Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘zoho

It’s a darn good time to be an entrepreneur in India – but only if you know whats available to you. I have been coming across a whole lot of resources that are available to an entrepreneur today, that you perhaps are not aware of.

The beauty about growing a startup or an SME is that the right set of tools really can make a whole lot of difference. Here are some tools that are sure to make your day.

Indian SME Toolkit: This is perhaps the holy grail of everything that you ever need. The initiative launched by ICICI, IFC and IBM has a host of templates for everything you need for running a startup or SME. Let me give you an example. There are close to a hundred plus templates on just invoices. Yep, you are going to need that to bill your customer, and when it does happen *fingers crossed* you wouldn’t have to ask around as to what all needs to go into it.

Zoho Apps: This is still the one stop place for most things that you ever need when it comes to tools for CRM, Project management, Collaborative work process, etc etc.

DimDim: I am sure that you notice all those high-flying corporates to be doing videoconferencing, desktop sharing and all those snazzy stuff. DimDim gives it to you at a price you can afford – for free. There were some minor reliability issues when I last tried it, from the revamp of the site and the positioning, I expect that that should be fixed by now.

TeamViewer: If you are collaborating remotely, and want to take over the computer of your counterpart to whiff up a rapid prototype for the UI, or show something, Teamviewer is an option. It pretty much looks like a desktop sharing app, but am hearing good reviews about it. Alternative Option: Citrix GotoMeeting

Weebly: While you are scrambling to put together your team, setup appointments with your auditors, and do those lineup of interviews and run around in unconferences, you probably dont want your website and domain looking dull. Weebly is one quick way to cough up a website which will keep the plate warm, till you have the time to get there.

Basecamp: Project Management, and the first name you ever and only need to utter is Basecamp. ActivCollab is a similar downloadable version which you can host in your own server. FogBugz is another option.

Skype: When it comes to interacting within the team, and at times even with outsiders, Skype wins hands down. Get some of those Skypeout minutes and I am told that the audio quality improves – not sure how much of it is true though.

Google Talk: For times when you dont want to hear the other person’s voice, but just want to touch base on and off, Gtalk is your friend. You dont want to rely on Skype for its messaging – at times the message gets lost in oblivion and comes back.

Financial Planning: I am told that TurboCash – Free Accounting Software (Though all that you need initially are some well done excel workbooks, and Wesabe are good options to look into to setup the financial processes quickly. You might want to run the final list through your local auditor though. Things change so fast in this scene that you dont want to take a chance in being wrong.

Shopify: You need to setup an ecommerce site and the going rate to build one with any freelancing community can be quite high. The even worse part is that you still don’t know whether what you are building will work, and you want to iterate quickly keeping your costs low. Shopify is a step towards that. It seems that most folks there have permanently stuck on to that, since the platform does give you a great commercial feel.

Freshbooks: Do you know the pain of sending invoices to your clients and keeping track of it? Most of all, the time when the lack of professionalism shows is when you are trying to keep that time of your interaction where money is involved as clean as possible. Freshbooks is an awesome tool and service for that. Highly recommended and I’ve gotten a few of my startups on it, and they are loving it. Blinksale is another option.

Campaign Monitor: Most of you guys are on the webspace. Which also mean that you send out a lot of mailers asking people to sign up for stuff. Let me be honest: Most of them look darn ugly that my first impression plummets, never to sign up for that service. Campaign Monitor is one good way to get such snobby customers onboard. Plus, I believe it offers a nice way to track responses.

FaxitNice: For those of you whoever are, or when your customers insist to live in the 90s day and age of faxes.

More to Follow…

Relevant Read: The Absolute Startup Essentials Series.

Tools for Bootstrappers – Anjana Vivek
Setting up a Low-cost conference Room – Amit Ranjan

You could be this crazy economist turned entrepreneur, and can have a gazillion keywords and phrases to explain every phenomenon under the sun, but the funny thing about economics is that they usually explain everything that has happened, and can even explain what is happening, but could never quite explain whats going to happen. You cannot, with a set of symptoms predict what the next step is going to be like – It could be a boom, inflation, a market correction or just another dull boring day, any of which might be just around the corner.

If you want to understand timing, economics is the wrong subject to pick. Intuition, and your own observation of the markets is what will save you. Nothing else usually helps.

After you have laid out your financial planning and operations chart for your company, and God forbid taken investor money (read more accountability), you could cook up a million reasons during the board meeting as to why you did not or were not able to meet the project sales plan. None of them will stick. The only valid reason that you could ever get away with an acceptance, is if the market changes.

When a market flips, its boom time for a startup which is looking to ride that wave, and usually spells death for every company out there which was riding the previous wave – unless you anticipated the second wave and were prepared with your next line of products and surfers to ride that one as well. Or if you were a big enough corporation, you could just with sheer muscle power create a wave (Apple does it all the time).

There’s also the other unfortunate incident where you take your hand-carved board into the waters, and sit on it for days, years and decades and realize that thanks to Global warming, you are no longer in the shore, but in the middle of the ocean and there are no tides there, just still waters.

Timing, is a very crucial issue for Startups. Most of them do ride the waves to gain that momentum and catch that hockey stick growth. There are some who just focus on everyday problems, everyday solutions and don’t care for the tides, the waves nor the water at all, and go on living. Know where you stand, and if you are in the water with your surf board ready, be sure you get your timing right, and better well be sure about it with all the stats. The markets, when they change, are never forgiving and take no prisoners.