Starting a business is tough for many reasons, namely it is financially tough, duh. So naturally, hedging your expenses with low cost, effective software is a plus. SugarCRM, Expression Engine and Twitter are useful and startup friendly products and services. Hopefully you have heard of and used these tools, but if you haven’t let me tell you a little bit about them.
In the day to day operations of your business, do you find yourself always creating a new spreadsheet to keep track of a processes, leads, customers, you name it? Are your walls and desks plastered with sticky notes? If so, stop it right now. SugarCRM is an open source customer relationship manager (CRM), but can be used for much, much more. SugarCRM lets you to maintain all of your operations data: leads, contacts, customers, support cases, development bugs. If you have a process that is particular to your industry or business, SugarCRM has the point-and-click tools to allow you to create your own modules. At Milsoft, where I work 8-5, we use SugarCRM for nearly every business process, and it has become our company data store. Check this video of a co-worker and me presenting at SugarCon in San Francisco, SugarCRM’s annual customer and developer conference. SugarCRM has professional and enterprise versions of their software that cost extra, but include many more features than their community version.
Find yourself spending too much time or paying too much to keep your website updated? You should use ExpressionEngine. It is an extremely flexible content management system. We rely on it exclusively at Big Tech Onions and GANDR Web Design for website design and development. Have any questions about it? Be sure to catch him on Twitter. ExpressionEngine has a free version, only to be used by non-profits and for personal sites.
Which leads me to my favorite tool, Twitter. If you haven’t experienced Twitter, you are missing out. If you are in a techie or trendy market space and you are not on Twitter, you are already behind the curve. Twitter is a free tool that allows friends keep up with each other by posting frequent 140 character messages answering one question: what you are doing? That may not sound like much, but imagine millions of people using it, telling you what they are doing. Are they talking about your company? Search and find out. Find what others are saying about your competitors. Search for industry trends. Find the first-movers of your market space. That is just the start on the power of Twitter.