Any established business owner will know the trials, tribulations (and probably tears) that go into building a robust, efficient and thriving business.
Blue Llama has come a LONG way since the days of Phil being a one-man-band building epic (!) websites some 12 years ago.
Our tools, platforms and client services have evolved as our digital skill-set has expanded. Our little team has grown bigger and we now have hand-picked digital specialists from six different European cities. As business has scaled our processes have needed to grow with them.
Believe us – it’s taken a hefty amount of graft, trial, error and sheer determination to understand what works – or doesn’t. So, as a little gift, we thought we’d share some of the top business applications that help make Blue Llama run smoothly. Who knows, they may even help to transform your business this year too!
We love Google Workspace for many reasons and see it as the backbone of the company. It’s not just GMail, Google Calendar and Google Tasks, it’s the sheer level of integrated tools on offer at tremendous value.
Google Drive is simply a great way to share resources with the team (or beyond) without having to send big heavy files back and forth. Having a remote team that can access everything they need whether they are is perfect for us too.
Google Sheets and Google Data Studio enable us to track key business metrics, capture bugs in real time and provide nifty reporting to our clients. Google Docs enables us to write documents collaboratively and rather than just attach a fixed document to an email, you can link to it and thereby if you update it, the client sees the update instantly.
This was a game-changer for our team. It transformed the way in which we worked and enabled everyone to communicate directly and efficiently without needing Phil’s micro-management. Our global team works independently, efficiently and remotely as if they were in the same room. You can track projects using channels knowing everything is safely in one place, searchable and not lost in an email thread. It also integrates with a number of our other tools including Google Docs, Teamwork and HubSpot. We won’t speel off all of the marketing benefits, but seriously – if you haven’t checked it out, do! It beat Microsoft Teams hands down.
Teamwork is great for project management and enables us to assign tasks and track project progress to make sure we are delivering things on time. This is especially useful when managing large scale projects as everyone can work to schedule and have a real-time understanding of their responsibilities, the project’s status and deliverables. You can assign tasks to people and set priorities, due dates then manage their status in Kanban boards (think Trello) so you know what is going well and what needs attention.
Teamwork also offers a helpdesk system called Teamwork Desk where all emails to our support email address are captured and responded to. Like tasks, these can be assigned to team members.
Accounting systems are often something you take for granted but without them, life could get very chaotic! We love Xero because in our option, it has better 3rd party integrations than Quickbooks. Each day it brings in our bank feed so we always know how much cash we have. We can create repeating Invoices for our clients with care plans and even have invoices automatically paid through GoCardless.
This one doesn’t need much introduction. A lot of people will have been introduced to this tool throughout the pandemic as it up-leveled what Skype was trying to do and connected people (both in business and personally) around the world. Having a remote team we’ve been using it for some while to catchup on projects. To put it bluntly, we have tried the other options (Google Meet, MS Teams) and whilst these are OK, Zoom just is better… there, we said it!
Adobe XD is a great string on our bow for designing, prototyping, trialling and getting valuable client feedback before we go about building our websites. We use the tool to provide our clients with mock-ups of the pages of their website. They can leave pins on the designs in a similar way you’d add comments to a Word or Google Doc. This ensures that we are creating these page exactly the way the client wants them before we invest in any coding.
We are also trialling a bit of software called Atrium, which similarly enables our clients to put pins anywhere on a live website with their feedback.
HubSpot is our CRM and helps us have a clear picture of our current sales pipeline with the added bonus of integrated marketing tools and automation. We don’t use it to its full potential yet, but are gradually using more features. At the moment it’s main purpose is to capture all our sales leads and progress them through the sales pipeline so nothing falls through the gaps. It helps us predict our volume of work and take action if we need to generate new leads.
We do love Nusii for our online client proposals. It enables us to layout a proposal professionally without having to send clunky PDFs or long winded emails. We’ve set up a template which we can use time and time again that contains different sections that we can remove or amend depending on the scope of work being proposed. When it’s ready, we simply send the client a link and Nusii notifies us when it has been opened. The client can sign the proposal electronically agreeing to our terms of business and then bang – we start work.
This nifty little tool enables clients to book a time in our calendar directly – without the too and fro of exchanging diary dates, which we all know can be a faff! We even have a link to it on our website for anyone who wants to book a quick discovery session. The appointment is automatically added to both calendars and with a Zoom link. Two hours before the meeting the attendee is emailed a reminder and if they can’t make it they have the opportunity to cancel.
Hubstaff – the next adventure!
This is one we’re currently trialling and enables us to track the time our remote team members are working on different projects and pay them automatically on a weekly basis in their own currency. It’s great for working out where time is being spent and ultimately what projects are the most profitable.
Whatever business you’re in, we hope our insights will be useful in boosting your business in 2023. If you’d like some ideas on how you shake things up – you know where we are!