, OSHA and PPE, you should definitely plan for more regulatory oversight in the future.
But it’s hard to predict what will happen and which portions of your business will be affected. Will your startup be damaged by more mask mandates or tighter privacy regulations in 2022? There is no crystal ball to answer these questions. Here, again, we see that a startup can plan on spending about $75k per year on a dedicated in-house compliance expert.
The good news is some apps can help you stay on top of new regulations as they arise. If your startup works in manufacturing, textiles, foods, or any other tangible goods, you should be really keen on compliance apps.
According to GetApp.com, a few noteworthy compliance apps include:
- AuditBoard for insurance and risk management professionals
- HyperProof for risk management pros
- LogicGate for industries that manage routine compliance reporting (we’re thinking pharmaceuticals and foods, in particular)
- Compliancy Group / HIPAA Compliance Software for the private practitioners out there pushing new medical advances
These are only the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to compliance tools for startups. There are literally thousands of compliance apps from which to choose. We’d suggest you start with precise internet searches, like “compliance apps for X industry,” to nail down a few good contenders.
We’re making the point that tools are available for everything from expense accounting (Expensify) to broader communications. Sometimes, too many choices can be overwhelming. And if you’re managing a young organization, you’ve already got a lot on your plate.
Decision-Making Skills FTW (“For the Win”)
There are a lot of keynote speakers and Ted Talk wonders out there who will tell you the most valuable asset to a startup is a founder with confidence, or grit, or some vague emotional driver. Frankly, that’s all a load of bull. The most vital tool an entrepreneur has is a fast and effective decision-making process, along with the ability to recognize mistakes and backtrack if needed.
- No matter how you slice it, a compliance app will definitely be more affordable than a full-time compliance officer.
- An HR app will undoubtedly be more cost-effective than a few HR professionals.
- Expense reporting apps will cost less than a CPA.
You know you need to take advantage of tools like this, but you don’t know where to begin or how to implement them. Inaction is your worst enemy!
It’s time for you to learn a decision-making technique known as OODA or the OODA Loop. An Air Force fighter pilot developed it as a simple and effective method to make fast decisions on the fly. (See what we did there?)
The OODA Loop Explained
The OODA Loop is a four-step thought process used by fighter pilots traveling at speeds upwards of 600 miles per hour, aggressively targeting enemies with explosives while avoiding getting shot in the rear.
What does that have to do with your startup? We’re glad you asked. Entrepreneurship is a lot like piloting a fighter jet! Your landscape is continually changing, your view is somewhat limited, and the competition is hoping to blast you out of the sky. So you need to make fast choices. Just remember that your commitments don’t need to last forever.
The thought process goes like this:
- Observe: Identify the problem
- Orient: Think about any experience with this problem
- Decide: Make your choice
- Act: Take immediate action
It’s ideal for situations where inaction is the riskiest choice. The point is that a mistake can be rectified, but inaction will be expensive. So explore some apps and platforms. They will save you time and money. So dive into a few. If they don’t fulfill your needs, then change them. Just remember, your brain is the best tool, and your fast responses are the key to success in 2022.
Summing It Up
2022 is going to be a banner year for nimble startups. WFH and co-working are here to stay! Thanks to a host of technology, apps, and tools for startups, you have the freedom to trim costs and expedite actions in ways the big dogs cannot. Just make a choice and go for it.
Related Reading & Resources:
This article was originally published on KirkCoburn.com.