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The 5 best collaboration tools for startups

For startups and small businesses, smooth collaboration is key. Today’s digital world requires every member of a startup team to be familiar with online collaboration tools, especially if they often work remotely. Not to mention teams working together on school projects, like our students do here at ESEI.

Choosing which tools to include in your arsenal can be hard nut to crack; you need to find a balance between cost-effectiveness and functionality. But don’t worry, we’ve got you. There are lots of great tools out there that are free to use and have all the features your team needs.

Here are the 5 best collaboration tools for startups that will make every entrepreneur’s life easier.

1. Trello

You know what they say: sometimes less is more. Trello is a minimalistic web-based project management tool. All it’s meant to do is help you streamline your team’s workflow and keep track of your tasks – and it does an outstanding job at it.

The platform is very simple and easy to use. It works based on the Kanban approach – laying out tasks in a visual way, like a pinboard.

You can set up teams, add members and create boards for each project. Trello also allows you to add customised columns to each board, for example, “planned”, “in progress”, “up for review” and “done”. Then, you just create a card and drag it into the next column as you make progress on each task. Easy peasy!

Cards can carry all kinds of information: you can add members, labels, deadlines, checklists, comments, attachments and more.

If all you need is for your team members to know what everyone is working on and what stage certain tasks are in, Trello is your best choice. It’s free up to ten team boards. The paid version gives you access to lots of extra features for only $9.99/month.

2. Asana

Similarly to Trello, Asana is a simple collaboration tool ideal for startup teams. The main difference is that Asana has a wider variety of features – if you find Trello limiting, Asana may be the best option for you.

Asana revolves around projects that teams can collaborate on. You can view the tasks associated with a project in different ways by choosing between a list view, board view or calendar view. You can also create sections within projects, which gives you another handy organisational layer. It’s ideal for bigger, more complicated projects that require a very specific workflow.

Asana also integrates with commonly used apps like Slack, Gmail, Google Drive and many more. You can access Asana from your browser, and it also comes with a sleek mobile app so you can get updates and notifications in real-time.

The basic version is free (up to fifteen teammates), and for just €10.99/month, you get a whole host of extra features.

3. Slack

If you’ve never been on Slack, you’ve never truly tasted startup life.

Slack is a very versatiles messaging app that has contributed to the success of millions of distributed teams around the world.

It’s a desktop and mobile app that lets you create and send messages to channels. It’s up to you whether you want a channel to be open to all team members or only to those who have permission to join. You can also send direct messages to people and start threads.

The best thing about Slack is that it has sophisticated notification settings, meaning that you can select what messagees you want to be alerted about. This is super beneficial for productivity: you don’t want to be constantly distracted by irrelevant notifications.

Slack also supports voice and video calls, as well as file sharing. And, of course, it integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive. And best of all, it’s free for small teams!

4. Canva

The hours you can spend playing around with a tool like Canva without even noticing!

Canva is by far the best free browser-based creativity tool out there. It lets you create all sorts of designs, from infographics to flyers, ebooks and social media posts. And you don’t even need any design skills!

The thousands of templates you can find in Canva make it easy for any non-arts-and-craftsy person to create professional-looking designs from scratch. They also have a large portfolio of graphic elements and stock photography that you can spruce up your creations with. Most of them are free, but you can get extra fancy ones for a few euros each. If you go pro for €11.99/month, you get a bunch of extra features with your subscription.

Most lean startup teams don’t have sufficient funds to contract a graphic designer or a social media manager. Canva is the next best thing.

5. Baluu

Baluu is a scheduling tool that is helpful for start-ups because it allows you to set up a schedule for the time you’re open to meet with potential customers or clients, and then it sends out a link with your availability. With Baluu’s dashboard, you can manage your entire start-up business and team easily. From creating events to assigning them to team members, Baluu provides all the tools you need to run your business.

In addition, it makes it easy for remote teams to work together. This is because they are all able to see everyone’s availability at the same time since they have access to the same calendar. Scheduling meetings with this tool can help you manage your time and be sure everyone is on the same page.

So instead of having to keep track of your own schedule and then remember to send an email to your prospective client or team when you’re available, Baluu does it all for you. You can set up multiple calendars so that you can also use it for internal meetings.


What are your favourite collaboration tools? Let us know! And if you haven’t yet, check out our courses in digital marketing and digital entrepreneurship

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