If your business is anything like Macaulay Gidado, then it relies on remote staff for more or less everything. Certainly you want to make sure that you aren’t paying more than you are getting from your remote workers. And you also want to make sure that your company is not spending too much time on a client’s project. Hubstaff and Trello are the time-tracking combo you need.
I mean, they work for us at Macaulay Gidado. My hope is that after this guide, you will be able to get them to work for your business too.
Of course, this all depends on what you want to achieve with the integration. I will start with the basics.
Track your employees: this entails what tasks they are working on and how much time they spend on each task.
Track your clients: that is, the collective time your organization spends on a client or the client’s project
These are the two main factors that determine how you prepare you Trello setup for Trello-Hubstaff integration.
Is your Trello set up properly for Hubstaff?
Hubstaff allows you to add projects. A project on Hubstaff equals a Trello board.
The table below shows how to set up your Trello, depending on whether you want to track your staff and clients’ projects or just your staff.
Of course, you want to seamlessly track both staff and clients. So below is what your Hubstaff and Trello setup should look like.
While you can also assign Trello boards to departments and recreate the departments as projects on Hubstaff, that setup will make tracking how much time your organization spends on a client extremely difficult.
Now that you have created Trello boards and Hubstaff projects using the configuration above, it’s time to connect the two. Or if you haven’t created any projects on Hubstaff, that’s no problem. Hubstaff will automatically create them for you at the end of the integration explained below.
On the tracker, they should be able to see projects they have been added to. These projects equal the Trello boards they are also a member of.
For effective time tracking, they shouldn’t track projects. They should rather press play on tasks under each project.
Tasks on Hubstaff = cards on Trello.
Hubstaff automatically imports Trello cards as tasks and file them under the projects linked with their respective boards
If a team member can’t find their assigned task under a project on Hubstaff, it means they are not added to the respective card on Trello. So they need to add themselves to the card and refresh their Hubstaff time tracker so the task can appear.
I hope this helps. Let me know what you think below.
This article also appeared on the Technopreneur. At Macaulay Gidado, we are all about helping entrepreneurs find success doing what they love. We evaluate your business and tell you what technologies can improve your processes. Visit our homepage to find out more.
Slack ranks among the hottest next-generation communication and collaboration tools out there. You can most certainly say that the mission of the people behind the app is to change the way people communicate at work. It doesn’t matter what industry or niche you work in. Slack is virtually all-encompassing in application. If there’s a limit to what you can do with the app, it resides in how creative you want to get with its rich features.
We have been using the app for a year now at Macaulay Gidado, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed. Not writing this to promote Slack in any way. I’m basically just excited about what we have been able to achieve using the app. Here are the top seven benefits that came with moving our team communication to the app.
All Team in One Place
At Macaulay Gidado, we tried a lot of tools out there. Think Basecamp, Trello, even Whatsapp… While these other tools have their unique benefits, Slack was the only one that delivered the result we needed, especially because team communication and collaboration become extra seamless when you can intelligibly fit everything you need for a project into one place. The app makes it possible with features like mentions, file sharing, integrations, and much more.
Slack Has an Efficient Search Tool
If you have ever used Whatsapp for team communication then you probably have a hint of how frustrating locating messages from prior days or weeks is. The search feature is there, but it’s annoying. At Macaulay Gidado, we experienced this problem first-hand. Whatsapp buries chats. Short and simple.
Then we found Slack. While chats are still buried within threads on Slack, finding them is a lot easier. I dare say easier than using the Gmail search tool. On Slack, it’s super fast, user-friendly, and best of all filterable — meaning you can input a search term and other variables like date, channel to search, name of the sender of the message you are looking for.
Streamline File Sharing
Tired of always having to set file sharing rules on Google Drive or Dropbox? Tired of receiving annoying access requests to files from team members? We have been there. Trust me, it’s not pretty.
The one thing we can tell you is that Slack is your friend. First, do a one-time integration between your Slack and cloud storage. Once that is done, sharing a file and granting permissions to access request is as easy as clicking a button on Slack.
For instance, to share a file with team members, all you need to do is copy the url and paste into the Slack thread. Slack will immediately detect that your team members don’t have access to the file and will present you with options, prompting you to grant access with just a click. Also, when a team member requests access to a file, a notification will pop up on, say, the Google Drive Slack channel, asking you to grant access with a click.
One-on-On and Group Exchanges
Slack also comes with features people naturally expect from any communication tool. There are private channels and group channels. While transparency is great when it comes to team communication, there are times when you just need to chat privately with a team member or a select group of team members. Slack makes this possible.
You can create a group channel for a project all members of the team are collaborating on and invite everyone.
Also, you can create a group channel and invite a few select team members for a side task or project.
You can chat with each team member alone on their private channel.
And you can remove team members from a channel you no longer want them to access.
Integrate with Services You Already Use
Basecamp. Trello. GitHub. Google Drive. DropBox. RemoteLock. Gmail. These are just a few of the services you can integrate into your Slack.
You want to know when changes have been made to a task on Trello and by who? Slack-Trello integration takes care of that.
You want to easily share and grant access to Google Drive files? Slack-Google Drive integration takes care of that too.
These are just some of the many services we have integrated into our Slack.
On the Go Access
Like many other cloud powered tools, you can use Slack anywhere. You can easily access work chats, collaborations, notifications, and much more from anywhere and on any device that is compatible with the app. The tool is available on Windows, Mac, Android, and IOS. So far as you have an Internet connection and a compatible device, you can keep up with your team from anywhere through Slack.
No More Pesky Internal Emails
Slack is the ideal tool to use if you want to abandon internal email and improve communications within your team. Instead of sending internal messages and announcements via email, you can just post them on Slack and everybody will see them.
Also, Slack-email integration means that you can route incoming emails with certain labels to post on a specific channel on the app. That way, without compromising access to the company mailbox, you can keep your team in the know about specific projects, task, or inbound communications.
For instance, we once worked with a client who uses RemoteLock to manage access to their vacation rental property. Typically, the client issues his guests temporary access codes and RemoteLock notifies him via email whenever someone unlocks or locks the door.
The client needed to give his team access to the email notifications without compromising access to his mailbox. So we helped him set up a Slack-Gmail integration so that the notifications are automatically broadcast on the team’s Slack channel. It worked like magic. And just like that, every team member now knows whenever a guest accesses the client’s property.
It doesn’t end here. Slack has a ton of other juicy features. It all depends on your industry and how creative you want to get with integrations.
Next, I will talk about how we use Trello, Basecamp, and a host of other apps at Macaulay Gidado.
An email alias is basically an alternative email address (whether already assigned to a mailbox or not) that you can use to send out or reply to emails via your mail mailbox. Last time, I talked about how to configure catch-all routing on G Suite. Today, I will talk about setting up an email alias on your G Suite email so that you can send out, or reply to routed, emails as the address they were sent to.
For instance, if catch-all routing allows you to receive emails sent to unassigned addresses on your domain, an email alias allows you to reply to the received emails using the same email address they were sent to, in spite of the fact that the email address doesn’t actually exist.
HERE IS HOW TO CONFIGURE AN EMAIL ALIAS ON G SUITE EMAIL
Go to mail.google.com and login
On the top right corner, click the gear icon and then “settings”.
On the next page, click “Accounts”. Scroll down a bit and Click “add an email address”
On the window that pops up, fill out the name you want to use for that email address. Could be your name. It could be “Support”. Could also be “Customer Care”. It’s up to you. Type in the email address you want to create. This could be [email protected]
Make sure that the box for “Treat as an alias” is checked. Then click the “Next Step” button under.
Google will send a verification code to the email address you added above.
If this doesn’t happen automatically, click “send verification” on the window that appears.
This is where it gets tricky. If the email address you added above is an existing one, then check the mailbox for that email address to find the verification code. If the email address doesn’t exist, then make sure you have set up catch-all routing on your G Suite account so that the verification email can be routed to your catch-all mailbox. Otherwise, you will not receive the verification code.
Next, Log into your mailbox on another window or tab.
Open the email by Google and retrieve the code. Or just click the verification link in the email.
If you prefer to verify using the confirmation code, then go back to the previous window, paste the code, and click “verify”.
You will be returned to settings.
Then look for where it says “When replying to a message”. Under it, check the box for “Reply from the same address the message was sent to”
That’s it. Time to test everything to make sure it works.
Have someone send an email to your alias. If you have catch-all routing on, you will get the email.
Now reply to that email and check with the receiver to make sure that they are seeing your alias and not your main email address as the sender.
You can repeat this whole process again and again, depending on the number of email addresses you want to add as a alias. I think there’s a limit though — 30 aliases to be precise.
Well, I will show you how. First, let’s talk about what catch-all routing is and why you need it.
A catch-all, also called a wild-card email address, refers to your chosen G Suite mailbox for catching all emails sent to any nonexistent email address on your domain, and it doesn’t matter if that nonexistent address is [email protected] or [email protected]. It doesn’t matter the combination the sender uses. So far as the email address is associated with your domain, you will receive the email in your catch-all mailbox.
At Macaulay Gidado, we configured catch-all routing to avoid losing emails when customers misspell any of our email addresses. So if you are a business, I recommend you set yours up.
Catch-all routing also came in handy when we were starting out as a business.
First, it allowed us to set up email aliases (on our domain) that don’t just send emails but also receive them. The only downside to this is that all emails go into one email box, unless you set up filters and forwarding. Anyway, this is something that can also be fixed with Slack-Gmail integration if you work with a team. Using Gmail filters and labels can also help you makes sense of everything in your inbox.
Like any other business, we had departments. It only made sense to use [email protected] for sending and receiving support emails, and [email protected] for managing inquiries. It made us look professional. Naturally, we would have needed to register a G Suite user for “support”, and then another for “inquiries”, and so on. Initially, we went with combining catch-all routing and aliases. It was fun while it lasted. But it’s not scalable if you work with a team.
I think this second benefit is more suited for a one-man business. It’s not going to save you much. But the savings can buy you coffee on a boring day.
Without any further ado, here’s how to configure catch-all routing on your G Suite
Scroll to the bottom of the next page and click Advanced Settings
Once on the following page, press “Ctrl + F” on your keyboard and then type in “Catch-all” to find the catch-all section.
Find where “Routing Locally applied” is written and click “add a new routing”. This is usually not visible until you hover over it. In the screenshot below, I have highlighted where you need to hover so that “add a new routing” can appear.
On the pop-up window, check the boxes for “Inbound”, “Internal — sending”, and “Internal -receiving”.
Scroll down to “Envelope recipient” and check the box for “Change Envelope Recipient”. Under it, check the box for “Replace recipient” Then next to “Replace recipient”, type in the email address whose mailbox you want to use as your catch-all mailbox. This should naturally be your G Suite email address.
Scroll down more to “Encryption (onward delivery only)”. Check the box for “Require secure transport (TLS)”
Below it, click “Show Options”
More options will appear. Under “Account types to affect”, check the box for “Unrecognized/Catch-all” and click “Add Setting”. This will take you back to the page right under the pop up.
To save everything, click “save”.
That’s it. You are done. Now emails sent to any unassigned email address on your domain will be routed to the mailbox you chose as your catch-all mailbox.
Next, I will show you how to set up email alias so you can send out or reply to emails as up to 30 unassigned email addresses on your domain.
Are you thinking of setting up a website or landing page for your business? Among the first set of things you need to do is register a domain name for your business. The problem is that when you are not IT savvy, understanding how the Domain Name System works alongside the terminology associated with it can seem challenging. This guide was designed to simplify everything for you.
First of All, Do You Know What an IP Address Is?
An IP address simply means an internet protocol address. It’s consists of four numbers separated by a dot, and each number has one to three digits. An example of an IP address is 184.108.40.206.
Every computer or server has a unique IP address. Computers on the internet use IP addresses to locate and share information with one another. For a clearer picture, think of a computer or server as a house. Then think of an IP address as the mailing address of that house.
Relationship Between Websites and IP Addresses
Every website has one or more IP addresses. Which means that a website can be hosted on one or more servers. To simplify this, a computer is like a house, an IP addresses is the address of the house, and a website is the occupant of the house.
What Is a Domain?
Typically, if you want to visit a website online, you are supposed to type in the IP address of the computer hosting the website. Now, looking at the IP address 220.127.116.11, you can see it’s not easy to memorise, especially if you are not good with numbers. When you now consider that you need to visit many websites from time to time, you begin to see how memorising a lot of IP addresses (a bunch of numbers) can be a huge problem for the human mind.
This is where domain names come me. They are a way to identify IP addresses. For instance, www.amazon.com is a domain name identifying some of Amazon’s IP addresses. So instead of memorising Amazon’s IP addresses or typing them to visit their website, you just need to memorise or type their domain instead. Makes everything easier, doesn’t it?
You have probably heard of the term several times but don’t know what it means. The DNS is an electronic address system (an internet service) that translates domain names into the corresponding IP addresses they identify. So when you input and send the domain name www.example.com, the DNS finds the IP address it identifies and then locates the computer associated with that address, so that you can view the website hosted on that computer.
The DNS consists of three levels:
The Top-Level Domain (TLD)
The Second-Level Domain (SLD)
The Third-Level Domain or subdomain.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
This is the DNS root zone. It’s the highest level of domain names you can find online. All domain names end with a TLD, and there are over 800 top-level domains. Another name for Top-Level Domains is ‘domain extensions’. They come in three categories:
Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs): These are domain extensions like .com, .net, and .org.
Country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs): Any domain extension associated with a particular country is categorized under ccTLDs. There are more than 200 domain in this category. Examples are .es for Spain, .nz for New Zealand, .us for the United States, .ng for Nigeria, and so on.
New Top-Level Domains (nTLDs): These are the same as gTLDs above, except that they were introduced recently, from 2013 to 2016. They are associated with generic words and are very easy to remember. Examples: .agent, .tokyo, and .blog.
To register a domain name for your business, you get to choose from over 800 TLDs.
Second-Level Domain (SLD)
In the DNS hierarchy, right below the top-level domains are the second-level domains. Take a complete domain name like www.example.com; the second-level domain is the name immediately left of the TLD. ‘Example’ is the SLD.
To register a domain name for your business, you have the freedom to make up your SLD. It can be a random word, your business name, and it can include numbers and even hyphens.
These are called subdomains. They are written immediately to the left of SLDs. In www.example.com, the third-level domain is ‘www’. In mail.example.com, it is ‘mail’. And in ftp.example.com, it is ‘ftp’.
Third-level domains refer to the designation of servers: ‘www’ refers to web servers, mail.example.com refer to a mail server, while ftp.example.com refers to a file transfer protocol server. Third-level domains simply offer structure to a website.
How Do I Get a Domain Name?
By now, you already know that your domain name should have three levels as depicted in www.example.com. To get yours, all you need to do is visit the website of a domain registrar. A domain registrar is any institution that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has given license to sell domain services to people.
An example of a registrar is NameCheap, which we use for our company website at Macaulay Gidado and for our clients’ websites. When you are looking to register a domain cheaply and also get renewal charges and add-on services that are very cheap, NameCheap is the registrar to go with.
Be aware that registering a domain for a year means you own that domain for one year. Should you fail to renew it at the end of your one-year registration, the domain will become available for other people and businesses to register.
Find out more about how to choose a domain name for your business.
When running a website (whether a personal or a business website), the main goals are usually lead generation, conversion, and sales. However, whatever leads your site manages to generate would translate to nothing without engagement. Thus, conversion and sales via the site would remain elusive.
The question is: why engagement?
One answer to that is ‘to beat competition’. No matter how small your niche is, you will always be faced with competition. Statistics show that there are over 966million websites online today, and they are all clamouring for attention. This brings us to the second reason engagement is paramount.
Considering the mantle of information online today and how easily accessible it is, the attention spans of internet users have become meagre and fleeting at best. This makes it essential that your website begins to engage your visitors as soon as they land on it. Otherwise, you risk losing them a few seconds afterwards.
How then can you drive engagement?
The answer is simple. Do everything you can to make your website useful, informative, compelling, user-friendly, and attention-grabbing. Here are five ways you can do that.
Make Your Website Speedy
Apart from the fact that page load speed is a major Google ranking factor, it can also affect your bounce rate. This is because no one wants to spend their precious time waiting for a slow site to load. The longer your site visitors have to wait idly for your pages to load, the more disengaged they would become. One survey discovered that nearly a half of web users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Therefore, why not do yourself, your site, and your brand a favour and seek out and apply as many strategies for improving page load speed as possible? Some of them include choosing the right web hosting package, using a minimalistic design, optimising your images, and compressing your files using Gzip.
Make It Responsive
In this age when the majority of the world’s population carries a mobile device in their pocket wherever they go, in this age when smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular, it’s very important that your website is optimised for both mobile devices and high-resolution screens. Responsiveness means that your site is designed to format and display well on various devices. This makes it user-friendly on all platforms, making it easy for visitors to engage with your content.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a designer/programmer that can design your site to be responsive, you could go for a website-building package like the ones offered at freeparking.co.nz/websites/. The great thing about these site builders is that they make your site automatically responsive, they are cheap, and you don’t need prior coding knowledge to use them.
Make Your Navigations User-Friendly
This means making your site easy to navigate. Users love it when they don’t have to work hard to discover what they are looking for on your site. Thus, navigations that are well-structured, simple, and easy to find can go a long way in keeping your visitors comfortably browsing through your pages and even encourage them to take an action that results in sales.
Also pay attention to proper integration of internal linking and use of calls-to-action.
Tailor Compelling Content
Typically, people visit websites in search of information. The problem is that information is everywhere online. Why should they digest yours? What makes yours stand out? When you don’t address these questions, you risking publishing unremarkable content on your site and thus driving your leads away.
Here are some things you can do to ensure your content is engaging:
Be original. Don’t copy. Think out of the box. Always find an angle that hasn’t been explored.
Make your content informative. Everything you write should count.
Use evocative images in your posts.
Catchy headlines are great.
Use short paragraphs. They are easy on the eye.
Backup your points with citations.
Try various post formats–text, info-graphics, videos, how-to posts, and so on.
Engagement is all about communication and involvement. You can’t hope to engage your audience if you don’t interact with them. Don’t simply publish your post and then dust your hands. Read the comments your posts generate and reply to them when necessary.
People relish recognition. It’s that simply. And when you reply to comments on your site, not only are you letting your visitors know that you recognise them, you also engage them by answering their questions, offering further information, and acknowledging their contributions.
There are many other ways you can drive engagement on your website. Check this out. You can start with the five mentioned above and work your way to other tips across the internet. Do this and you will see your engagement and brand loyalty improve.
Any businessperson that wants his or her business to remain competitive among its peers has to channel a lot of efforts into improving its operational efficiency. This is especially true for small and midsize businesses, considering their limited resources.
To manage your business efficiently, you have to analyse every aspect of your operation and curb any excess inputs that can come back to haunt your outputs.
Plug all those holes from where money is leaking out. Don’t hire more or fewer employees than you need? Are you customers unhappy? Are you running an in-house server when the cloud can help you manage costs?
Learn how to control your expenses. If not, your business isn’t going to last long. It’s Inevitable; Companies that aren’t running efficiently drown in competition and eventually find their deaths.
The death of your venture. That is obviously not what you want. Therefore, here are some tested tips that can help you maintain an efficient operation—that is, reduce costs, stay ahead of competition, boost customer satisfaction et cetera.
Embrace the Internet
This cannot be skirted. An online presence is a requirement when it comes to doing business in this digital age. Especially if you want your establishment to remain afloat despite the many business-related hurdles that came with the Internet.
Doing business is like a ‘war’ and the emergence of the Internet is the introduction of guns into the war. You cannot keep relying on your swordsmanship or archery skills to stay life. In fact, your chances of surviving the war improves as soon as you pick up a gun.
The internet is that new weapon. New and formerly small companies adopt it and suddenly their successes resonate across the world.
To upgrade your business online, here are some of the things to do:
Set up a company website
You will need to register a domain name and a web hosting solution. You also need a web designer to give your website an appealing appearance and structure.
Run a company blog where you post free regular valuable content relevant to your niche to attract an audience that you can convert to customers.
Create social media accounts for your company. They can be a helpful set of marketing tools.
You may discover along the way that establishing your company online has saved you costs by cutting your business’ need for salespeople and offline advertising. The best part is that you may also find that sales have improved, since you have exposed your business to a much larger audience.
Only Go into a Business You Are Passionate About
An efficient operation isn’t all about the business decisions you make along the way. It can also be about you and your employees’ zeal. This is because it is with fervent passion that you and your workers can transcend the hassles and occasional disappointments, which come with doing business, without making poor decisions.
It is also your passion that compels you and your employees to prepare for work every morning with the intentions to improve your business. It means you enjoy what you do and are dedicated to it. You do it not just for the money but for the fulfilment it brings.
Passion can be contagious. When your employees see that you are passionate about your company, it becomes a sort of motivation for them and compels them to work harder.
One way to gauge your passion for your business is by examining how easily you may abandon the venture in a time of hardship or even in a time when you have ample income streaming in through another source.
Value the Help of Others
There’s no such thing as a self-made person. Along the road to building a successful business, you will bump into many resourceful entities—mentors, clients, companies, colleagues, employees et cetera. Whether you pay them for their services or they pay you for yours, the bottom line in that they help boost your business.
Therefore, if you believe you can go the road alone, then you might as well abandon the venture all together, because no one person can run a business singlehandedly and maintain operational efficiency. When you value the services of other people or companies, your business mind becomes wired to recognise when, where, and how to seek professional help.
You really don’t have to drown when there are lifeguards nearby. Reach out to other professionals. If you need to outsource a business need in order to run your company more effectively, by all means do so. If you have colleagues or employees, favour teamwork.
Plan How You Introduce New Technology
One of the keys to stellar productivity is focus. Your employees need to be undistracted in order to carry out their duties efficiently.
Introducing a new technology—software or hardware—perhaps to replace an old one can cause a great disruption in your workers’ ability to concentrate. Think about the time they would use trying to figure out a new tech and how to integrate it with their daily work routines.
If you plan how and when you introduce technology and stick to that plan, you may be able to carry out the integration without risking productivity. In every business, for instance, there are seasons when orders for products and services peak and there are other seasons when they are at their lowest.
Analyse your company’s sales statistics with finding a pattern in mind. There should be a slow season, and that’s where you should focus. If you are going to bring in a coach along with every new tech, then make your timing coincide with a slow season when you know that low productivity wouldn’t be much of a problem.
Also, if your employees already undergo yearly general training, then perhaps it’s during the training that you should present a new tech.
That way, you won’t have to worry about productivity whenever you introduce a new technology into the company.
Use Cloud Computing
There are a lot of things cloud computing can do for your business. In fact, cloud computing is the epitome of efficiency, especially when running an in-house server is taking more than it is giving back. Here is how cloud computing can benefit your company:
Flexibility. With an in-house server, your company may only be utilizing just a fraction of the system’s capacity. Yet you suffer costs to run and maintain the whole system. With could computing, however, you don’t have to pay for the disk space or bandwidth you don’t use.
You are protected against disaster like theft, fire outbreak, virus attack et cetera.
You claim costs your company would have suffered via capital expenditure—like acquiring an on-premises server.
Your employees get to access needed data and collaborate even when not in the office. That can surely boost productivity.
The cloud can offer your business more with respect to efficient operation. You just need to make sure you understand your company’s IT needs so that you can be able to select the perfect cloud computing package for you.
Maintain a Professional Customer Service
Depending on the size of your business, you need to have a customer service department. When customers can easily reach your company to communicate their issues, the risk of bad reviews goes down. This protects your company’s reputation and also increases your chances of retaining your clients.
The work of your customer service is to provide support—that is, to encourage customers and also resolve any issues they may have concerning your product or service before it escalates. Neglect that goal and you are bound to frequently lose your customers to your competitors—which does not say much about ‘efficiency’ and ‘competitiveness’.
To maintain an effective customer service, the staff in that department should possess the following traits and skills:
Patience and attentiveness. They don’t hurry when attending to customers. They stay with customers, listen, try to understand what customers want, and then proffer support.
Good communication skills. They don’t use vague words or make vague statements. You staff should talk to customers in a way that the customers will understand.
They are excellent at managing surprises.
They are persuasive.
Your staff should be very conversant with the product or service your company is selling. That way, they can easily attend to any issues pertaining to the product or service without any doubts.
There is more to a good customer service–you can find out here.
And there is also more to increasing operational efficiency, and it is not all about the general guides and tips crowding the Internet. It is also about the kind of business you do and what works for it.
Recent trends and reports show that millennials are start a new businesses as their baby boomer counterparts. This trends make it seem as though starting a business at a young age is a prerequisite for success. But that’s not true.