Recently, with the help of my fellow partners, I launched a brand new business to the Australian market. This business has been twelve months in the making and I can guarantee that it would have taken a lot longer if it wasn’t for some crucial productivity tools and practices we used. The business is called The Shop Stop. It’s a virtual shopping mall where you are paid to shop!
The very early stages of starting a business are incredibly exciting. There’s so much enthusiasm and energy buzzing around that it’s often very difficult to contain it. All this energy births ideas and concepts that need a lot more nurturing before they can be properly worked on. There are three founders in The Shop Stop, each with very different backgrounds and skills. We needed a tool to act as a central location for adding and reviewing ideas that any of us had.
Evernote filled this need perfectly. In next to no time we had a shared notebook where we could all capture ideas about the business so that they could be quickly seen by others and elaborated on. When one person has a spark of an idea it’s something, but when others turn that spark into a brilliant flame, it’s unstoppable. And that’s exactly what happened.
All our research, planning and designs were added to Evernote. We have been able to develop and launch a business while accruing over 540 notes in this notebook, and this number will continue to grow each and every day as the business continues to grow and evolve.
Evernote has been absolutely fantastic for curating the plans for the business. Next we needed a way to keep track of the actual work. With multiple people in the business it was important that everyone knew what themselves and the others were working on at any time. We also needed a way to quickly let someone know about a task and make sure it wasn’t lost. Email was not a good solution here since emails can quickly become lost or cluttered as reply after reply builds a confusing and off-topic email thread.
We found Asana and now we really are doing great things!
Using a single workspace in Asana we categorised our business into a number of projects. Being able to create a task for ourselves or for someone else allowed us to very easily keep track of actions we needed to take and made us accountable for getting them done. We use Asana for everything that requires an action. From marketing, social networking, site development, and much more. If a task relates to a document, we can easily attach it from Google Drive, or link to more information that’s in Evernote.
During the development phase of the web site there were of course small changes we needed to make and issues that needed to be fixed. By far the best way we found to communicate these items was through screenshots. Skitch from Evernote, gave us a very quick and easy way to capture a screenshot and then highlight the areas that needed attention. A picture tells a thousand words and with Skitch we can deliver a very precise message in seconds.
All these Skitches are also filed in the shared Evernote notebook so that they can be easily shared with the entire team.
Because our business has a very heavy focus on mobility we had to take screenshots on phones and tablets to indicate where items needed to be changed for these devices. In this case the screenshot was added to an Evernote note then, using the Skitch integration in Evernote for iOS these screenshots could be quickly marked up and shared. As a result, anything that needed to change was changed quickly and accurately – exactly what we needed.
Working in a team of any size requires great communication. To ensure great communication we setup Google Apps which instantly gave us email, calendar, contacts, documents and more. Email is great, but face-to-face or voice is a much quicker and clearer way to communicate. Being a startup we needed to catch up very regularly to make sure progress was being made and to finalise any changes we needed to make.
Über Conference gave us the ability to schedule calls for free, meaning we could arrange conference calls with people from around the world and provide everyone with an actual phone number instead of attempting to coordinate a number of people and their Skype details. Über Conference was key to maintaining constant communication with each other and our partner companies with a high level of professionalism.
With Über Conference we setup the calls in advance and added the attendees. This would send them an email inviting them to the call. At the moment, Über Conference only has US details, so we would send a second email with the Global Dial-In numbers for those attendees outside of the US.
At the end of each call Über Conference would automatically create a note in Evernote, which we moved to the shared notebook and then added our call notes into this Über Conference note. This gave us a great way to track past conversations and their details, giving us information such as who was on the call, who spoke the most, when the call was and of course, our own notes.
All these tools helped us come together to create The Shop Stop. Most of them are free! Here is the list of all tools we used to launch this business in less than twelve months.
I urge you to come and checkout the business! Visit The Shop Stop today! You can also find out how you can use Evernote every day to get more out of your digital life with my book, Evernote Every Day.