June 3, 2020

Top 10 Tools to Support a Virtual Firm

Written By Charesse Spiller

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Many business owners have been thrown into virtual work unexpectedly in the past few weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other business owners who may have already worked virtually are currently struggling to find a new, efficient work-from-home process while balancing family life, pandemic trauma, and sharing their space…

Many business owners have been thrown into virtual work unexpectedly in the past few weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other business owners who may have already worked virtually are currently struggling to find a new, efficient work-from-home process while balancing family life, pandemic trauma, and sharing their space with a partner and/or kids. One of the easiest ways for you to streamline your virtual work is by having the right tools in place to create efficiency in your business (and your life!). 

Categories of Tools

Many business owners who I speak with struggle to outline the types of tools they need to find success in their organization. I recommend determining the categories (or areas of your business) where technology can be plugged in. Here are a few examples of tool categories to consider:

#1: Team Organization and Management

Having tools in place to manage your team virtually and serve clients from a remote location can help you to ease stress and pressure, while also elevating your client service.

#2: Security

When you’re dealing with someone’s finances, you need to have secure systems in place. Having a secure way to share documents, or communicate with clients about their portfolio can help provide both you and your clients with peace of mind.

#3: Social Media and Marketing

Many advisors I speak with don’t enjoy marketing. It’s a specialized skill set that can often be time-consuming. Putting tools in place to batch work and outreach, or to streamline your marketing efforts, can help to free up time while still growing your business virtually. We won’t go over all of the tools available for these purposes in today’s blog – but it’s wise to do some research to find resources that work for you!

#4: Online Conferencing

You need to be able to communicate with your team and clients without constant tech glitches. 

What Tools Do You Recommend?

Let’s look at what tools I recommend you search for within these categories:

#1: Team Organization and Management

  1. Document Storage Systems. These systems are multipurpose, which makes them a great fit for virtual businesses. You can use them for eFiling, storing internal documents, and as client portals for secure document uploading. Additionally, your team will be able to access firm documents to do their jobs successfully. Personally, I’ve used both Box and Dropbox in the past with success.

  2. A Good Headset. It sounds silly, but a good headset elevates your virtual work experience. You can call in rather than connect to the internet on calls to maintain consistency (if your internet lags, your audio won’t). You can also free up your hands to take notes or prep call follow-up for after the call.

  3. CRM or Project Management Tool. This ensures your internal team is staying on top of their respective roles. These systems have chat features that you can message internally with to complete tasks efficiently. Look into Wealthbox, Redtail, Asana, and MeisterTask. 

  4. Communication Systems. Using a system like Slack or Google Hangouts can reduce emails and increase workplace productivity.

#2: Security

  1. VPN. To ensure you are staying secure with your systems and protecting client information, look into a VPN. Personally, I use Private Internet Access.

    1. Password Management System. You want a secure place to host work passwords for both you and your team. Using systems like LastPass allows you to share passwords in one system without compromising security.

#3: Social Media and Marketing

  1. Social Media Scheduler. If you’re managing your own social media, look into Buffer or Hootsuite to bulk-schedule posts and elevate your online presence. 

  2. Scheduling Software. Make it easy for clients and prospects to book appointments with you virtually! Using a tool like Calendly or ScheduleOnce can help you elevate your call-to-action in all of your marketing efforts and increase your pipeline.

#4: Online Conferencing

  1. Virtual Conference Rooms. By leveraging a tool like Zoom both internally and with clients, you’re opening up a world of virtual meeting possibilities. You can record meetings, transcribe meeting notes using a tool like Otter.ai, or leverage conferencing for marketing by scheduling virtual webinars. Zoom, in particular, has recently rolled out a number of security features given the increased amount of virtual work happening worldwide given the coronavirus pandemic.

  2. Screen Recording Tools. Bombbomb, Screencastify, and Loom are all fantastic tools for training, meeting follow-ups, check-in’s for clients, and more. In my own business, I use Screencastify to train my team, and check-in with clients between meetings.

Bonus Tools

As someone who focuses on operations, processes, and technology for business owners, I couldn’t help but throw in a few bonus tools to look into! 

For business owners, I recommend finding a tool that helps you store your thoughts and ideas. Consider Evernote or Google Keep to take voice memos, and reference your ideas at a later date. 

Additionally, a time tracking software like Toggl or Rescue Time can be a lifesaver for busy entrepreneurs. I’m finding that more solo firms and small business owners are tracking their time to see what they are spending their time on, and to monitor their own productivity. Time tracking can also help you accurately project how long projects will take you and price your services accordingly.  

Want to know how to leverage your current tech stack? Before looking into a new tool, research what features your current software line up offers. For example, Google is amazing! Google Drive tracks internal documents, but Google also offers apps to store internal templates and SOPs, messages amongst your team, and more. You can also look into Chrome plugins for your existing technology for increased access within your Chrome dashboard.

Finally, don’t limit yourself to business-only tools. I have several tools I consider to be requirements to get through my days of virtual work including Spotify, a Google Fit watch, Google apps, and Samsung Buds. These tools help streamline my operation, but also elevate my day-to-day experience.

How Can You Choose The Best Tools For You?

Before signing up for ten new tools that all cost money and take time to learn, dig into finding out what tools are actually best for your business. Start by considering your firm size. Some systems have a “per user” fee, which may be cost-prohibitive. In this same vein, it’s critical to measure the value of tech against your budget. Never invest in something if it’s going to push your budget to an uncomfortable place – no matter how flashy the software is!

It’s also important to think about how easily you can adopt new systems to your existing processes. If a new system will be time-consuming to learn and implement, it may not be the solution you’re looking for if you need something that works right now. That being said, you don’t want to only make decisions based on your immediate needs. Make sure that the tool you pick will address pain points right now, but also be usable in the long-term as your business grows. 

Finally, make sure you research your existing systems to make sure you don’t experience an overlap in features. This will help you maintain an airtight budget, and eliminate unnecessary systems and steps in your process. 

Need help? Let’s talk! I’d love to help you audit your firm’s technology, and streamline your processes to maximize virtual productivity. Schedule a call with me today!

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