Set up an effective small business team online for free

on March 14, 2011
(3 minute read)

Some of my clients, specially small companies that are creating an online presence, do not know about the benefits of the Internet as a great organizational and communication tool to become more effective. I’ve seen that most of the members of the team are still not using any of the advantages of the free Internet tools at all. They’ll keep working the traditional way: all documents as Microsoft Word/Excel and communicating through their Hotmails into a massive pile of disorganized and indigestible emails. Or one-to-one mobile calls several times a day with each member which costs a fortune.

Initial Setup

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These are the fundamental tools that each team should have in order to effectively work and communicate. And they are all free.

1. GMail everyone

It’s not just an email client. GMail is the most powerful and effective communication tool around. Apart from sending emails and allowing you to manage multiple email addresses through just one place, it also includes a text and video chat as well as allowing you to send and receive big files, preview data and work seamlessly with Google Docs and Google Calendar. So even if Hotmail has now a super cool revamped design, every team member should get a Google Mail account and start using it right now. If you have always used Hotmail or Yahoo or another email client, it may be a bit overwhelming to have two email accounts now, but start using it for your business for now and you will soon realize the benefits of it.

2. Google Groups email

Next big step forward: Create a Google Groups email and add everyone’s email to it. Now, sending an email to [email protected] will send the email to everyone in that list and you will avoid typing in emails one by one for every email you compose as well as avoiding mistakes.

4. Google Docs

Now that we have emails controlled and nicely organized, we need to organize documents too. Since everyone now has a Google Account (you get a Google Account when creating a GMail account), head to Google Docs and create a new Collection (that’s how folders are called in GDocs), name it MySuperTeamName and share it with everyone’s by typing their Google email address. You can now create Words, Excels, Powerpoints and drawings via the web browser. Everyone will have access to all the documents there and be able to edit them simultaneously from any computer at any time! Which means no more disorganized versions and revisions that get replaced, lost and duplicated every time someone wants to work on it, automatic backups and revisions of all files, etc.

3. Dropbox

We have documents solved now. Let’s get through the files like photos, logos and PDFs. Dropbox allows you to share a folder in your computer with everyone, for free. You just need to create a Dropbox account (use this link to get an extra 250MB) now and download the software. Then go to the website interface, create a folder and share it with everyone in your team by typing their email address.

5. Google Calendar

How about scheduling meetings, milestones and deadlines? Google Calendar is the solution. Head to Google Calendar and create a private Calendar. Then share it with your team and start organizing your time. Create meeting requests (which everyone can accept/decline), receive reminders by SMS and even attach a map to the meeting place. By the way, you can also synchronize it with Microsoft Outlook.

6. Skype

Finally, avoid the expensive cost of calls by calling through Skype. You can also create conference calls so you can all speak at the same time from any place in the world, be it home, office or a beach in Hawaii.

Useful links

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Here you have the step by step links to get yourself going:

  1. Create a Google Mail account
  2. Create a Google Groups email
  3. Create a Dropbox account
  4. Set up Google Calendar
  5. Create a Skype account

Photo by brraveheart

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