Top 7 Tools for Running your Business Online - Anywhere, Anytime
A few days ago, I sat with my colleague and discussed the different tools that we use on a daily basis. We also discussed how “lucky” we are to have access to these tools via the Internet. Lastly, we reminisced a bit about the old days, and noted how cumbersome it would be to start a business the “old fashioned way.”
Therefore, I would like to share the tools that we use, which I consider to be crucial for us to be effective.
With any application that we use in Omnicus, we can access that service anywhere - and anytime. That’s the starting point. Everything must (and should) remain available as a cloud service.
#1 - Office Suite
First, we will look at “office suite.” We need mail, calendar, documents, as well as the ability to create presentations, work on spreadsheets, etc. For several years, Google has been the supplier of choice for these services. It was also our choice here at Omnicus. The reason being is that it is incredibly easy to use, while also being rich in integration with other systems. It surpasses anything else that I know of. Below, I will show some examples of why that’s the case.
One of the major advantages is that we can use the service through a web browser - or separate apps for mobile and tablet.
Previously, it was called “Google Apps for Business,” but was recently renamed “G-suite.”
With G-suite, you receive the following tools:
- Gmail: Email
- Calendar: As the name implies - a calendar to keep my appointments
- Hangouts: To conduct video conferences and arrange webinars via Youtube
- Document storage:
- Drive: Storing files in the cloud, as well as one native app on my Mac (or PC) that gives me a copy of all files “offline” (if I lose my internet connection).
- Docs: Word processing (an alternative to Word)
- Sheets: (an alternative to Excel)
- Forms: To create online surveys
- Slides: (an alternative to Powerpoint)
- Sites: Webpages (used for internal and external wiki pages). Google Sites may be used for a variety of purposes, but we have limited our use to a wiki.
- Administration of users and platform:
- Admin side: Where all users, setup, groups, etc. are handled.
- Vault: Electronic vault where you can manage your company data.
Everything is as stated in the cloud, and all (internal and external users) can edit the same documents simultaneously.
Get started with G-suite here.
#2 - Chat (internal and external)
For our chat service, we use Slack (together with 4 million other active users). Slack is the best collaboration tool I have used in my professional life. The best part of Slack is that it can be paired with all the other services that we use at Omnicus. As an example, I link my Google account with Slack for simple document sharing in ongoing conversations with others.
Here is another example: I can start a video call via appear.in by typing /appear.in (room name) within the Slack channel. Anyone who clicks this link in the Slack channel will join the same video room. Starting videoconferences within Slack also applies to Hangouts and Skype.
The point is that I can use just the integration or tool I would like for that purpose - and I can use it right there and then.
Later on, in this blog post, I will return to other services we have linked to Slack.
Slack is available on a free plan.
#3 - Homepage
Previously, we used Wordpress for handling our websites. I have also used Wordpress since 2012 on my personal blog, but at Omnicus, this was simply not good enough. Wordpress (out of the box), is too slow. There are too many elements that bring down the rating at Google. We started with Wordpress in August, but have since replaced it with Jekyll, as of September.
The goal was to get a tool that gets the best “score” on Google, while also loading quickly - especially on mobile devices. We have now optimized our site so that we get almost the best credentials we can achieve, both with Google Pagespeed Insights and GTmetrix. We will not see a 100% score, but this is due to Facebook pixel and hotjar (more on that later). We are entirely dependent on these services, so we have to give up the “throne” for now.
We do not use our own servers and do not plan to in the future. Our services are running at Google, via Google Cloud. Here, we can establish, modify, delete and move servers with a few keystrokes, which makes the job incredibly easy. We have used these services for a longer period and can see that we are “never going back” to building our own infrastructure.
To edit our website, we use a tool called Atom. Since we are two - and in the future, many - who write code, we need to keep track of versions and files. For version management, we use Git, and we use servers at GitHub for this purpose. We can easily create, modify and delete files while maintaining 100% control of all changes.
We have connected GitHub with both Slack and Google Cloud, so that any changes we implement from either Glenn’s or my own machine, are being published to GitHub. Moreover, changes are announced in our Slack channel and Github “push” further changes out to our website.
Everything is setup to be fully automatic.
#4 - Task List
Like any startup or a traditional business, we have a lot of tasks to be performed. We must, therefore, have a common system, where we can create tasks and give the status as we work our way through the list. For this purpose, we use Trello.
It is easy to use, while it can also make links to Google services and Slack. For example, we can create a task from Gmail, and then send a notification to a Slack channel about expiration dates and specify who is responsible for the execution.
Trello is available on a free plan.
#5 - Analysis tools
We measure everything we do - always. We can then carry out good, educated guesses when it comes to strategic decisions, with a good analytical basis. We use several tools to measure and analyze. Here, I will present two tools which I think are important for any company engaged in online business.
When you need to deal with analytics, Google Analytics is one very effective tool. Here, you will be able to measure everything that happens on your site, and for Omnicus, that is the heart of the enterprise. We have also linked this with Google AdWords (more on that below).
While Google provides us with the statistics, we use HotJar to analyze the individual visitors. We make “recordings” of all those who visit our site (anonymously), so we can see how they navigate, where they click (or do not click), where and when they leave our site, etc.
Using Hotjar is a work in progress, and it gives us insight - which is essential - in what we do online.
HotJar is available on a free plan.
#6 - Advertising
Google Adwords is connected with Google Analytics. Therefore, we can measure all ads prior to being published, until we get the desired conversion. By connecting these two services together, we gain full oversight of every click, cost per click (CPC), conversion rate, etc.
We also use Facebook for advertising, and we have something called Facebook pixel on our website. Facebook pixel enables us to remarket on Facebook to people who have visited our site.
You’ve probably noticed this yourself from others; you may have visited H & M online and suddenly, you see garments from H & M popping up on your Facebook feed. Used smart and sensibly, this can be very effective.
You also have the opportunity for remarketing with Google Adwords. But instead of using the Facebook feed, you will instead access Google’s own ad network.
We have not used LinkedIn ads on equal terms - for the time being - but I have faith in an unused potential ;)
#7 - Notes
For notes, I often use Evernote. I also use Evernote to draft blog articles - simply because it is easy to use, and because Evernote is available on all devices. I also use Evernote to create so-called swipe files of competitors.
That was all!
You have now seen the most important tools that we use at Omnicus. Do you use any tools that I have not mentioned here? If so, please leave a note!