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14 Tools to Run Your Business Wherever You Are

14 Tools to Run Your Business Wherever You Are

Intuit, the makers of software like Quicken, estimates that by 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers or independent contractors, and with that freedom comes the flexibility of being location independent. More and more business owners are taking advantage of that flexibility and using the internet to travel the world while still running a business. Here’s a list of tools that you can use to run your business wherever you are:

IFTTT: Automate online tools

    Stay organized & productive

    When you’re constantly changing your location, one of the hardest things you’ll deal with is keeping all of your information straight. Evernote lets you take notes and bookmark websites, organize them by notebook, and syncs across mobile and desktop apps (including an offline sync), so that your information is always at your fingertips.

    Asana and Trello are two very popular project/task management tools, both with free options, mobile apps, and easy-to-use layouts, and will grow with you as your add team members to your business (if you decide to go that route).

    IFTTT will let you hook up different apps and sites to automate your internet usage. For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, you can set it up to send you an email every time the RSS feed of a job board is updated with a new post. That means you spend less time refreshing job boards, more time working, and get more work done (which means – you guessed it – you make more money!).

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    Streak: A CRM that lives inside Gmail

      Keep up with leads

      If you’re going to run a profitable business, you need to keep track of potential clients & customers and follow up with them regularly.

      Streak is a wonderful free app that works inside Gmail and can be used to handle sales/CRM purposes, and it has an iOS app that’s just as easy to use. It’s a great way to keep track of people as they move through your sales funnel, from being a lead to being a client. It also can track how many times an email was viewed and lets you schedule emails to be sent later.

      Insightly and Contactually are two other CRM apps that are more full-fledged than Streak. Both have mobile apps available for iOS and Android. I personally use Streak to keep track of potential clients, and then after they become a client, put them into Contactually so that I get reminders to keep in touch after we’re done with our work together – did you know that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%? (Source: Bain & Co.)

      Have an office on the go

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      Offices for location independent business owners

        Running a location independent business has its many upsides, but one of the downsides is that there’s no dedicated office. It can be distracting working at coffee shops. And if you need to meet a prospective client, coffee shops can be crowded and noisy, which is not the best meeting environment. This is where coworking spaces, which are spaces entirely dedicated to business owners and freelancers who don’t need full time dedicated office space, come in.

        The Desktime directory will also let you search by location and duration (day, week, or month) to find coworking spaces wherever you’re at. ShareDesk is similar and has an option for searching for meeting rooms, too.

        The one downside of coworking is that it can be more casual than some business owners need, and the experience is going to vary from place to place. If you’re looking for a more uniform experience, Premier Business Centers offers executive suites and office centers in multiple locations.

        Share multimedia

        Sharing multimedia can be useful in a location independent business in two scenarios: when you’re trying to explain something to a team member or your assistant and an email just isn’t cutting it, or when you’re engaging with your followers. Videos, audio, and photos/images tend to do much better on social media than just text updates. And the time used to be that you needed a powerful computer and expensive software to create and send multimedia files – but that’s not the case any more with apps like these:

        Jing - screen recording software by TechSmith

          Video: Jing and Screencast-O-Matic

          If you need to record a quick video to send to a client or team member explaining something, Jing is a great way to go. It’s a free download for both Mac and Windows which lets you record a video of up to five minutes in length, upload it to screencast.com, and then gives you a link to share, all from inside the app.

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          Screencast-O-Matic is a great option if you’re recording videos for your blog or company website. You can record a video of up to fifteen minutes on the free version and the paid version is only $15/year. Both versions include easy in-app sharing to Google Drive, Vimeo, and Youtube, among other sites, and the pro version includes editing tools built in.

          Clyp.it: Free and simple audio sharing

            Audio: Clyp

            Clyp is to audio as Jing is to video – it’s a super simple setup that lets you click one button, record audio, and then automatically uploads it and gives you a link to share. Best of all, there’s mobile apps for both iOS and Android, so you can do this on the go. There’s multiple ways a business owner could use Clyp, including sending a short audio to a team member or client to explain something (easier than juggling a smartphone or tablet keyboard while, say, your hands are full at the airport and you don’t have time for a full-on conversation, but an issue needs to be addressed).

            You could also do an interactive Q&A on your Facebook page or Twitter account using audio responses – much more personal and fun than text. It’s especially suited for people who deal in a lot of audio like musicians or speakers – audio sneak peeks posted to fans are a great way to give a “backstage pass” and grow online engagement.

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            Canva - free tool to create images for sharing

              Photos/Images: Canva

              Even if you aren’t a designer, you want to have nice looking business cards, social media icons, and website graphics – and Canva can help you do just that. It’s free, easy to get the hang of, and most of the graphical elements are free, with select stock photos starting at $1/photo. There’s also several templates (include business cards, posters, social media graphic, Pinterest graphic, and so on) that make it quick to whip something up without it looking totally amateur.

              If you’re looking for more useful tools for entrepreneurs, check out these seven seriously hardcore project management apps, or these productivity tools for visual thinkers

              Featured photo credit: Bobbi Newman via flickr.com

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              Published on November 12, 2020

              5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

              5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

              What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

              Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

              Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

              While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

              Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

              1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

              When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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              Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

              In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

              • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
              • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
              • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

              While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

              2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

              Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

              Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

              Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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              However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

              3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

              Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

              But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

              It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

              4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

              Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

              Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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              5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

              Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

              For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

              How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

              The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

              If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

              Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

              It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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              Final Thoughts

              If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

              If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

              It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

              More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

              Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

              Reference

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