You need rest: 6 tools to put your business on autopilot this holiday


You need to relax. Your business… not so much. You can rest (only temporarily of course) while your company ploughs through the up-coming holiday season like the good workhorse it’s meant to be. Undoubtedly these tools will serve as your little helpers through the season only and their overall effectiveness will range depending on how much your operations and workforce depend on the internet.

During the holidays, when most of the company (if not all) is separated, Trello will help you in being more efficient in allocating individual deadlines and keeping each other in check by seeing exactly who’s working on which task.


This app helps you keep track of who is doing what, when and where. Though people like collaborating on content using tools like Google Docs, organizing and keeping up to date with individual tasks is a different story. Trello will help you manage your projects on-the-go and check in on who is making progress.

One of the keys to a successful social media presence is consistency. Businesses need to be consistently active on their social networks all year round but the smaller a business, the more crucial time allocation becomes.

Probably one of the more popular of the bunch, Hootsuite organizes and helps your Twitter and Facebook accounts on so many levels it can almost get too complicated and overwhelming to a non-social media expert.


There are a number of practical ways you can use Hootsuite to automate your social media activity. First and foremost you can manually schedule blog posts but that’s for people who are proactive.

For those a bit more lazy, you can also use the auto schedule feature which shortens your tweet, post or pic while using algorithms to determine the best time to post on each individual network. You can even use the bulk schedule tool to gradually post more than 50 updates at a time.

Similar to Hootsuite, Buffer App is also a social media publishing tool but what sets itself apart is its friendliness. Overall, it’s easier to schedule your company’s social media activity and would make a better fit for a newcomer. Buffer also offers a user-friendly analytics dashboard where you can see how effective any particular update was and colleagues can easily collaborate and queue posts.


Though it’s interesting to note that many businesses use both Hootsuite and Buffer, to monitor the general social media landscape on the one, and to schedule posts and updates on the other, both are useful in doing the labour intensive chores while you’re relaxing.

It you want to set up alerts or let other apps or web services communicate with each other while you’re sipping piña coladas, Zapier could make your life easier. You can obviously use this all year round actually but storing certain emails’ attachments on the cloud or track your online sales while you’re away is great fun.


You can also use Trello with Zapier for more effective task management. For example, set it so that it automatically creates a Trello task card when an email is sent to Gmail with the subject “emergency”.

If This Then That (IFTTT) and its alternative Zapier are very much the same in that they are both task automation services. The latter, however, is in many cases more suitable for a business than personal hacks. Zapier comes at a monthly cost though but supports more than 250 web apps.

Social media might be important for your online presence but also sticking to an effective traditional email approach couldn’t go wrong. While Gmail does have a number of incredibly useful tricks up its sleeve, Aweber simply offers more — keeping track of your customers or peers while you’re away. Aweber lets you manage and automate your company newsletters, the subscribers and helps you track your performance with email analytics.

Okay, you can now stay up-to-date with who’s doing what but what if it’s crisis time and you need reassurance that everyone’s on board. This is where Sqwiggle comes in. It’s described as a remote work collaboration application and is wonderfully simple. Your group can not only hear and see each other like Google Hangouts or Skype but they can also share everything they see and do in one app.


What makes it stand out from other Skype-ish platforms is the fact that it minimizes bandwidth consumption by taking still images every 10 seconds. Users can then click on any image to instantly activate live video and audio if they so choose. You can then create online “workrooms” where tasks can be organized and easily identified.

If the face-to-face business is a bit too intimate for your liking, apps such as HipChat are great ways of keeping in touch and keeping tabs on conversation topics.

We’ve already discussed some must-have tools every startup needs and now that you have an overview of what all these software services has to offer, the only thing needed now is an app to help setting them all up. Productivity, organization or automation, let us know in the comments which are your favorites.

Image: Karen via Flickr.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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