Most businesses have had to pivot major aspects of their operations to function effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. While an abrupt change at first, many businesses have found a balance, including managing and keeping projects in the cloud, utilizing software platforms to collaborate with colleagues, and increasing their organization’s digital presence. Because of distancing measures that need to be taken, it has become increasingly important to find the right tools to continue operating efficiently and reaching your audience effectively. So far, our team at EntryPoint has found that integrating a few key digital tools into our daily operations can be obtained for a reasonable monthly cost.

If you run a small business and your team is looking to implement some new digital tools to help with remote work and virtual engagement, here are a few tools that have worked well for our team:

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is a great tool for all business needs. As one integrated platform, you have access to all of the standard Office products like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote, but there are also many other tools to help your business run smoothly, like Teams for video conferences, Planner for project management, and OneDrive for file storage. Price: starts at $5/user/month

Note: one drawback we have found with Teams, Planner and OneDrive is that there are circumstances when users need to be within your organization’s Microsoft 365 account – so outside consultants who have their own email system are not always able to access those platforms for collaboration on projects.  For the most part, the integration with our other systems has outweighed that drawback.

Dropbox

Dropbox is our go-to for cloud-based file storage. It’s secure, user friendly, has all of the basics that allow for seamless file sharing, and is especially useful for large files. While Microsoft 365 offers cloud-based file storage through OneDrive, the migration from Dropbox to OneDrive is complicated, so we still prefer Dropbox. Price: free for Dropbox Basic or for additional storage, plans start at $9.99/user/month

WordPress

Having a website is critical right now and WordPress is a great tool that makes it easy to build your own. It also includes unlimited plugins, including social media scheduling and site statistics. Price: starts at $8/month

Upwork

Upwork is a platform that connects you to independent contractors. Once you post a job or project, bids will come to you, allowing you to compare reviews and prior work, interview, and hire. You can then collaborate and pay through Upwork. Shout out to Anita Roman, our amazing digital marketing person, who we found through this awesome and easy-to-use platform! Price: free for companies, unless promoting a job posting

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn

The various social media platforms can be a great tool for free marketing and a simple plan or social media calendar can help you stay organized and on top of posting content. Price: free, unless purchasing ads or promoting a post

  • Pro tip #1: a visual component always makes a social media post more engaging. Include a chart or graph that demonstrates your data, a fun picture, or even a few related emojis.
  • Pro tip #2: check out platforms like Spout Social which allows you schedule multiple posts at once across multiple platforms

Be.Live

Especially important in the age of working remotely, Be.Live makes it easy to live stream professionally through Facebook and YouTube. With the ability to select a theme, overlay, and branding colors, the free version allows you to stream live three times per month with up to two people on the screen. Price: free, or plans start at $24.99/month for more capabilities and customizations

Canva

Canva is a graphic design platform that provides professional templates for presentations, newsletters, business cards, and more. With tons of images, icons, shapes, and fonts, the user-friendly platform provides an inexpensive way to create professional-looking content. However, for significant projects, we recommend using a local graphic design firm like the one we’ve used for over a decade, Wagner Design. Price: starts at $9.95/user/month

Pro tip for nonprofits!  If you are a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization like we are, your organization might be eligible for significant discounts on various products and resources.  Check out techsoup.org for possible discounts.  We have also found that many companies offer nonprofit discounts that are not advertised, so make sure you send an email to inquire with your existing or new software providers.

These digital tools have proven effective in helping our team operate efficiently, effectively and reach our stakeholders and audience.  With the challenges we are all facing during the pandemic, utilizing digital tools has become even more critical. The digital tools above can be obtained starting at $22.95/month for the most basic features and going up to $124.99+/month for more advanced capabilities. With many businesses having to reduce hours, work remotely, and cut spending, we hope this can alleviate some of the guess work in finding solutions to support your small business.

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