Author: Eva Piperevska

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5 MUST HAVE TOOLS FOR SMALL BUSINESS

2017-07-10 | ALL | No Comments

5 MUST HAVE TOOLS FOR SMALL BUSINESS

One of the biggest challenges, when setting up a business, is the administrative part. Nowadays there are hundreds of thousands of software, tools, and apps that are created to make life easier for small business owners. However, the vast offers can be overwhelming for even the tech-savviest people.

In a world where the Internet offers millions of opportunities, be sure that your competitors are taking advantage of such opportunities. So, if you want to stay ahead and on top of the game, using the best tools will up your efficiency by allowing you to focus on more important activities. After all, the goal is to work smarter not harder.

Many of these tools are available as monthly or yearly subscriptions so those can add up fast. Most small business’ needs may not need feature-rich and expensive tools. Free or low-priced alternatives can get the job done just as good. This is a list of free or affordable options in different categories.

Overall business management: GSuite

Google created their apps with a strong focus on collaboration, and effortless sharing with team members or external party. Google Apps for Work (G Suite) was built in that direction too. It is organized into four categories spanning eleven products. Under Communicate you’ll find Gmail, Hangouts, and Calendar; under Store, there’s Google Drive; under Collaborate there’s Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, and Sites; and under Manage there’s Admin and Vault. That final one is designed to archive corporate email in organizations that have to retain data for regulatory compliance. So, basically, you can purchase a domain, set up an email client, track analytics on your website, launch and manage advertisement campaigns etc. With GSuite everything is centered and in one place.

 

 

Communication: Slack

Slack makes communication with the team easy and stress-free. What makes it special is that it was created particularly for business communication. It allows you to create public channels, private groups, message threads and private messages. With all these Slack offers maximum communicative flexibility.

Project management:  Trello

Trello is one of the most popular teams and project management tools in recent years. It has simple and easy to use interface, which business owners find very productive and efficient in tracking ongoing projects. You can create various boards and cards, assign tasks, set due dates, add notes etc. You can easily ask for updates from team members or employees regarding the status of each task and see what has been done and what is still ongoing. Trello is free for individual and small teams use.

Cloud Invoicing: Envoice

When starting a new business it can be tricky tracking and send out timely invoices. Envoice is a solution that offers free fast invoicing, online payments, email invoicing, financial reports, invoice tracking, custom branding and much more. It will simplify your invoicing process and you can get paid online with a debit/credit card on PayPal, Payoneer, or Stripe.

 

 

Social Media Management: Hootsuite

The start of every business is tightly connected with building brand awareness and promoting it. Hootsuite is a tool that enables you to monitor all your social media activity without the hassle of switching between multiple tabs. With Hootsuite, you can post across various social media channels, interact with customers, and overall keep track of all social activity in one simple dashboard. It saves you time and boosts your productivity.

The tools mentioned above are the starter pack for beginning making your life simpler. As your business advances forward, you might find yourself in a need for various other software and tools for different needs so you might want to check SalesLoft for sales and lead generation especially if you are a b2b company. If you are not tech-savvy, but more design-centered, Wix is a tool for you. It will help you set up a website and blog. MailChimp, Dropbox, Skype are oldies but goldies. If those mentioned above are not for you, you can always check out other options before deciding on the best tool for each specific business function.

7 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHILE INVOICING

2017-07-03 | Invoicing | No Comments

7 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHILE INVOICING

As a freelancer I have been doing business with companies for a long time now, during which I have come to see few common mistakes they tend to do concerning invoicing.

Most small business owners would agree with me that accounting is their least favorite task to do. Plus, invoicing seems like a boring, repetitive task that does not require full attention.  In order to keep your business’s cash flow healthy, it is crucial that invoicing is done properly.

Here are some common invoicing mistakes to avoid:

Not sending or forgetting to invoice on time – One of the most common mistakes is not sending invoices at all or not sending them on time. Often enough, teams are very busy with completing their tasks and getting the job done, that once they finish it they forget to charge for it. This causes a delay in payments and the whole business suffers. Using an invoice scheduling feature is very helpful in sending out invoices to clients on time. The best time to send out an invoice is immediately after completing the project/service.

7 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHILE INVOICING Envoice

Sending invoices to the wrong person – Sending out invoices to the wrong person/email address or department is also very frequent. This means resending the invoice, wasting a lot of time and delayed payment. Make sure to get the correct billing details from your clients.

Having unclear terms – Using vague language is not recommendable when invoicing. Especially because the client may not understand what you are charging for and ignore the invoice. Make sure that the item description, prices, and quantities are clearly stated. Also, clearly state the due date for payment and any consequences or interest on late payment if the terms are broken.

Missing details on your invoice – In order to prevent any misunderstandings, and depending on your company’s and client’s jurisdiction, your invoice should include the following details:

  • Full legal company name and number
  • Office address
  • Your client’s name and address
  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date
  • Any tax numbers required by local law
  • Payment terms
  • Contact details so your customer can reach you if anything is unclear

Not storing a backup – A backup of the original invoice must be kept for future references. Online solutions like Envoice help you keep a PDF copies as well copies stored in the cloud.

Unprofessional invoicing – Spelling errors, incorrect amounts, Excel formatting can make your business look unprofessional. Involves that are created poorly tend to be more often ignored and not taken seriously. Using online tools, like Envoice, can eliminate mistakes and customize the creation of invoices with company branding on them.

Not using your invoices as a marketing tool – Besides being a tool for payment, invoices can be used as a marketing tool as well. Since they are read through with great attention, invoices can be a great way to market to your existing customer base. You promote a new product or service at the end of an invoice or offer a discount for further purchase. You can even offer a referral incentive for recommending your company to friends.

 

If you take into account the above points, your payments will be faster and you can increase your future revenue stream. One other important thing that owners should pay attention to is following up on unpaid invoices. Even if your invoicing process is spotless, there will be times when clients miss the due date or simply misplace the invoice and forget about it. Sending automated reminders about unpaid dues, or contacting them is your responsibility.

After all, you finished your part of the deal and you should be compensated for it.

As a freelancer, who has worked both from home and various public places, I welcomed the new trend of co-working very enthusiastically. Because finally, there is an innovative alternative to traditional office spaces which allows people to thrive professionally and personally in a collaborative work environment.

Co-working as a working style means a whole lot of people, from different companies and industries under one roof. This also means sharing office space. Conference rooms. Break rooms. And everything that a co-working space offers to its members. What is probably the greatest thing about this whole concept is the chance to network with all these people. Build a personal network of connections. And create business partnerships, with the possibility of expanding your business and client list.

While in my experience working in a co-working space can provide numerous benefits, being around other people in such vibrant, energetic, and buzzing space has impacted a lot on my productivity. In most cases, people using co-working spaces can be seen as more passionate about their work from one side. And want to be productive and time efficient on the other side.

So, here are a few tips from my experience, that can be beneficial for you and can boost your productivity:

  1. Be self-disciplined – Keep yourself accountable.  It is very easy to get distracted in a social environment like a co–working space, so writing down tasks and completing them is a good foundation for a productive habit;
  2. Take a break – It is very important, in order to keep yourself focused, to take regular breaks. A break doesn’t necessarily mean running a personal errand. It can simply be getting up and stretch or move around for a couple of minutes;
  3. Be engaged – Engaging oneself means to be productive to your work or your team. Otherwise, it is just a waste of time. Personal time tracking can be crucial in maintaining productivity. You can use Toggle as one of the most intuitive time trackers. RescueTime app has proven to be very helpful in providing insight on my time management, as it runs in the background and tracks time spent on apps and websites, and delivers detailed reports on time spent on replying emails or browsing social media;
  4. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – Having a general plan for the day or week gives you a direction and structure. This keeps you on the right track and reminds you of what was done and what was not.
  5. Good work rewards – After completing a task or achieving a milestone, reward yourself for the good work. This makes the work easier and encourages hard work. Pick your own rewards;
  6. Defeat Procrastination – Large projects can be broken down into smaller chunks and set smaller tasks, so that you don’t get distracted by the environment, trying to avoid doing what has to be done;
  7. Be tech sassy – Use technology to your advantage, by synchronizing emails, events, calendars. Use websites that store all your documents and data in a cloud. Digitalize everything to avoid cluttering your workspace with paper. This will not only save time but boost your productivity too;

Besides all this, maybe the most important thing is taking care of yourself. Being surrounded by highly passionate and business driven people can be motivating and at the same time can easily make you a workaholic. Getting your beauty sleep will only make you more focused and productive the next day. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, contributes to concentration issues and negative attitude in general.

Working in a co-working space takes some getting used to. But the whole concept and experience can be very rewarding. So, all you need to do is to find the right balance between being social and private.

Digital Nomad tips

One of the biggest social developments of this millennium is the rise of the digital nomads. We all read about them, we all met a couple of them and we all had that thought popped up of being one.

There is no single profession that has a monopoly on who gets to be a digital nomad and who doesn’t. 

digital-nomad-checklist

The one shared factor is  the “digital” part. As long as you have an internet connection you can work from anywhere. So, if you get to travel on business trips, go to conferences or just cannot travel without a laptop on your vacation, you have experienced a small portion of the digital nomad’s lifestyle, and that is working on the road.

As a frequent traveler for work, I face a lot of issues while trying to stay on top of my tasks. From bad internet connection, terrible WIFI Hotspots to over-expensive mobile data plans and more.

To make sure I have the best time while I travel, I had to take a few steps in advance. So no matter what happens I will be better equipped and keep everything going swell.

Here are some tips I do while working and traveling that can you find them useful:

  • First, I make sure the WIFI is strong and reliable in the place I am accommodated. Well, obviously I can never be absolutely certain. But I can take some precautionary steps to ensure I mitigate any risks when it comes to finding strong and reliable WIFI. If your work is dependent on the high-speed internet, I recommend you to run a speed test as soon as possible. You can even ask the owner/staff to run a speed test and share the results with you.
  • Another great way is bringing my own hotspot. In some situations, I have bought a local SIM card, popped it up in the hot spot and took my own internet wherever I was. Mobile phones can be used the same way, but bear in mind, when traveling internationally, using data on roaming can really impact your phone bill, depending on where you travel.
  • digitalnomad travel tipsWhen I am planning for my next location, I make sure I do my research on nearby cybercafés or cafés such as Starbucks, free wifi hotspots like public parks and libraries, and of course nice co-working spaces. Or I make a list and keep it in hand, one never knows when it may be needed. Sometimes I even ask my friends who have been on that location to share me some locations links and I store them in my Google Trips app.
  • What has been proven as a safe and good strategy for me is keeping offline copies of all my  files\materials I might need to access. Gmail offers Offline access, but note that if you have multiple accounts you will be able to access your accounts you were most recently logged into. Using a desktop mail program will store your emails onto your computer as well as in the cloud. So, whenever you find yourself without internet access, you can always go through all of your emails you didn’t get to answer, save replies as drafts and send them out when the internet is back on.
  • It is also extremely useful to have an online backup of your files. This way you can access them from any computer, wherever you can find an internet connection. A lot of free services can be found online, like Dropbox, SugarSync, Carbonite etc.
  • Managing expectations of clients, partners, colleagues, and even family can be very helpful in these situations. If your internet is not reliable, just warn them about it. This can spare you a lot of stress and anxiety when you are on a deadline.

Going offline will often give you the focus on getting chunks of your work accomplished. You will be able to eliminate distraction such as social media and focus increasing your productivity.

Being a digital nomad or just a person who likes to travel and get things done, work-wise while traveling, can be so much fun if you stay organized. If you are still new in this field and you want to read a bit more you can look up digital nomads like – Robert Reid > @reidontravel, which I really like. I follow him because he investigates the experience worldwide for National Geographic. Or on the other hand, you can check out the Reddit community: https://www.reddit.com/r/digitalnomad.

 

Have you had experience as a digital nomad? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments. And I would love to hear your stories while overcoming those or some other obstacles as a digital nomad.

Digital Nomad Checklist (Download for Free)