The Digital Tools We Can't Live Without
If you don't think you're resourceful then running a start-up isn't for you. The thing about starting a company with little (or no) money is that even if you know what the best tools are for different areas of your business, many times you can't afford them. Yet communication is never more crucial since you are laying the groundwork for your clients or customers, your partners, and yourselves. Plus, you likely have no existing templates, tools, or projects to work off of.
And if you're like us, you're working remotely and in different spaces every day of the week.
But we're happy to say that now that we're almost a year into our business we've found some key (and mostly free!) tools that really help us keep productivity up and communication flowing. Some of these might not be surprising, what is surprising is how much they can support the growth of your business too.
We played around with a few project management applications before finding Basecamp. It's not only visually clear, it's easy to navigate and stay organized as well. It's really perfect for any one person or group who needs to track to-do's, updates, documents, assign tasks and make revisions with multiple projects. You can adjust your settings to get daily or weekly reviews of your upcoming tasks, see what your teammates have accomplished or use it as a central area to organize your documents for each client or project.
Almost everyone has used a shared document or excel sheet, but share drives really became our lifeline once Piquant began. One of us is more of a Microsoft Office person while the other is more of a Mac applications person, so Google Drive helps us meet in the middle.
Now we keep almost everything on the share drive so that we can make comments on contracts we're negotiating, keep our shared social media calendar for our multiple clients updated, and keep all of our contact lists as well.
If you need spellcheck for every single word you write then Grammarly is for you. It's a simple app we've downloaded to our browsers that will spellcheck everything from your Facebook posts, to your instant messages, to your firmly worded letter to the customer service of your favourite airline.
Most of us have used Dropbox, but we can't emphasize enough what an amazing tool it is and the relationships you'll save from not bloating your client or partner's inbox with heavy files. We use it to keep libraries of photos for our clients' social media accounts, record of contracts, projects, wrap-ups, monthly reports, billing, and creative assets. When a client contract ends we already have one tidy folder with everything we created for them and anything they might need in the future.
Needless to say, we don't have a large printer or scanner but we have a surprising number of things that need to be scanned quickly: contracts, receipts, and sometimes photo ID. This phone app from Evernote scans with your phone camera and can email you high-quality pdf, png, or jpg's of your paper copy.
Pinterest is not only very efficient at taking hours away from your life and making you hate your own interior decorating, it's also really effective when planning campaigns or creative concepts. (Plus Piquant Marketing has a page now too!)
We use Pinterest when we need inspiration for a social or branding campaign, we'll start a private board and both spend time finding inspiration or concepts we like before coming together to plan out something together. And we always have those boards to go back to for future planning.
Want more articles on building a business? Check out our post Finding the Right Business Partner (It's the Most Important Decision You'll Make).