Setting The Stage For Growth

It's the classic startup success timeline.

Start small and lean, prove your idea's value, and scale up as demand grows.

Most entrepreneurs have the lean start part down and plenty of great ideas. But the scaling up process can run into speed bumps that slow your growth or hurt your brand.

The time to prevent those problems is now, in the earliest stages of your company.

Here are a few easy, free, or low-cost ways to set the stage now for growth later.

Payroll services

Ramping up your hiring process later will be easier if you find a payroll services provider now -- even if you're the only employee at the moment.

Not only can a good payroll service make onboarding new hires go faster, it can save you time on your own taxes, withholding, and IRS reporting.

PC Magazine likes Paychex Flex, which offers easy online access for payroll, employee benefits administration and HR services as well as unique round-the-clock live support by phone. Rates are based on your company's payroll period and number of employees.

Web hosting

Your site needs to load fast, and as your company evolves you may need to make site-content changes quickly.

HostGator's cloud hosting is an inexpensive, reliable option that's both fast and adaptable. It also offers one-click scalability to accommodate traffic peaks without breaking a sweat.

When your company is ready to step up to enterprise-level dedicated server hosting, HostGator has you covered too, with a Linux or Windows server secured, provisioned and ready for you to use fast--usually within 24 hours of your order.

Content marketing tools

Content marketing is the key to connecting with your audience, and it can quickly become a giant time-sink, unless you have the right tools.

WordPress is a free CMS that most marketers and content writers are familiar with, so you can save training time later on. Its popularity also means there are thousands of free and low-cost mobile-responsive templates you can use to build your site and your company blog quickly and integrate them seamlessly with social media and lead-capture tools.

Scalable tools for social media content management will help you keep track of what you've shared, when you shared it, and what the response was.

Buffer lets you front-load the links you want to share and sends them out on an automated schedule to the platforms you choose. To ramp up your brand recognition, Buffer integrates easily with Rebrandly, a tool that shortens and transforms links to reflect your custom domain name. Each of these tools offers limited-use free trials and $99/month full-fledged versions.

E-commerce tools

Whether your startup is B2C or B2B, you'll need a way to sell your products and make it easy for customers to buy them.

A scalable e-commerce platform like Magento lets you start small with its free Community Edition to set up your store, build your product catalog, and integrate with third-party payment solutions like PayPal. You can then scale up to meet your omnichannel, cross-border, or enterprise-level sales needs as your customer base grows.

Whether you're selling online, over the phone, or in person, card fraud protection should start early.

Look for a provider that can guarantee you protection against liability for fraudulent chargebacks and handle sales peaks while maintaining customer satisfaction. One option is international CNP fraud prevention service ClearSale, which developed its toolbox in Brazil's e-commerce market and is now expanding in North America.

CRM tools

As your business grows, managing your customer base will be more challenging. Set your future sales team up for success by implementing a scalable customer relationship management platform now.

Business News Daily gives Salesforce Small Business Solutions top marks for ease of use, mobile accessibility, and, of course, scalability. Because Salesforce is the leading CRM, most of your future sales hires will already be familiar with it, which will make onboarding easier and faster, too.

Set aside a day or two to set up these tools now and scaling up will be easier when you're ready.

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