Like it or not, working from home means you are going to have to get a little tech-savvy. Thankfully, brilliant innovators have made it easy enough that even your grandma can make her own website. I’ve been working from home for over a decade now, and these tech solutions have been nothing sort of a saving grace for my business needs.
Because so many of us are working from home, I thought I would compile my favorite tech software solutions that can be helpful for companies with employees and even solo entrepreneurs.
I know that it can be hard to navigate some of these apps. Even worse, there are so many to choose from. Do you really need all of this fancy tech to help kick your business off from the ground?
Do you want to attract more clients and boost revenue?
In my opinion, yes.
Back in the day, I would keep track of all my blog, video, and social media ideas in a Word document. If I was out and about and an idea came to me, it would go in my Notes app. As simple as this strategy may sound, it meant I was consistently unorganized because my To-Do list was all over the place.
If I had pictures on my phone, I would literally email them to myself so that I could post them on my blog. This took way more time than it needed to, and it downgraded the quality of my photos.
Are you still emailing your phone pictures to yourself? Because if you are, you are definitely in need of some technical entrepreneurial support.
Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated
If you cringe when you hear the work tech, don’t worry; these tech solutions are way easier to navigate than it sounds.
These are straightforward apps that entrepreneurs are using every day. And more importantly, the people who developed them did so with small business owners in mind. I don’t even have to explain these apps to my team because they’re pretty much download-and-go types of apps (i.e. no learning curve).
In short, these tech apps are every day, easy to sue, grandma-friendly solutions that you and your team can use while you work from home. I’m going to give you my personal opinion on each of these by giving you the pros and cons so you can utilize these while working from home with all the facts.
Ready to make your life simpler? Check out my 5 favorite apps:
Monday is honestly necessary if you’re working with a remote team. It’s a virtual “meeting room” that acts at your boardroom whiteboard. This is where you can plan out everything for your business.
Monday is approved by Fortune 500 companies. Giants like Uber, Hulu, and Universal all reportedly use this tech solution to coordinate their businesses.
Was that a huge selling point for me? Not really, to be honest!
I wanted something that was affordable and didn’t ask me to dig deeper into my wallet for each new feature. The cheapest plan is about $40 a month, which allows you to have 5 team members.
You can have unlimited boards and about 5 GB of online storage space. I use my boards for blog planning, my content calendar, and I utilize separate boards for each client.
Within those boards, you can make columns. For example, in my Blog Planning Board, I have approved outlines, blogs to restructure, and future blog ideas. In my Content Calendar Board, I have a schedule, ideas for IGTV videos, photo ideas, and links to social templates that I’ve made.
I love not having to hunt down emails, Word documents, or phone Notes in order to organize all my ideas. It has also been extremely helpful in coordinating with my team!
The downside to Monday is that there is no free version. Sorry, about that! A great alternative to Monday is Asana, which has a free version for up to 15 people. The concept is pretty much the same, but I just didn’t like the layout and the overall structure of Asana.
Another feature that I wish Monday had was a setting for due date notifications for my team members. You can set a Publication date for your blog, for example, but your content writer won’t get a “hurry up and turn this in!” alert.
This is a video communication system that is just another variation of Facetime.
Except with some major upgrades.
Emails and phone calls work great, but especially during this age of social distancing, Zoom is now my favorite communication system. I just feel that ideas can be expressed more clearly and effectively when you are face-to-face rather than over the phone.
Plus, it gives you a way to virtually connect with your team, which I think adds a more personable aspect to your business relationships.
The highest you would ever pay for Zoom is $20 per month per host. And that’s only if you need 50 different people to host your meetings.
Most of us entrepreneurs will need this tech solution simply for unlimited 1-on-1 meetings (which comes with the free version). The reason I like it better than FaceTime (and similar video communication apps) is because it has so many features.
There’s a chat box where you can share links during your call, you can simultaneously share your screens, and it has layers of security built-in. Another really cool thing is that you can add a virtual background, which is obviously something your office clown is going to do right away.
I use Zoom for my weekly calls with my virtual team. However, I also use Zoom’s Education classroom resource for my Personal Branding Masterclass.
This is where I have my juicy tips on building your personal brand. I can have upwards of 100 participants for each virtual classroom for a set price. I already used Zoom, so the fact that they even had this option available for an entirely different aspect of my business was a definite win for me.
The thing I don’t like about Zoom is that it can get glitchy at times. Not so much in the video quality aspect, though (a problem I still have when I try to use Facetime).
My problem is that the links can sometimes become void. This has only happened on a couple of occasions.
You can schedule Zoom calls with your team members for any future date and time. In order to invite them to the meeting, you give your team members a code and/or a link. A few times these links have become void for me and my team members, so I will have to reset the link.
Not a huge glitch, but a glitch nonetheless.
You all know what Dropbox is. But in case you don’t know the specifics, allow me to explain.
Dropbox is simply a virtual storage unit for your computer. Instead of getting a $100 tangible external hard drives for your laptop, you can get the same amount of space on Dropbox for $12 a month.
The reason Dropbox is better than a hard drive is because you can share a truckload of files, images, videos, and more with your team members just by granting them access.
For example, as a personal branding strategist, I work with my clients on their social media, website, and other marketing channels that tie into their business. This means I need to be able to send and receive Instagram photos, blogs, and design work to my clients in a fast and safe manner.
Since I have a Dropbox Business account, I am able to coordinate with my social and design teams by having them drop all of these new personal brand essentials into an organized folder. All my clients and I have to do is click on a link, and then we have instant access to all the new and fun personal branding devices!
So instead of emailing or using Monday to link and send these huge files, I can use Dropbox to coordinate with my team and then my client. Plus, I don’t really have to worry about my computer slowing down in the process.
You can try DropBox for free for a month, but I wouldn’t really recommend that. I’m not sure what happens to your files if you decide not to move forward with your trial.
So I guess the only con for some entrepreneurs is that Dropbox costs money.
Although relatively cheap, this may not be a viable tech solution for startups on a low budget.
I can’t decide whether or not Canva is the internet’s greatest tech solution or a graphic designer’s worst enemy.
If you know absolutely nothing about Adobe Photoshop or designing a simple Instagram Story template, you don’t really need to now.
Canva is essentially a free template site that allows you to make every sort of custom paraphernalia you can dream of. If you’re looking for a creative resume design, an email newsletter layout, or an innovative new Instagram post, you can find all the fonts, colors, and templates on Canva to fit your personal brand.
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This is a website and an app. It’s ridiculously easy to use, especially if you’re looking to make social media graphics. While a graphic designer is necessary for logos and big-picture content, there’s nothing wrong with using Canva to create simple things like Instagram Story graphics.
This is what I primarily use Canva for. I’ve probably already drilled this into your head already, but a cohesive personal brand is essential to your growing business. You want people to be able to recognize your company instantly, even in your IG Stories. Canva can help you do that with heir library of free images, graphics, and customizable fonts and colors.
Canva has a free version that works for the casual entrepreneur.
But if you’re already knee-deep in your business, you need the paid version. It’s still budget-friendly (only about $13 a month) and it cuts off all limitations. In other words, you don’t have to pay extra to use their stock images, and you have access to more features (like the ability to add your own font and the background image remover).
Another great thing about Canva is that you can add team members to your account. This makes it easy for you to see and approve designs before they’re sent off to your clients. You can also organize all your designs into separate folders so, again, your business stays organized.
I mentioned that Canva is also an app. Their app is, believe it or not, not mobile-friendly. There are a few kinks in Canva’s mobile system that have made me almost delete off of my phone permanently. You don’t have access to as many features as you do on the web version. And forget about trying to edit on the app. It’s nearly impossible.
Keep in mind, too, that if you give team members access to your Canva account, then you have to pay the monthly fee for each new member.
An easy way around this is to simply have your team create their own account, and then share templates using the Share a Link to Edit feature under their program.
The downside to that workaround is that you original design will won’t stay intact and your team will have access to edit the template as much as they want.
1. My Ultimate Tech Solution: Things
Clearly, I like it when my business is organized. I run 3 separate companies with multiple team members, which means I need a tech solution that is going to save me stress.
Things is my absolute favorite app because it’s just for me. With all the buzzing going on between my team members on these other digital apps, the Things app is my personal LIFE To-Do List.
That’s right, we’re going to rip off the band-aid and get right down to the cons of this app.
Yes, it costs money, and yes it’s $50.
I’ll get down to why I still use it in a minute. But I already know that the $50 price tag isn’t going to sit well with many entrepreneurs.
Another thing that bugs me about Things is the fact that you have to pay to use it for each of your devices. So if you want to access it on your phone, it’s $10, for your iPad it’s another $20, and if you want it on your Mac then add on that $50 payment.
Another con: it’s not available for PC or Android just yet.
Okay, so the reason I took the plunge to purchase Things for my Mac was because of the 15 free day trial. Naturally, I wanted to check it out first, because it just seemed like it was a fancier version of the Notes app.
I was very wrong.
Like this Business Insider review notes, Things isn’t just a daily To-Do list. It can manage your entire life.
I run three businesses. Things can get very chaotic, very quickly. So I organize the Things in my life by each business and narrow that down further by category (design, finances, clients, social media, etc).
My favorite part is the fact that I can leave voice reminders to myself such as “email client on Tuesday” and it will actually remind me to do it!
Try the 2-week free trial, and you’ll see what I mean!
To me, there is nothing more valuable to my business than having a structured, cohesive way to generate my teams’ workflow. Which is what all these tech solutions are able to do for me and my personal brand.