Operating a virtual office has meant I generally spend a lot of time in the virtual space. I am an active user of social media and have been since 2009. I am also a member of a number of virtual networks and forums; and subscribe to various industry and business blogs.
It’s from all these sources you quickly learn about the tools available that not only assist the small business owner to be more efficient but they also allow you to be more mobile – as most are cloud based! Over time, with using many of them for a good while, I have compiled a list of the ones that really do add value to me and the running of my business. I though that I would share some of my favourites I use on a daily basis with you:
I’m a big user of Dropbox. My whole business is run from it and I’ve been using it for more than 3 years. It transformed this virtual office and how I do business. Take the time to view the tour to learn how simple file syncing, sharing and online file storage can be. We use Dropbox in our office across three computers, one laptop and an iPhone, and can readily access our synced files via the web hosted Dropbox account from any computer that has internet access. I also have secure shared folders with clients and team members, making file sharing far more efficient. I think you will love it as much as we do!
App: Dropbox has an iPhone, Android and Tablet Apps which can be handy should you need to access or send files to others when out and about.
I use EchoSign for the signing of our Engagement Letters and contracts. Prior to discovering EchoSign, I would email the PDF document for signing. Most would print it out, sign it and fax it back or scan and email. All very laborious and inefficient. Using EchoSign, the PDF is uploaded and emailed to the recipient and an electronic signature is gained. I have found with such an efficient tool and process, we can have new clients sign up in under 5 mins!
App: Send documents from your EchoSign document library, photo library, your email, or other mobile application. The iPhone App also allows you to get a signature in person to your device.
Jing is free downloadable software from Techsmith which allows you to;
- Snap a picture of your entire screen and it’s so much better than the ‘Print Screen’ option
- Capture something specific from your screen and add instructions
- Record video of onscreen action, and
- Share instantly over the web, IM or email
I use Jing mostly as a part of training or providing instructions to clients. I can take snap-shots of what we’re trying to explain to them via email or within supplied training notes. Arrows and text can be included before you copy or save the image to really point out clearly what you are trying to explain.
MailChimp is an e-marketing and list management tool. MailChimp is used for email campaigns and newsletters as a means to communicate with your clients and interested community. MailChimp is extremely simple to set up and use. It’s free for a subscriber list less than 2,000, you are able to send up to 12,000 emails per month and it has free image hosting, so no need to host images else-where and code them in. MailChimp is perfect for the solopreneur and small business owner. MailChimp assists the business owner to remain forefront of the minds of both clients and prospective clients. You also have access to analytics to know what your open rates are and which links have been clicked on within your content.
App: The MailChimp App can be really useful in adding a new subscriber you might have just met (after you’ve gained their permission of course!) or reviewing a recently sent campaign report.
I wouldn’t be without our Skype account for doing business with both clients, team members and business colleagues. The features we love include:
- It’s FREE – Skype to Skype
- Easily send large files
- Voice and video calls
- Conference calls
- Share screen for training purposes, and
- It has a handy IM (Instant Messaging) function
App: Skype has an iPhone App, though I don’t currently have it installed. (There is a paid option, which I do – so some functions are not all free…like screen sharing).
Wunderlist is an advanced ‘To-Do’ list. I actually use it to run my life! Lists are created and within the lists are tasks. A task can get allocated a date, it can be marked as a priority (taking it to the top of the days list), you can set a reminder, you can add notes to the task and you can share your lists with others. Some examples of the lists I have set for our business include: Lead Management; Client Work; Blog Ideas; Books To Read; etc.
Wunderlist also now has a Chrome plug-in ‘Add to Wunderlist’. So you might come across something on the internet that you wish to read later, or something that has given you a blog post idea, by selecting ‘Add to Wunderlist’, the link is added to the selected list or the default ‘Read Later’ list.
App: Wunderlist syncs from your desktop to your iPhone and so when out and about, items can be added as you think of them.
Yast is a very simple time tracker which is great for anyone who needs to track their time. Simply create projects and start tracking your time. You have the ability to edit the tracked time and share projects with others.
Hopefully those give you a good start how to transform ways in which you can do business on the go, or work in collaboration with people around the country or, even, the world.
Do you have a cool tool that you have found a “need to have” in your business or…in fact in your life? Share it with us below and we’ll add it to a future post to share with our readers.