One Startup. 30 Days. No Secrets. Start at the beginning.
I cheered as soon as I saw the first order hit. I then felt ashamed. How could I be THIS excited from a $40 order, when at IdeaPaint I would get single orders in the hundreds of thousands? To hell with shame. I quickly messaged Casey knowing he would share in the elation. At least he gave me an exclamation point!
Seriously, I can't articulate how excited we get every time an order registers. Granted we're hardly making Huy Fong Foods Inc shake in their boots, but still the feeling is electrifying.
As the first orders rolled in it occurred to me that we need to account for them financially. I also realize we should account for our costs and figure out actual margins. But I really dislike accounting work and data entry.
We need to ship these orders to our customers who willingly exchanged money for a product that still doesn't exist. But our local post office is a nightmare. You can rely on a 20 person line, no stock of boxes or supplies and a message in ballpoint pen scrawled into the metal counter offers the best chance of help or service. It's enough to make any entrepreneur go postal.
Then genius struck - If there's an app for that, there must be an app or tool for all this. Reader's Digest list:
1. Xero for accounting
2. shippingeasy for shipping
3. Stitch Labs for inventory / management
4. MailChimp for customer email / lists
5. Hemingway App for editing (This one is especially cool!)
Accounting: For me the choice boils down to QuickBooks Online vs. Xero. After consulting reviews and friends, I concluded that both have all the bells and whistles, similar pricing, and are familiar to accountants. Beyond the basics I value ease of use and a great interface. Additionally, Xero feels like more of a startup compared to Intuit's QuickBooks Online. I like startups, so Xero is the winner.
Shipping: Fortunately I won't be visiting the local post office much anymore. I decided to use shippingeasy for our shipments. After hitting a few buttons shipping labels for all orders spit out of the printer and customers receive tracking info. I chose shippingeasy over ShipStation which also might be a good option. The latter seems more robust while ShipEasy has an intuitive interface and took just minutes to understand and synch with Shopify.
Inventory: Stitch Labs manages our inventory and integrates with Shopify and Xero. (Soon it will integrate with shippingeasy, I am told.)
The point is, while there might not be an app for articulating my aforementioned order-induced excitement, we live in an age where there really is an app for almost anything. (Even one to help you hook up on a flight...seriously, it's called wingman). So, a practical business app or tool of your choice certainly exists, you just have to find it.
While I feel some service and app fatigue right now, I consider all my research and setup time an investment for the future. At little cost these tools will allow us to spend our time and effort on the parts of the business that excite us most as we grow. Plus, as soon as we get some killer PR that leads to thousands of orders a day, we won't have to waste time on our systems...
Action: Share your favorite automation and operational tools, apps and tricks - we want them all!