Five Business Tools To Help You Run Your Business More Efficiently

We have recently written about techniques and tools to help you improve your time management skills and organise your time more efficiently.

This week we are looking at what free tools are available in the marketplace to assist you to run your business and help you be more efficient, productive and successful.

Project Management

If you struggle with managing all your projects and are unsure as to which of your team is working on what task, then you should definitely consider using Wrike. It’s a solution that can efficiently automate and streamline your projects and tasks, improve your company’s productivity, and boost efficiency.

Wrike’s project management tool is one of the best on the market no matter which option you choose to use. They offer a free simple, shared task list for small teams with 5 users or less. With this plan, you can manage tasks, share files, and monitor your group’s activities in a real-time feed. However, if you are looking for a for something more comprehensive or for more users then various paid options are available.

Wrike allows you to share information in real time with team members and collaborate on projects and tasks with easy-to-understand functionalities and an intuitive interface. This great tool can help make your business operations faster, more transparent, and effective. As it is easy to use the tool it will take no time at all to train your team and with its email collaboration, you will be able to centralise your task management, ensuring important tasks are never missed and actionable tasks are directed accordingly. The timeline feature enables you to easily track various tasks, allowing you to create custom workflows to streamline work and gain visibility into your work progress. These custom workflows are great or budgeting, prioritisation, and customised work status.

So now have control of your projects and team, it’s time to think about communication, which may be with your clients and customers, suppliers or remote workers.

Meetings

Video conferencing is an ideal way to communicate and join.me offers a reliable video conferencing tool to help you communicate in a visual format and helps you to provide that personal touch whether it be with your customers or your team.

Join.me is a cloud-based application that offers a free plan that allows you to invite up to 10 guests to join you. It provides for screen sharing and supports up to 5 video feeds. It has a simple, user-friendly structure, making it easy for businesses to start or attend a meeting, collaborate and share ideas and discuss business even when they are nowhere near their desktops. For a monthly fee, Join.me also offers two paid plans that offer additional facilities and a two-week free trial.

The platform allows you to personalise your URL meetings with a single code, and invite users with simple, automated email notifications. All attendees will receive instructions on how to join the meeting, and be able to share screens and contribute both with audio and video. An option to record meetings and keep them in the database is also available. This results in no requirement for complex training or demonstration.

So with your project management assisting with time management and your video conferencing wrapped up, we now look at how to get more from your social media.

Social Media

For many small businesses, an easy to use free social media platform such as Hootsuite will be sufficient to allow you to keep up to date with what your customers are saying and to enable you to market and communicate with customers, suppliers and anyone else who has an interest in your business.

The Hootsuite free plan allows you to manage multiple social networks, schedule posts, and interact with your followers. You’ll also be able to track how many followers you have on each of your social networks and monitor which posts are generating the most clicks. As your business grows, you can move up to one of three premium plans, which give you access to additional profiles, analytics, and multiple users.

Hootsuite enables you to use the social web to execute marketing campaigns, spot and grow your audience, and send them targeted messages via multiple channels.

The paid plans allow your team to collaboratively schedule posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and other popular social sites via desktop, web, and mobile platforms. The platform also allows you to track industry trends and campaign results to tweak your strategies as you go, with tabs that organise all the social profiles that you link with the platform.

So with all this time you will be saving you will now have more time for marketing. Why not try an email marketing campaign?

Email Marketing

MailChimp is a great email marketing tool that offers plans for both small and large businesses. The basic free plan is very flexible and allows you up to 2000 subscribers – after that you can choose between a fee based on number of subscribers, or a ‘pay as you go’ model where you only pay when you send out a campaign. It not only allows you to send email campaigns but also offers business-enhancing analytical features and strong technology tools that allow users to effectively use email to market products and services to your clients and prospective customers with ease and accuracy, and turn leads into actual sales. It provides the ability for you to generate custom reports, view click-through and success rates, tracks your emails, and ensure full transparency of campaigns. You can select from a range of pre-designed templates or create your own custom templates.

Now all you need to do is tidy that office – where better to start than scanning documents?

Paperwork

The Scannable iPhone app from Evernote allows you to quickly scan business cards, notes from a meeting, and documents by using nothing more than your iPhone or iPad and its camera. The other great thing is that it’s free!

When you scan multiple documents in one session, each one is treated as a separate note in Evernote rather than as one note with several images embedded. This is a great idea for receipts and business card organisation. You can either send the information to your Evernote account or, if you don’t have one, you can send it to where you want to store it.

The app also connects to LinkedIn for added networking context as it parses text extremely well. Because the tool connects to the cloud, sharing documents is as easy as sharing a photo on your phone’s hard drive and if you’re in a meeting with three other people. You can use the app to scan a few files from the meeting, and Scannable will automatically ask you if you want to share the images with the people in your meeting, as long as they’re listed attendees in a meeting invite and you’ve granted Scannable access to your calendar.

We hope you find these tools useful in helping with your organisation, marketing, and business development!