03. Tools & Apps
Asana is a project management tool and one of my favorites for working with clients. It can get a little complicated, so I thought video would be best for this section.
Create an Asana account and start playing around in there. If you haven't already, consider investing $5/monthly to get a custom email domain from Google. This way, you'll have a company work space that can be shared with your team or clients.
17Hats is a great tool for virtual assistants because it helps solopreneurs manage their clients. 17Hats allows you to manage leads, clients, projects, contracts, invoices and quotes all within one interface. I am a huge fan of their software. When you first join, setting up your account can take a couple of hours. If you choose to use all the tools available to you, it'll take awhile to get in place, but once it's setup, it'll save you hours of work every week.
If you plan to have more than 2 clients at once, this is one of the first investments (besides your website and domain) that I'd recommend making.
If you choose to use 17Hats, check out the 17Hats Bundle which is a course dedicated to teaching you how to get set up in the software. If you're interested in using it, sign up for a free trial here and then access the ecourse here.
If you use Gmail, Streak is a fantastic tool that adds a pipeline/workflow right in with your emails. You can add email threads to a workflow and move it through various steps. You can add notes, tasks, other team members and use columns to add additional information. It sounds (and looks) overwhelming but it's actually an extremely simple tool to use.
Download Streak CRM if you're in Gmail. Make a workflow for your client emails. Lead > Client > Past Client so you can move emails through your system.
This is one of my favorite tools for working with clients. For those of you that don't know what slack is: According to the Slack website, "A messaging app for teams". Simple, right? And it really is that easy. With a few questions and an email, you can create your own slack team. If you get a lot of emails per day, or you just hate email, slack allows you to keep in communication with everyone without the clutter. I wrote a whole blog post about how I use it for my blog, but what you probably didn't know is that I use it for my clients too.
Think of slack as an optimized, beautiful and fun chat room. We'll dig into the feature more in a bit, but the basic idea of slack is to eliminate back-and-forth emails. Slack makes it easier to plan, meet, chat and share ideas. The reason I started using slack was because I disliked facebook groups. The search functions are awful and they're not easy to monitor or customize. The features are very simple but very limited. Slack was how I created a community without Facebook.
Slack is great for personal use too:
- I get the weather sent to me every morning.
- I get notifications when a client pays a bill.
- I receive updates on my favorite sports teams.
- New Instagram images that I'm tagged in are sent to me.
- Emails that are automatically starred for me in Gmail are also sent to Slack.
- Tasks completed by my VA in Asana are pushed to Slack.
- Daily reminders such as reading my bible study, working out, checking in with coaching clients and walking the puppy are sent to me.
- Feedly posts I tag as "Research" are sent to Slack
These and MANY, MANY more uses are all done using a website called If This Then That, or IFTTT.
The ONLY apps on my phone that actually send a notification or sound are phone calls, text messages, and slack. Everything else is muted. This way only the most important things in my life can interrupt my work day. Using slack, I also have "offline" hours set, so I only get push notifications between 9am and 4pm. After 4, my phone is silent.
Sign up for a slack account and read this guide to get started. Complete your profile and make a private channel for yourself to set up some IFTTT automations or write notes to yourself. Also install the app to your phone and/or desktop.
If you're working on projects at an hourly rate, a good time tracker is a necessity. 17Hats has a built-in tracker you can use. If you're not using 17Hats you can try out MyHours. Check out the videos below for quick tips on how to use both.
Find a timer you'll use for your work. Bookmark it on your browser and commit to using it every time.
Google hangouts is an easy and quick way to meet with clients using voice or video. It's fairly simple to use, but let's walk through it really quick.
Set up a hangout chat with a friend or yourself! Make sure you know how to set up your webcam and mic. Play with the toolbar and read up on some of the ways you can use hangouts.