Cloud Apps to Run an Online Service Business

Since there are books written on finding your peeps, and planning for success, this article is about finding those super cool cloud apps that keep you mobile.

The chalkboard with a cloud apps transferring illustration

How to chose wisely

I confess, during the process of researching and curating these apps, I spent hours, days, weeks and even months getting caught up in every cool website and app that seemed to do stuff.

What I learned about my business during that process was an eye-opener. I learned that I had to figure out what my business needed, not what every app could do. There’s a huge gap between what I needed, and what an app could offer. With that said, the following apps met my needs, and they could help you, if you:

  • have a geographically diverse team
  • need to keep sensitive information in the cloud
  • need integration with google apps
  • hate entering data as much as I do, especially more than once

Search Apps by Function

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Whether on my phone or my computer screen, these apps keep things running smoothly at WordPress Barista.

Google Apps

An organic instruction manual is kept in google docs so we’re all on the same page. We can access email from anywhere. We share calendars, and book our projects around each other.

That flexibility is why I work for myself – and why my colleagues work from home too!

Find Google Apps here.

Skype

We keep the chat module open all day – I love feeling like I’m sitting next to my colleagues. Find Skype here.

WeDoIst

We use this to organize all our projects – the simple UI is better than chocolate. You can assign each task, and set deadlines. Share files. I love this app!

Tip: We created one ‘Project’ called “small stuff” to keep some small support requests out of the big project list.

Find WeDoIst here.

Freshbooks & Paypal

Invoicing obviously. We used to be able to add new clients from within Google Mail with 1 click (ahem!! I want it back!!) Now I have to click all the way over to the other tab!

All our banks are online as well, so we can auto-sync expenses and income into Freshbooks. Each invoice, when paid, is automatically marked and filed (no matching invoices or inputting amounts paid!!) but then matched with each imported transaction from our linked bank accounts. Worth every penny they charge.

For support, some clients prefer to email direct, and some prefer to use the Customer Portal at Freshbooks. We use whatever works for them.

Client Relationship Manager – the dreaded CRM. I’ve tried 10s – probably close to 20 of these!! I’ve imported these contacts so many times, I can do it in my sleep. CRM’s seem to come with a focus on email/communication or project management or sales/invoicing. And each combo makes it very difficult to use and harder to learn.

What I’ve discovered for me, is that Freshbook’s 1 screen client data is all that we need. I combine it with an archive of email for each one, and passwords in LastPass – and voila! My very own *simple* CRM.

I love me some Freshbooks & Paypal.

Buffer

A social media scheduler – you can manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. A huge time-saver. And yes, yes, social media is about relationships, not scheduled promotion, but there are still two important reasons to schedule your social media (in between real live visits):

  1. to keep yourself from distractions for blocks of time
  2. to connect with clients in a different time zone

Find easy peasy Buffer here.

LastPass

We use this to organize 1,000’s of passwords and keep them sync’d on all PCs and devices. On any device or computer, if LastPass is installed, I can login and it will auto-fill each password on each site that I need.

Tip: Just remember to log out if using another computer!!

Life-saving LastPass is here.

Bonus Chrome Apps

For the website/web dev industry specifically we find these handy:

  • Chrome Colorpick Eyedropper,
  • Chrome Awesome Screen Shot,
  • Chrome Website IP, and
  • Chrome PageRuler.