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Last week was a short work one for us here in South Florida, as we had to shut business down on Wednesday to prepare for Matthew, the category 4 hurricane that was headed our way.
When the local authorities started prompting us to prepare alerting this was a serious storm, the possibility of being without electricity and Internet access for a few days became very real. Worse yet, this was as a “best case scenario” type of thing. I confess I was freaking out. As a business owner, being shut down for a prolonged period of time can be devastating. As I prepared, I quickly prioritized my business to-dos and went through them one by one, getting as much done as possible. At some point I felt the need to email my clients and let them know our office would be closed, although it would be like pointing out the obvious for those local ones. So I decided to send 2 sets of emails: one for my local clients and one for those out of state. Lucky for me, I have my client list granularly segmented and up to date, so it was extremely easy -and quick- to select my active local clients and send them a short email wishing them safety, and select those out of the area, letting them know we would be closed due to the storm.
My point of this is, had I not had my clients organized and a tool to send a personal email to all at once, I would have not done it. Period. We’ve all heard about the importance of the customer experience in today’s marketplace, and to that end, there is nothing more important than keeping in communication with your clients. Fortunately today we have technology on our side and we must leverage it.
As I gathered the essentials before leaving my home, I felt very grateful I had decided a few years earlier to make my entire business accessible online. This means I only had to grab my laptop, and I would be able to run my business from anywhere, with no restrictions or limitations at all, as long as I had an internet connection. It does take work but it’s the best – and least expensive- business interruption insurance you can have, so I will share the tools I use.
CRM and Email Systems- Zoho and Active Campaign
There are a ton of CRMs out there and to choose the best one can be daunting. At the risk of sounding too simplistic, the first step is to know what you want to be able to accomplish with your CRM. For me, besides allowing me to easily see where a particular lead or opportunity stands at any given time, I also want to be able to send a personal email at a moment’s notice to a segment.
Zoho CRM was the first system I was able to stick to after trying a good number of them, and for $12/month it allows me to do that mentioned above and more.
We recently started using Pipedrive strictly for prospecting for new business, and are now testing Active Campaign. We like that it has email marketing right in it, and fantastic marketing automation tools.
Google Drive and Dropbox For File Management
We have all of our business files in both these systems. We have the paid version of Dropbox and are able to store large files art files and videos without any kind of space limitations. No need to backup or restore ever again.
We love that we can have different calendars created for the different areas of our business, such as one for accounting with payables and tax due dates, another for production due dates, and marketing. Everything at everyone’s fingertips.
We use this free tool as an intranet to host our business information, processes documentation, and other internal documents.
No need to describe what this is for…Chances are you use this tool or one of the counterparts from ASI or Distributor Central.
WorkFlowMax and Xero
WorkFlowMax is a software we discovered in our search for a solution that would integrate seamlessly order processing and accounting. We had to change from QuickBooks to Xero, but although that was no walk in the park, it turned out to be one of those “wish I had found it sooner” type of things. It eliminated double entry of purchase orders and sales orders completely. For the first time ever, our accounting is up to date.
Organizing and Collaboration Tools
Additionally, we use the following tools for developing content, organizing information, task management and team collaboration:
The hurricane passed us by without any damage to speak of, but it was a close one. It did take a few days to go back to normal, and it was certainly a reminder that we can be affected by situations out of our control at any given moment. The only thing we can do is to prepare as best as we can to protect our family and also our business. Knowing that you can turn any computer on and be able to continue were you left off is priceless. If your business is your livelihood, being able to run your business from anywhere gives you incredible freedom, security and peace of mind.
How about you? What systems do you use to protect your business?