26 March 2012 at 4:16 pm #7018
Marcus J WilsonMember
After 18 months of freelancing, I’ve settled into using a range of online tools to streamline many of the admin functions of running my web business.
In the spirit of sharing, here’s my setup:
Mail & Calendar: Google Apps for Business
Using Google to host my mail and calendars was a no brainer. The simple user interface, cheap and plentiful email storage, integration with mobile and other elements of my virtual office (see below), make it ideal for use in the office or on the road. You also have access to Google’s equivalent of the Microsoft Office suite.
Cost: £39 per user per year
Client Relationship Management: BatchBooks
Batchbooks offers a very powerful but simple central CRM solution for small businesses. Notes and deals can be recorded against all contacts on the database, there’s good social media integration (LinkedIn profiles and Tweets is automatically pooled against relevant contacts) and contact information is shared with my Google Apps account (and therefore my mobile device).
Cost: £9.50 per month for a single user license
Time tracking, Accounting and Invoicing: FreshBooks
FreshBooks is genius. It integrates with BatchBooks, so you can pull through contacts as clients that can be invoiced from Freshbooks. Freshbooks allows you to track your hours against various projects, and will even automate invoice generation and reminders. Finally, you can log all your expenses, alongside scans of your receipts.
Cost: £12.50 per month for their basic package
Document sharing: DropBox
I found the free version of DropBox to be so useful in sharing files both with colleagues and clients, as wel as sharing files between my laptop, desktop and tablets. DropBox is based on Amazon S3 storage, so is very cost effective for Cloud storage and sharing.
Cost: £62 per year for 50GB of Cloud storage
So – a grand total of £365 per year, or £1 per day, for running a Cloud-based, fully-integrated virtual office. Can’t be bad.
If you have your own virtual office setup, why not share it here too? It would be great to make sure we’re all working more effectively and with the best tools the Cloud has to offer.26 March 2012 at 5:03 pm #7029
Ashley Smith HammondMember
Thanks for sharing Marcus!
At AmbITion Scotland we also use DropBox – the free version and have managed well on it so far. We also use Google Calendar to create a shared diary (again free – love it). For CRM and project management we use the 37 Signals tools High Rise (http://highrisehq.com) and Base Camp (http://basecamp.com). Not free but cost effective and worth it when you exploit their full functionality.
Any other tools people would recommend?26 March 2012 at 6:45 pm #7030
Perhaps I’m more paranoid than most, but I use Dropbox for backup, and to sync my data across my machines. That way, the latest version ofany document is always available via any device. I also run another back up programme that sends all my files to a defferent cloud-based back up called Crashplan. OK – definitely paranoid, but I’ll protect the existence of the latest version of my work just as carefully as I protect my own head!!28 March 2012 at 11:01 am #7071
Google Docs: https://docs.google.com – free to share important documents, spreadsheets etc with my team
Skype: http://www.skype.com – free, use it to chat with the team
Google Calender: https://www.google.com/calendar share dates and appointments ..free again
Virtual address: http://www.alldaypa.com/virtual-office as I don’t have an office address yet, about £25 a month
Base camp for project management- http://basecamp.com/ $20 a month
That’s about it so far!28 March 2012 at 11:15 am #7072
Forgot to mention drop box for file sharing.
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