So many of us, these days, work from home – at least on some days. In fact, we work all over – at conferences, on planes, in coffee shops, and, for some of us, even on vacation (sad!). Part of what has enabled this “new world order” is virtual business software: software as a service (SaaS) that you can “rent” and use regardless of your location.
With these products also comes a higher productivity level. Beyond the Chaos loves products that can help your company develop and stick to processes and procedures that eliminate chaos and paper from your business. Here are our top recommended virtual business software tools for small companies – and we use most of them internally. (Note that many of the below product links go to my referral partner page. Beyond the Chaos is a referral partner for the products that we use and like the most.)
For Project Management
If you are looking for MOAR, Teamwork is an incredibly powerful tool providing more features than just the standard Basecamp project. This tool is great for those who are already familiar with using a Project Management tool and need more features. If you started out in Basecamp or other software, it will let you import your projects from the most common tools. Additionally, basic time tracking, invoicing and workflow tracking are included. Free trial for 30 days.
Basecamp 2 is a great starting out tool for companies wanting to have basic project management tracking. The to-do lists, ability to email directly, and text documents allow you to manage everything from a simple project to a company’s operations. The interface is clean and intuitive. Free trial for 60 days.
If you are interested in a FileMaker Project Management Template for Basecamp 2 or Teamwork, check out what we have to offer here.
For Time Tracking
Harvest is a wonderful time tracking tool that includes timers, tracking for invoices/projects and connects to Quickbooks, Basecamp, Freshdesk, and Teamwork. It tracks employees’ and subcontractors’ time across projects as well, allowing for easy timesheet approval come paycheck time. Free 30-day trial. And if you use BTC’s referral link, you will get $10 off your first month.
Freshdesk is a great option to track support requests. It allows you to set up an email address for your clients to submit requests via email that goes directly into the system (usually something like, firstname.lastname@example.org). From there, you can track response time to tickets, see what’s still outstanding and communicate with your client through email. Great reporting and ability to customize your ticket templates and dashboards. The client needs no access to the tool, although they can log in if they’d like to see their past and open tickets. Free trial for 30 days.
Slack is our favorite tool to keep in communication with team members and clients. It lets you have direct conversations, group messages, phone calls and more, all collected in separate channels and workgroups. You can also set reminders to follow up on specific messages and connect to several project management tools. The other great thing about Slack is that the basic package is free!
Google G Suite gives you access to Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive, using your domain name. Email addresses like “info@” can be added free. Plus you get access to Google Docs. And, if you can get by with those, you don’t need Microsoft Office products. Free Trial for 14 days. For 20% off your first year, use BTC’s referral link and use code V7X39EVKRCAYEWD for basic and V9QDKQDNJLHULWJ for business.
Calendly makes scheduling appointments incredibly easy. You get a link that others can click on to see what times are available on your calendar for meetings. Additionally, it’s great for setting up those initial calls with potential client leads. It can also go more in-depth to schedule team meetings or have an individual select who you want in your call. Like Slack, the basic package is free.
Zoom makes setting up calls easier than ever! It allows for recurring meetings, audio, video, and screen share. You can record meetings for future reference and if you need to capture your client’s screen, you are afforded that functionality as well. The basic package for Zoom is free, but the downside is you are limited to 40-minute meetings.
Rev is a great translation tool. If you need a transcript made of any recording, they charge by the minute and the work is very good!
WordPress allows tech-savvy people to set up and maintain their own websites. You don’t have to be a coder, but you will need to spend a little time getting to know how it works. It allows you to set templates for your website, making adding a page even easier. WordPress has a great blog set up for those who are looking to share knowledge on a regular basis. It also has great tracking for Google SEO and the ability to add plugins to your basic setup for added functionality. And the best news? WordPress is free.
Social Media is one of the best ways to promote your small business, but it’s also a taxing item on your to-do list for most. Buffer makes everything so much easier! You can attach the main social media accounts you’re using, and schedule them out for the whole week. That way, you can dedicate an hour at the beginning of the week to your social media posts and then forget about it for the rest of the week. Free 14 day trial.
MailChimp is a great way to communicate with all of your clients via eblasts of information that you wish to share with your followers. It can integrate with your website for list sign up as well. Basic plans are 100% free.
HubSpot helps track all potential sales leads, networking partners, and clients. It’s a very powerful CRM. Additionally, you can track cases and deals as the opportunities arise with your leads. It also provides a basic to-do list for follow-ups. Nice connectivity to Teamwork and other tools as well. 30-day free trial and there are 100% free packages.
Once you’re ready for the proposal, AdobeSign is our preferred digital signature software. You can also use it for any contracts you need to sign. Let’s face it: Presenting your proposal in a way that it can instantly be signed and returned can avoid delays in new client acquisition and getting projects moving. You can also see when your client has viewed the proposal and signed it. Plus, the signed document is delivered in PDF format to the client and is stored for your future reference as well. Additionally, you get a free scanning app for your mobile device which stores scans to your Adobe Cloud. Free 14-day trial.
Quickbooks Online is a great tool to manage your finances, including expenses, invoice tracking, and payroll. Additionally, you can link your bank accounts as well for a seamless interface. Use BTC’s referral link and get 50% off. Free 30-day trial.
If you need help with working any of these tools into your business processes, please contact us for assistance.