Apple, Amazon, Google. What do these all have in common? That's right—they were all startups at one point. There's also another big thing they have in common: they use customer relationship management systems to make sure they continue to prosper and grow.
If you're just getting started in the business world, and you're ready to take the next step towards growing your company, then this post is for you. Check out the three best CRM systems for startups that are affordable and adaptable to use, no matter what stage your business is at right now.
"Wait… why does my startup need this?"
It's a normal question to ask, so here's our answer!
CRM systems are specially designed to make all of the standard processes at a business easier to keep track of. It also gives you intelligence and insight into your own customers and their purchasing habits, so you'll know what's working in terms of sales or marketing and what isn't. That goes for pretty much all the departments your startup consists of, even if it's only 1 or 2 people.
We realize, however, that many startups are already strapped for cash. You're probably already looking for the more affordable solutions, at least until you get your company off the ground and into the air, like a plane. That's why we've only listed companies that offer a free plan, and that way you can see how they work yourself before dipping your toes into a paid or premium plan.
Without further ado, let's check out some options of CRM software for your startup.
This is genuinely one of the first recommendations I give to startups! Dubsado features several ways to help you stay on top of your daily to-dos such as managing contracts, invoicing, and booking appointments to name a few. It's primarily used as a one-stop shop as it offers so many features in just one place, thus making it a popular choice for both contractors and freelancers alike.
If your startup handles individual tasks at a time and you want to see which of your leads is in which stage in the lead process, Dubsado is a great tool for that purpose.
Lots of forms you can either customize yourself, or you can use one of Dubsado's templates and then add an e-signature to make your most important documents legally binding
Dubsado's flexibility of use is huge, catering to multiple business and industry types regardless of how different they are
Fantastic automation options, such as e-mail reminders or e-mails after a task is completed, so clients will have a positive experience all around without administrative delays or errors
Plays very nicely with online transaction companies such as Paypal, Stripe, and Square, allowing integration of them into your invoicing
Its free trial is unlimited, allowing you to add 3 staff members in total and you can all use it however long you would like
Initial setup is on the more complex side, so it comes with a steep learning curve
Best used for small businesses, however if growth in the number of staff is one of your goals, you'll have to pay extra for such features
Requires a lot of manual input and operation to see its greater potential as a CRM
Not an ideal choice if you need to keep track of your startup's bookkeeping, nor if you're less than a tech-savvy person by nature
It sounds like we're talking about a book smothered in honey, but really it's not. Honeybook is growing as a must-have CRM for startups who are more on the creative side, such as photographers, arts and crafts retailers, freelancers (for writing or sewing or organizing, etc.), advertising agencies, and so much more.
Gives you the ability to track both the business side of things, manage projects, and book clients at once
Contract management is top-notch to use on this software and it's incredibly easy to set up
Notifies you of the client payment process in real time, as opposed to requiring you to manually enter statuses
Includes an app, which can be used on iOs and Android
Your company's branding can be integrated seamlessly into its templates for contracts, marketing materials such as brochures, and invoices
Plays nicely with helpful accounting software such as Quickbooks and Zapier
The only free plan available is a 7-day trial, which is not nearly a long enough period to determine if Honeybook is the best choice for your startup; that being said, a discount for 20% off your subscription is available provided you consult with us first
Team collaboration has been a frequent complaint; while it's possible to assign a client or a lead to a team member, it's not possible to assign files which can cause unwanted confusion amongst startup teams
Reports via Honeybook are hit and miss; while it's an excellent way to see how much income has been collected per month, it doesn't record certain events or success rates so you won't be able to see how you're performing in regards to statistics outside of sales
Its online scheduling tool could use improvement; it currently doesn't accommodate international time zones or automatically adjust to other time zones, so it's less than ideal for retailers who want to cater to customers on a broader scale and not just local
Want to use a CRM that plays nice with everyone—and I don't just mean software?
Hubspot's customer service is worth mentioning for a good reason. Given the rise of automated responses to everyday questions, it's refreshing to hear and talk to a real person on the other side of the line, whether by e-mail or phone. That's exactly what you get when you need to talk to the people at Hubspot.
We realize how much help startups need when it comes to growing and developing their company over time, especially when it comes to navigating and learning the finer details of any CRM system. Hubspot is there to guide you every step of the way, and best of all you can use it free for life!
Includes a free-for-life plan, meaning you can access most of its features at no extra cost whatsoever
Excellent tech support network, where they dig deep for solutions as opposed to a standardized, generic (i.e. "bot") answer
Tons of free marketing tips that can be used for sales purposes too
Plays very nicely with many other CRMs such as 17Hats and Salesforce
Gets along great with Stripe for payment processing
Easy to use features with a user-friendly navigation interface
Great user experience overall
No sales forecasting in the free plan or the starter one
Plans become even more expensive and unaffordable if you intend to keep growing
Zero e-signature capabilities that are unlimited
Simple task automation is not included in the free plan
Do you feel stumped still on which CRM may be the right one for your business? If you'd like to see more pros and cons or comparisons between these CRMs, feel free to download our guide!
Need help? Hire our CRM Business Consultant
With so many kinds of CRM systems to choose from, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and end up making no decision about which one to use at all. This is dangerous though, because without that insight into your customer base, you're flying blind and more likely than not to wither before you even grow.
It's one thing to simply choose a CRM system for your business; it's entirely another to set up the software you need and make sure it works for everyone. And there's always the possibility that you may want to use a different one in the future (and that's totally okay!). So long as you make the switch while using a free plan, you won't sink costs by accident in the process.
As a CRM business consultant I can not only help you choose the best software for your current needs, but also help you choose the best software for your future growth. In the event you decide to switch to a paid plan once your startup gets off the ground, I can be there for you then too.
Book a one-on-one session to see how we can help your startup grow!