After 11 years of owning this business, this year for the first time, I began to see how the outside world sees Raspberry Creative…a real business. I had the opportunity to work with a former bride to design a logo for her new company earlier this year. In addition to working with her to design the logo, she had a lot of questions about getting the business off the ground from accounting, to credit card processing, to lots of other things.
It was an eye opening experience realizing that even though I may not have taken the right path, the easiest path or whatever path I thought I should have; the truth remains that I’m still here. I have learned way more than I thought I did despite feeling like I know nothing. I absolutely loved being a kind of coach for my client in addition to just the designer. Knowing that I was helping someone else realize their dreams was an incredible feeling.
It got me thinking about my business and how even after 11 years, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do things. As the company grows, I have had to find ways to make tasks easier, faster, more efficient. Not everything I try turns out to be the right solution but as of right now, I thought it might be fun to share a few of our current tools and how we keep things going around here.
Because we are a very small business, we have found that many online resources work best for us because we don’t have a lot of fancy equipment in-house. One of our biggest struggle as a small team is keeping everyone in the loop about leads, new projects, project status, sharing of information, etc.
Asana is an online task management tool. It’s not perfect, but we’ve been using it for a while now and it has really made a difference in letting everyone know what needs done on a given project, who is responsible for what and when everything is due. Aside from just creating tasks and assigning them to people with due dates, there are features like attaching files, writing descriptions, making comments and more. We still aren’t taking advantage of everything Asana has to offer but it has provided to be a big help to the entire team.
Google Docs are kind of new to me but the more I use them, the more valuable this has become. We have MS Office so I never really saw a reason to use Google Docs. Then I started experimenting with some office documents, forms, project spreadsheets, etc. that I like to share with Jen and I realized that for business documents, it was a great tool to use.
We use the docs for our weekly status outlines, social media notes; the spreadsheets for our project tracker, our design tracker with names, pricing, etc. The spreadsheets have also become my go-to tool for custom project pricing.
I’m sure that as time goes on, we’ll find even more uses for this great online tool.
This may go hand-in-hand with Google Docs but I have found Google Drive great for uploading files not in Google Docs that I want to share with a member of all of the team. We aren’t using it for a lot of things outside of google docs but it’s still a great tool we make constant use of.
We tried Evernote last year as a way to track projects, keep all our status updates and files but I found that became too much added work to make it worth my while. I really loved that it was a resource I could easily access from all my devices though.
Then a couple months ago, I decided to give a second try as more of a social media and note taking tool and so far it has become one of my can’t-live-without tools. We aren’t yet using it companywide yet, but I am finding it to be a really great way to plan, organize, and draft blog content, general ideas for the company and hopefully more as I get back into using it.
Earlier this year, we upgraded to the business box.com account and it has been an absolute lifesaver / timesaver. Gone are the days where I have to stop what I’m doing to email Jen a file. I work directly out of the box folder on my computer and everything is automatically uploaded to box where Jen can access it without ever having to involve me.
It also serves as our cloud back up, so no matter what happens to our in-house computer system, our files are safe and secure in the cloud.
What I love just about as much is the fact that no matter where I am, I don’t have to worry about not having a file. Whether I’m traveling with my laptop or getting some extra late night work done at home, I can access any file I need without having to pull something off my work computer.
Box also allows for unlimited storage space with their business accounts so even though this is a monthly expense, we don’t have to worry about storage space. There is no guarantee this will always be the case but it was a huge selling feature for me when I was researching cloud storage / file backup options.
I debated on whether to include this but I feel that it has made a big difference in attaining one of our goals for 2016. Pattern is part of Etsy and it is brand new. It allows sellers on etsy to have their own ecommerce site with its own domain. Going e-commerce was a goal for 2016 and after starting out using BigCommerce, it became apparent that the amount of additional work to update and maintain it along with the added costs of having it, wasn’t sustainable. When Pattern launched, it provided us the outlet to sell online that we so desperately wanted at half the cost. Plus, because it’s part of etsy, any additions, changes, or updated we make to our etsy shop, it’s all automatically reflected on our Pattern site. We were able to use our existing shopraspberrycreative.com domain and even though there aren’t many template options yet, we are very happy that we have been able meet this goal and we have made sales helping it pay for itself!
As the business continues to grow and change, we are always seeking out new tools and resources to help us do our jobs better and more efficiently. The tools we are using today, may not be the tools we continue to use in years to come. The key is to find the tools and resources that work best for you and your situation.
We’d love to hear from you about your experience with any of these online tools or maybe you have found another great tool that we don’t know about yet. Let us know!
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