Pulling together a collaborative and productive team with all the right skills to grow your business could be the hard part. This challenge happens far more often than you would think.But the good news is that you can overcome your team’s productivity issues with the right tools
There is a sea of tools out there for every facet of team productivity. In this article, we will narrow down the choice and take a look at the top tools that every member of your team can use to boost their effectiveness.
From your business analyst to your account executive, here are the top 20 tools for maximizing the productivity of all your team members.
Chanty is an AI-powered business messenger and a single notification center focused on refining business processes for small and medium teams. It helps businesses become more productive by featuring instant messages with an unlimited searchable history, plenty of storage space, robust file sharing and uniting notifications from multiple software services in a single place.
Pricing: Free (the product is at beta stage).
Slack is a well-known team communication tool from Silicon Valley. This feature-rich messaging
The app operates in private and public channels and also has voice and video calling. In addition to advanced chatting features, Slack has many shortcuts, hacks and integrations with third-party platforms that help to increase team productivity.
Pricing: Free basics, Standard plan: $6.67 per user per month, Plus plan: $15 per user per month.
Fleep is a team messenger attempting to link up project collaboration and team communication. Here you can schedule lightweight tasks chatting with team members and invited business partners. A bonus is that Fleep features an unlimited message history as well as unlimited integrations in its free package.
Pricing: Free; Premium plan starts from €5 per user per month (advanced file-sharing and premium support).
4. Microsoft Teams
If you decide to build a communication hub around already used Office 365, the simplest choice is Microsoft Teams — a chat that combines conversations and teamwork tools with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, and much more.
Pricing: Starting at $5 per user per month.
HipChat is a conservative-looking instant messenger with fast one-to-one and group video calls and handy screen sharing feature. It should be mentioned that HipChat offers self-hosting which makes IT departments happy.
Pricing: Free; Plus plan starts from $2 per user per month.
Video Conferencing Tools
To be honest, Zoom is pretty cool with its HD video conferencing, screen sharing from desktop or mobile and recording features. Following this, Zoom allows you to create the collaborative whiteboard and send group texts, images and audio files during meetings.
Pricing: Free; Pro plan starts from $14.99 per month per host (the person who schedules, starts and controls the settings in a meeting).
GoToMeeting is a popular choice due to its HD-quality video, screen sharing, personalized meeting URLs, a whiteboard feature, and the ability to connect to meetings via desktop or mobile. Additional bonus: options to translate control settings — perfect for global teams.
Pricing: from $19 per month.
8. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is both fun and easy to use and looks great. You can choose which groups of people you want to invite to your Google Hangouts session, making it easy to start a video conference in seconds.
Pricing: Free, Business Plan starts at €4 per user per month.
9. Skype for Business
And then, of course, there is the old faithful Skype which has been around forever. It is a proven solution for instant messaging, voice, and video calls. Skype for Business has all the primary features of the other tools here except toll-free numbers, which GoToMeeting has.
Pricing: Starting from $2 per user per month.
Similar to Skype, appear.in lets you create online meeting rooms for video calls. It is a great tool for teams that already use a chat, but also need a tool for online video calls. Top features include:
-Claiming your own personal video room,
-Setting a custom background image of the room,
-Locking the room for private conversations,
-Sending messages and links in text chat during meetings,
-Sharing your screen.
Pricing: Free up to 8 people, Premium coming soon.
Document Collaboration Tools (File Storage and File Sharing)
In short, Dropbox is a cloud-based platform that allows users to store and share files. It is scalable so Dropbox is good for both teams and individuals. Files synchronize seamlessly across all devices. Account owners can grant others access to storage folders as well as single files. Distributed workers can have shared access to digital assets (files, spreadsheets, documents, photos) regardless of their physical location.
Pricing: Free, Business Plans start from $8.25 per user per month.
12. Google Drive
Google Drive is a handy hub for creating, sharing, collaborating, and storing documents and presentations. For distributed workers, pulling together a presentation from three different content creators is simple and fast thanks to user access controls and link sharing.
Pricing: The first 15 GB of storage is free; the price for additional storage starts from $1.99 per user per month.
13. Evernote Business
Evernote is the tried-and-true titan in note taking and note sharing. The business plan allows you to take and manage notes and then share them with your team. Its primary and most powerful features are the Notebook Stacks and the tagging system that let you find anything in seconds. It also features a Web Clipper browser extension for capturing ideas while surfing the net, and mobile apps for taking down notes, even voice ones, from wherever you are.
Pricing: Evernote Business is priced at $10 per person per month.
Project Management Tools
Wrike combines simple design with efficient project management tools. And it is also known as the best project management software. It is a powerful tool for managing and collaborating on projects. You can manage and customize the entire flow of work — from incoming requests, to delegating tasks, reviewing initial drafts, providing feedback and approving revisions. Plus: custom workflows and statuses, Gantt charts, customizable reports, time tracking, board view.
Pricing: Free up to five users; Professional plan with five users: $49/month, ten users: $99 per month, 15 users: $149 per month.
15. Zoho Projects
Zoho Projects is a part of the Zoho software bundle. Features include task lists with multiple tasks and milestones, document and file management, time tracking and timesheets, team intranet and shared calendar.
Pricing: Express plan (up to 20 projects) $25/month, Premium plan (up to 50 projects) $50/month, Enterprise plan (unlimited projects) $99/month. CRM and other additional features come with an extra price tag.
Trello is a multifunctional kanban-style dashboard for organizing teammates ideas and keeping track of project progress. It is a good project management tool for small teams with simple projects. Trello lets you create multiple task boards, organize task lists by dates or priority, comment and collaborate, attach pictures and files.
Pricing: Free with extra cost of $5 per month for Trello Gold.
Basecamp is used by thousands of teams all around the world. Basecamp makes it easy to manage the project clients for quick feedback on small changes and updates. It takes only 10 minutes to set up this easy-to-use tool. It provides the minimal amount of features needed for efficient project management.
Pricing: $29 per month for unlimited users.
One of the most well-known project management tools, Asana allows users to assign tasks to other members, add followers to projects, manage tasks and monitor deadlines. It can be very useful also as a to-do list or calendar for strategic planning.
Pricing: Free plan for up to 15 team members; Paid plan starts from $9.99 per user per month.
Time Tracking Tools
Toggl is a hassle – free and best time tracking software that integrates with tens of different project management tools. It is perfect for companies with many different departments. Additional features: offline time tracking and mobile functionalities.
Pricing: $10 per user per month; Paid plans start at $20 per user per month.
TimeBoy helps you manage as many workers, projects and workspaces as you need in order to run your business seamlessly. It enables you to have a complete overview of your team productivity, generate and export reports, and get insights on how the work hours are actually spent. The company also offers in-depth integrations with project management software.
Pricing: Free (the product is at beta stage).
The 20 productivity tools listed above just scratch the surface when it comes to applications that you can use to boost effectiveness among your teammates and throughout your business. Are there any other products that deserve a place here? Leave a comment mentioning the productivity tool you can’t live without.
Security Guide: Keeping Your Business Safe Online and Off
In all fields and sizes of businesses, one thing that has proved to be a massive concern among business owners is theft, both online and offline. The effects of cyber hacking and fraud can be detrimental to the growth of a business, as it affects not only your profits but also how safe and confident your staff and clients feel when interacting with your brand.
It’s crucial as a business owner to keep both your physical and digital assets as secure as possible. After all, you worked extra hard to build all these and more from scratch. Consider this article as your security guide, where we take you through a few tips that’ll protect all your business assets.
Your physical space shouldn’t be attractive for theft.
One way to curb crime in a physical space is to put adequate security measures in place. This might include CCTV, remote sensing, and the use of an environmental monitoring system. Such a system uses sensor networks to pick up a change in activities or the general atmosphere of your space. These systems use their temperature sensors and humidity sensors to check the air temperature of your space. They also have sensors for movement, with the ability to alert you digitally when something doesn’t seem right. Other ways to spruce up your space against crime include using both outdoor and indoor light and the installation of security locks.
Digitize your money.
If your business comes into contact with lots of money daily, it’s advisable to encourage digital transactions. Some enterprises use mail checks online, direct deposits, money orders, and many more to help reduce the use of physical cash. Your business can adopt the debit card system and have a savings account where all monies are instantly transferred into.
If you require clients to provide personal information, offer them a safe space for such activities. You wouldn’t like to divulge the digits of your social security number to a stranger, and neither will your customers. If you decide to go the digital way, consider using an online check writer and a credit card for payments, amongst others.
Use a firewall.
Security for businesses surpasses the physical. When protecting online data, one thing to consider is the use of firewalls. Investing in antispyware, anti-phishing and antivirus software goes a long way to reduce the chances of identity theft for your business. Also, it helps keep all the personal information of employees and clients secure.
Teach your staff about security.
There’s no point in putting endless security measures in place when your employees can’t work with them. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to alert staff and train them on the best ways to maintain these safety measures. If you have an environmental monitoring system, teach your workers to adjust the sensor settings, like changing the humidity, temperature control, risk assessment of environmental data, and any other unique applications, like energy consumption.
Your training sessions must be periodic and consistent if you want to experience the best possible output. Whenever you have new workers, don’t forget to introduce them to the current security systems in place.
Study data regulations.
With data, there’s a lot we’re still learning, thanks to its daily evolution. However, one thing that has come to stay is data privacy rules and their relevance to the safety of businesses. If you wish to improve your data privacy, you’ll need to have all the information regarding data regulations.
The first thing to do is acquire the services of a data-privacy strategist. This person can take accountability for all things data in your business due to their knowledge in data privacy. Monitor data daily and speak up when you notice something isn’t going as it should.
5 Questions to Ask a Contractor Before Hiring Them
Contractors are gaining a lot more work over the pandemic, the contractor’s construction market is reaching $180 billion. There are things you should know about hiring a contractor to remodel your house.
Before hiring, you should ask them these 5 important questions. These 5 questions will give you all the ins and outs of hiring a contractor for your next construction project.
Hire a Contractor
Sometimes homeowners are wishing to remodel a home but don’t know the first thing about hiring a professional. Interior designer renovations require proper planning. In these circumstances, you may need to hire a contracting team.
To renovate you must source the correct materials and hire the right people for the job. Sometimes, you need a knowledgeable contractor to oversee the entirety of the project.
This can include a complete house remodel or a smaller renovation for something like a guest bath. There are plenty of issues you need to consider before hiring the right person for the job. A cost certified contractor can allow you to expedite the job process.
What exactly does a general contractor do? These individuals are responsible for providing all of the materials, labor, services, and equipment for a job. The general contractor then hires all independent contractors for portions of the work.
1. Personal Recommendations
Always ask a general contractor for a personal recommendation. Online referrals are not always the most reliable source of connecting with a future contractor.
It might prove difficult if you are blindly looking for service professionals via an online service. The highest-rated ones near you can suffer from commercial saturation and not deliver quality work.
Ask friends and family to see which contractors were successful in their projects. There’s a greater chance of finding a reliable contractor once you see their complete professional work.
2. Ask for Credentials
Any potential offer to work should follow a check of the contractor’s credentials. Ask if they are licensed, bonded, and insured. You can go online and check if the contractor has a physical address.
The contractor’s state license board regulates the construction industry. Every state has its terms and conditions. Check online for your state or county’s license board.
An abbreviation next to your contractor’s name can represent certifications from different national trade organizations. This can indicate whether the individual contractor or the contracting company belongs to a certain organization.
3. Pricing & Design
You must understand that price reflects the quality. The lowest bid might suggest that the contractor is using cheap materials. It can also foreshadow a contractor that is not keen on their craftsmanship.
The lowest bidder may desperately want a project and cannot satisfy higher expectations. If you select the cheapest bid, prepare yourself to pay more down the line.
Make sure to reference designs and request a budget for the parts and labor. If the contractor is familiar with working on these projects that can give you a rough estimate of the job.
Request a line item description of all the materials necessary for the job. A good contractor or construction crew can make cheap materials look like a million dollars. It’s okay to hire a skilled unlicensed contractor.
If not, you may have to prepare money for mistakes later on down the road. Allow multiple bids to build before selecting the right choice, which should land somewhere in the middle price range.
4. Home Improvement Contract
Your contractor should understand how to develop a home improvement contract. This should include detailed time frames and line itemizations for specialty materials.
It should also include the total cost of materials and payment arrangements. In addition, it should include the contractor’s license number, project description, and information of all parties.
Be cautious, the contractor should provide a specific timeline for the duration of the project. A contractor can have an overload of work and may not fulfill your desired timeline. Make sure your contractor can abide by your schedule.
Keep track of all project-related content. This includes payments, receipts, and all contact information. All payments should break down into different increments.
Never pay full payments upfront, even 50% is too much for partial contract work. A typical retainer fee should never exceed 15%-20% of the overall project cost.
5. Budget & Project Expectations
Be realistic about the project budget. Break the project down into multiple phases and see what you can prioritize with your contractor. If you’re on a budget, you might want to spread your cost over time.
When undergoing project management, you may experience delays. A contractor needs to communicate why and how they cannot fulfill the budget. But, most projects can accumulate to double the original pricing and time.
Check to see if they can acquire the correct permits. Your contractor needs to understand what regulations they need to follow for the remodeling project.
Your contract or architect is responsible for applying for all necessary permits. Any homeowner should know what is going on behind the scenes regarding property rights and remodel restrictions. Permits may take a longer time to acquire depending on the job.
Finding a Reliable Contractor
Communication with your contractor or architect is key to completing your project. Expect a contract to increase in price if a contracting team discovers issues with the property.
Always consult with many contractors before selecting the right one. Once you discover the right contractor you can break into your dream job.
Follow our blog for more information on hiring a contractor and fulfilling your dream remodel!
4 Tips for Starting Your Own CBD Line
Given how quickly the CBD industry has become profitable, it’s no surprise that many entrepreneurs are looking for a way to get involved. Even with record profits rolling in, starting a CBD line can be tricky, especially since the market is slowly becoming more competitive. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can give yourself the edge over other brands if you’re savvy and willing to put in the work.
It all starts with being holistic about the way you create a business plan. Think beyond your products and don’t neglect the logistics of getting them from inventory to the hands of your customers. If you’re considering a foray into the cannabis business, read on for four great tips on how to start your own CBD line.
1. Educate yourself about the industry.
If you’ve never worked in the cannabis industry before, you have plenty to learn before you launch your own brand. Researching other successful brands is a good place to start. You can look up “CBD oil near me” if you want to take a look at some examples of successful businesses in your area. You should also make sure you’re aware of the local laws in your area, as the restrictions on CBD can vary depending on where you are.
2. Develop quality products.
There’s no replacement for delivering a high-quality product to your customers. When it comes to CBD, there’s incredible diversity in terms of what you can focus on. Smokeable flower and CBD oil are two of the most popular options, but you can find CBD edibles, CBD beauty products, and even CBD-infused dog treats.
It’s also important to make sure your products are labeled well and remind customers who haven’t tried cannabis before to consider speaking to their doctor first. Their doctor can help them determine if cannabis will impact any of their health conditions or interact with medications they may be taking.
3. Invest in retail software.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar storefront or operate in the digital space, you’ll still need point-of-sale (POS) software to handle things like inventory management, sales transactions, and product information storage. A quick search for “point of sale software free download full version” will point you in the right direction if you’re looking for a low-cost way to get started. You may not realize it, but having a sale system that functions efficiently makes a big difference in the experience customers have while shopping.
4. Market yourself creatively.
While large social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are allowing ads for CBD products, within certain parameters, there are still a number of websites that restrict content related to cannabis products. That can make it harder for cannabis businesses to market themselves. You can still make use of non-promotional social media posts and other forms of viral marketing. You should also reach out to popular cannabis blogs and websites and offer them free samples if they’ll post a review of your products.
The CBD industry is proving to be a lucrative one, but there are still unique challenges that face CBD business owners. It’s essential to start from the development of quality products and design the rest of your business plan around them. This means you should spend plenty of time researching the industry and how your products will be manufactured, stored, and delivered well before you begin the process of creating your brand.
Once you have a product line, you’ll need effective software, a distribution system, and a creative marketing campaign to build an audience. If all this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. However, given how quickly the industry is expanding, it’s worth putting in the work to get in now.
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