There’s a secret weapon for small business hiding in plain sight. If you’re running a small business, you may be missing out on one of the best tools on the market that could potentially change how your team communicates.

Slack is a messaging tool that connects teams both in the office and on the go via desktop or using an app on your smartphone. Slack is simple to use and even easier to master. If you need to send a message to one person or the whole team, Slack is the perfect tool to use for communication. Instead of sending endless emails, Slack ensures that everyone on your team is in the know, right away.

If you’re a complete newbie or have no idea what instant messaging is, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

Slack does more than chat

Slack is a combo of all of the best messaging platforms:

  • Chat
  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • File sharing

Everything is in one super clean, easy-to-use platform, eliminating the need to send emails.

With Slack, all you have to do is sign up and create a team. And, signing up is completely free. Once you’ve created your team, you create “channels”, which can be either private or public. A channel is really just a room meant for discussing a theme or topic. You can create a channel for as many topics and themes you’d like.

Channels appear on a toolbar running down the left side of your screen. On top are the public channels you’ve joined and below, is where your direct messages between you and your teammates live. If you have a client or contractor who needs to be kept in the loop, you can invite them, too. You can grant access permissions to outsiders with as many or as little privileges as your company sees fit.

At ScaleFactor, we have channels for lunch, marketing, sales, general, random, among many others. And because channels and private conversations are clearly marked, nothing gets mixed up with outside messages.

All of the information shared in the channels is searchable and public to anyone who’s signed up on your team.

If you’re a landscaping company, this model could be beneficial for time and communication purposes. You could create a general channel for all employees to stay in touch on their projects. This way, everyone knows who’s working on what or if someone has a message for another teammate. Slack enables employees to pass on information that may be meant for one person, but could prove helpful to a dozen others.

Say goodbye to obsessing over email

If you need to send a file, you don’t have to send a separate email because Slack allows file transfer in both private and public channels, too. Slack also makes digging for what you need a lot easier. If someone shared the file you need, but they shared it awhile back, it’s easily searchable.

You can upload or drag-and-drop any file from your computer:

  • Word Doc
  • Google Doc
  • PDF
  • JPEG
  • MOV

Slack integrates with a lot of tools that you’re probably already using, too. Everything from Google Drive to JIRA integrates with Slack. (Other integrations include: SalesForce, MailChimp, and Trello.) Seriously – everyone has a Slack integration.

There’s even an integration called Lunch Train where people can get in on food being ordered around the office. This is very helpful when you’re craving tacos but can’t leave your desk.

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Can Slack really help my team?

A major portion of how we communicate is through email. The problem with email is that it’s singular; emails can get deleted or lost, and important information rarely gets to everyone.

When it comes to CCing and BCCing, people are forced to scroll through the endless bulk of the conversation. And, if not handled correctly, the person who was added in at the end won’t know where to start.

Slack keeps all communication in one place. If someone is invited into a conversation, it feels a lot less intrusive and confusing because of the format.

Slack also prevents you from dealing with all that spam hitting your inbox. People get phished every day, so one thing Slack does really well is keeping communication airtight. Instead of a clever scam where a hacker pretends to be someone on the team, all interoffice communications are kept in one place: Slack.

There’s also video and audio calling

If you need to jump on a call with your team, Slack makes it easy. You might have people working both locally and remote, but don’t have a centralized office. Slack’s video and audio calling feature is perfect for this situation.

If you’re in a chat with your team but need to explain something to everyone in the channel, you can make direct or group calls with up to 15 people. Just like other conference call setups, you can share your screen and do video calls.  

If you don’t want to drop any specific files in the channel, you can share your screen and show everyone a file without having to share it.

Slack for small business

All of this is embedded right in the workplace, eliminating yet another app or reason to leave Slack’s world. One of the best things about Slack for a small business is that it’s a tiered model. If you’re a tiny office with a crew of 5 people, Slack’s free option is all you’ll need. You can start a workspace that includes 5 GB of File Storage and 10 different App Integrations

There’s a lot to love about Slack if you’re a small team. Don’t get left behind on ways to make your small business stronger than ever.

Do you have some Slack secrets? If so we’d love to hear them. Hit us up on Twitter or LinkedIn, we’re always around. For everything else, there’s the ScaleFactor blog.

Derek Felderhoff &Derek Felderhoff
Director of People

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