Are you a part of a small business? Then kudos to you my friend, because I feel your pain.I understand the tension of keeping all the details organized, all the bills paid, and communication flowing smoothly. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s never boring!
In the spirit of being open, here are four tools we use to wrangle details and maintain our sanity. The best tool is the one you’ll actually use, so take these as inspiration and find what works best for your team.
Keep it All Organized with Google Apps
Engenius *hearts* Google Apps. Gmail and Google Calendar keep us communicating with clients well via branded email addresses, and allow us to manage shared calendars (is the conference room booked?) Google Drive gives us the ability manage a virtual filing cabinet and collaborate on documents (a blog post draft, for example), spreadsheets, presentations, etc. One of my favorite features is the ability to manage permissions. No filing cabinet keys required.
A few of the Google apps we love
Google Apps are accessible anywhere — computer, phone, tablet, you name it — Which is great when I need to upload a picture of that lunch receipt to my finance folders beforeit gets lost in the abyss of my car’s center console.
Talk it Out with Slack
The amount of internal emails flying back and forth has decreased significantly (praise!) since we started using Slack 6 months ago. Instead, we keep the communication lines open and focused – even sharing that adorable puppy photo without triggering the dreaded reply-all email thread. Woof.
We’re all about some cats on the Engenius random channel
Slack works by using “channels” to guide topics. Each user can customize their notifications as well – so while I’ll get a pop up on my phone if my boss messages me, I’ll wait to check the #random channel over my lunch break to see the YouTube video that has the production office giggling.
Slack has changed the game for team brainstorming. Instead of having a long meeting where our team members may feel on the spot, we created a channel where everyone can chime in on topics as they have thoughts. It’s been a huge win, allowing everyone to contribute in a collaborative way without having to clear their schedules for a team wide meeting.
Get Stuff Done with Teamwork
Teamwork is how we build out project expectations – assigning tasks and managing deadlines to keep things moving forward. As a service-based company, it’s key that our staff can track their time against each task and client, so we know if we’re hitting our goals and staying profitable.
We’d agree with that statement
Teamwork keeps project templates on hand, which ensures that every step in the system is followed. Ultimately this makes it easier for us to deliver great work that brings success to our clients. We can also manage staff workloads to avoid bottlenecks at various stages of the project. For example, if our content writers are all slammed but the designers are twiddling their thumbs, that’s no bueno, so our project managers arrange meetings and deadlines appropriately to keep everyone chugging along with clear expectations. Ahhh, the sweet sound of progress.
Get Paid with Bill.com
Bill.com is incredibly useful for both our Accounts Receivables and Accounts Payable procedures. Small businesses work hard to serve clients well and provide awesome jobs for employees. To do that, you’ve got to make a profit and stay financially sound. While working with over 160 clients is a huge honor, it takes a high level of organization to ensure each account is invoiced when appropriate, our vendors are paid on time, and our books are kept up to date.
Don’t struggle so much to get paid!
Some of my favorite features include the ability to set up recurring invoices and auto-pay for our clients, which helps lighten their load as they manage their own small businesses. If someone ever needs to track when we paid that one specific vendor, or how much a client owes, Bill.com makes it easy to search for that info or build reports to track progress. Our accountants love how it syncs with Quickbooks Online, and I love being able to assure our clients that we’re using a safe and reliable platform to complete each transaction.
Those are just a few of the ways that we keep things moving at Engenius – hopefully this will inspire you to find the best tools for your team and keep an eye on new tools that are constantly being developed. Cheers to you, small businesses, and I wish you happy administrating!