Successfully running a small business requires perseverance, flexibility and good people. Behind this you need some pretty exceptional organisational skills, and the tools to match. Late nights, early mornings and broken holidays are a given- so these tools must be easily accessed if you’re going to keep your business alive, while you live your life.
Online tools and apps have evolved exponentially over the last few years. It’s the ability to access critical business systems from remote locations and free up you time that deems these tools indispensable for small businesses. Gone are the days of manual back up, reboots and archaic filing systems. The cloud is your friend.
Knowing the importance of maintaining your freedom, we’ve selected our top five online tools to help you run your business and save a lot of your time.
Xero – Beautiful Accounting Software
Xero is a must when it comes to running your small business. They have thought of everything, starting with the dashboard which allows you to see bank balances and payments, both incoming and outgoing. You can view Xero on mobile, enabling quick invoicing and cash-flow tracking while you’re out of the office. We use Xero for all our accounting and invoicing, we love how simple and easy the software is to use at a surface level, but how much power and depth it has if you need it. All your bank transactions are automatically synced to your xero account, so all you need to do is reconcile each transaction to a code. Dead simple and quick, Xero actually makes accounting look good.
Add On: Quoteint
Quoting is a big part of starting up a small businesses. Quotient is an online quoting app that works in conjunction with Xero. With a clean, sleek design, each quote offers your client the assurance that you know what you’re doing. You can create templates that speed up the quoting process and ensure brand consistency. When these quotes have been accepted, you can convert them to invoices in Xero with the click of a button.
Evernote – Your Life’s Work
Evernote is an exceptional tool for taking, storing and organising notes and ideas. The app allows you to record audio, take pictures or simply write notes as you come across something that might be of value to your work. By creating unique notebooks, you can store each snippet in the right place, so the information is available to you when you need it, no matter where you are. You can share notebooks with other team members which is always handy.
The benefits of using Evernote become apparent when you really get stuck into it. You will find yourself holding on to – and recalling – ideas far more easily. We use Evernote to record those ideas you have in the middle of the night and don’t want to forget or just to record all your login details for a bunch of sites. Basically if you want to remember something, put it in Evernote and clear your brain of all that clutter.
3: File Sharing
Dropbox for Business
One of the most frustrating things about working remotely is having limited access to internal servers. While you may be able to access your valuable files, it can often take an eternity, wasting your valuable time (especially if your intention is to continue to enjoy your holiday, pint in hand).
Dropbox is a file sharing system that is becoming so widely used, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not having an account. You can access shared and personal documents easily from anywhere in the world.
We find it boosts engagement with clients by enabling fast sharing of large documents, designs and proposals. Security is a large feature on Dropbox, so you can be assured that uploading valuable information will be safe. You can give all your staff access to files, or securely limit access as you see fit. In creative fields, it offers users the chance to collaborate freely across the globe, which we love.
4: Content Curation & Social Media
Buffer – A Better Way to Share Social Media
Managing social media within a small business is undoubtedly one of the most challenging tasks. Often time is limited and ideas for interesting posts are hard to come across. Not only this, but you have five or six platforms to manage to ensure each customer type is reached.
While it can be useful to focus on one platform on which to build a large following, it’s important to remember that people have a very determined preference. Some will spend all their time on Facebook, others on LinkedIn.
Buffer is an excellent social media scheduling tool which helps you to cover all your bases. It formats posts for each platform, ensuring your content is communicated across all profiles. It also analyses the success and reach of your post, giving you the chance to analyse the type of content you are posting. A key factor of social media is sharing your content at the right time of the day, with Buffer you can choose what time on what day of the week you want to share your content, this gives you the best change of getting your content viewed by your audience.
We use Buffer every Monday to schedule out a week of content posts we have found or created during the previous week. Our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts are all connected to our Buffer. It allows us to space out our posts over the week at optimised times, instead of just sharing content as we find it sporadically on the train home. It is a huge time saver for us.
5: Project Management
Asana – Teamwork Without Email
It’s incredible how quickly daily communication can become the sole focus in business. Granted, communication is vital. But, how often do you find yourself wading through the muddy soup of 349 unread emails, rather than completing projects?
Asana is a team driven project management tool. They point out the fact that we write emails about the work we’re going to do, instead of just doing the work. They acknowledge the fact that we have meetings about meetings, planning future meetings, in which we’ll talk about more meetings.
With Asana you create and manage tasks with due dates, so the whole team can see the work being completed. It’s a positive, results driven tool that keeps your staff on track by recording tasks and projects to be done and by when.
We use Asana to track and record all our work tasks. You can share tasks with the team and see who has completed what and when tasks are due. Asana has helped us ensure no jobs slip through the cracks. At the end of each work day we update Asana by closing all the days completed tasks (this always feels great) and add any new tasks that popped up. This means we can go home stress free with a clear head, confident that when we log on tomorrow morning we know exactly what we need to do and by when. Genius.
Thinking there has to be a smarter way to run your business and spend more time doing what you want to do?
We love solving business problems for our clients, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get the ball rolling.