I don’t know if some of you can relate, but I remember waiting in line with a quarter in my hand so I could call my mom from a public payphone. I also remember flipping through the pages of the phone book attached to a cable in the phone booth trying to find the nearest auto mechanic shop to get my car towed. Those were the good ol days…NOT.
We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? I mean, come on, I used to walk over to the TV to change the channel for my older sister who loved bossing me around. She still bosses me around but now I can just hand her the remote.
Communication is an essential part of our business, our society, and our lives as a whole. And technology really has advanced to help make it easier. If I had to highlight the one tool we use most here at BOS Media for communication, it’s definitely Slack.
What is Slack? Well, it’s like a messaging app specifically for business. Wait, doesn’t email do that? Yes, but not like Slack.
Slack truly brings people together to work as one unified team…it has revolutionized the way organizations, teams and even individuals communicate.
Why do we love it? First of all, for the same reason so many of us prefer texting: it’s immediate. Conversations can go back and forth without missing a beat. But if it’s just like texting, why not just text? Why download a fancy app? Because of all these key functionalities they bring to the table:
- SLACK stands for “Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge” – they built this app to make it super easy to search conversations. Have you ever scrolled up and down for days on your iMessage trying to find that one line someone said that was so funny? Not so fun right? Slack’s search capabilities are very powerful and easy.
- Slack has channels. God bless the channels. It’s a brilliant way to organize your conversations. You can create all kinds of different channels and bring specific people into that channel to start a conversation. For instance, we have a channel called “BOS-Operations” – this is where we submit ideas and complaints about how we currently do things and suggest ways we can improve upon them.
- Slack is non-intrusive. Seems like texting your boss during cocktail hours can seem intrusive, and believe me, it is. But, slacking during any hour just seems legit. This is what Slack calls “supporting asynchronous work” – it’s a fancy term that means no matter your location, time zone, or function, you can access the information you need on your own time. You can ask questions, get caught up and share updates without having to coordinate schedules. What? Cut down meetings to schedule more meetings? I’m in!
- Slack has a great user interface. It’s pretty and easy to use. It’s simple to set up and you can use it on your phone, your desktop, your tablet…you just can’t use it on a rotary phone with a quarter..sorry.
- It’s free. There are paid versions but we’ve been using it the free one for years. Thanks Slack.
Well, this finalizes our kickoff to 2023 on the Apps and Software we believe will help improve your processes in the year ahead!
Here’s a quick recap of the tools we recommend:
- Typeform – Online Form Builder
- Monday.com – Project Management
- Freshbooks – Accounting
- Slack – Communication
I hope this series has helped get your January started right. That’s part of the mission here at BOS Media – doing our part to make you more efficient, more productive and ultimately setting your business up to shine! If there’s anything I can do to support you in that, find the nearest payphone and give me a call!
If you are following our series this month, it’s about highlighting the best online app or software I use for my business that I hope can help you too. First was Typeform. Second was Monday.com, and today, I am pleased to present: Freshbooks.
I was introduced to Freshbooks through a friend who was using Quickbooks as an accounting software for his business and wanted something a little more user-friendly and less expensive. He loved it and sent me a link to do a free trial just to check it out. I think what drew me to start using Freshbooks wasn’t necessarily the user-interface, ease of invoicing or even the recurring invoicing tool – it was how they made me feel once I started their free trial.
First of all, I started learning about the history of Freshbooks. Like most entrepreneurial endeavors, it started out as a dream, back when the co-founder Mike McDerment was a website designer and developer (sound familiar?). One of the tasks they were constantly having trouble doing well in-house was invoicing. He was creating digital invoices from a Word Document and Excel Spreadsheet… it didn’t quite provide the automation he needed, so he decided with his website-building talent, he would create his own. This turned into a full-time passion, which he ended up working on until it was finally launched. After two years and full effort in growing Freshbooks, he had 9 customers paying $9.99.month. They were making $100/month for the four of them. So, do you know what you do when you start a company and it only makes $100/month after two years? That’s right, you move into your parents basement. And that’s exactly what he did.
Since then, Freshbooks has earned a unicorn status as a privately held startup company with a value over $1 Billion. They now serve over 30 million small business clients in 160 countries. Wow!!
I think their humble beginnings allowed them to relate to business owners like me in a deep way. They really understood who I was and what I was struggling with each day. In fact, as soon as I signed up, they sent me a free book called “Breaking the Time Barrier” which taught me about knowing and charging my worth for my company and had great stories of how to overcome the daily struggles of an entrepreneur. It felt like he knew me. I just looked it up, looks like he’s still giving the book away but in a digital form now – here’s the link.
Aside from my emotional connection to Freshbooks, these are the additional reasons why I have stayed with them for the last 7 years:
- Second to none customer care: Honestly, these guys are amazing. They win awards every year for their incredible customer support. In fact, they promise that when you call, a real human will always answer. Which is crazy to me. And trust me, I’ve called them numerous times for technical questions or even some issues I am having. And sure enough, after a couple of rings, someone always answers the phone…”Hello, Freshbooks, can I help you?”
- I think Freshbooks has the easiest and the most intuitive recurring invoice feature. You can set up multiple ways to automate your billing, so you can easily receive your scheduled payment securely and fast. This feature really sold me.
- Everything about the Freshbooks platform speaks to small business entrepreneurs. It knows how we think because it’s built by the people that get us. Also, it’s very affordable (that alone shows they truly understand my priorities).
- Automated reminders. You can set your unpaid invoices to send out friendly reminders for payment. This really cuts down a lot of manual work on your end.. and you still get paid.
It’s funny – once upon a time, my Freshbooks journey started when a friend sent me a link for a free 30-Day trial… and today the tables have turned. Now I’m honored to be that friend for you! If you are interested in changing your accounting software or if you are ready to finally stop using Excel for your invoicing, here’s a link to a free 30-day trial of Freshbooks!
Hope you love it as much as I do!
Have you ever used a formula that starts with “=VLOOKUP”? I am guessing some of your eyes just lit up. Some of you are ready to hit the reply button to tell me you know exactly what I am talking about, and you want to commiserate together about the hours of painful memories trying to figure out how to make this formula display the results correctly.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, it’s a formula used in Excel spreadsheets that lets you search an entire database to look for something very specific, which you can then use to find an Approximate (TRUE) or an Exact (FALSE) match….blah blah blah.
What’s my point? My point is that I love Excel. I love spreadsheets. I love the simplicity of how it functions, and the complexity that allows you to manipulate your data toward any result you want. It’s brilliant. In fact, it’s so brilliant, I know many people that use it for almost every function in their business. Client list, project status, project budget, and even their day-to-day work.
Is this you?
Confession: I created a monstrous formulated database on Excel that I input all my stats after a round of golf and it spits out all the goals I hit, all the goals I didn’t hit, and a list of what I need to work on. In fact, it calculates 25 different aspects of my game and tells me how I am doing in each. Ridiculous, right? Or…brilliant?
Well, going along with the “Best of” series this month about all the business tools we use, I would like to introduce a tool we use at BOS Media Group that I love even more: MONDAY.com.
What do I love about MONDAY… where do I begin? First of all, it looks and acts just like Excel, but even prettier and much more intuitive – seriously, you gotta check it out for yourself. Again, I am not an affiliate and do not make any money promoting these products. I just want to pass along what has helped me simplify my life as an entrepreneur.
Features I love about MONDAY.com:
- Collaboration: Okay, yes, Excel lacks collaboration but Google Sheets (an online spreadsheet that Google basically stole the idea from Microsoft to create as their own) figured out a way for teams, clients, or anyone else you share the document with to collaborate together. But MONDAY takes it to another level. It allows you to assign tasks to others, create conversations, provide feedback, and even approve changes. It’s a full collaboration tool for any project. Find out more about the collaboration here.
- Automation: Interestingly enough, everyone that’s used MONDAY says this is what sets it apart. So, practically, how is automation used? Great question – here’s a simple example of something built into a project called “status.” Let’s say the project manager assigned to this project changes the status from “pending clients approval” to “client approved.” You can create a simple automation where as soon as the project manager makes that change, MONDAY notifies the rest of the team and sends an email out to the client with the next steps. Pretty cool, eh? Another example of automation: when you assign a task and it gets completed, it could automate another task and assign it. That way, if you are the boss, you can keep your team busy for days while you are playing golf. Hahaha. Find out more about Automation here.
- Integration: It works with a bunch of other apps and software you might currently be using. For instance, Slack, Zoom, Outlook, Gmail, Dropbox, Calendar, etc. Why is this important? Because MONDAY wasn’t created to replace something you currently like working with and are familiar with, it helps connect everything in one place and helps you do your job more effectively and efficiently. Find out more about Integrations here.
One last thing I love about it is the name. MONDAY. This might sound weird to some of the haters out there, but Monday is actually my favorite day! I like to say that Monday is basically the New Year’s Day of every week – it’s the beginning of a new adventure, and a reminder that our work is not something we HAVE TO do, it’s something we GET TO do. Loving Mondays is really about loving your normal, daily life!
If that sounds nerdy, maybe you just need to try MONDAY.com… I hope this is the year you discover just how magical Monday can be!
I remember the days when I would walk up and down the aisle at a store looking for the latest software to install on my computer. It came in a disc form and had really great packaging. They had accounting software, graphic software, spreadsheet software, and even the latest games. I would buy it for around $19-$49 depending on what it was and couldn’t wait to get home to install it on my computer. Two things that were annoying though. First, every software I purchased took up more and more memory space in my hard drive (and I didn’t have that much room in the first place). Second, anytime there was a bug fix or a feature update, I’d have to go back to the store and buy an updated version and guess what? I’d have to install it again, taking up even more room in my hard drive.
Well, we certainly have advanced with this invention of the internet and the technology of the cloud. Everything is right here at my fingertips and I don’t even have to get out of my PJs… which by the way, I am wearing now (no joke).
So I was thinking, since it’s so easy to try out new online software, and I am constantly trying out anything and everything that would make my life more interesting and efficient, why don’t I tell you guys about some that’s really worth trying out? And don’t worry, these are not paid promos or my affiliate-sponsored software… these will just be my honest, unbiased opinions on why I like them so much. So, are you ready? Let’s dive in.
- What is it? It’s an online form. Simple as that. It asks questions, and you collect the answers.
- What problem does it solve? Most forms are impersonal and boring. Some are just blank fields you fill out and it’s tedious. Also, with most online forms, you are most likely to get them filled out by bots and end up getting a lot of spam emails.
- How does it solve it? It asks one question at a time, just like a normal human-to-human conversation. It keeps the audience engaged, and therefore, you’ll get more thoughtful responses and higher completion rates.
- What features are surprisingly useful or cool? I love the personalized feature where it addresses you with your name. As you continue through the form it will say something like… “So Hanju, what’s your email address?” Also, there’s this cool conditional logic feature where you can route to a different set of questions depending on how you answer the previous ones.
- Where do you use it? We use it for all of our design questionnaires or surveys we send out to our clients. Again, it feels more personal and engaging.
- How much is it? There are 4 levels. Free ($0/month), Basic ($25/month), Plus ($50/month), and Business ($83/month). We have a basic option, it’s been great so far.
Here’s an example of how we use this form with our clients. Click on this link and go through the first couple of questions for fun and you’ll get a feel for it. Don’t worry, it won’t submit anything back to us unless you fill it out completely and hit the submit button at the end. https://bosmediagroup.com/website
My plan is to share more of these recommendations throughout the month – I hope it gives you a few tools to help get your new year started right. Here’s to making 2023 the best one yet!