This article was originally posted on University of Mary Washington’s Center for Economic Development blog on March 23, 2022.
Trying to keep up with continuously changing technology can be difficult. I am always looking for solutions to improve my productivity, collaboration, and communication. Technology can simplify and streamline your business operations. My team knows I do not like paper, so I continuously look for the next best thing! Here are my top tech choices for small business to get you started:
Top Tech Choices
- Mailchimp – this has become one of our favorite marketing applications! It helps my team communicate effectively with our clients and employees. Each marketing campaign provides analytics and tracking information regarding opens, clicks, and unsubscribes. Mailchimp offers many different pricing plans to create and manage your email campaigns. The free pricing plan works for our small business, but other plans include more sophisticated options and automation features that may work for your business.
- Lastpass – I don’t know what I would do without Lastpass. Lastpass stores all your username and passwords into one website so you don’t have to remember all your log in information. You access your account with one main password (or faceid) for Lastpass. Anytime you are on your computer (add the Chrome extension) and you create a new account online, it will automatically store your username and password. The app integrates well with your phone so you can easily retrieve your account information.
Organization & Management
- Workpatterns – is a great online tool for management. It guides your one-on-one meetings with employees and builds your agenda, feedback, goal setting, and deadlines with email reminders to all parties. It’s a seamless way to collaborate with your direct reports while having open communication between management and employees.
- Microsoft To-Do – The best way for me to stay organize is to make my “to do list” the night before or the morning of, so it stays fresh in my mind. I previously used the Note app in my phone but now I use Microsoft’s To-Do list. It helps me prioritize, manage, and organize my tasks with the ability to share or assigns lists with team members, friends, and family. The To Do app syncs between your desktop and phone app, too!
Communication & Scheduling
- Text-em-all – We are a boutique recruiting firm, so communication is key with job candidates and current employees. Text-em-all allows us to send out individual or group text messages and automated voice calls. It leaves voicemail if the recipient doesn’t answer their phone. The sender receives emails alerts when someone responds along with analytics reports. The personalization increases replies, and the templates save time. Text-em-all is a very easy to use and affordable service for any size company.
- Calendly – “Let’s Connect”! Calendly is a convenient way to schedule meetings and appointments. It eliminates the back and forth between colleagues to find a meeting time. You simply let your calendar know your availability and share the link. Once the date and time has been booked, you both will receive confirmations along with a calendar invite. It also integrates with email programs like MS Outlook, which is helpful when displaying your availability. Calendly acts like your virtual assistant!
- Microsoft Teams – My internal staff uses a hybrid work schedule, so communication is a key part to our organization. Microsoft Teams helps us stay connected for online chat and video calls while collaborating on content and planning. The Chat feature is a great tool for eliminating some of the back-and-forth email messages.
There are so many apps and online tools to help with your day-to-day process. Several of these provide a free trial, which is convenient for trying before you buy! Regardless of the type of business you run, all the technology tools listed above can help move your business forward.