10 Digital Tools for Keeping Your Business Running Smoothly
In the mid-90s when I started my career in licensing, I used Excel spreadsheets to keep track of all of my sales calls. It is amazing to look back and realize how inefficient things were compared to present day, but what else were we to do?
Last week, Dropbox announced that they are launching a new tool for businesses that will allow you to store your work documents and your personal documents separately in the cloud.
The article got me thinking about how far we have come in terms of productivity and I thought I would share some of my favorite digital productivity tools that will make your lives easier.
Note that many of these tools are great for individual entrepreneurs but are also appropriate for larger organizations that are attempting to be more efficient as well.
- The aforementioned Dropbox has a couple of different versions in addition to their new business product. You can get up to 2GB for free (with additional storage granted if you bring them new customers) or you can pay $9.99/month and up for increased storage starting at 100GB. Dropbox can be accessed on your computer and on all your digital devices and is clearly organized and extremely easy to use. In addition to cloud storage, the service is also great for sharing large documents with colleagues as you can send links to individual files in your account.
- The precursor to Dropbox is Yousendit (now Hightail) which is again a great free service for sending large files. If you want to send a basic file up to 250MB, you just enter the recipient’s email address and upload the file to the Hightail cloud server. The service sends a note to the recipient and they can download the file directly from the server. If you want additional services (file storage, sending larger files, etc.), they have those as well for an additional monthly fee.
- In terms of keeping track of sales calls, I love Salesforce. There are many other CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools on the market but Salesforce is the biggest and their product is extremely robust. With Salesforce I am able to keep track of all of my Clients, meetings and every sales call I make. It also provides a daily to-do list so you can stay on track with everything you want to accomplish. The only downside to Salesforce is that there is no free version at all though the most basic level only costs $5.00/month.
- Another CRM that I have used which does have a free version is called Zoho. Zoho is similar to Salesforce but it is pretty basic. You can pay for more advanced capabilities but then it is actually more expensive than Salesforce. So, it’s great if you don’t want to pay and only have basic tracking needs.
- HooteSuite is an amazing tool if you are active in social media. It’s free version allows you to post to and monitor up to five different social media accounts. There is a robust scheduling tool, a good link shortener and the analytics will give you an indication of what is resonating with your audience and what isn’t. Again, there is a paid version (Pro) that starts at $8.99/month which allows you up to 100 accounts, multiple users and more robust analytics.
- If you find that you need to collaborate on a document with multiple parties, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is great for sharing working documents so that both parties can edit and view concurrently. Just create a new document or import an existing document, save it and share it with whomever you are collaborating. It’s super easy and amazingly efficient, eliminating rounds of back and forth over document approvals.
- Skype is fantastic for free domestic and international video calling and is accessible on both your computer and your mobile devices. Just download the app onto your device and create an account. When you are ready to make a call, just add your contact’s user name to your contact list and dial away!
- Need to send out an email announcement to a large number of recipients and don’t want to worry about gmail limits and spam filters? MailChimp is the tool for you. Allowing you to send up to 12K emails/month to up to 2,000 people at no charge, MailChimp also provides templates, A/B testing and segmentation capabilities. You can also pay as you go if you want additional services like auto-reply and email delivery by timezone.
- If you have a large team working together on joint projects, Asana lets you keep everything organized and moving forward according to schedule. It’s kind of like a giant project management database. At no charge, Asana provides an online tool for creating to-do lists and workflows, allowing you to assign responsibilities, deadlines and other specifications. It also provides a great snapshot of any project at any point in time.
- Last but not least, if you like to listen to music while you work but find that your mind starts to wander after a short time, focus@will allows you to listen to specially programmed music that is designed to keep you aware and alert. You get 60 minutes of free listening time and can choose from a variety of different music styles to suit your mood.
So, those are my top ten work-related productivity tool recommendations.
Are there any that I missed? If so, please let me know in the Comments below…