There’s a charm about running a virtual business. It’s cost-effective and just smart to run a business that way instead of putting up large offices and hiring people full-time, just because you want to get the “feeling” that you are in charge.
Jason Fried advocates this in his book ReWork and I see absolute sense in saving cash for large offices on the Central Business District and work off your garage instead.
For that to happen, however, you need a mindset overhaul. You have a need to be smart about, and you need the right tools.
Here are a few Tools To Run Your Virtual Business even better than how a few normal businesses are managed:
Hubstaff is the only tool among all the others in this list that actually allows you to track time, mouse clicks, keyboard movements, and more. It helps you make payments to your contractors or your full-time staff (if you still insist). Hubstaff helps you to keep track of what your employees do as against what they “say” they do.
Track and monitor each employee does, stay informed about app usage on computers, the websites they visit, the things they do, etc. Also track time, activity levels, and a lot more. Make payments effortlessly as the time comes.
Enough said. You can try it out for free and see what your employees really do.
New & Improved Asana
Did you check out the new Asana yet? It’s all new – complete with a new logo, a new color scheme inside the tool itself, and many more features. The popular project management tool just pops. It pops so well that you feel like working all over again.
Asana integrates with Harvest App, Google Drive, and more. It also has “recurring task” feature, reminders that go down to the “time” a task is due, and tasks can be neatly divided into sections. Asana also features task conversations that’ll help solve your email dependency for getting tasks done.
Trello is, will, and always has been an amazing tool for project management and collaboration. Working with boards and cards that you move about from doing to done, it’s a fresh approach to work compared to the other schoolbook like tools. Trello for business is even more loaded.
Read a detailed review I wrote on It earlier.
Nutcache is clean, crisp, and it’s amazing project management and collaboration tool that aims to get your teams do tasks and complete projects faster.
Nutcache features project management tools, time tracking, collaborative boards, expense management, reports, file sharing, invoicing, and even payment gateways.
Next to HubStaff, it’s the best all-inclusive project collaboration software I know if.
It’s still the classic one. It’s simplistic, devoid of anything fancy, and boasts of more users than any of the others combined. However, it might not be for everyone.
Basecamp stays grounded with just the features you need such as Google Drive collaboration and more.
Which of these do you use?
Not everyone knows how to use Industry leading products such as Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. Yet, visuals rule the web.
You’d need tons of visuals for all sorts of content – say blog posts, social media updates, email marketing, and other documents you’d want to create including eBooks, whitepapers, and others.
You’d also need graphics, icons, and illustrations for various parts of your website.
Marketers will also need easy to use tools for creating advertisements, banners, and other such digital assets.
For marketers and time-strapped business owners, fiddling with Photoshop isn’t an option. Here’s a run down of tools you can use
Canva has soon emerged as the leading tool to create a wide array of graphics for the web. From Facebook cover photos to Twitter updates, and from Infographics to invitation posters, Canva has most things covered. Featuring a drag and drop functionality along with an ever growing repository of images, vectors, and icons, doing graphcis with Canva is as easy as using your mouse.
If you are a marketer looking to create ads and banners, look no further than BannerSnack. Pick up templates for your ads or banners and drag/drop objects to create your ads quickly and efficiently. You can use the free library of images and assets or bring in images from the Creative commons. If you’d like a better quality, you can also find images and illustrations from Deposit Photos, iStockPhoto, or Photolia.
Serif’s PagePlus is the only tool that you’d have to download – yeah, the good, old downloadable software – but it’s well worth the effort if you’d like to create documents of any sort. Go ahead and create Brochures, postcards, ePuB covers, Kindle Book Covers, flyers, and possibly every other document you’d ever need for your business.
Affinity Designer for Mac
One of the best apps on the Mac Store for art and design in the year 2014, Affinity Designer for Mac helps you develop designs really fast. Zoom off at about 60 fps, apply effects in real time, and work with objects and graphics as complex as you like while Affinity never runs out of memory or the capability to handle tasks.
Design Rails (Beta)
Need a logo real quick? How about minutes instead of days or weeks? And get this: how about a logo at no cost to you? Design Rails is a cool app that taps into its database of varied iconography, typefaces, color schemes, and layout styles to get you the logo that you are likely to fall in love with.
WithOomph – reminds us of Social Oomph – is another cool discovery for getting your logo done with nothing but a business/brand name and a keyword. If you do like one of those logos that come out, almost instantly, you may purchase your logo files (PNG, PDF, and EPS) for a mere £25. They also have screen-printing and other printing options available.
Sta.Sh Muro by Deviant Art
Imagine getting to a URL and getting almost anything done in terms of graphic design? How about some quick photo editing? Instead of waiting for Photoshop to load forever for quick edits, you might as well use Sta.sh Muro by Deviant Art. We haven’t used this one yet (so your feedback is welcome).
Think of WordSwag as a graphic designer in your pocket, at the palm of your hand. Available as an App in the iTunes Store, WordSwag has more than 290,000 images (sourced through Pixabay). Create your visuals quickly, add image filters if you need to, pick your own backgrounds, add text, and share on social when you are done.
PicMonkey lets you edit and touchup photos, design visuals, and create a collage if you like to. Turn photos into illustrations, use text masks to combine images with text, and even go retro if you like. A pro version is available for ads-free editing and more features.
Which of these tools do you use? Do you know of any other graphic design tools for non-designers that business owners and marketers can use?
Work. Efficiency. Getting things done – this was and will always be one of those things that will drive us all crazy. There’s always too much to do but barely anything gets a check on the “to do list”. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools that help you achieve all that and more. Here is a list of a few tools that we think every business owner should use:
Follow-up is the secret to getting business and it’s not about all the fancy marketing paraphernalia that you’d deploy. It’s not about the hustle as much as it’s about the string of hustle-like follow-ups that we do following the first contact with a potential client. Follow-up makes you persistent and success is an aftereffect.
Given all that you have to do to promote your business each day, follow up is tall order. That’s why it makes sense to automate it to an extent. It makes sense to actually let a tool like RightInbox work in the background to help you keep in touch with your prospects while you are miles away from your inbox.
Just where is that business coming from? Out of all the channels available for marketing your business, what works and what doesn’t? Weren’t you supposed to know if Facebook works better or Twitter does? Last month, what exactly was the revenue? If you have a team working for you, how do you track everyone’s performance?
You don’t need Salesforce.com or SugarCRM for everything (some businesses do, most really small businesses don’t). What you do need is a cool web-based tool like Base CRM that does everything and it’s free to start with (you pay when you grow big enough).
Accounting is for the number geeks. It’s for those socially awkward, gutless kids who turned to numbers and calculations to keep their sanity intact. Accounting, for most people, is boring. For accountants, it’s a way of life. Businesses owners wedge themselves into an interesting conundrum now – they hate accounting but they have to do it. But how?
Enter Xero: it’s web-based, small business accounting software that makes accounting seem like a web-based game. It facilitates instant invoicing, quotes, and its integration with various other popular tools ensures that you bring your accounting and marry it to your business. For once and for all, your accounting is now fun and it tags along wherever you go.
For every gig you apply to, the phone calls you make, the emails you send, the follow-ups you do, and for the actual in-person meetings you accomplish you can track sales off these efforts using BaseCRM or other such Customer Relationship Management tools. What if you get business of social media? What about all those conversations you have on social media that’ll one day lead to sales and continued business? Recognizing that social media is a rainmaker, Nimble CRM works as an incredibly effective tool to manage your social conversations and still have a way to track sales and other business that accrues thanks to your social media efforts.
There’s no dearth of project management tools. While working with clients, we invariably end up using all available project management tools such as BaseCamp, Trello, PBWorks, DeskAway, and many others. Yet, for some reason, we still stick to Mavenlink for our own project management. The portfolio of websites we own and for all clients who didn’t consider using online project management software yet.
What are your favorite tools? What are some of the tools you can’t do without?