Welcome back to the Liberty Entrepreneurs Podcast! This week I’ll share my must-have tools for managing and working with a virtual team. Unlike in an office environment, where you can walk up to someone, a virtual team requires a different kind of flow and toolset to stay on the same page and working towards the same goal. I personally use all of the tools listed below and have provided some commentary for reach to describe how and why I use it.
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Here we go….
- Google Docs – https://docs.google.com/
Pretty much a given at this point. I use it for everything. Got a new idea? Create a new folder in Google Docs. It helps organize everything. If you have good file management, the ability to search, share, permission and co-edit with someone else in real-time is second to none.
- Asana – https://asana.com/
This is my prefered task-management tool. I create filters for all of my virtual staff to quickly review their open, incomplete tasks. I can also add “followers” to each tasks in case I want another set of eyes on it. Setting due dates, making comments, creating projects and even sub-tasks is super easy. Another neat feature is the daily update emails which Asana sends to remind you of the upcoming tasks and if anyone left a comment. I’ve actually gone days w/o speaking to my virtual staff because how well we can communicate via Asana.
Check out this screenshot, I’ve saved the URL for each team member for quick access.
- Website Staging Server – I use the hosting company www.SiteGround.com which I highly recommend. Rather than having my webdev VA work on our live site, he can make the changes on the staging server to make sure all updates go as expected. It’s a super clean and effective way to prevent unnecessary errors and mistakes on your live site. There is a WordPress plugin that you can use to create a staging server, called WP Staging (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-staging/) which has worked well for me in the past in the case that your hosting provider doesn’t offer staging services.
- Canva – https://www.canva.com/
Social media graphics are so important for nearly every type of digital business. Create a Canva account and share it with your virtual team. This way you can import all of your art, backgrounds, images, etc and make it accessible to everyone on your team. Start creating standardized image templates to save time and set expectations.
- MeetEdgar – https://meetedgar.com/
MeetEdgar changed the social media content queueing game. Rather than the standard FIFO (first in, first out) approach, MeetEdgar allows you to create libraries of content with different category labels which you can schedule and pull from. Here’s an example, I have around 200 “inspirational quotes” that are labeled as such in MeetEdgar. I have schedule to post one quote every day. Since I’ve saved the library of quotes, it will just use a saved quote rather than my VA having to load up more quotes each week. I also do this for podcast episodes, youtube videos, helpful tips and more.
- Outlook – Email management is a must and anyone who isn’t on top of their game will eventually become overwhelmed with their inbox. Historically I’ve used Outlook as my preferred email application and always setup separate folders and rules to filter and sort certain emails to maintain order. Help your virtual team organize their inboxes with similar email rules so that those “between the cracks” mistakes are few and far between. I should mention that Google Suite has caught my attention lately (https://gsuite.google.com/) but I haven’t used it yet. It looks like a great dashboard for managing small business emails. If you have experience with GSuite, please leave a comment!
- Skype – https://www.skype.com/en/
Currently Skype is our prefered voice communication app. Other alternatives include Google Hangouts and Zoom. We regularly use Skype to voice, video and text chat. It’s easy, free and straightforward.The screen-sharing, file transfer and group calls are great.
- Telegram – https://telegram.org/
There are countless messaging apps out there and my team uses Telegram for our day-to-day text chatting. It’s convenient to use on the desktop, web browser and smartphone. It’s very lightweight unlike other apps such as Slack.
- Google Drive – https://www.drive.google.com/drive/
Online, cloud storage is essential when growing a digital business. Being able to easily create and share new files is so easy and convenient with Google Drive. Similar services like Dropbox are also available, but I choose to use Google Drive because it syncs with Google Docs so seamlessly. For only $2.99/month you can buy 100GB of cloud storage. Create a folder for each of your virtual staff so that they have a “home base” to organize their own files.
- Snagit – https://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html
I take and use screenshots often, typically with little arrows or highlighted areas to get a point across. For example, one of my VAs misspelled “referred” on our web form, so I took a quick screenshot, drew and arrow to the misspelling and created a new task for him in Asana. This way I can be confident that he knows exactly what I’m talking about and will get the spelling corrected asap.
- Shortkeys – https://www.shortkeys.com/
Shortkeys is a text expansion tool that I purchase for my VAs who are customer facing. Basically you can type a very short sequence which can expand into sentences or paragraphs. I have found it extra helpful to use with URLs and email addresses.
- Zoho CRM/Support/Campaigns – https://www.zoho.com/
Zoho offers a great suite of apps to organize a small business and I’ve used them for years. The combination of a CRM system combined with an email support system to answer client inquiries and an email marketing campaign system will get your team al on the same page and allow you to automate and delegate a ton of tasks. To be more specific, Zoho uses Leads, Contacts and Accounts to help you organize your business. Leads can be created manually, from web forms, popup signups, etc and it’s fairly simple to connect it to Zoho so that the new leads are created automatically. Once someone becomes a client, we “convert” the Lead in to an Account and Contact. We keep up with stuff like Lead Type, Lead Source, phone number, email, website, business needs and so much more.Zoho Support creates a ticketing system for incoming emails so that it’s very simple keep track of open email inquiries. You can create service level agreements, automated workflows, auto-replies, due dates and assign to a certain person or department.
Zoho Campaigns is used in conjunction with Zoho CRM to build email marketing lists so that you can effectively manage your email marketing sequences. Here’s an example. I have a “Top 27 Tasks to Delegate to a Virtual Assistant” guide that I give away for free with a popup. Everyone who gives me their email address gets to download the free guide. A new lead is generated automatically in Zoho CRM and then gets added to a specific marketing list in Zoho Campaigns so that I can send this person more valuable guides as they are released. Hopefully they will want to hire a Virtual Assistant one day and staying in front of them with an email sequence is very helpful. Just be careful NOT to spam!
- ScheduleOnce – http://www.scheduleonce.com
Organizing podcast interviews, virtual assistant interviews and phone calls with prospective clients can take a lot of time. We use ScheduleOnce to reduce confusion and offer different times to meet and chat. It integrates with Outlook calendar, Google calendar and Apple iCal so that you never miss another important meeting. I believe plans start at $5/month.
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