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Productivity / Office administration

Online business tools for micro business teams

With six of us working remotely much of the time, it can be tricky to maintain a sense of unity within the Flying Solo team. As the ‘mum’ of the FS family, I’m in charge of making the team feel connected and I have a few online business tools I use to mak

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Here are two no-cost online business tools we use on a daily basis.

Skype

Robert, Peter and I have a weekly meeting using Skype and we use its instant messaging service every day. Skype chat is gold for lots of reasons. Firstly, it’s real time, but less intrusive than the phone. Secondly, as a part-time worker I get to catch up on what’s been going on in my absence by reading what’s essentially a transcript. Thirdly we are able to make immediate decisions and seek counsel from one another.

Skype crapped out on me briefly a few weeks back and I felt physically sick to miss out on the conversation.

Yammer

A bit like an internal Facebook, Yammer enables the wider team to liaise with one another in a more informal and transparent way than email. As well as communicating core business messages, we use it to share praise, brainstorm, ask questions and have a bit of fun. Each of the team regularly uploads reports on their work in progress, which enables everyone to stay abreast of what others are up to.

I particularly like the ‘Praise’ function, which lets us highlight efforts that might otherwise stay under the team’s radar, like when Peter wrestled our new mobile site to life. We also use this to share positive feedback from our community, which we never tire of hearing.

"Skype crapped out on me briefly a few weeks back and I felt physically sick to miss out on the conversation."

From all reports, everyone in the team feels more connected than they have in any other professional environment.

Much as we love these micro business tools, they could take over if not used properly. So we’ve agreed to check Yammer at the start and end of the day and if anyone says on Skype “I’m doing a Pomodoro”, that’s code for “don’t bug me for the next half hour”.

Here are a couple of other tools I wouldn’t want to work without.

Want more articles like this? Check out the office administration section.

Xero

An accounting software system that is a pleasure to use that’s assisted with budgeting, forecasting and cash flow. They are not sponsors or advertisers. I do not have shares. I wish they were. I wish I did.

Jing

Also no-cost. I cannot express in writing just how brilliant Jing is, particularly as a tool to feedback visual elements to a designer or colleague. So see for yourself.

What micro business tools keep your business flying?

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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