If you’re not already utilizing the cloud in the everyday life of your business, 2014 is really the time to start. Cloud technology will allow you to save money (as opposed to purchasing a physical storage space and accessories) and is super easy to use (requires no IT expertise). If you’re completely new to the cloud, that’s okay-we’re here to help! To get you started, try checking out these five FREE tools that you can use to make your life easier:
1. Dropbox (for File Storage)
When it comes to sharing files within your company, Dropbox is the way to go. Dropbox allows you to share documents, photos, and videos with your team. Once the doc is in your Dropbox, you can get to it from your phone, computer, or tablet device. Everything is automatically private, so you can choose who gets access to what. According to Dropbox, over 200 million people and 4 million businesses use their product, so why not give it a try? It’s free!
2. Google Docs and Google Drive (for Collaboration)
Want to create a powerpoint presentation that the whole team can work on at their leisure? Google Docs will let you do that. The point of Google Docs and the is to allow you to create and share your work online, whether it be documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, drawings, and more. You can then access these documents from anywhere. This is a great (free) collaboration tool.
3. Evernote (for Organization)
Evernote is designed for taking “notes,” e.g., a photo, voice memo, full webpage, or handwritten note, and then archiving those notes into folders, annotated, edited, and commented upon. If you’re the kind of person who is constantly coming across some cool website or jotting down reminder notes, then this cloud app is for you. They also have something called Evernote for Business, which according to one Evernote blogger, “It creates the ideal situation for small and fast-growth businesses because the whole company can seamlessly discover important company information, as well as storing their own knowledge about the business, which will never get lost.”
As your projects and teams grow, easy to learn and use project management software is a must. After many a free trial, Basecamp is the hands down winner. It’s super intuitive and plays nicely with other critical tools in my workflow (i.e., Google Docs).
This tool is so versatile and flexible that it’s almost impossible to describe all the ways it can be used on a daily basis. I’ll just hit some high points:
Use discussions to collaborate on new ideas. This is particularly effective when you’re working with remote team members across multiple time zones.
Break projects down into to-dos and task folks that you need to support your effort. When you’re responsible for complex projects, being able to track others’ progress in executing is invaluable.
Files and text files features are awesome for creating continuity of resources and assets throughout a project.
No business thrives without a loyal following (tribe) that can be rallied around what you’re trying to do for the market. And email marketing is, based on test after test, the best way to build and strengthen this loyal base of customers.
Email marketing is almost always the quickest recommendation off our tongues to new clients, for two big reasons:
Almost no one is doing it, and even the ones that do are usually half-assing it.
P.S.: many of you might be saying, “MailChimp, isn’t that kind of a wimpy solution for a fancier, bigger company?” Let me tell you this: having been burnt by many a high-priced email platform that couldn’t give me consistent deliverability and flawless email client compatibility in the past, even for the enterprise solution, MailChimp is my choice.