5 cheap tools to use bootstrapping your start-up

Deepak Tailor shares easy wins for doing your own accounting, digital marketing and even being your own HR department

Starting a new business cheaply seems like such an easy thing to do on paper. Because the theory is that you can do everything yourself. How hard can it be to submit your own tax return? How long can it take to send out your own mailers? When taken individually, all business tasks are easy enough to manage, but the thing about running a business is that you’re never just dealing with one task at once. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but it’s a whole lot easier if you equip yourself with some decent tools.

Traditional business management software suites can eat into hundreds of pounds. Hiring an accountant to take care of your payroll stream can easily cost thousands. For most start-ups that’s just not a viable option. Aren’t we lucky that we live in the time of apps and “on-demand”, where cost-effective solutions are just a few clicks away?

Human resources

Employee management can be a real headache if you don’t have a dedicated HR manager. Keeping track of contracts, holidays, annual reviews, sick leave and the like is time consuming and tedious. CharlieHR does it all for you for as little as £4 per month. It’s super-fast to set up and there’s a free trial available before you commit.

Doing your bookkeeping

Accountants are a vital part of large organisations, but they’re also really expensive. So, unless your start-up is somehow dealing in the multi millions, you really don’t need one. What you do need is a means to keep track of your finances quickly and efficiently. Xero and Quickbooks provide that. The fees are negligible – starting at £6 per month, with discounts frequently available – and they provide pretty much everything you need to easily manage your day-to-day finances and track your performance: invoicing, mileage and expenses tracking, HMRC self-assessment and VAT submission tools, bank statement synching, and even a range of payroll features in the advanced packages.

Building a website

Every company needs a website. It’s a fact of modern life, because most people now search online before doing any kind of business. WordPress began as a tool for bloggers, but it’s developed dramatically and is now used by all kinds of businesses that need an online presence, but don’t need all the bells and whistles that would come with an expensive inhouse web manager.

Collecting payment

We’re rapidly becoming a cashless society, so even if you’re running a bricks and mortar customer-facing business, if you can’t handle debit and credit card transactions, you risk losing out on a lot of custom. The iZettle card reader offers a great, low-budget (in the best possible sense) alternative to the mainstream options provided by banks.

Digital marketing

Customer engagement is really the key to success for any SME. Mailchimp helps to automate your marketing, using software to send attractive emails, post on social media and track customer engagement. Best of all, it’s free up to 2,000 contacts, so a great starting platform for any new companies.

Deepak Tailor is founder of LatestFreeStuff, a where-to-find-freebies website, and is also author of the bestselling free e-book How To Live For Free