guest post | let the right tools & technology lend your business a helping hand

i am so thrilled to share this guest post from my friend Natalie Sisson,Kiwi Entrepreneur and Adventurer who shares creative ways to run your business from anywhere over at The Suitcase Entrepreneur. she is passionate about using online tools, social media and outsourcing to create more freedom in business and adventure in life. she has some amazing tools to share with us, that will make our ‘biz building’ work so much easier!

As a busy entrepreneur you know that these days you have to do more with less. Not to paint a dire picture but businesses currently have less access to credit, tighter budgets and your own customers and clients may have reduced their spending.

The great news is there’s a silver lining and it starts with you. As CEO of She Inc you’re becoming smarter and more savvy. Yes you’re leveraging the web and mobility, expanding into new international markets and utilizing your one greatest inherent strength – being nimble.

As entrepreneurs with small businesses we can continue to leverage technology and tools in all three ways that matter most:  To market your services, deliver your services even more efficiently, and augment what you can bring to your customers and to the marketplace.

We’re leveraging the power of mobile and online web tools to help us to do our work from anywhere at anytime. These tools are allowing us to respond rapidly, to market our products through social media, to deliver our services even more efficiently and to compete with the big wigs, even if we’re just a one woman show. That's exciting.

The problem is technology changes all the time, and the sheer number of tools available to us is overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that we often spend money on these tools only to never to use them again.

So let’s get down to the key tools that you need to streamline your business, save you time and money and make you more productive.

Put your head in the clouds

Seriously. If you want your business to be truly virtual, accessible at any time and any place from any location, you need to start storing your business in the cloud. The easiest way to do this is by putting your most important files in the cloud.

Dropbox is a fantastic cloud storage tool and file sharing service. Host your files on their secure server and access them anytime online, from any computer or even your mobile. What’s more the software syncs your files online and across your laptops. Drag your files into your Dropbox on one computer, and they’ll be instantly available on any of your other computers that you’ve installed Dropbox on. It’s free to start too and downright simple to use.

Communicate globally

So now you have your most important items stored securely and accessible virtually, it’s time you were accessible yourself, from virtually anywhere and better yet for free. For those of you who haven’t yet discovered the power of Skype, you are truly missing out.

You can simply download the Skype application and talk to fellow Skype users around the world for FREE, or for very cheap if you’re calling a landline or mobile. It’s like your personal phone service that has no international boundaries or limits. Perfect for virtual face-to-face video calls, global meetings with your team or clients and much more.

Become more productive

So now we need to work on you doing your absolute best work and focusing in on the most important stuff. How does your own personal timekeeper and accountability partner sound? Pretty good right? You will love Chrometa for that very reason. By downloading this FREE application you will see exactly where you’re spending (or wasting) your precious hours.

Chrometa works to track your every move spent online and show you exactly where your time goes – even non PC related work. You can start to track patterns and manage your inefficiencies (and even those of your team). For those of you who like pretty visuals to really paint a true picture, Chrometa has those too. A must try if you want to be more productive in the 24 hours you’re given every day to build a little biz.

Make useless meetings a thing of the past

We have all been there, playing that frustrating game of tag as we try to finalize a time to meet a potential customer, client or business partner, or just make a time to schedule a call. That’s where Tungle comes in. This very clever yet simple to use calendar scheduling service allows you to put the power into both your hands.

Simply direct the person wanting to schedule that `very important urgent meeting’ with you, to a customized URL where they get to pick from a variety of times you have free in your calendar. They suggest a few, you get an email update, click on the link and book it in. It updates in your calendar and theirs and the notes you both make are recorded in the entry too.

Great thing is they do not need to sign up to the service to use it and it will still link with their calendar. It’s so easy to use even technophobes will like it.

The power of collaboration

Moving past your own new found efficiency and freedom, it’s time to tackle that of your team (whether remote freelancers or locally based employees). Even if you just have one other person helping you to create a world class business, it’s best that you’re both on the same page.

That’s where Team Effect comes in. This tool simplifies project management and even makes it fun. It has an intuitive and accessible interface which makes it easy to use and visually appealing Gantt-style calendars allow you to do away with your task list and get your whole team onboard.

If you need to plan and manage complex projects the Team Effect central view shows you and your team an overview of activity and the projects they are associated with so everyone knows the role they play.

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Hopefully these key tools have given you a taste of what you can achieve just by integrating them into your daily practices. If you’re stuck on how to continue on from here, I have created a one-stop-shop of the best of the best tools to help you streamline your biz and save time and money. It’s called The Ultimate Toolkit for Evolutionary Entrepreneurs.

In it, I show you one FREE option and one paid option for each area of your business, I lay out what it does (in non technical terms), who it’s best for and how much it costs. It is the perfect resource for you to refer to whenever you need another solution to add to your armory of top tools to run your business. As a special gift to the Build a Little Biz community you can use the discount code bizbuilder at checkout to receive 25% off. 

Natalie Sisson is a Kiwi Entrepreneur and Adventurer who shares creative ways to run your business from anywhere. She is passionate about using online tools, social media and outsourcing to create more freedom in business and adventure in life. Her latest book `The Ultimate Toolkit for Evolutionary Entrepreneur’s’ features the best of the best online tools – both free and paid, all personally tested and recommended for entrepreneurs wanting to streamline their business and save time and money. As a special gift to the Build a Little Biz community you can use the discount code bizbuilder at checkout to receive 25% off.