One of the most important things to keep a grip on when you run a business is the overheads. It’s so easy to let the cost of the “basics” mount up
and start effecting your bottom line. We are going to outline how I first launched my office on a total shoestring but through being a bit savvy made
sure that I didn’t compromise on any of the basics.
So in truth this post is half about me being a bit savvy and the half about me having made mistakes that hopefully I can now stop you making.
Google's Email SystemThis sounds almost too basic to mention, but it’s crazy how many people still get this so wrong. When I first started working freelance I moved into a shared office downtown Vancouver… This was probably the first good move I made, I rented a desk in an office with about 10 other freelancers, first off it was so cheap to do it this way and it also gave me an address Downtown Vancouver. For the first few months I worked from home, this was a false economy for me, I went crazy and work ended up totally dominating my life. If you’re working independently an office is a god send, it gives you regular social interaction and a regular routine, plus you can’t stay there all night. Anyway the point of the matter is that I was simply blown away by how bad some of my fellow freelancers’ email setups were. I would say to one of them did you get my email earlier and they’d be like “which email address?”… “oh that one… yeah that’s on my laptop and someone’s borrowing that at the moment” or it would be like “no it takes about 20 mins to come through because it being forwarded from this account which syncs with this one… but only when my home computer is switched on” and of course needless to say all their emails were stored locally.
I’m sure this sounds familiar… it doesn’t need to be like this! I have so many devices, an iPhone, an iMac, a MacBook Pro, a PC laptop and whatever device or email client I use I see exactly the same inbox and directory structure. If you’ve worked in a corporate environment you probably think you need a Microsoft exchange server for this or a lot of people try to use mobile me, but set it up all wrong. The answer is you need Google Apps. Google Apps gives you IMAP access this means a copy of all your emails remains on the server and every time you read or delete or file an email, a message is sent back to Google and they record that change and make sure that next time you connect with your phone or any other device those changes are relayed to that too. Apart from the obvious benefits of keeping all your devices in sync it means you can drop you laptop under a taxi and you’ve lost no email data.
Google Apps has two services, a free one and paid one… another mistake of mine. I signed up for a paid one and every time I wanted to add an account I had to pay $50 a year, which started to get expensive. The free version is exactly the same as the paid version except the capacity is less. The free version is 7GB and you can upgrade anytime, the paid one is 25GB… I have insane volumes of emails dating back to 2004 and I’ve still not hit my 7GB limit (…I eventually swapped back from the paid account, which you can do and loose no data).
Google Apps lets you set up email with your own domain name i.e firstname.lastname@example.org and it lets you point any number of domains to it. Over the years I’ve probably racked up about 10 different addresses and I’ve got them all aggregated in the one inbox from where I can send and receive from any of those addresses.
Google Apps also has shared calendars that can be set up to sync with iPhones etc. It is a very credible alternative to Microsoft exchange server and it can be totally free – amazing. If you remember anything from this post… stop accessing email via POP3 and start using IMAP.
BigTurns Professional Services Ltd
Vancouver, BC V6E 4R1