There is a short list of things I miss about working for a big corporation, and having back office resources like IT, HR and marketing is at the top. Now that I run a small, independent professional services firm, we have to solve our own problems. We fix printers, manage our own schedules, take out the trash...and somewhere in between we find the time to do our real jobs.
Finding intuitive, cheap and effective cloud tools to help our business run smoothly has been critical. To save my professional services peers some time, I thought I would share some our favorites.
Dropbox (Cloud Storage)
There are lots of cloud storage systems out there, but I am a loyal Dropbox fanatic. You can start with free account, but as you expand the Dropbox for Business feature is the way to go.
Insightly (CRM System)
CRM systems can be expensive and have too many bells and whistles for a simple business like ours. Insightly is just right for us. We track our contacts, emails, leads, tasks and live projects. The first two users are free, and after that plans range from $15-$129/month.
Campaign Monitor (Email Campaigns)
For clean, elegant email templates and good reporting, this Aussie company is a great option. It's not the cheapest option, especially if you send high volumes of emails. However, we pay per campaign and find the rates competitive and the functionality superior. An alternative is MailChimp which I admit has better pricing including a free option for high volume / low subscriber lists.
Sidekick (Email Tracking)
This is my dirty little secret: Sometimes, not always, I track who’s opening my emails. Sidekick is a Chrome plug in that helps me to better understand my network and follow up with my contacts efficiently.
FreeConference (Conference Calls)
Free conference calls. Simple as that. JoinMe is another tool we've used, but often it is overkill unless you need to go through materials.
May this save you some time. And if you ever need someone to come kick your printer back into submission, just give me a ring.
This post was previously posted on LinkedIn on August 5, 2015.