Business owners around the globe are deeply concerned about the current economic outlook, and justifiably so. It goes without saying it will take months if not years for the economy to return to the full-blown bustle it was before. With so many organizations running on skeleton crews or being shuttered completely, the vast majority of business owners now share a very tangible concern about having the revenue to stay in business. Consumers are spending less and are now fully occupied in caring for their loved ones. With all this in mind, I'm going to share how to be relevant to customers during a black swan event.
Over the past two months, my inbox has been flooded with dozens of emails from banks, payment processors, software companies... you name it. Nearly every business I've transacted with over the past year has taken it upon themselves to let me know that "they're doing okay". Now don't get me wrong—this is wonderfully positive news in an otherwise bleak economic reality, but it isn't relevant to me personally. That is, not unless I plan on contacting my bank tomorrow to resolve a complex issue (though I imagine the vast majority of their customers are not).
First and foremost, I recommend against sending out generic, "cookie-cutter" email campaigns about Covid-19 and your capacity to conduct business. I'm not saying it's irrelevant to let your customers know it's business-as-usual for you. But I am saying you must use extraordinary creativity when writing content to be relevant to your customers right now. You can add this additional value to your emails and social media posts in the form of helpful links or resources that your customers might want to know about—more now than ever. This is your chance to build your brand's authority and mind-share by serving up exceptionally meaningful content. Here are some examples:
Making your content relevant during a black swan event means making it personal and heartfelt. Businesses say they care about their customers so often that it's become a cliche rather than anything special. As a business owner right now, you should avoid those cliches and focus on what it means exactly to be authentic. After all, you're a human being typing up content to help another person out there. The person who reads your content carries the same concern for their loved ones and financial survival that you do. Being vulnerable towards your customers—and not financially speaking—shows that you care more than a corporate mission statement ever could.
On that note, I pray that you are safe, healthy, and filled with joy from things that matter. Please reach out if there's anything realistic that can be done to accommodate you as we get through this pandemic.
Justin A. Ponce
Cyberia Technologies, LLC
As nearly the entire globe heads into varying degrees of lock down in order to curb the spread of Covid-19, companies of all sizes are forced to adopt a new working lifestyle—at least for the time being. If you own a small business or manage a team, you may be scrambling to identify the right tools to transition effectively. Luckily, freelancers who are already accustomed to working remotely have done some of the homework for you. In this article, I'll share 12 tools to work at home more productively.
This powerful, free video conferencing tool has gone absolutely viral. Zoom boasts good call quality, high reliability, and is refreshingly simple to use when compared to other video conferencing tools. Just remember to review screen sharing and privacy options before you start using it.
Though Hangouts is already a known favorite for video calling, they've unlocked some enterprise features for G Suite Basic in order to lessen the impact on teams suddenly finding themselves working from home.
Despite being the first major service for video calling, Skype isn't always the first choice that comes to mind for teams. That being said, Skype does possess certain features that other video calling services do not. Whether those features matter to you will determine whether or not Skype is a fit. Skype for Business, a separate service, is part of Microsoft Teams (see below),
Slack is definitely the more professional version of WhatsApp chat groups. Set up your organization in Slack, create threads for different topics, and then invite teammates to the relevant threads. You can even make certain threads private or invite-only to keep your teams focused. Slack offers a generously equipped free plan, as well as powerful upgrades.
Workplace is Facebook's answer to Slack. Since nearly everyone has a Facebook account and is familiar with the interface, Workplace capitalizes off that familiarity to keep your team's conversations in a work-appropriate environment. Workplace offers a 30-day free trial.
Teams is Microsoft's answer to tools like Slack and Zoom. the tech giant's productivity suite packs familiar features and is useful enough to provoke Slack into buying a full page 'response' in the New York Times. As you might expect, Microsoft Teams integrates with the rest of Office, allowing you to keep your back office software consolidated.
Formerly known as Wunderlist, Microsoft To-Do is a simple to use, cleanly made task management tool. Though the original Wunderlist UI was redesigned upon joining the Microsoft family, the original team was retained and continues to work on improving the tool.
Basic to-do checklists are easily managed with Google Tasks, right from your Gmail interface on Desktop. If you need to do anything too complex, you might want to consider a different task management tool.
At its core, Toggl is a simple time tracking tool, but with tons of powerful features layered behind a beautifully designed UI. You can use the live timer for your sessions or do manual time entries. Besides being able to add descriptions to your sessions, you can then assign sessions to different projects and clients. Toggl is free, incredibly easy to use, and is an absolute dream come true for freelancers & small teams.
Take a deep breath for this next one: And.CO is a time tracker, CRM, invoicing tool, accounting software, task manager, and proposal tool all wrapped into one hot mess of an app. Though And.CO is incredibly feature-rich and sports a clean, minimalist UI, it couldn't be more different than Toggl. That said, it is definitely worthy of a try-you might just be glad you did.
Time Doctor is a thorough time tracker designed for team leaders and managers. Time Doctor must be installed on the PC or Mac of each individual team member and monitors what the user has running in the background while the timer is rolling. Time Doctor is a useful remedy for mitigating time fraud or diagnosing performance issues among teammates. Reports can be useful in sharing corrective feedback to your team so they work at home more effectively. Time Doctor is not a fit for freelancers or self-managing folks.
If you aren't tied to your phone 24/7, then I tip my hat to you in respect. For the rest of you, Forest: Stay Focused uses the very temptation of your phone to help you work at home with last distractions from it. Forest is a breathtakingly simple time tracking app that uses gamification to encourage spending less time on your phone. Forest is available on Google Play and the App Store.