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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 10 Best Tools for Documenting Systems Amongst Your Team

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 10 Best Tools for Documenting Systems Amongst Your Team

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What is your favorite software or tool for documenting systems for your team and why?

1. Asana

Blake Miller

    Asana is great because it’s so versatile. Not only is it great for project management, but also you can use it to create checklist-oriented task lists. For instance, at Think Big Accelerator, we use an Asana organization with multiple projects that we share with new startups. It’s called the Playbook and meant to serve as a guide for entrepreneurs from idea to the first customer.
    Blake Miller, Think Big Partners

    2. Courseroute and Camtasia

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    allie siarto

      We’re a small team (five people), so we wanted to build out a really simple platform to record and share screencasts and documents around our company processes. We’ve recorded all of our major day-to-day processes using Camtasia screen recording, and we host the videos and documents on Courseroute, a simple training platform that we built. The beta version will be open to the public soon.
      Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

      3. Basecamp

      Fabian Kaempfer

        We like to keep everything in one place. We use Basecamp as our project management tool for almost everything we do. By using this, we are able to document systems in the appropriate project and refer to it by link if it’s associated with a certain task somewhere else. Having to switch and log into several platforms is a time-waster for us. We like to be efficient, and Basecamp is how we get it done.
        Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

        4. GitHub

        phil-chen

          Being a technology company with a small team, GitHub allows us both documentation of our systems as well as documentation of our code base in a way we are familiar with. The revision control aspect is very useful to see what has changed and when.
          Phil Chen, Givit

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          5. DocSTAR

          Andrew Schrage

            Use the software offered by DocSTAR. It offers cloud-based document management services and data capture, and it can improve overall business workflow.
            Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

             

            6. Evernote

            Thursday-Bram 2

              With the advent of Evernote for business, I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful tool for documenting systems and sharing the information with my team. Even better, I can clip an article and turn it into a process to follow very quickly if we want to try something new.
              Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

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              7. Streak

              doreen-bloch

                Streak has been a great tool for our team to document a variety of workflows. The tool lives right within our email accounts (where we spend a great amount of time), which is very useful. Streak has many pipelines that can be built and then shared with select team members. Whether it’s sales, bug tracking or customer service processes, Streak maintains the workflows and encourages collaboration.
                Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

                8. Flow

                Phil Dumontet

                  Flow is my favorite task management tool. It holds everyone on my team accountable to what they say they’re going to do and allows your task lists to be private or public. The private lists are key for information control; these let me collaborate on high-level, sensitive projects with the people I choose.
                  Phil Dumontet, DASHED

                  9. Lucidchart

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                  Robby Hill

                    Lucidchart is an HTML5 app accessible from all major platforms and has some team collaboration features as you’re documenting processes and building out very complex diagrams. We use it because some people are on Mac, iPad and Windows, and the service/app works across all of those devices, helping us convey a message with a nice looking graphical chart.
                    Robby Hill, HillSouth

                    10. Google Docs

                    Erin Blaskie

                      We use many project management tools including Basecamp, Evernote and Asana, but what we find works best for documenting systems is Google Docs. The reason? It’s simply the best at keeping one version of a document, and you can organize all the documents into helpful folders. Combine that with the commenting functionality, and you have a streamlined way to document processes and systems.
                      Erin Blaskie, Erin Blaskie Digital Strategist

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                      1 How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed 2 How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late 3 9 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Business 4 Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More 5 12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

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                      Last Updated on September 29, 2020

                      How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

                      How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

                      Unsurprisingly enough, all businesses are online today. Considering the advances in the smartphone industry as well as the increasingly accessible internet facility, it was only a matter of time before businesses took advantage of the online environment.

                      This increasing popularity makes for a promising future for a lot of young entrepreneurs. And knowing how to start an online business will open up a world of possibilities for you that was not possible 10 years ago.

                      So, keeping the potential for exponential growth in mind, let’s dive into the article below, and explore the steps of starting an online business that will bring you success.

                      1. Becoming the Master of ‘ONE’ Trade

                      Most successful online businesses are the master of one trade. And that’s why beginning with a niche is always a good idea.

                      A niche market is a focused segment within a larger market. Imagine a men’s shoes market and then, imagine handcrafted brown Italian leather shoes for men. While the previous one is a bigger market, the latter one is simply a more focused segment within that market.

                      Knowing the niche helps a lot to start an online business and if you are feeling a bit lost, here are some self-queries that will act as a perfect guide:

                      What Speaks to Your Heart?

                      This first way of discovering the niche is perfect for those who want to do what they love. Working in a market that you love will ensure that constant excitement and drive to do better, eventually leading to ultimate prosperity.

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                      Decisions Based on Knowledge

                      The second way is perfect for those who have a lot of untapped knowledge about a specific industry. Utilizing the insights on a specific industry is a great way to find a niche. This way, you’ll already know all the ins and outs of the industry and can easily get ahead of all the competitors.

                      Undiscovered Potential

                      Lastly, conducting research into various industries and finding an untapped segment is another amazing way of finding the right niche. This practice will require you to come up with a new and unique solution for uncatered audiences.

                      2. When Is Your Idea Valid?

                      All the great ideas for starting an online business needs to be valid. And once you have found the niche, this validation process is what comes next.

                      Proving the soundness of the idea is not at all hard. A detailed industry examination is all you need initially to understand the value of the concept and recalibrate it to turn into a great online business.

                      Market research is a systematic unraveling of the target market. This research will include all the information on the product/service you are about to sell, the target audience, and how the competitors are operating in this crowded market.

                      This in-depth research will give you the initial idea of how the products can make an impact in the outside world. And once the small online business ideas are validated, it will be time to move on and craft a plan and start working on establishing the business.

                      3. Crafting the Map to Success

                      Having a proper plan for an online business is like having a map when you travel to an unknown city. This is a document that includes all the factual information on the business and crucial business data.

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                      To help you out, here’s a list of all the information online business plans must include:

                      • An idea of objective – The best online business plans always have a clear outline of the business goals and intentions. Having this clear outline will increase the efficiency of business functions later on. The target demographic, business model—all kinds of information needs to be a part of this document.
                      • Taking stock of available resources – A startup needs to utilize all the resources it has, and that’s why the plan needs to have an in-depth outline of the financial resources in use as well as the employees and their expertise. With a better idea of all the resources in hand, starting an online business will be an easier process.

                      4. The Virtual Storefront: A Process of Development

                      The steps of how to start an online business are incomplete without the website creation process. With the right website approach, you can easily succeed in increasing business revenue.

                      What does that perfect business website look like? Let’s follow these steps to create an effective business website.

                      Choose Your Approach

                      There are numerous ways of making a website and for a positive outcome, you need to choose the perfect approach. Depending on the business model, initial finances, and end goals, there are two kinds of approaches for the online storefront:

                      • Third-party approach – Third-party platforms will connect you with the customers out there. For small online business ideas, Creating an account or site with these platforms will be beneficial because these platforms come with a large array of services as well as a big enough existing consumer base ready to utilize.
                      • Creating a new website –  A business-specific website will help you eliminate the third party go-between and connect directly with the buyers. With this approach, you get more control over the business and how it is presented to the consumers out there and the revenue you make. Any of the above-mentioned approaches can be beneficial for easy online business startups. However, to achieve some specific business goals, having a customized website will be more beneficial for you.

                      Design Can Bring You Maximum Success!

                      For those who have decided to create their own site, the design is of paramount importance. With a great design, you will be able to engage and interact with the visitors better and encourage them to make a purchase.

                      The design, however, is not just a matter of aesthetics. A website’s design encompasses all aspects of it, from the visual effects to the content that’s used on the site.

                      To create a truly amazing design that reflects new online business concepts here are a few matters to consider:

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                      • Keep it responsive – Many markets are simply skipping over the desktop phase and launching the business for mobile users around the world.[1] Considering this popularity of the mobile internet market, the business website has to be responsive. This approach will help you to reach a bigger audience and conduct business on a larger scale.
                      • Users want a fast experience – Using high-quality images on the site does improve the visuals, but make sure all those images are compressed. Having a faster website will enhance the user experience on the site. Besides compressing all the media content on the site, you can also utilize an asynchronous loading technique that loads all the contents simultaneously, reducing friction. With a faster site, it will become easier to implement the online business startup ideas into reality.
                      • Define the brand – The design stage determines a lot of things for the business website and one of those things is the business image. To make an impact on the world with the business, you have to create a perfect image and for that, a brand guide is necessary. The brand guide is a document that includes all the information and guidelines on various visual elements on the site that makes up the business personality. Based on the kind of image you want to create, all the elements will be outlined in this documentation.

                      Where the Website Becomes Reality

                      Since we know how website design helps to launch a successful online business, it is time to move onto development. Online business development is where the idea becomes a reality. And to make this reality perfect, you need to make sure that the development and deployment process goes well.

                      A high performing site always includes all the right features that enhance the user experience as well as helps you to convert more traffic. And for the best results, ensure the use of only the latest tech stack during development.

                      Here are some development issues you have to pay attention to while building the business website:

                      • The right partner makes all the difference – For small startups who are wondering how to start an online business, finding the right development partner is going to make all the difference. However, before making a decision, there are a few things you should contemplate. The team that you are about to hire should have experience in catering to your industry, as well as an extensive portfolio and good reviews. Additionally, it will be perfect if the agency or freelancer also provides a 360-degree service, from development to maintenance.
                      • How to assure the quality of the site? – Testing the site is an integral part of the answer to the question of “how to start an online business?”. An experienced partner will be able to help you the most with this. From security testing to split testing, this stage in development will help in understanding how well the site functions and what needs to change. And once the changes are made and the test results come clean, it will be time to launch the website.

                      5. Some Tricks to Increase Online Sales

                      Selling online is not easy, but not hard either. In a physical store, you can use campaigns, go door to door with pamphlets, and such. However, successful online businesses have their own style of campaigns that helps them to sell more without any problems.

                      So, what are these tricks?

                      Utilize the Magic of SEO

                      With an increase in quality traffic, the sales ratio will go up too. And to drive quality traffic on the website, you need to utilize the SEO tricks, and probably hire an SEO expert.

                      When starting an online business site, ensure all the content on the site is optimized to rank for the right queries by target consumers. With a higher rank on the SERP, the traffic will increase on the site.

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                      With the increase in quality traffic, it will become easier for you to convert visitors. The visitor data will help you to adjust the site performance. In brief, utilizing SEO will open the doors to a lot of possibilities for your small online business ideas.[2]

                      Entice With Free Value

                      Consumers today have lots of options to choose from. And keeping all that in mind, it will be wise to create a business plan for an online startup that provides free value to the users before asking them to buy something.

                      Consumers want to buy from someone who knows what they are doing, especially in the case of a curated service or goods provider. And that’s why to turn the profitable online business ideas even more effective, you need to start offering free value on the site, with free products and content.

                      Having a blog is also another way of displaying your expertise. With specialized content on the industry, you can easily grab the attention of the audience. And once assured of your knowledge on the matter, consumers will feel a lot safer about making a purchase.

                      A Killer Customer Service Is Everything

                      Your small online business idea needs a better service option. Using AI-based interactive features to implement better support for the global consumer base will prove to be extremely beneficial. With a 24/7 automated support channel, customers will be satisfied with your business and come back more often.

                      It’s an Easy Process: All You Have to Do Is to Start

                      And there it is, the simple five-step process of starting an online business that is bound to succeed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of differences between creating a physical business and an online one. The main differences are only in the consumer and competitive landscape.

                      While a physical store faces and caters to local competitors and consumers, the online business has to deal with the same on a global basis. So, focusing well on the global market landscape while crafting the plan will help you succeed.

                      More Tips on How to Start an Online Business

                      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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