These are some the tools I use to collaborate, automate, and organize my business.
It doesn't seem fair to keep these tools to myself, so I decided to post 8 of my favorites. My list, "I Gotta Hack For That", is free to distribute.
I've done the research and testing for you, feel free to add it to your arsenal of resources.
PS Don't forget to download the scaled down cheat sheet at the end of this list.
Here we go...
What is it: Evernote has a wide array of uses. Think of it as a searchable notebook. You can take notes, make lists, and save scanned receipts and invoices. Tag the document, or note, with a keyword(s) that makes sense to you, then search for it anytime. The notes are stored in the cloud, which means you can access them anywhere.
Who should use it: Everyone; business and personal. I use it for client notes, shopping lists and storing business cards. If you have ever jotted something down, lost a sticky note with that important phone number, or got tired of loose business cards, start using Evernote.
Cost: Free to $120/yr
My Favorite Feature: The ability to search every single Evernote is why I signed up. No more lost instructions, lists, or business cards.
StartR.website (making it's first public debut)
What is it: The StartR.website is a set it, and forget it, low-cost alternative to a do-it-yourself website. It's built for the businesses that plan to grow, the technologically and design challenged, and the busy entrepreneur who needs to stay focused on their area of expertise.
Who should use this: There are three types of users for a StartR.website:
- Folks considering building their own website with a DIY tool.
- Someone that needs a temporary online presence and plans to upgrade later.
- Entrepreneurs who value their time, and rightly delegate projects to industry experts.
Cost: $50/mo plus a $500 one-time setup fee.
My Favorite Feature: The ability to convert a StartR.website into custom website anytime. This is not possible with DIY tools. In full disclosure, the StartR.website was developed by JMG Marketing Group. That's my other favorite thing about it.
What is it: Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.
Who should use it: Anyone who manages a process. Wedding planners, event professionals, businesses that manage projects, or just executing ideas.
My Favorite Feature: I'm a little late to the Trello party, but right now, my favorite feature is the ability to share boards with others. I recently converted the spreadsheets I used to manage the web development processes into Trello boards. Now, I can share my progress with my clients.
What is it: MailChimp is an email management tool. You can send beautifully designed emails, manage your email list, and monitor the effectiveness of your email campaign.
Who should use this: Anyone who markets their business, ideas, or cause. MailChimp is my favorite tool for managing my email lists, campaigns, and designs. There are several templates from which to choose, so for those who might be designed challenged, your email will always look beautiful.
Cost: Free up to 2,000 subscribers
My Favorite Feature: I really like the reporting. You can see who opened your email and where they clicked.
What is it: eSignature is a simple to use electronic signature application, by Adobe. Just upload your document, drag and drop the signature box, and send. The recipient clicks to apply their signature.
Who should use this: Anyone that requires having documents signed, such as contracts.
My Favorite Feature: Agreements are signed so much faster. It's also a lot more convenient for the client or customer. No need to print, sign, scan, and email. Just click to accept.
What is it: Slack is a team collaboration tool. Ideal for remote groups or staff. Organizations such as Vox Media, The Associated Press and The New London Times all use Slack. Think of Slack as a virtual office. The "channels" within the virtual space are like conference rooms. Slack integrates with many more popular applications such as Trello and Google Drive.
Who should use this: Groups that operate far from each other. I've also seen companies use Slack as a support forum.
Cost: Free to $12/mo per active user
My Favorite Feature: How easy it is to share images and documents with co-collaborators.
What is it: Formally Google Docs, Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service created by Google. It allows users to store files in the cloud, share files, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with collaborators.
Who should use this: Teams or groups of people that need to share, edit, or read documents. If you're still sharing files or images via email, stoppit! Use Google Drive instead.
Cost: Free up to 15 GB to $299 for 3 TB of storage.
My Favorite Feature: I have two favorites 1. It's cloud-based, so you can access your documents anytime, anywhere, and with any device. 2. The small learning curve. Google's interface is intuitive and easy to figure out which, which speeds up the learning curve and lowers the technostress (feelings of frustration having to deal with technology).
If This, Then That (IFTTT)
What is it: I saved the best for last. If This, Then That is a free web-based service that allows you to connect everyday apps and devices. When you connect two apps or devices in IFTTT it is called a Recipe. For instance, there is a recipe that automatically posts a note from Evernote to a Trello board.
Look at that, it's all coming together, isn't it?
Who should use this: Everyone; business and personal. When I started using IFTTT, there were about 30 applications, or what IFTTT calls Channels; now there are 323. The automation opportunities are endless. My friend owns an outdoor pizza restaurant. He built a recipe that automatticly emailed his loyalists that he was closed for the day when the temperature got a below 40 degrees. Yup, that happened.
My Favorite Feature: Automating your life rocks! My husband and I saved thousands and thousands of dollars by using IFTTT to furnish our entire house. Our recipe used the Craigslist and email channels. When a particular brand of furniture came up on Craigslist, I received an email. We were always the first to respond to the screaming deals.