If you’ve gone into business so that you can work from anywhere, then congratulations. You’re my kinda entrepreneur.
It’s more possible than ever these days to work remotely thanks to a myriad of tools and applications that make it easier for you to access your business in the cloud and be totally virtual. You will likely be the envy of all your friends, who will often mistake you sitting on your laptop in a cafe for being on holiday – trust me.
Fun and games aside, working with people in different cities and across multiple time zones with minimal face time presents a whole new set of challenges, that people don’t often consider.
So when I talk about a myriad of tools above, what I’m really inferring is how you go about using them, that’s what really counts. It’s all about developing a system of best practice that works for you.
Here are my some of my top recommendations for tools to help you streamline your business, save time and money and travel the world.
Access Your Emails Offline
If you want to know how to do all of your work offline while travelling, then Gmail Offline will be your life saver. There will be times when you’re on the move or visiting a new location, where you simply have no wi-fi coverage or internet access. I personally think that’s a good thing so you can disconnect and get real work done, so you actually become more efficient.
However this cool free tool allows you to read and reply to emails offline from anywhere, accessing all the important information you need, including attachments. When you do connect up, all your emails in your outbox are sent in one hit, and the bonus is it doesn’t use up all your data while you’re connected to the internet.
Never Forget Your Logins
If you’re like 99% of people I meet, you have one generic password and username you use on all your major sites. It’s not until you have your computer hacked or something stolen, that you realise how critically important it is to protect your stuff. That’s why I adore LastPass – a brilliant tool that remembers all your login credentials in one handy vault accessible only by you. It is in fact the last password you will ever have to remember. Each time you go to login to a site or sign up to a new tool or app, it asks whether you want to remember your password, and you simply say yes, save it under a category and you’re done.
You can also set it to autofill some sites you use constantly, and you can click at any time to show your password or remember a username, plus you can add notes. What’s more you can share certain login details with your team members, so if they’re in charge of your affiliate sites for example, you can send them just those login credentials. It gets even handier for you, when you’re not using your using a foreign computer – like at an internet cafe. You just login in to the LastPass website and then you can access sites you often use, like for me this is WordPress and Dropbox – a cloud storage solution.
Connect To Other Global Entrepreneurs
One of the best new tools I’m loving as a Suitcase Entrepreneur is StartupStay. It’s a free tool/service that allows you to connect with entrepreneurs around the world. It’s like couchsurfing for entrepreneurs. You simply set up your profile using info already in LinkedIn, and then show dates of your travel and where you’re heading. You can then search on people in the city you’re going to and see if you want to connect with them. Their profile shows whether they’re available to host you or just meet for coffee.
The benefits of this are enormous. You’re tapping into an entrepreneurial network the minute you’ve set foot in a new destination. You often get invites to join them in their coworking space for free, plus tips on great cafes with wi-fi, not to mention the amazing benefits of the connections you make with them, and a whole set of new introductions and leads.
Expensify Your Travel And Business
After a while of collecting so many receipts from every taxi and train ride you take, or every business expense you’re making, you start to wise up to the fact that there must be an easier way. And there is. It’s called Expensify. I have this free app on my iPhone and it makes the world of difference. Now I simply take photos of any receipt, scan it in their system with a category and throw it away. You can do this for mileage – simply use a map to enter in the start and ending location to accurately record your business travels. You can also track your time and expenses. You can view reports of your spending and do this for each trip you take too so next time you take a similar trip you can figure out your approximate costs. It also syncs with Quicken accounting and Google Apps so it syncs with your domain email, and your teams.
There are so many great ways to go mobile. You just need to make sure you’re using the tools and applications that work for you, and your business needs. If however your real challenge is staying focused while working remotely, or sticking to making some serious changes in your business then consider joining the $100 Change Program – designed to empower entrepreneurs like you to create serious change by starting something special. You’ll hear from 100 change makers (including Laura Roeder), over 100 days for $100 and get the opportunity to win one of ten scholarships to start your business idea or project too.
So which apps and tools do you use to run your business from anywhere?