For those of you who are facing a new situation with businesses being encouraged to have everyone work from home, our host, Alexa Bigwarfe, has some tips and resources for you!
I've been working as a digital entrepreneur for almost 8 years now, so sometimes I forget that not everyone is familiar with the “digital” world of business operations and all of the tools that are available. I know that it might be a little overwhelming trying to figure out how to manage your business operations, your team, and still keep work going as close to usual as possible.
But I've got some good news – it's actually quite easy to keep operations going like normal right from your home, as long as you've got internet! Some tools are free to use as a starting base. Others have a small fee, some fees are bigger – and many offer free trials that may be long enough to get you through this critical point. You can also pay by the month, so don't rush into a year-long plan if you're not sure how long you'll need it.
I have a team of 5 that lives all over the country. We do webinars, we schedule client calls and meetings, we have team meetings virtually, and we communicate all day.
Please note, some, NOT ALL of these links are affiliate links. What that means is that your price is the same whether you go through my link or not. However, should you decide to purchase something based on an affiliate link of mine, I might be treated to a free month of service or a small financial reward for sending them business. Using affiliate links has helped me throughout the years to earn discounted rates on the many tools I use every day, so I appreciate that they offer these programs!
Here's how we run our online business and keep everyone on the same page and working together.
- Get your team on SLACK. It is a free tool and super easy to use. You can have “channels” related to certain topics. So, we're a publishing team, we have a channel related to each author and their launch / project / promo. Everyone involved in our next upcoming book launch is in the channel about it. You can also direct message individuals or groups, integrate dropbox, trello, googledrive, etc. Set up your free team and get started here: https://slack.com/
- Project management tools:Asana and Trello! There are more, like basecamp, etc, but I've got experience in these two and use them daily. ASANA – allows you to create checklists, assign tasks, create full project flows, and track who is on those projects, set due dates, etc. So does Trello, but it's more visual and Trello is better on storing assets like files, images, etc.Check out Asana here: https://asana.com/
- TRELLO! Trello is an amazing project management tool as well, that allows you to manage projects in a more visual way. You can create checklists and plans and communicate, and store information. It's also a free tool. Start using Trello now.You can create lists, cards, and then checklists, assign and track tasks, store files, and more. Each of these “cards” opens up to a world of wonder. 🙂
- Webinars! Yes, you're probably going to need to run some webinars if you're normally doing training or events or need to move an in person event online. There are SO many solutions for webinars – based on your budget and tech needs. I use Zoom every day to connect with clients, run small group trainings, staff meetings, etc. It has a webinar upgrade function, but check out the FREE version. If you can keep it under 40 mins and don't mind having everyone in the conferencing room with you, it might work. But there are MANY webinar platforms.They all have pros and cons. I want to suggest that if you're just going to be running a couple of smaller, short webinars, and don't want to invest in tools, you consider just setting up a Facebook group limited to the people that need to be there, and go LIVE in the group with your presentation and training. You can create slides on GoogleDrive, share them to the internet and send the link to participants to look at the slides as you give a presentation. Or you can use a fancier webinar tool that allows you to do a more formal presentation. I just hate to see you spend a lot of money for something for which there are free workarounds if you only need it once or twice for a small group. But many do have free trial periods, so… check for those!Now, if you're trying to run a conference online, that's a different situation entirely!.Here is a list:
GoTo Webinar: https://www.gotomeeting.com/webinar
And a new one I haven't tried but am considering: Demio: https://demio.com/
Just learned about Matchbox Group as well: https://matchboxdesigngroup.com/
here's a post that compares different platforms: https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/best-webinar-software/
- Scheduling calls and appointments has never been easier to track with the amazing scheduling / calendar management tools. You can send your clients to a direct link where they can choose to set up a call based on YOUR availability. If there needs to be payment made, you can easily integrate those functions as well. There are lots of great tools out there for this. I personally use and love Acuity. Check out Acuity here. I have also used Calendly as a client and it seems pretty great as well.
- Need to do contracts, online invoicing, lead forms, etc? I LOVE using 17hats! Check out all their deals here!.
- Looking for a place to host training? Courses? Community? The list is LONG on these.
I use Thinkific: Get a month free: https://get.thinkific.com/give-a-month-program/?gam=901277469c
MightyNetwork: https://www.mightynetworks.com/ (Hey are you a woman writer? We'd love you to join OUR MightyNetwork!
Facebook groups are a very easy to set up tool to use.
Kartra… so many more!
There are so many tools out there that can help you still stay in touch, manage projects, conduct meetings, schedule calls, run webinars, and even conduct an entire conference online. I run the entire Women in Publishing Summit, a 100% online conference, using Zoom, YouTube, WordPress, hosting with SiteGround, Thinkific (an online course development program), Facebook, Acuity, and my email CRMs, Active Campaign and sometimes ConvertKit.
Almost all of these tools have extensive training and support. I'm not super techy and I learned it all… granted, over time and not in a mad rush.
If you need help, I do offer consulting calls on this topic. In 30 minutes, I can help you figure out exactly what you need to do. But, I feel pretty confident that if you just check out some of these options, don't let analysis paralysis set in, start with the free tools, and just get moving forward, you'll figure out how to do this.
Happy to answer questions in the comments to the best of my ability as well!