Here at Get It Down Pat, I’m all about anything that makes life easier, quicker, and better — and I definitely apply this philosophy to my at-home business as well.
The following are seven tools that can make life all of the above if you are running a business from home. Some tools will seem obviously necessary. Others are more unique and special. But all have the potential to improve the operation of your at-home business.
I’ve use all of these tools, so I know first hand that a) they work and b) they are produced by high-quality companies. While they are provided by third-party companies that have their own customer service, if you’d like to ask me any question about them, I’m happy to give you my personal take. You can contact me by clicking HERE.
VirBELA — Virtual meetings
If you are going to be running a business from home, particularly one with a team of associates, freelancers, subcontractors, or full-fledged employees, you need a way to be able to reach out to people and communicate with them on a regular basis. Sure, you can phone, you can text, you can email. But many times, words alone don’t cut it. People often need to see visuals — slide shows, documents, demonstrations of live interactions — to really understand the points you are trying to convey.
But, also, when you work at home, let’s face it — you tend to be in a different comfort zone. For example, most people are dressed in a pretty comfortable, casual way when they work from home. (We can talk later about whether people who work at home SHOULD DO this, but the fact is, they ARE DOING this.) Grooming in general takes a casual dip. Women might not bother doing hair or makeup. Men might skip shaving. And the reason for that is they know that NO ONE is going to see them.
And then, there are their surroundings. You might let cleaning and organizing a home office slide about because, hey! It’s not bothering you. And no one else will ever know.
That is, until you do a video conference. I’ll be honest: I’ve dressed up and put on makeup for a video conference. And I’ve cleaned my office right before one as well (or at least, shoved a few items aside). And don’t you know, I’ve been online with people who HAVE commented about some object sitting on my bookcase, or even (of all things) the doors of my closet behind me. Yes — people do notice! And some even say a thing or two about what they see.
But then, there’s VirBELA. VirBELA is a virtual meeting like no other. If you are a gamer yourself or at least have played the occasional “Wii” game with your child, then you might have an idea what a VirBELA campus looks like. It’s a virtual world of offices and auditoriums.
You create an avatar, and you explore the campus and attend meetings as that avatar. You are “seen” without being seen. Meetings are held. People talk, they walk around, they sit down. They interact. They view slideshows and documents on projector screens that can be zoomed in to fill your entire monitor or window. You do everything you’d do in those “other” virtual meeting situations, but — no one sees you at that moment. Wear your PJs, leave your hair undone, and don’t worry about your office disorganization. No one sees — nor gets distracted — by any of it.
If you are considering have a remote team, VirBELA gives you the means to communicate with your team members, in a way that’s meaningful, productive… and even a little fun.
You can try VirBELA and even use it to meet with people for FREE. And if you decide you want to have a virtual “office” for your team, as an affiliate, I can extend a great discount — $200 off your first month of “rent.” And need I say, the monthly rent is MUCH cheaper than investing in an office suite in a brick-and-mortar building.
VirtualPBX — Communication systems
You might work at home… but you still want your clients and customers to know you’re a professional who means business. A way to convey that is with a communications system that gives your at-home business a professional “vibe.” VirtualPBX is a system that does just that.
I used VirtualPBX when I had a vacation home up in Wisconsin and needed a toll-free number for my renters to use from the home’s landline. They used that number to let me know that they arrived at the home and to officially “check in.” The renters also used it to contact me if they had any difficulties or problems. That way, I didn’t have to have long-distance service on the landline, but the renters could still use that phone and that number to call me. They could also use it to make reservations in the first place, which made my little vacation rental business look all the more polished and worthy.
But 1-800 numbers are just one of the many communication services that VirtualPBX extends to businesses. You can also get “vanity” numbers that are easy to remember, as well as virtual receptionist services.
I found the system to be of great quality and highly consistent! I can’t remember ever having an issue. But you don’t have to take my word for it. FREE trials are available so you can make sure you love VirtualPBX before you fully invest in the solutions they offer.
FreshBooks — Accounting software
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting system that I used for my creative services business for years now. I love it! As a creative type, I’ll admit that I’m not always the best with numbers, bookkeeping, and accounting. But as a business owner, I have no choice but tend to such tasks. Freshbooks makes life so simple. It’s easy to use, very intuitive, and makes accounting, invoicing, and time tracking quick and easy. Plus, because it’s cloud-based, I can log in from virtually anywhere, as long as I have an Internet connection, and invoice my clients.
And right now, FreshBooks is actually on sale!
And if you opt instead for a yearly subscription package instead of a month-to-month, you get a whopping 70 percent off for the first six months of that package! Click HERE to learn more about this as well!
The sale ends exactly on October 23, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST, so be sure not to miss out!
Elegant Themes — WordPress building themes
Damn it, Kirk! I’m a designer, not a programmer.
OK, OK… I stole and paraphrased that line from the original Star Trek series. But it doesn’t make it any less true. I’m not a programmer at all. But I’m still able to design great-looking, efficient, responsive WordPress websites for my clients.
And for the most part, that’s thanks to Elegant Themes. I’ve used their theme “Divi” to build my own creative services website, and I’ve used it to build websites for my clients as well.
Of course, some people just want to do their own website designing and programming. That’s cool — I totally get it! You can save a lot of many and maintain a certain amount of control when you build your own website. All the more reason to use Elegant Themes’ Divi. It’s easy to use, even for a beginner. And once it’s set up, with the power and ease of WordPress behind it all, editing and revising the website is a breeze.
If you are going to be building your own website from scratch, I’d recommend the lifetime membership to Elegant Themes (it’s what I have). That way, you’ll always have access to the updates to the themes.
SiteGround — Domain names and web hosting for WordPress websites
OK, so you’ve decided that you ARE going to build your own website. Do you want hosting with that?
Of course you do. You’re going to need it… and a domain name, too, of course. And you can get everything you need, via a simple, user-friendly platform, by using SiteGround.
SiteGround had been strongly recommended to me by other website designers, and now, as a user, I know why. Siteground is amazingly easy to use, their pricing is much lower than their value, and their 24/7 support is out of this world. If your website is a serious part of your business — as it should be — then SiteGround is the perfect place to host it. Let them be an integral part of your online success.
WooCommerce — eCommerce platform
Of course, some websites are actually online stores. Those sites require an eCommerce platform. When I created an online store for my own business, WooCommerce was my solution. An extremely user-friendly plugin for WordPress websites, WooCommerce is the most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online business. If you are building your own online store, I highly recommend it. Best of all — you can get started with WooCommerce for FREE.
Stencil — Image creation
If you’re creating a website — or doing any marketing online — you’re going to need images. Not all of us are blessed to be able to use software like Illustrator and Photoshop to create images for the web. If that’s your situation, I invite you to check out Stencil. Stencil is a FREE online program that allows you to make your own images quickly and easily, without having to own — nor have a background in— graphic arts software. Even though I know how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, I use Stencil quite a bit, simply because it’s quicker and easier to use, especially for social media images. With just a few mouse clicks, you can create your own quality images, all by yourself!