Updated: Mar 25, 2020
This has to be one of my most favourite parts of business. I am a total software junkie. It’s an obsession, seriously, I am sure the girls just roll their eyes now when I tell them I have found “the perfect” piece of software to utilise within the business… and honestly, I am generally not wrong, HA! The problem is that the following month the next “greatest thing ever” will appear and I’ll be declaring my love for that. Business Software has the ability to make your business (and life) so much easier, when set up and used effectively. Regardless of what type of business you run, there are some tools that we recommend that will help you streamline processes.
Cloud Storage - There are a couple of great ones; Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox, and countless others. We don’t care what you use, just ensure you use it!
All of our business documents, designs, backups, etc are saved in the cloud. I lost all my data once in the great laptop death of 2011 and it shall not be repeated. Utilising cloud storage means you can also share your data with relevant parties without having to email or use USB’s, it’s just a far more streamlined way to save.
PRO TIP: Ensure you have a structured naming & filing system to make documents easier to find.
CMS - Client Management System. I started with Excel, and if you are an Excel lover like I am, that might be all you ever need (we can set up the perfect document to suit your needs!!)
We eventually moved onto a browser-based platform called 17Hats which I will discuss in more detail, but there are so many CMS programs and everyone fits a different industry or product type, so we would recommend a custom plan be developed if you are on the hunt (send us an email and we can discuss).
A great CMS will allow you to store your clients information, to contact the client from the system, remind you of important dates, and connect to external applications like your bookkeeping system (or have this facility internally).
17Hats - This is an all in one small business system that we use and recommend. We’ve tried others (many) and we always come back to it. It’s not perfect. But it’s 90% of the way there. We use 17hats as our CMS, our workflow management system, our to-do list. We also use it to send quotes, contracts, and invoices. We really love 17hats and will write a detailed blog on it in 2020.
Slack - Slack was a total game-changer for us when we started using it in early 2019. With a growing team, all working remotely, we need something super reliable for communication. Slack has a free version, which we used for around 8 months, and with a smaller team would have continued to use, but with growing requirements, we moved to the paid version, which is still only around $60 a month for 5 users.
Slack works best by having channels set up for different parts of your business and then adding in the team members or clients relevant to that channel only. For example; we have a channel for each one of our clients, and only the staff members responsible for that client and myself are in that channel. We use it to discuss requirements and specifics, and then make decisions or to-do’s which then get transferred into 17hats for actioning. Instead of sitting around a boardroom table we can discuss things in messages, look back on that information and move forward with a plan.
We also use software to manage social media, multiple websites, and stock images. Look out in 2020 when we start discussing business management, including software in more detail.