Not long ago the whole idea of "Online Services" simply didn't exist. People used invoice books, carbon paper and telephones. Today we are in a brand new world of email, social media and electronic money, and if you want to get the edge on the competition, you need to think outside the box.
During my time outside the box I have unearthed several services that make my life and my business run better. Lets take a look at them.
There is a famous saying... "There are only two kinds of people in the world, those who have lost data and those who will." If you don't believe that is true, I would suggest you are in the latter group.
Backing up is an essential and historically, painful task involving copying data from your computer to some kind of storage media like DVD's, or an external hard drive. The problem with this is the infrequent backups that are made often miss your most recent, mission critical work. The other primary issue is that they are typically stored at the same location as the computer, so in the event of fire or flood, both would be destroyed.
This is where online backups come in. They are constantly updated and are not stored on site, thus creating a far better solution.
There are several services available, including Dropbox, Google drive, Crashplan and more but my pick for today is Sugarsync. I use it myself and you will be happy to know, it is simple to use and not overly expensive. I highly recommend that you check it out.
Pro Tip: You can backup your website to the cloud too. We use Codeguard to do just that for all our clients on maintenance plans.
Dealing with one client is one thing, but when you are dealing with several simultaneous projects along with 20 or more active leads it gets easier and easier to lose clients simply because they are falling through the cracks as you deal with urgent rather than important tasks. This is where project management comes in.
Without online project management for our remote team, I shudder to think what our process would be like. We use Apollo and it is a great fit for our business as it handles not only project management but is also a great CRM tool to monitor contacts and leads through the whole process. We looked at Basecamp, Daylite and others, but Apollo won out with it's great user interface and for it's powerful task management features.
Like most other services, they have a free trial you can check out before you take the plunge.
Have you ever lost an email? You know that frustrating feeling? Me too. That's why your emails must be searchable and sortable anywhere anytime. This is why we use Google Apps, no matter where I am: at my desk looking for that proposal, out and about looking for a clients phone number, I can search with Gmail and instantly have the information I need.
Along with this, Google Apps gives you access to all other Google services via your company domain. This includes Google Drive, so you can have all your documents in the Google cloud as well, which makes for easy collaboration with your team.
We all need to organize our finances at some point, although this isn't the most enjoyable task, it is a necessary one, so why not make it as good as possible?
Xero is a cloud based accounting solution that hooks up to your bank accounts so you can watch your finances in real-time and link them to both your outgoing and incoming invoices .
If you are looking to build an ecommerce website, we strongly recommend looking at Xero as the Xero API means your web developer should be able to get your sales automatically connected with your accounting software, thus saving you time, trouble and money.
There are other options like Wave Accounting and Freshbooks, but neither have the features or the support to take on Xero. However it should be noted that if you need freshbooks for time tracking you can link Xero and Freshbooks together, to syncronize accounts.
Well, it is up to you to finish this top five list this week! I acknowledge that I don't know everything so I am asking for your help in awarding the #5 spot. Please submit your suggestion in the comments below.
Ps: Before you ask, no I don't get any kickbacks or special treatment from any of these companies.