The office space I rented a few years ago was quite lovely, with the exception of our neighbor always leaving boxes of paperwork in the hallway. It was a real pet peeve of mine that someone had the audacity to leave their crap in the hallway when other people had clients coming in.
One day I decided to just knock on the door and tell the business owner that the hallway was not their personal storage space. I don’t like confrontation so this was difficult for me.
When someone the door and I saw the office space, my jaw dropped. There were people working among mountains of paperwork and files. I’m not kidding you, there were piles of paper my height. I immediately thought, “Wow, the slightest breeze would destroy this place.”
No wonder there were boxes of paper in the hallway, there was simply no room for another paper mountain in this office. It made me really grateful for having an online business, and amazing technology at my fingertips that allow me to run my operation in a much more organized and clutter-free fashion.
These are the ten tools that are making my life as an entrepreneur a whole lot happier, and more efficient:
How I Use It: This is probably my favorite of them all! My team at She Takes on the World Inc. uses Yammer as our central hub. We use it to keep each other updated, exchange files, organize upcoming projects, and do live chats.
How I Use It: This is one tool that has saved me a lot of stress. When I’m traveling and when I’m at home I pop all my business expense receipts into an envelope and send them to Shoeboxed. They scan and organize all of my receipts into categories, then they shred the paper receipts I sent in. Did you know that in Canada and the United States (I’m not sure about other countries) a scanned receipt suffices in case of an audit? Unlike my pesky neighbor at that office I was telling you about, I hate keeping paper and like to live without clutter.
How I Use It: Google Drive is awesome for creating documents and spreadsheets. I have kept Microsoft Office Suite, however, I have less of a need for it now more than ever because of Google Drive. I collaborate on documents with my peers and teammates, and use it to manage some of my projects too.
How I Use It: Okay so this is one a lot of people use but I wanted to mention it anyway because it’s the engine that runs SheTakesOnTheWorld.com. I just don’t think anything else compares when it comes to building your website. There are plugins for just about anything you can imagine. Some of my favorites are the All-in-One SEO pack and the Disqus Comment System.
How I Use It: I’m new to Infusionsoft and I don’t love it yet, but I see so much potential for how I can use it to grow my business. It’s a full CRM, e-commerce, social media and email marketing platform all rolled into one. It allows you to set up systems to capture leads, market to them, take orders, and really grow your business. From what I’ve heard there is just nothing else that compares so I look forward to diving into it this year.
How I Use It: When I have a big project to manage, Basecamp is still my go-to choice. Right now I’m using Basecamp to manage the redevelopment and launch of the new SheTakesOnTheWorld.com and it allows us to keep track of deadlines, manage files, have discussions, and be able to see the bigger picture of the project too.
How I Use It: I love hopping on a Google Hangout for group video calls, something Skype now charges you to do and in my opinion, the Hangouts are better than the group video call you have to pay for with Skype. I hold masterminds on Google Hangouts, talk to clients, and host virtual meet-ups with my team.
How I Use It: I was an early user of Dropbox and it’s a service I still really like even though there are some alternative options out there now and some people are just using Google Drive because it’s free. Dropbox syncs to some of the apps I use on my iPad though which is really useful for me. I also have a WordPress backup plugin that makes a copy of my site and uploads it to Dropbox every week.
How I Use It: I deal with a lot of legal contracts and it’s annoying to have to print contracts, sign them, scan them, and send them back. OurDeal makes my life a whole lot simpler through digital signatures that I can get via email. They also have a whole library of contracts written by a lawyer which saves me money. The contracts look gorgeous and I get a lot of compliments from the people I require signatures from. Never before has anyone complimented the legal contract I sent them!
How I Use It: Natalie Sisson got me onto this one for our 2013 WE Mastermind launch, and I’m loving it. It’s a user friendly task tracker that follows the KISS philosophy — keep it simple stupid. If you need to track a to-do list with a group, definitely try out Asana.
I’d love to hear from you: What tools and technology do you use to run your business?
Disclosure: I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.