Monday, May 26, 2008

The Bootstrappers' Guide to Strapping Up

Okay, if you're anything like us(small company, self-funded from concept to execution to first customer), then you will probably find these little tidbits useful. We found(and still find) them to work great, and they really help us simplify our life....perhaps you'll find them useful.

1) Managing your projects/tasks and collaborating effectively: We try to use free software as much as possible, but 37 Signal's BaseCamp is very worth the $24/month. They also have a free version that gets you up and running quite easy, but when things get serious $24/month is peanuts.

2) CRM system: try SugarCRM. It's an open source CRM system, and is a free download from their website. Just copy the package over to your server and run the install script. Then on, it's a powerful customer relationship management tool. Try it to believe it.

3) Web site analytics: We've trying many stats programs, but the one we love most(it's easy to set up, reliable, with excellent visibility) is Google Analytics. Do yourself a favor and get it set up.

4) Site e-mail: We like separating out our E-Mail from our web services...can't have them running on the same server. So, instead of paying for a separate e-mail hosting service, we went with Google Apps. for Enterprises. We've had it for a year now, we can sync up with our e-mail clients, access e-mail on the web and on our mobile/Blackberry devices. Like everything Google, it's simplicity personified, and once you have it, there's no turning back. (note: we run the free account and we're doing just fine...).

5) PHP: I really don't know why people bother with .NET anymore. Anything .NET/MS SQL can do, PHP/MySQL can do much better. And a lot cheaper. And doesn't matter what they tell you, LAMP(Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) is one of the most secure and stable environments you could ever pull off.
The alternative is Windows-IIS-ASP-MS SQL......for a company that can't even get a client OS working right, I'm not sure the server OS is too reliable. ;)

6) Speaking of MySQL, here's the best database admin. software you could ever get into place: phpMyAdmin.

7) You need to do those conference calls, without using the 3-way calling service on your phone. We just started using and are kicking ourselves for not doing this before.

8) Oh...if you run blogs and other services that have RSS feeds going, then you definitely need to be on FeedBurner. Manage all your feeds from one location, and a LOT more.

That's my list so far- I'll add on if I can think of more. Until then, good luck!

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