November 21st, 2009Travel
I will warn you now my blog will cover my travels. Stay tuned, normal service will return shortly (likely to be about parking data).
As many of you will know, I had booked off five weeks from work – though I had no real solid plan as to what to do in my travels (bar knowing I was not going to be in England all that time).
After a look around the ‘must see’ places, I had to exclude off Bhutan, China, Russia and many others due to visa requirements. Visas are easy enough to get, on the proviso that you have time. Though unfortunately I was looking to book a flight/itenary for 7 days time.
I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand etc so Australasia didn’t really appeal to much. I had considered mainland Europe, on the inter-rail pass but then the weather might not have been as nice as I was looking for.
North America didn’t really appeal – it’s very vast and I’m not sure where I would have started either.
Therefore Central and South America stuck out, the predominant language in the region is Spanish (bar Portuguese in Brazil). My spanish may have been poor, but at least it would make communication a bit easier.
I had seen some lovely Pyramids of the Sun and Moon mentioned as a must see for Mexico, and therefore I booked a flight to Mexico city for the 5th of October. Therefore planning had been completed, I still had no idea exactly where I would be going, (country or locale wise).
In future blog posts I’ll be regaling tales for the countries and places I visited. Where did I visit? Well here is the finished itenary:
-Birmingham : Frankfurt
-Frankfurt: Mexico City
-Mexico City : Panama
-Panama : Quito, Ecuador
-Quito : Banos, Ecuador
-Banos : Cotopaxi, Ecuador
-Cotopaxi : Quito
-Quito : Lima, Peru
-Lima : Cusco, Peru
-Cusco : Aqua Calientes, Peru
-Agua Calientes : Cusco
-Cusco : Copacabana, Bolivia
-Copacabana : La Paz, Bolivia
-La Paz : Santa Cruz, Bolivia
-Santa Cruz : Sao Paulo, Brazil
-Sao Paulo : Frankfurt
-Frankfurt : Birmingham
November 13th, 2009Uncategorized
All companies need to keep things organised, and to try and stay on top of things. I personally run Kitecrowd – which is a ‘virtual’ company, all its tangible assets at this moment in time are online.
This post is just to cover some of things that I use, or have come across and my experiences of them. The great thing with Kitecrowd, is that I’ve tried to be able to run it from anywhere. These are the tools that I find invaluable, and I’m keen to find out what other people are using
- Google Docs – The Online Moleskine
- Dropbox – Access company documents anywhere
- Freshbooks – Raising an Invoice easily
- TactileCRM – Tracking Leads & Contacts
Google Docs: http://docs.google.com
Covering a variety of docs, and with the ability to allow shared access a perfect low cost notepad, with online storage. You can now have folders, which is great to organise the documents created.
I don’t always work from places with MS Office installed (such as my laptop), and it is a supple editor of text and spreadsheets (plus you can import documents received into the system). Plus there is a convenient PDF option straight out the box, whether you are on a PC or a Mac. Perfect for drafting up things on the go, and it has an auto save (this post was drafted in Google Docs).
Cost: Free (2GB Limit)
Quite simply amazing, place your folders that you want to sync in the specific area and they are then available to access via a web interface. Any changes you make are reflected in the online copies. The killer feature though, is that you can have multiple computers syncs up to your account. i.e at Work and Home.
Cost: 3 Clients – Free (Paid: Scaling Rates)
Doing work is great, getting paid for it is even better. Freshbook aims to be able to take the sting out of the tale with invoicing, for me personally it means I can have some pre-populated ‘items’ that are frequent and in a minute I can setup a client, issue the invoice (which is emailed to the client, for them to login).
It also allows integration of payment gateways, so the client can login and pay by card etc. If you are freelancing, and charge hourly rates then you can track your time and bill you client.
You can issue estimates, allow clients to respond/challenge the invoices, and the killer feature here is that Freshbooks has an amazing API – a lot of different ‘add-ons’ are possible (interfacing with popular project management, accounting and CRM apps – http://community.freshbooks.com/addons/)
Cost: 1 User/250 Clients – Free (Paid: Scaling Rates)
Clients, always good to have some of those. Keeping on track of who you are in contact with can be hard, I’ve just returned from a five week holiday where I got in a bad habit of just ’starring’ important emails and conversations in my inbox. With TactileCRM the organisation, and person data input is an easy process.
What it allows you to do is BCC/forward emails to a specific email address and attach these conversations to your notes (or if you wish, you can email through TactileCRM). Different opportunities and events can be associated to clients, as well as being able to track your sales pipeline.
You may notice that one thing I’m missing is ‘Project Management’ tools, such as Basecamp, Huddle etc – being a one-man band (bar some volunteers) we don’t have too much to organise in that regard. Most deadline related items I have within TactileCRM associated with the relevant clients.
The other is some form of easy way to track expenditure and income – pretty important information to be keeping on track of. I’ve just tried http://outright.com which is a US focused free accounting app. It’s handy because it auto imports from Paypal and Freshbook, though I don’t think it is rounded enough to be something I’d necessarily recommend.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to be trying – anything that makes my life easier is well received. So how do you keep on track of your figures – back to excel, a hardback daybook – I’m all ears (for me we have a lot of Paypal transactions, which are harder to keep track of than the larger invoice we issue).
The above tools are great to be able to run everything online, though after many months I realised that something was missing in the equation – paper. As great as it is having everything online, it is nice to be able to flip through the hardcopy invoices, and for when reconciling transactions back to the bank statements it’s nice to be able to see everything.
What are your favourite/indispensable online tools?Tags: dropbox, essential tools, freshbooks, tactilecrm