When I first started this venture with my buddy Alban, collaboration tools were not one of our focus. I thought that doing business was about creating kool products, launching projects we liked and getting the stuff done. I wasn’t completely wrong. That’s only the good part of the job, it keeps you motivated. Before thinking about the next revolutionary idea, an entrepreneur must be prepared and well organized. The team work must also be efficient to bring projects to the next level smoothly.
There is no secret recipe to help you and your partners to work better together but there are a lot of tools to let it be frictionless. Here are the collaboration tools we use at Kool Corp. You might already know them or use some alternatives but we found our balance thanks to them.
The 8 collaboration tools we rely on
1 – Slack
“Where work happens”, I couldn’t agree more with their motto. Slack was developed to help entrepreneurs focus on their tasks by reducing the internal email load. It uses instant messaging and chat rooms dedicated to each major project. With a simple and smooth interface, Slack helps get the stuff done without drowning in a pile of unread emails. I really recommend using it. It is also a great way of not mixing up professional and personal conversations we have and keeping facebook messenger for casual discussions only.Use Slack
2 – Trello
Trello is a simple and easy to use, web project management tool. It is based on Toyota’s kanban method. It uses a digital board of lists made of cards. That’s your tasks, which you can enrich with basic management tools like a checklist, members attribution, due dates, etc. Cards can be moved from a list to another within the same board to help users manage task progress. Imagine it as a big web-based blackboard, filled with lists of tasks that you want to manage.
We tried a lot of ways to keep a clear list of tasks via Slack, Evernote and other tasks management tools and clearly trello was the right one for us. Simple, user-friendly and fully mobile. it is helping us to both keep a synchronisation of our actions and also motivate us when we get notified when one of us ended a task.Use Trello
Google tools and resources for entrepreneurs
I can’t stress enough how powerful Google Tools can be. There are many alternatives, to each of the following tools, but Google has them all, so why bother…
3 – Google Drive
It is very important to have a cloud file storage system, mainly because it’s cheap and handy when it comes to entrepreneurship. I’ve used Dropbox in the past, and I’ve always had a Google Drive linked to my personal Google account. We decided to switch entirely to Google Drive because it comes with Google Docs. No need for an expensive Microsoft Office license, it’s all in the same place, and it’s free with your personal account. (We actually have the professional one and it’s only 4€/person/month).
We use Google Drive to share our guidelines, sources and common docs. It’s efficient, reliable and you finally get rid of powerpoint ugly templates. Definitely worth it.Use Google Drive
4 – Google Agenda
Alban and I are using Google Agenda to manage our personal calendar, turning our professional calendar on it was an evidence. As we do not have the same schedules and availabilities, it is necessary to share our schedules with each other. Google Agenda allows it and it avoids us to have multiple agenda systems we later have to synchronise.
We also use a paper agenda in our office to have a clear vision of our common projects. It’s more visual, it keeps motivation on and it is also an essential piece of our collaboration tools.Use Google Agenda
5 – Pinterest
It might sound counter-intuitive to have Pinterest here but it can be used as a great inspirational pinboard in a team. As a business online, we mostly rely on visuals we push on our websites. The challenge is to share our vision, inspirations and ideas we have. With Pinterest we have secret collaborative boards to share what we like such as font, colors, typos, pictures, visuals to align on what we are targeting.Use Pinterest
6 – Startup weekends
I have so many memories from my first Startup weekend in Orleans; detailed in our first post “The complex idea behind Kool Corp”. It’s simple, during a single weekend, you have the opportunity to pitch a project idea, pick up a team that you like, and you’re surrounded by experts and kind volunteers to guide you through the process. It’s a very unique experience, because not only you’ll learn a lot of things, but you’ll also get to know other entrepreneurs and extend your professional network.
As a team, it is a great way to push up a project and launch it in 56 hours. It is better than doing it by yourself for 3 reasons :
- First, you are surrounded with a dynamic atmosphere to keep your motivation high all along the weekend
- Second, you have to pitch your idea at the end of the weekend so you need to produce concrete stuff
- Third, the organisation is taking care of the location and meals so you can focus on working
7 – Upwork
A good entrepreneur must be well organized and surely can’t do everything by himself. I had trouble letting go of some tasks myself, but there are easier ways to get basic stuff done today. You need to learn to delegate, and the best assistant in the market is the global freelancing platform, Upwork. Very easy to use, you have to post a task, set up a price range and full description and freelancers from all over the world will come to your rescue. I find it to be a pretty effective way to do less, delegate and focus on more important tasks as an entrepreneur.
Freelancers are a part of our team and a platform like Upwork allows us to trust and be trusted. COnsequently we can focus on the operational side rather than on the admin one with freelancers.Use Upwork
Bonus : Your own culture is one of your collaboration tools
Collaborating with people you never work with might be hard. It can take time to learn how to work with others, however when you develop your own team work culture and process, everything is easier and going faster. Tools are just a mean, which can help you to structure the way you work but they are not replacing the culture you set up.