Striking out with a new business is an incredible experience. You finally get to work for yourself, reap the rewards of your hard work and intelligence, and put into practice the millions of ways you could do things better than at your old job. (If you don’t have at least one million improvements in mind, you haven’t worked in an office for longer than a week.)
Becoming a business manager is incredibly liberating. The most important thing to remember as you move on with your business model is resources. You have an extremely finite amount of money, and an even more finite supply of person-hours (the most priceless resource there is, as you’ll rapidly learn.)
That’s why we’ve collected some essential business solutions for your new business. These will save time and money right from the start and will eliminate antiquated business practices. The earlier you integrate them in your business development, the more you’ll benefit.
And, the more you’ll enjoy being able to choose your own business practices.
1. Remember The Milk
The most important thing about work is getting it done, which sounds ridiculously obvious until you’re the business manager and find yourself reminding other people. Or even worse, forgetting to do so. A new business doesn’t usually have an established work flow and individual responsibilities are often in flux. Everyone has a job description, but the job itself generates new and often urgent tasks which don’t clearly fit into anyone’s field.
Remember The Milk is an all in one task-management system. Multiple users can access the prioritized “To Do” list from any device you care to mention. Android, desktop, iPad, if you had an alien wristwatch we’re fairly sure they’d be able to connect to it. You can add new tasks for everyone to see, and confirm when they’ve been checked off to avoid duplication of effort.
2. Template Repositories
A new business means starting with a blank slate. Great for getting rid of outdated paperwork, but not so hot when you have to sit down and write a new timetable from scratch. Thousands of people have already done that millions of times. Luckily, the internet is very good at taking something somebody made and making sure other people get it for free!
DocStoc and Microsoft Office Online store thousands of template documents. Instead of starting to format and fill up an empty “New Document,” a quick search on these sites will give you a starting point. Customizing a standard template takes far less time, and can often remind you of things that you might have forgotten. Make sure all your employees know about these business resources. That way they’ll spend more time on new business than in pointlessly retyping old work.
TimeBridge might be the most beautiful idea since the invention of the meeting. Organizing a meeting time for more than one person usually wastes more time than the meeting itself, as people often back-and-forth about when they can and can’t make it. TimeBridge leaps over that, and if you’re a new business working with freelancers, telecommuters or contractors, it might just save your sanity.
You set up a meeting subject, location, and the times you can make it. TimeBridge takes care of everything else, contacting the desired people and letting them submit their own available hours. It effortlessly crunches and compares the schedules, because that’s exactly the sort of thing we invented computers for, and mails the result to everyone. And it’s free.
4. Fax Replacement
If a client demanded you engrave your order on pterodactyl leather and deliver it by Pony Express, you’d laugh in their face. Or, you’d be working for Jurassic Park (with ponies for the kids). But, somehow saying they need it by fax is absolutely fine in a world of e-mail, even though it’s like telling your collaborators “We have not upgraded our business practices since the invention of fire.” Save yourself the stupid expense of a fax machine, and keep the clients, with FaxZero and RingCentral.
FaxZero lets you send files as faxes. RingCentral both sends and receives them for you, allowing you to collect the most cumbersome communications in the modern world anywhere you like. Both offer free trials to test the service, and signing up is still far cheaper than buying a machine.
5. Smarter Phones
You’re going to be spending a lot of time on the phone. Obviously Skype will save a lot of money (and simple smart steps like using a headset will allow you to check your facts and files while on the phone). Other great group communication tools include FreeConferenceCall, which does exactly what it says on the URL.
Bring communications to the next level with Join.me, a screen-sharing program which lets you explain everything exactly no matter where you are. Instead of verbally steering people through lists of options and icons, or trying to confirm that they’re looking at the right file by making them read the whole thing out, you can invite anyone to see your screen. Fast, free, and extremely efficient –especially when you’re the business manager and need to get other people working as quickly as possible.
6. File Transfer
Getting large files from person to person can be annoying, especially when everyone’s arriving in an new business with completely blank slates. Yousendit allows you to send huge archives to other people without hitting the dreaded “This attachment is too large” limit. Never again will the urgent presentation documents be delayed because they’re 25.1 MB!
An even better service is Dropbox. Keep critical files in a huge, always-accessible database. This saves you from having to copy for fifteen minutes every time you add a new project to your laptop, and prevents the ridiculous risks of carrying critical information on a thumbdrive.
7. Wireless Printer
The one piece of hardware we’d recommend for the new business is a wireless printer. No matter how intelligently electronic your office, you’re going to need to print things out — and you won’t be the only one. A central wireless printer allows anyone to print from anything without snaking cables and people stealing reams of paper from each other’s input trays.
The Brother HL-2270DW is cheap, easy to set up, and works well for those who’ll only need a few essential monochrome sheets. Meeting agendas, reminders to refill the coffee, or boarding passes for your electronically checked-in business trip.
Do you have a brilliant business solution made an important change to your work? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: studiocasper / iStockphoto