Guest post by Francesca Geens from Digital Dragonfly.
Francesca shares the story of how her client Jenny Costello from Skylark Consulting leveraged productivity tool Office 365 to achieve not only efficiency and reliability but location independence.
Catch Jenny of the productivity panel at the Powering Women in Business conference this Tuesday 26th November. For the full line up visit www.connectedwomen.org
I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be starting or running your own business. Let’s just ignore the fact that we are in the middle of a recession at the moment and focus on how technology has made it possible for businesses of every size to operate from a home office and do business with the world.
Take a look at Jenny Costello, based in Singapore, who I recently worked with. She was looking for a better solution to allow her to work from anywhere and across devices and I was able to help her from the UK. Jenny recently setup Skylark Consulting – as CSR and Communications consultancy and wanted to use Office 365 for emails, calendar and contact data so she can work seamlessly across her laptop and mobile devices.
I was able to advise her on the most appropriate Office 365 license so that as her business grows she can bring on associates and start using SharePoint online to work as a team and do the work remotely from the UK. We were introduced via Gina Romero who I connected with on Twitter, communicated via email and Skype, I used remote access software called TeamViewer to connect to her computer and got the job done. The most complicated part was figuring out the time differences. If that isn’t an example of the ‘new world of work’ then I don’t know what is. From twitter to global business in a matter of days all done using a range of free or low cost cloud based technology platforms.
Jenny now uses Office 365 to manage all her Outlook data and work freely across her various mobile devices. Cloud services like Office 365 cost only a few dollars a month and are easily scalable giving independent business owners like Jenny (and myself!) access to the same reliable and professional services that the big globals are using.
Do you want easy syncing of Outlook data across devices? Delegated access to your inbox? Calendar sharing? Out of Office? Sharing documents with a virtual team? I do! Why would I want to bother with unreliable email settings, email in a different place to my calendar, not being able to access email folders from any device? I see business owners put up with all sorts of inconveniences which are costing them precious time as they duplicate effort and create workarounds. Are you still BCC’s emails to yourself? Having to reply from a different email address when working from your phone? I’ve seen it all too often. Stop and invest a little in your technology setup. Your business will thank you for it.
Technology is not only giving us reliability and professionalism but also location independence. As independent business owners we are very lucky to have been freed from our desks. We can work from anywhere, be it a home office, co-working space, school-gate or as I am currently writing this on the train. We are also able to grow our businesses in new ways. Forget having to employ staff and move into offices – current trends are for growing virtual teams all based in their own home offices/co-working spaces across a range of time-zones and using cloud based technology to share data and stay in touch. Solo business owners like myself will typical start outsourcing to accountants, bookkeepers, virtual assistants and other independent business owners who can help with marketing, branding, social media etc And I see many of my clients, mostly consultants and coaches, who will grow by working with associates- some of which grow substantial teams delivering contracts across continents.
Office 365 is a great example of the kind of low cost cloud solution that makes a huge difference in the day-to-day life of a small business owner. Take one laptop, a simple but well designed website, some decent branding, a business email address add Office 365 for your email, calendar, contacts and data sharing and bring it all together with social media marketing and your micro-business is ready to take on the world. So what are you waiting for?
Francesca Geens setup Digital Dragonfly to offer technology advice to the growing number of independent professionals. Working with freelancers, coaches and consultants from all sectors (and across the world) Digital Dragonfly gives those running their own businesses confidence in the tools they rely on to run their business- from email to backup to cloud working.
Passionate about productivity and getting things done with the right tech tools she loves helping her clients achieve tech nirvana. She is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Technology for Independent Professionals available for free from the Digital Dragonfly website.