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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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              Last Updated on December 10, 2019

              7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

              7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

              Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

              But do you know what motivates your people?

              It’s simple:

              • Is their work stimulating?
              • Does it challenge them?
              • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
              • Do you encourage creativity?
              • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
              • Do you praise them?
              • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
              • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
              • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

              Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

              In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

              Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

              These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

              1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

              You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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              But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

              If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

              Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

              2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

              There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

              In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

              So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

              Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

              • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
              • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
              • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
              • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

              So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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              3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

              Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

              When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

              Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

              So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

              4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

              Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

              Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

              Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

              Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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              5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

              Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

              Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

              A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

              Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

              If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

              6. Monitor Their Workload

              Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

              What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

              • Red means they’re fully loaded.
              • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
              • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

              I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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              If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

              And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

              7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

              Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

              So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

              The Bottom Line

              A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

              Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

              More to Motivate Your Team

              Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

              Reference

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