123 Reg logo Blog

10 ways Office 365 can make you a more productive small business owner

By Will Stevens - February 2, 2016

If you run your own business the chances are you’re always on the go. You might be meeting a potential client in a coffee shop one moment and writing up a proposal from a coworking space the next. You could even find yourself dealing with emails at your kitchen table one day and then taking part in a conference call from a holiday apartment in Spain the day after.

When you run your own business, work never stops. That means you need the right tools at your disposal to make sure you can do what you need to do, when you need to do it, no matter where you are.

This is where Office 365 comes in. It offers a range of tools, from Outlook email to video conferencing, which empower you and your business to go beyond the ordinary, no matter where your day’s work is being done. With this in mind, we’ve put together a range of expert tips to help you get the most out of Office 365.’

Collaborate on documents

Collaboration helps us work smarter, and with Office 365 you can get instant input from people without having to email round an attachment. If you’ve got Office Web Apps, you can celebrate with people in real time on Word, PowerPoint and Excel docs. Any changes will be visible as soon as they’re made, and you can even see who made the change. To get things rolling, head over to SharePoint, and click the link to the relevant document to open it. Once you save the document, it will appear in “shared documents” and others will be able to edit it. This means you can join forces with members of your team to craft business-winning pitches, profit-generating sales brochures and anything else you need to put you on the path to success.

Distribute large files with ease

So you need to send a file that’s too big to go via email and it’s just not practical to put it on a thumb drive and share it with everyone who needs it in person. It’s not an uncommon situation, but it can be a frustrating one. Fortunately, Office 365 allows you to bypass all those annoying “message not delivered” situations. Simply link your Online Office Apps to your Outlook and then you can share a link to the file via email on the Outlook Web App. Recipients will be able to download the file from the cloud and their inboxes will remain uncluttered. They’ll also be able to edit the document, making it great for collaborative projects. (Although you can change this by accessing the permissions tab.)

Ditch that USB stick

Ditch that USB stick

Embed vital documents on your website

Have you got a brochure or order form that you want website visitors to be able to print off? Then Office 365 has you covered. Not only does OneDrive offer you 1TB of storage, it also lets you embed files on your website. Just copy and paste the embed code, and people will be able to view and download that crucial document.

Use electronic signatures

Still printing off documents in order to sign them? Why not use the free electronic signature app from DocuSign which is available for Outlook? The app explains how to electronically sign and email documents, and can even help you gather signatures from others if needed.

Get emails on the go

Need to check your emails but don’t want to be tied to your laptop all day? Then make sure you sync your Outlook emails to your phone. Just head into your phone settings, choose to add a new Outlook or Exchange email account, enter your information and you’ll be able to sync your Outlook email, calendar, contacts and email. A great way to keep on top of things when you’re out and about.

Get your team organised with a team site

Wouldn’t it be great to have a hub where members of your team can quickly and easily access the documents they need to work on? That’s where Office 365 team sites come in. To get started with your first team site, head to SharePoint, click Team Site, then Site Actions and then New Site. You’ll then be able to create a team site based on your individual needs.

Hold meetings with people all over the world

So you’re in Spain, your business partner is in Edinburgh and your client is in London and you need to have an urgent meeting. As long as you’ve got a webcam and an internet connection, Office 365 has you covered. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to configure your camera so head into Skype and click the options icon to the right of your name. Then click tools, options, video device and then webcam settings and you’ll be able to configure your camera. Once that’s done, you can click “view more options” button next to a contact’s name and you’ll see the option to start a video call.

But what if someone you want to meet with doesn’t have Skype? No problem – you can send a meeting link which will allow them to access the video call via a web browser.

You won't need a big meeting room with Office 365

You won’t need a big meeting room with Office 365

Digitise your paperwork

Even in a digital age, some paperwork is unavoidable. Whether it’s notes you’ve jotted down, or a vital client request which they insisted on putting in writing, you can use OneNote to digitise and store the information. After you’ve installed the OneNote app on your phone, you can use its camera to take photos of the information you want to keep and upload it to your account. Then you can access it wherever you are.

Make sure everyone is on the same page

Need to make sure your team gets timely updates via email? Simply set up an email group and you’ll be able to send out updates to the right people at the right time. To do this, head to the Outlook Web App, click Home, Options, Groups. Then click New under Public Groups/Own. Under Display Name, type in your desire email group name. Under Membership add new members with the Add/Select Members buttons and you’re ready to go.

Skype on the go

Got an important conference call but also need to head out to make a later meeting? Get the Skype app on your phone and chat as you go. In fact, you’ll have access to all the usual Skype functions meaning that you can keep in touch no matter where you are.

If you haven’t yet signed up for Office 365, you can do so here. If you have any other tips, you can leave them in a comment below.