Running or working in a small business can be difficult. There’s a lot to do every day and sometimes it feels like there can never be enough people or enough hours to do it all.
Now, obviously WithWine is a tech company. We’re busy doing very different things to wineries but the principle remains the same. Just like you, we need to streamline everything we do, automate whatever processes we can and stay as organised as possible. Now, it makes sense the tools we use are digital and have mobile apps available but don't let that intimidate you. They're always easy to use and best of all, most of them have a free option which is likely to be more than adequate for what you need.
So if you’re looking to streamline your admin, improve team communication or even just create some better looking social media images, these 5 top tools have you covered.
Slack is a group communication tool that we use instead of email. While email has its place, it’s far too easy to miss an important message and cause delays for someone else in the team. It can also be hard to check and reply to when travelling, as some of us do almost weekly.
So we turned to Slack. If you haven’t heard of it before, Slack is a bit like Facebook Messenger, allowing us to chat both individually and in team rooms about certain projects or goals. We can also send files, share screens, set reminders through starred messages and search through our conversations to find things we’ve previously talked about. For the team members who are on the road, all of this is also accessible directly from mobile phones.
At WithWine, we’ve got several company topics that we use for brainstorming and feature ideas as well as a storage point for resources. We’ve also got a general discussion group that’s used for announcements (and memes) to keep us all informed of what’s going on, no matter where we are.
Alternative idea: Workplace by Facebook is a newer product that incorporates many of the features of Slack. While Slack is easy to use, there is a learning curve for all new products, so the familiarity of Facebook is a huge benefit.
Because we often work remotely, coming up with a way to keep our files safe and easily accessible was crucial. Dropbox was that solution, allowing us to backup all of our files on the cloud and access them no matter where we are.
The best part about Dropbox is how easy it is to use. You just need to install the software and then make sure you save your files in that folder instead of your traditional Documents folder. Simple. You can also control access to these files, sharing them either individually or making them more widely available.
Like the rest of the tools we use, Dropbox is available for use on both mobile and desktop.
Alternative: Consider Google Drive. Particularly if you’re already using the range of Google office products, the integration is simple and their collaboration features are some of the best available.
Need to make images for social media or email campaigns but have no graphic design skills? Canva is your solution.
An easy to use program, Canva has a range of templates for everything you will ever need. These templates are built to the standard sizes and it’s simple to search for basic layouts for all of your social media needs, from posts to ads and headers.
Once you’ve found a style you like, you can easily change the fonts, colours and even pictures to suit your brand. With the newest features, you can even share your final images directly to your social media platforms or even organise professional printing directly from your browser
Alternative: There really aren’t any. But if you are using Canva for social media, it’s also worth checking out Hootsuite if you haven’t already. With a range of analytics, listening tools and easy scheduling for all your platforms, anyone responsible for a social media page will save time using Hootsuite.
Xero is one of the easiest accounting programs you will use. While many features of Xero are standard to all accounting programs, it is the ease of use and automation that makes this a stand out option for us. Even simple things like Invoice Reminders that automatically send out an email for an unpaid invoice saves time and hassle and the collaboration options are fantastic for anyone who also works with an external accountant.
The other feature that we love is the number of integrations that Xero has. Whether it’s e-commerce options like Shopify, payment gateways like Stripe or email campaigns with Mailchimp, Xero has the power to bring together multiple areas of your business to ensure you always have access to real time information.
Alternative: Like Canva, there really isn’t one. Traditional programs simply can’t compete with some of the more complex features of Xero.
Trello is a project management tool that allows for easy team collaboration. For each project you’re working on, you can create a board and then create individual cards for each element necessary. For example, you could create a board for Email Marketing and then individual cards for each of your monthly newsletters and any planned promotions.
On each of the cards, you can include all of the details you need to complete the project. You can attach documents, write notes, invite coworkers to contribute and assign them to do lists and even create a due date. You can then also move each of these cards to indicate the status of each project eg to do, approval needed, complete so everyone is aware of what is happening at a glance.
Alternative: Asana is another free and feature rich option for small teams.
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