Don’t know if we’ve mentioned it already, but we’re passionate advocates of all things virtual at Time etc. The business world is now inextricably linked with digital technology, and businesses are using online tools and resources more and more to run effectively.
Our Virtual PAs use a wide range of digital software and websites while working for our clients. The resources we use aren’t just for Virtual PAs though, they’re great for anyone who wants to embrace technology to help run their business.
Here’s our rundown of our best time, money and stress-saving digital business resources:
File sharing and storing
Dropbox is a cloud based file-hosting service that allows you to store all your important documents; perfect for backing up files, viewing files on the move (there’s now an app that makes this even easier) and sharing files with your contacts. Storage is free up to 18MB.
At Time etc our Virtual PAs share a lot of work via Google Drive. It’s completely free and you can edit documents in Google Drive without having to download them to your computer.
YouSendIt is a great way to securely share content, sign documents, and access files from any mobile device or PC. It’s also a great way to send large documents rather than waiting an entire afternoon for an e-mail attachment to go through!
Project and task management
Basecamp is an online project-management tool. You can view an entire project on one page, share it with your team, keep track of all your tasks and create project specific to-do lists. Great for keeping organised! Pricing starts at $20/month.
Another multi-platform task management system and an excellent time saving device (which, as you can imagine, we’re really big on Time Etc HQ!) is Producteev. You can label tasks, set reminders, sort and prioritise your workload and even sync calendars, all with a very user-friendly, business-savvy interface. Producteev is free for individuals but starts at $20/month for teams.
Tweetdeck is a simple-to-use, effective social media synchronising tool. A lot of our Virtual PAs run their client’s social media accounts, so using Tweetdeck to synchronise Facebook to Twitter means content can be easily shared while saving time!
Building an online community isn’t just about tweeting and blogging anymore – and Pinterest isn’t just about pretty pictures. Pinterest is a great way to ‘tell your story’, get people interested in your brand, enhance your online following and drive traffic to your site. And it’s completely free!
Skype is a really good way to save money on business calls – particularly international calls. It’s also great because it’s easily accessible while on the move – our Virtual PAs use it to speak to their clients wherever in the world they are.
When it comes to e-mail communications, we love Mailchimp and our Virtual PAs use it for both client and internal newsletters. It’s simple to set up and use, allows you to customise your e-mail marketing to your brand and you can easily store contact information. Plus – it’s free to send to up to 2000 contacts a month!
There will most likely be a part 2 to this blog, as we love to wax lyrical about anything virtual that gives businesses a helping hand and there are constantly new software and business tools emerging.
I was lucky enough to turn the business I started aged 17, with £150, into a multi-million pound enterprise with more than 24,000 customers, so I read with interest this week about StartUp Britain.
Launched this Monday, this initiative is a government-backed (but not funded) attempt to get more people to start their own businesses. It’s a brilliant combination of resources, links and £1500 worth of vouchers and offers to help get you started.
I’ve always believed that most people in the UK who dream of starting a business are held back by one thing – FEAR. Most of those people never really take the risk, leave stable employment and go for it. Many of those that do, quickly let fear overcome them when they discover that starting a business can be extremely difficult.
Here at Time Etc we’re lucky enough to support more than 180 business owners who have taken the plunge, started their own businesses and got through the “difficult” start-up period – but I’ve seen plenty of people spend six months working on a concept and give up within six weeks because they got a few rejections during their first round of sales calls. The fear of failure itself results in failure.
So, if fear is the number one thing that stops more people starting and succeeding with their own businesses, is StartUp Britain a good thing? Will it help to encourage more people to take the plunge and get started?
I certainly think so.
Putting aside the £1500 vouchers (nice touch, great PR hook but they’re probably not going to change anyone’s life) it is clear to me that StartUp Britain is a very high profile way to make those people on the verge of starting their own business feel more supported and less fearful. It’s a bundle of resources to help you on your way, backed by a friendly set of human faces – people who have been there and done it.
There are plenty of business resources out there that do a similar thing, but none has achieved the PR coup that we’ve seen with StartUp Britain, who have had heaps of tabloid and news coverage all over the UK.
If StartUp Britain can, in any way, make someone who is thinking of starting a business feel a little more supported and less fearful, it has succeeded. At the very least it’s got us all talking about start-ups again – which is absolutely brilliant.
For more information visit http://www.startupbritain.org
Founder of Time Etc