Lead your team remotely with these FREE apps
The Startup Ladies staff works remotely most days. So, we use a lot of digital tools to keep us socially connected and communicating consistently all day every day. Below is an overview of the apps we use along with an explanation of how we use them, and links to their websites. If you are on a budget, not to worry, each of these apps has a FREE version. The list is in alpha order.
For most startups, the order of necessity would be: 1 - G Suite, 2 - Slack, and 3 - Asana. The others can be added as you determine what the priorities of your company will be through the next few months. Let’s go!
This web and mobile app helps you and your team manage projects, as well as track and manage your own work. You can sign up for a “basic” account that is free. It will allow you to keep a digital to do list, define due dates, assign people responsible for the task, and add links and documents to the project if necessary. We integrated Asana into Slack so that anyone assigned to, or following a project is notified when a task is created or completed. Creating an account takes minutes. Integrating Asana into Slack is super simple - just click here.
Hats off to the designers who created this app. Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile, and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates and illustrations. We use this app all the time to create social media posts. If your company is product or visually focused - you need this app.
No doubt you’ve registered for an event using Eventbrite. Hosting a webinar? You can schedule it through Eventbrite. And if you use Hubspot as a CRM, you can integrate Eventbrite into it. Eventbrite allows you to keep a history of everyone who attended your event and understand the types of things they like. Eventbrite is free to use if you are not charging for the event. We used it for years for free. When you charge for an event, Eventbrite will charge a fee along with the fee of the credit card processor. It’s up to you to determine who covers the added fees. Their name tag creator is dreamy! If you are going to host a launch party, holiday shindig, or really any type of event, this is the tool to use.
Mailchimp is an email marketing service. They have lots of templates that you can use for newsletters, personalized letters, and event invitations (even if the event is online!). Whether you are using MailChimp for quarterly newsletters to update your investors, announcing good news, or inviting people to something, you can program it well before it needs to be sent and not have to scramble at the last minute. The first time you set up a newsletter, it may take you a few hours to get everything where you want it. After that, you can simply copy it and change out information. Mailchimp is free to use for up to 2,000 contacts.
Everyone should have a free Gmail account so that you have access to a free calendaring, Docs (Word equivalent), Sheets (Excel equivalent), Drive (sharing documents and storage), Google Hangouts (video conferencing), Google Forms (surveys). As you add and subtract people from your team, this gives you ultimate control over who has access to your documents.
Aside from looking at my aging neck, this tool is fantastic for virtual meetings! If you use G Suite for calendaring, you can provide a link to the virtual conference by selecting “add conference” when creating the invitation. All users must have downloaded the extension in order to use the app. Click on the respective links below to add the necessary extensions.
There are some important rules to observe when teleconferencing. If you plan well, it’s easy to avoid rookie mistakes.
Find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted by anyone.
Use headphones with a microphone so that everyone can easily hear you.
Make sure that your face is properly illuminated so that meeting attendees can easily see you.
Babies and pets interrupt the flow of conversation and peoples’ concentration. They should not be part of the meeting. Be courteous and professional and make provisions for your children and pets before the meeting.
Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social networks at once. This platform provides the ability to create and schedule posts that will show up on multiple platforms at once or different times - entirely up to you. The past/future dashboards are cool because you know what was posted and what’s in the queue. We’ve used this for a few years and pay about $15/month. There is a free trial period.
Hubspot is my favorite customer relationship management (CRM) system for startups. This tool helps you keep your customers’ contact information, create sales pipelines, track and save emails, and market to your customers. Hubspot has the power to send newsletters like MailChimp and manage social media like Hootsuite. (In 2020, The Startup Ladies will convert all newsletter and social media scheduling to Hubspot.) The Startup Ladies is a channel partner. Our members are eligible for up to 90% off an annual contract for the first year, and deep discounts in future years. We’ve been using the free version for a few years. The paid marketing and sales tools are powerful and we plan to upgrade in 2020.
I started using this back in 2014 thinking that Slack could never replace email. I was totally converted within 48 hours. While I receive a few hundred emails every day, my inbox receives far fewer emails thanks to this tool. Slack allows teams to message one another instantly while sharing documents. Users can create “channels” that focus on a singular project. It takes minutes to set up and start using. Usually, I turn notifications off, however, I always keep notifications for Slack on incase a team member needs me when I’m on the go. I can follow up and share documents in seconds, or choose to follow up later. You will love using this app!
Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned conference call. Set up a free account so that you can make scheduling conference calls easy. You don’t even need a PIN anymore.
There are many platforms to create websites, this just happens to be the one we’ve been using for about five years. If you are just getting started and don’t have much of a budget, you can get started for free. It’s easy to use and the templates are great. Their SEO is not good. If search is something that is important to your startup, consider using WordPress. It wouldn’t surprise me if Wix and web builders similar to Wix are working on improved search functions.
Zoom allows you to do video conferencing like Google Hangouts, however, you can record the meeting. In my experience, there have been fewer delays and drops in Zoom compared to Google Hangout or Skype. In the months ahead, I think Zoom will become a digital tool that The Startup Ladies uses much more regularly.
Before I got into tech, I would have felt totally overwhelmed by running an organization with remote workers. Now, I can’t imagine life without having team members who work remotely! I hope this intro gives you a better understanding of the free tools available to you and gives you the confidence to keep growing remotely. If you have any questions, please send them to Info@TheStartupLadies.org.