Before we go diving into a variety of apps to increase communication and productivity it should be known that a series of good habits should be in place before implementing more tools.
We like to follow a couple of classic rules:
“A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” – Your team (even just yourself if you’re operating alone) should know how and when to file work when it presents itself. Too much productivity is lost finding emails, files, documents, etc. Your company needs to follow a system of organization. This will allow people to go on vacation, take sick days or just pass responsibility of a project and others can pick up where left off.
“Touch it only once.” – This goes for most components of work. Emails, tasks, assignments all need to be tackled at some point in time. You might as well do it when you come across it unless time doesn’t permit. Then at that point, you should schedule a time for accomplishment. A poor trap that people fall into is checking their email multiple times a day. These people also mill around the daily to do list picking out the easier tasks to accomplish. Since like we discussed, it all needs to be done, Just Do It. Think of the time spent deciding what to do as time lost.
With those two guidelines in place. Let’s talk about some of our favorite tools for keeping organized and staying productive. We also have a few quick recommendations on where to get supplies on the cheap too. Let’s face it, not everything can live online 😉
First get a dedicated phone and email. If you don’t a cell phone, make sure that not just anyone will be answering your house phone. People who call in are potential customers, suppliers, etc. They need to see that you’re for real and are professional. No matter how much you think you can trust them, your roommate isn’t your secretary. Ultimately you’ll want a smartphone. You wouldn’t believe the productivity you can accomplish when you are basically carrying your office with you every where you go. Google Voice is a great (and free) service by Google to use so you don’t have to give out your personal number to strangers. There are a ton of other perks to having a Google Voice phone number, so get one. As far as email goes, shoot for a gmail account. It might sound like we’re Google superfans and don’t get it wrong, we are. However there are a number of other services that tie into your Google account that you’ll use. It’s best to make sure that everything integrates seamlessly.
Your head will constantly be flowing with ideas and ways to improve your business. Don’t let those ideas go to waste, use Evernote! We could seriously give an entire lecture on Evernote, and plenty of others have. It’s an amazing way to empty out your brain on to a digital device so you’ll be more free to create awesomeness. Evernote has an array of mobile and desktop apps as well as it all syncs with the website so no matter where you are at, so are your ideas.
Let’s face it, sharing large files can be troublesome unless you’re using a service like Dropbox. Dropbox syncs a designated local folder on your computer across the Internet to which ever users you allow access to it. It’s secure and again, FREE! You start off with 2GB of storage, but the more people you can get to sign up the more space you can get.
Chances are you’ll be collaborating with people at some point on a document. Be sure to use Google Docs. Multiple users can contribute to a document in real time as well as chat about what they’re working on through IM or the new Google Hangouts funtion.
These are just a few of the things we recommend for your business. You can find a larger list at the end of this post. We are also going to house this information on our website and update it in the future.
Finally we’ll leave you with some quick things that we must mention:
Skype – Great for face-to-face virtual meetings. You can even share your desktop view.
HootSuite – Hands down the best tool for managing your social media prescense. Free option or pay $6 a month for pro services.
BufferApp – A great tool that works well in Firefox or Chrome that helps you share what you find over the internet and spreads it out through the day so you don’t become spammy.
Moo Cards – Quick, quality printing. Good start for your first set of business cards.
Amazon Prime – If you don’t need things right away, buy from Amazon at a discount. Prime members get free 2-day shipping plus other bonuses.
WordPress – The easiest to update content manager for your website. It’s not just for blogs.
Google Alerts – Know what’s being said about you and others in your industry.
MercPerks – Sell your product or service at a discount and gain advertising credit to be used in the Portland Mercury.
Business Banking – Don’t use you personal banking account for business use. Set one up at a local credit union and protect your assets.
Square – Accept credit cards through your smartphone or iDevice. Not a bad rate either. Only 2.75% per transaction and get the money deposited the next day.
Expensify – Track your expenses whenever you can. Your tax consultant will thank you.
Craigslist – Advertise, find supplies, and so much more. Stay local in the community.
Manymoon – The ideal project management software. Track how well your team is staying on track in your current projects.
IKEA – Inexpensive and attractive furniture. Don’t equip your location with 2nd hand furniture, but also don’t spend a fortune either.
There were TWO recipe sheets to CAKE this week. Use the first sheet as a guide to answering the questions on sheet two. As always, if you have any questions let us have ’em in the comments section of this blog… or just hit us up the next time you see us. 🙂
Recap provided by Derek Wyatt.