The 11 Best Tools For Running a 100% Work From Anywhere Company

 In Remote Life

I believe that we are in the early innings of the remote work revolution. “Day 1,” as Jeff Bezos would say (although he doesn’t share my enthusiasm for remote work).

I also believe the next generation of talent will demand geographic freedom as a part of their job, and if you want the best talent, you’re going to have to learn how to be remote.

The coming generation is now witnessing part of the population who are developing themselves professionally, and at the same time:

  • Achieving retirement-level life goals (like traveling in an RV for a year or skiing every day in the winter and surfing every day in the summer), or
  • Spending a previously impossible amount of time with their family

I’m passionate about remote work and the life fulfillment it can give to the employee (and business owner). I’ve written about it before, and I’ll probably continue to write about it so long as I’m still writing and posting things online.

That being said, an efficient remote setup requires powerful productivity tools.

These are my 10 favorite tools that keep Robly and Lead.com moving as a 100% work-from-anywhere organization. I use many more, but these are the ones I use and like the most.

  1. Justworks:
    Justworks

Justworks is a Professional Employer Organization started by a tech guy to help other entrepreneurs navigate the INCREDIBLY muddy waters of payroll, insurance, and compliance.

What I love about it:

  • U.S. payroll is automatic, and it’s very easy to pay contractors (although they still don’t handle overseas employees, which is annoying). Onboarding and terminating employees is simple.
  • They make insurance easy to deal with. They have plans to select from — and they say their rates are better since your employees are part of their larger organization.
  • If you have employees in a bunch of different states, this simplifies your life dramatically. As far as you’re concerned, with Justworks, they’re all in one place.
  • Their support is INCREDIBLE. It used to take me hours on the phone every time I got something from one of the states that I didn’t understand to figure out what to do with it. Now I just forward them the document, and they get back to me in a day or so and tell me what it is and if I have to handle it or they will.

I used Quickbooks Payroll then ADP before Justworks and they have completely eliminated any headaches related to navigating these three critical business areas. I couldn’t be happier.

  1. Slack:

Slack

Everyone knows about Slack by now. Before we were using Slack, though, we were using Skype. I thought that was fine, but this is obviously much better.

What I love about it:

  • The Giphy command is a crowd favorite; our teams love any opportunity to check what gif will show up for things like “wamp wah” and “TGIF.”
  • Uploading files, screenshots, etc for sharing is much easier.
  • The paid version saves your chat history.
  • Creating multiple channels for different groups is easy and the interface is much more visually appealing than Skype’s basic blue and white branding.
  1. BlueJeans:

BlueJeans

Lack of face-to-face human connection and the spontaneous idea generation that comes from it is undeniably the biggest downside of running a 100% work-from-anywhere organization.

BlueJeans has a great face-to-face meeting platform that works well for groups. We use it twice a week for our developer meetings and at least once a month for all-hands.

What I love about it:

  • It’s easy to use and inexpensive.
  • There is a “tile-view” where you can get an audience of 9 focused on you and it seems intimate (although any more than 9 and the extras are hidden off screen).
  • Easy meeting setup and deployment, from either your computer or a phone.
  • Easy to send calendar invites for scheduled calls.
  1. Traveling Mailbox

Traveling Mailbox

This company provides me with a commercial receiving address in New York City that I use for both business and personal mail.

The company receives the mail, scans it, and sends me an email with a picture of an envelope and I can decide whether to have them scan what’s inside or shred it.

What I love about it:

  • No more paper mail for me, ever.
  • I move around a TON, but all my mail goes to one place.
  • If I need a copy of something I can save anything as a PDF and print at my own convenience.
  • It’s reliable and affordable.

The one drawback is that they will not forward your mail to the next mail service you go to, if you ever need to move. Someone has to change them one-by-one.

  1. Sketch

Sketch

Absolutely incredible tool for collaborating on design work.

What I love about it:

  • You can make an interactive set of screenshots that are clickable, and when clicked, advance you to the next screen. It gives you the feel that you are looking at something like a live webpage, months before it actually comes to life.
  • It’s hard for me to explain how cool this feature actually is for people that haven’t used it before. Check out the GIF below:

Sketch

  1. Intercom:

Intercom

Intercom has been a game-changer for us since we installed it. It’s an amazing app for SaaS companies.

What I love about it:

  • Easy-to-set-up automated messages nudge our users toward “activation” (account setup) and things like yearly upgrades and customer review requests.
  • Their ticketing system assures that our customer support team never misses a message, and that everything ultimately gets closed out
  • Streamlines support lines of communication by consolidating live chat tickets, emails, and Facebook messages from customers
  • The mobile app allows our support people to manage the queue from anywhere.
  1. iMessage on my Laptop

imessage

For some reason, with the few of our employees who I speak to daily, my default method of communication has been SMS, which migrates seamlessly to the iMessage app on my laptop.

What I love about it:

  • When I’m on my laptop I get notifications of people sending me iMessages.
  • If I were more social and didn’t just get texts from co-workers and my girlfriend, this might be a problem, but fortunately that’s not the case.
  • I love the fact that I can text people from the plane using a WiFi connection. Dead hours in the air can turn into time to catch-up.
  1.  Google Docs/Gchat

gsuite

We use the Google Suite to run our business: Gmail, Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, you name it. Gmail for business used to be a freemium product, now they charge either $5 or $10 per inbox. Well worth it.

I also use Gchat to communicate with several of our employees. Our team is fully immersed in Slack, but I tend to be a creature of habit. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

  1. Quickbooks:

Quickbooks

Everybody knows Quickbooks for bookkeeping and accounting. I actually approve the transactions myself once a week because I like to see where every single dollar goes.

Things I love about it:

  • I am by no means a Quickbooks power user, but I can quickly and easily approve all transactions in very little time once a week and see where every dollar goes.
  • Monthly P&L reports are very easy to generate and understand.
  • We built custom dashboards for viewing our KPI’s. I wish we would have used something like ProfitWell or Baremetrics, but we designed Robly’s subscriptions in a way to where they were incompatible with their systems.

Pro Tip: On the first of every month I create a thorough operations review of both businesses. I send them to our board.

It’s as many bullets as necessary about significant developments (mostly qualitative), declared distributions, and detailed P&L and KPL analysis (MRR, churn, acquisition cost, customer growth, etc).

  1. AnswerQuick

answerquick

AnswerQuick helps us by answering the phone during non-business hours when we don’t have support agents available. They have access to our support blog, and are trained to do some very basic support that people frequently call in about.

What I love about it:

  • AnswerQuick gives us the ability to provide 24-hour phone support
  • They send messages via email/SMS so we can get back to the customer quickly
  • When there are real emergencies, they patch the customer through directly
  • It’s very cost-effective: you pay by the minute with a low minimum
  1. T-Mobile ONE PLUS International Phone Plan

tmobile

I’m constantly going back and forth between the U.S. and Argentina, where our dev team is located. I also work from places that don’t necessarily have WiFi all the time. T-Mobile has been a lifesaver for me.

What I love about it:

  • You never have to get a local SIM card, almost anywhere you go. I’ve been to about 20 countries in the last two years and Vietnam was the only one where I didn’t have data.
  • VERY low international pricing. Unlimited data (albeit slower than you’d get from a local carrier), free texts, 25¢/min calls (keep in mind, you can do most of your calling on WiFi through Facetime or Skype). To give you an idea, I spent eight months in Argentina last year and my highest phone bill was $160, total. No local SIM cards, same number everywhere.
  • It has a tether feature so you can get internet on your laptop through your phone. This works great in big cities in the U.S. Not so great (but still works) outside the U.S. Rural areas can be a bit of a problem.

There you have it. My 11 favorite tools from the last five years of running a remote, profitable, and thriving organization from all over the world.

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below!

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