When you’re running your own business, in our case a boutique communications consultancy, you don’t always have the luxury of specialising in a single field. In any one-day, you have to be an accountant, sales executive, HR rep and office manager all rolled into one. Ensuring the maximum amount of time is spent working for clients requires good planning, discipline and strong coffee, however over the years we’ve found some brilliant apps that help us work as efficiently and virtually as possible.
Here are a few of our favorite tools, without which we wouldn’t be nearly as nimble.
As we often work from different locations, it’s important for us to have cloud-based applications that can be accessed anywhere, at any time. By giving us real-time information and the latest versions of all our files, often large archives of photography and video material, Dropbox allows us to collaborate and share material from wherever we happen to be that day. Working from the same, easy to navigate and access library also avoids unnecessary duplication of work and reduces the number of files we need to email to each other, making optimal use of both available storage space and our own time and resources.
Our mantra from the very beginning was to be a paperless office, however tracking and storing bills, invoices, payments and the overall balance sheet and P&L is critical to any business. Kashoo is a great accounting system, particularly suited to small businesses, that’s easy to use, simple to navigate and being a cloud-based application, means we can access it on the go. It also offers free webinars on a range of different topics, giving you more bang for your buck!
Accessible from your mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop, Wunderlist helps keep track of all your ongoing tasks, projects and to-do lists, removing the need for more complicated project management software, or clunky excel planning sheets. It’s also sharable, so everyone in the team can remain up to date on the status of important tasks and projects, meaning fewer internal updates and more time spent face to face with clients. I even use it in my personal life, tracking everything from renewal dates for important documents, to travel and packing reminders, even shopping lists.
As a specialist communication agency in the Middle East, media relations is one of our core disciplines. CisionPoint, a specialist media database, allows us to stay in touch with all our press contacts, see how stories are performing in real time and track upcoming editorial opportunities. As a web-based application, it’s also available to all members of our team, whether they’re in the office or out in the field, giving them access to the very latest contact details, updates and targeted media lists.
Travelling frequently and with several of our clients based overseas, Skype has become another absolute must-have - not just for international calls, but for the bulk of our internal communications when we’re working from different locations as well. This saves commuting time and telecommunications expenses whilst maintaining that all-important face-to-face meeting. The instant messaging function is brilliant too; when you see a client or colleague is online, you simply ask them a quick question, saving time writing emails for small questions or quick updates. We haven’t subscribed to Skype for Business yet, but we’re looking into it at the moment.