One of the most common questions we’re asked at Biashara 360 is how we set up a business without physical meetings.

When we started Biashara 360 in September 2017, our founders were spread across different towns. Our first physical meeting was in December 2017 when we met for Strategic Planning.

Over the months, we’ve become adept at navigating online platforms that make business easier. This is critical for us because we want to grow the business using virtual business management tools as much as possible.

Below are the online tools that have helped us connect, stay updated, manage the business, and maintain our sanity as we start and grow the business.

1. WhatsApp

I never used to be a fan of WhatsApp and had even deleted it from my phone. So I resisted when Veronica recommended that we start using it for daily communication.

I find it too noisy and didn’t like the way people kept adding me to groups without my permission. Today, I’m still wary of WhatsApp, but have embraced using it for the business and to communicate with my extended family.

WhatsApp is great for calling (voice and video) and texting. It’s a free app which makes things easier when you’re communicating with people in different locations or countries.

The PC version is now available for Android users, but it has a number of bugs. For one, the QR code does not scan on some phones as expected, and you need the code to sync your phone and PC.

We use WhatsApp for brainstorming, sharing ideas and connecting daily. We’ve also used it to hold meetings when our teleconference facility isn’t clear.

2. Google Drive

We use Google Drive for storing and sharing documents and files. Google Docs help us create and work on documents in one place. We also have a shared Google calendar for our scheduling.

The best thing about Google Drive is that it syncs across all your devices which allows you to access your information when on the go.

3. Freeconferencecall

I’ve used Freeconferencecall for coaching sessions since 2012 and I love it.

One of the beauties of Freeconferencecall is that they have local numbers for different countries. This means that people in different countries can dial into the same call or session using their local numbers. This effectively reduces their call charges.

Freeconferencecall has some features that make it a great business management app:

  • It’s free to use.
  • You get one or more dedicated numbers for your business.
  • You can download the app for Android or iPhone instead of memorizing the dial-in information.
  • The program allows you to host and record voice calls or online video meetings.
  • It has a facility for sharing your screen. This comes in handy when you’re teaching or holding a practical demo.
  • You can share the recording or give participants a link for them to listen to or download the recording.

We use this app to:

  • Host and record our meetings.
  • Hold teleclasses and webinars.
  • Conduct virtual coaching sessions.

Using Freeconferencecall ensures that everyone has access to the information discussed even if they never read the minutes or take notes during a class or coaching session.

4. Trello

Trello is a project management software that allows us to create tasks, allocate responsibility, update progress and hold each other accountable.

With Trello, you can track a task from start to when it’s completed, dropped or deferred. You can also create projects (or boards) to start and grow every area of your business.

As they say on their website, Trello is… “…the most visual way for teams to collaborate on any project.” I’m not a visual person, but I appreciate having everything in one place.

Similar to all great apps, you can sync your account across your devices. This allows you to access your boards and tasks even when you’re away from your computer.

We also use Trello to:

  • Manage the workflow for each teleclass, workshop or training program.
  • Keep track of our sales pipeline.
  • Manage our blog editorial calendar.
  • Create and update our strategic and annual plans.
  • Have an overview of the business.

Trello and WhatsApp are the apps that actually hold our business together!

Going beyond apps when you set up a business

For this type of system to work, there has to be a very high level of trust, accountability and self-drive among all members of your team. Also, at least one of your team members must be well versed in the technology you’re using.

Luckily for us, we have varied interests that cater for all online and offline activities. This makes work easier as it’s shared among team members.

However, online work needs offline connections. If you’re planning to set up a business that is managed virtually, also plan for periodic physical meetings for team members to connect directly with each other.

As I write this article, we’ve had 2 physical meetings to create our strategic plan and plan for 2018. Our plan is to have at least 4 offline meetings a year, preferably on a quarterly basis.

Keep it here and we’ll give you updates on how our virtually managed business is doing and the apps or programs we’re using.

Over to you…

Have you used any online apps to set up a business or do you manage your business virtually? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments below.

Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at Biashara 360. She's an avid blogger and also oversees our content creation. This ensures that we give our readers quality and well researched information and tips.

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