December 2, 2016
The continuous rise of a global freedom economy is providing opportunity to have more autonomy and pursue personal ambitions. According to a recent survey taken by the independent research firm Edelman Berland, more than 53 million Americans are working as freelancers.
As a freelancer myself, I enjoy the flexibility and independence that comes with being responsible for your own output of work. However, managing your own business affairs can be a daunting task. I've personally experienced struggles with payment solutions, contract agreements, and organizing task management. Luckily, there's a variety of different platforms that help simplify this process.
Spera.io — The All-In-One Package
Most recently, I've taken a trial run with a digital platform called Spera. I haven't been using it very long, but I've had a great first impression. Part of the reason Spera works great for me is because the platform serves as an all-in-one office place. Spera's user dashboard allows me to keep track of projects, payments, clients, and communication channels, as well as document necessary files. Another opportunity I find useful for future consideration is the ability to take out small business loans.
Being able to host all my business needs in one place has definitely saved me time — even in the short trial experience. The only downside of this product is that it's currently in beta form. Because of this, there's more room for optimization and improvement for the product as a whole. As Spera continues to grow, I expect to see this product transition from the beta form to a more flushed out and user friendly experience.
Slack — Cut the Busy Work
I use Slack for about every business venture I take part in. I personally think it's the best way to communicate and stay organized personally or collaboratively. One example of how Slack has helped me as a freelancer is through the work I've done with a company called Graphiq.design.
Graphiq uses Slack for freelance designers to communicate and connect with potential business clients. From the initial meet and greet to the hand off of a project, Slack provides transparency for both parties. Designers are able to utilize Slack as a way to communicate among each other via specific channels, as well as create channels or subscribe to channels that connect them with local businesses.
On another note, Slack is more of a task management support system and doesn't provide the other necessary business needs like invoicing and other payment solutions. However, in terms of communication, it's my personal favorite.
Asana — Team Collaboration
In terms of team collaboration, Asana was a hit from the get-go for me. I most commonly use Asana when I'm working with other remote workers. When you're working as a codependent group, it's important to be able to keep track of different responsibilities. I really like using Asana because it breaks down the projects step-by-step. This helps maintain a sense of organization throughout the entirety of the project. Running a meeting becomes a lot easier because you can break down the tasks individually to divide and conquer — which also keeps each team member accountable.
One downside to using Asana is that the communication aspect of the portal. I found that most of our quick conversations were handled elsewhere instead of being held within the platform. It's not a huge frustration, but having to go back and forth isn't as efficient as I would like it to be.
Basecamp — Game Changer for Project Management
Basecamp is one product I'm eager to dive into. I haven't had the opportunity to work with a team that uses this product, but from the research I have done, it seems like a winner.
Basecamp allows teams to collaborate and communicate in a way that's structured and stable, especially when working with product development teams and stakeholders simultaneously. One company in particular that uses Basecamp is Deeson. As you can imagine, their business is built around perfecting their craft and iterating their development processes. A few of the features they highlight are the capabilities to create to-do list for specific tasks, communicate without the clutter of email chains (we all know how tedious that can become), and creating milestones. Basecamp allows you to set deadlines, set alerts for upcoming tasks, and document files in a organized fashion.
Using Basecamp is great for businesses that are already off the ground and running. However, as an independent worker, this product is going to cost you a lot more than you can probably afford. Depending on the size of your team or the project your working on, you'll want to take this cost into consideration.
Wave — Small Business Accounting
In terms of managing your finances, Wave will make you act, look, and operate professionally. As a small business, handling financial responsibilities can be burdensome. Many freelancers have specific skill sets and may not be well-versed or experienced with business accounting. This platform will help you stay on top of invoices, bills, expense reports, and making sure other team members you're working with are getting paid as well.
One thing to note when using Wave that might cramp your style is the inability to customize invoices. This may not be as crucial to some users, but to me, I like making my invoices aesthetically pleasing. The generic template that they provide isn't horrible and still looks professional, but I like adding my own flavor of design to my invoice interface.
Whatever your preference may be for managing your work, be sure to test the waters. There are a variety of other products that provide similar features to the 5 I have mentioned above. Here are a few more notable platforms to consider:
If you're an independent worker and have had success using other products outside of what I've mentioned in this article, please share. I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.
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