As a business owner, you are constantly keeping track of a multitude of projects, tasks, and ideas. How do you manage it all? In this post, I’m going to share with you how you can use Trello to manage your business, and give you some tips and tricks to do so!
Some of us have post-it notes everywhere while others have a perfectly organized bullet journal. Some business owners have a white board and carefully map out all their client work and projects, and others have stacks of random papers all over their desk.
Keeping track of everything gets even more complicated if you are working with clients, or if you are managing a team. Not only do you need to keep track of your OWN files, ideas, and projects, but you also need to stay in communication with your clients and your team members.
When I started Morningstar Media Services, I knew that this was going to be an issue for me. I was voted “most organized” in elementary school, but I’m convinced that I’ve lost some of that natural ability since then. For me to stay organized, I have to have a system, and know how to use that system.
I had been using Asana, an online project management tool, to manage my blog and projects related to my blog, for the previous 6 months. It worked fairly well, but there were certain things that I couldn’t do with it, and I really wasn’t sure how I would use it once I started getting clients.
Meanwhile, several of my business friends had been talking about Trello, but I ignored them, because I was overwhelmed (hello, starting a business here!) and didn’t want to learn another new tool. But then one of my very first clients said he was using Trello, and asked me if I would be willing to learn. So I jumped in, began learning, and have never looked back.
I can now confidently say that I LOVE Trello, and I’ve been using Trello to manage my business ever since! I believe it’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to stay in business.
Get my free video workshop all about how I use Trello to manage my business right here:
Why Use Trello to Manage Your Business?
I know, I know… it sounds dramatic. But it’s true–using Trello has allowed me to keep track of all the moving parts in my business over the past year. There are plenty of other options out there – like Asana, Basecamp, and Monday. So you may want to test out a few options to find out what works best for you.
Here are some of the reasons I love Trello:
Trello is a very flexible tool that can be adapted to your needs. You can use it in a variety of ways until you figure out the approach that works best for you.
It’s also a very visual tool, which is great for people that want to see the big picture or the overall game plan to a project. Items can easily be moved around, which helps when you are a visual person.
Anyone else love free stuff? I am a fan of using free tools whenever possible. This helps to keep overhead costs down and more money in my pocket! Trello does have an option to upgrade to Trello Gold or Business Class, but these are not essential in my opinion. I’ve used the free option for over a year (and actually got Trello Gold for free for a while just for referring people).
One of the reasons I love Trello so much is how well it works to collaborate with others. As I mentioned before, I wanted a tool that would allow me to work with my clients as well as my team members. Trello does just that, and it’s not complicated. I’ll get into that more in a bit.
What is Trello?
Alright, so you understand why I love Trello, but you still might be wondering, What exactly is Trello?
In a nutshell, Trello is a project management tool that allows you to keep track of to-dos, ideas, tasks, and projects. Trello can be used on your desktop or laptop computer, as well as using an app on a mobile device. Personally I prefer using my computer, but in a pinch, I use my phone app to respond or provide info.
Within Trello, there are so many features you can use, but here’s just a few examples:
Boards are the place where you keep all the info about one project. You can have as many boards as you want.
Each board is made up of lists that are like columns. You can add as many lists as you want, but I tend to keep them under 10 or so. More than that can get a big overwhelming (at least for me).
Each list is made up of cards. Cards can have one word or a whole paragraph. My Type-A personality likes the cards to have one sentence or less, and add more info to the description of a card. Cards can also have checklists, members, due dates, attachments, and more. In addition, team members can comment on cards, allowing for conversation regarding the specific items on that card.
You can copy an entire board, a list, a card, or a checklist to a different location. This is definitely one of my favorite features. When you create a process in your business that can be repeated over and over, then you can simply create a template board in Trello.
Then, each time you need to use that process for a new project, you can copy the board, rename it, and use it for that new project. This is a huge time savings for business owners! (This is also a feature that I struggled to find within Asana).
Now that you have a basic understanding of what Trello is and why I love it, I want to share with you a few ways I use it to manage my online business management and digital marketing agency.
How I Use Trello With My Team:
- Team Board
I’ve created a Team Board where we keep some of our key info as well as tasks that are assigned to each member. Each team member has a list, and within that list are cards for each of our clients (typically). On the card, we simply create a checklist and then link up tasks from client boards within that checklist.
Pro tip: if you copy the URL of a card and paste the URL in another spot on Trello, it will create a clickable little card symbol.
We recently made a change where one team member has her own board for tasks. We set that board up so that each client has a list, and in that list, each task for that client has a card. For this team member, she felt it would work better than the way we had been doing it. Again, I love how Trello is so flexible, and we can adjust what we are doing as we find what works best.
I’m also going to be making a Team Training Board where I will keep links to all the trainings and SOPs for my team to go through and reference as needed.
On any card, we are able to comment back and forth on a particular task. Oftentimes, I’ll assign a task that a team member has a question about. Sometimes they will send me a Voxer message (another amazing free too), but occasionally we’ll use the comments feature on the card.
Pro tip: make sure you use the “@” symbol before the person’s name to whom you are writing, or there’s a chance they’ll miss it. When you use the @ it’s just like tagging on Facebook–you get a notification when someone does this.
How I use Trello With My Clients:
- Set up a client Board or Team.
Part of our on-boarding process includes getting our clients onto Trello, if they do not already have a project management tool they love. We can set up boards for them or even a team, to keep everything for that client in a separate place.
- Teams are kind of like groups – it’s basically a way to subdivide all your boards on Trello. I have a “clients” team, but then I will sometimes also create a team for a specific client if they are going to have multiple boards.
- Boards – Once we set up the team, or if it’s a small project and we don’t need a separate team, then we’ll set up the boards. We do this by determining what boards they will need based on their contract.
For example, we might have a client that is having a Pinterest Makeover. In that case, we will copy the template board for the Pinterest Makeover, rename it, and then add the client to the board. Or, we might have a client for whom we are doing online business management. In this case, they are going to need several boards. A few of the boards I would typically need for this are the Biz Overview, Monthly Work, and Social Media boards.
- Add the Client.
Often, getting the client onto Trello can be the trickiest part. I’ve done a few things to make it easier.
- I created a simple video using Loom (again, an amazing free online screen recording tool) to welcome them to Morningstar and to share with them about Trello. I show them a few basics about Trello and about how we will work together using the boards.
- I include this video and information about setting up an account in the welcome email they get after signing a contract. This makes it easier for them to understand what is going on.
- Assign the work.
Depending on the project and the client, the client can use their Trello boards to assign work to me and my team. Or, I may be using the boards to plan out projects and assign work to my team and the client.
- For example, I recently planned out a sales funnel for a client. I made a card for each of the tasks that needed to be done, and then assigned some of them to myself and some to the client. The client needed to make the videos, for example, so that I could add them onto the pages of the sales funnel.
As I mentioned before, Trello allows for communication within the cards, so this helps to eliminate the need for constant emails back and forth. This is one of my FAVORITE parts about using Trello with clients. Most business owners I know do not love using email for communication. By using Trello for projects, you can spend a lot less time in your inbox – and your team and clients can, too.
One of the benefits of using Trello to manage your business is that it will reduce the time you spend in your inbox.Click To Tweet
Pro Tip: Make sure due dates are added. It’s very important to add due dates to the cards, or else items can easily be missed. And as a service provider, having a due date from my client allows me to plan accordingly. If there is no due date on a task, it’s very likely to get pushed to the bottom of the priority list (for both the client and the team members).
Whether you are a solopreneur managing your business on your own, or you have a large team, Trello may be the perfect fit for you.
If you want to use Trello to manage your business, check out my free workshop showing you a lot of the tips and tricks I’ve explained here – but in video form! This workshop is about an hour long and it’s full of info about how I personally use Trello, and it has some additional tips that I haven’t covered here.