Worker riding the Slack productivity wave
Collaboration

Hack the hustle: How three small businesses save time with Slack

Entrepreneurs live and breathe their business, sometimes working around the clock to achieve their goals. Stay productive and focused with Slack

By the team at SlackDecember 9th, 2022Illustration by Giacomo Bagnara

Freedom, flexibility and time: These are high on the wish list of any small business owner or entrepreneur. To help you embrace all three, we’ve condensed highlights from interviews with small business owners into a series on how they’re embracing Slack to scale smarter, brave economic uncertainty and improve collaboration to get more done.

We’ll begin with how to hack the hustle.

Forward-thinking small businesses make Slack work harder for them

Small business owners have always been innovative when it comes to getting things done. And now, with the future of the economy looking like one big question mark, entrepreneurs need to re-evaluate their go-to digital tools so they can eliminate busywork and do more with what they already have.

While growing businesses often prioritize top talent, they might not have the luxury to build out an IT department from scratch. To save on headcount and budget, forward-thinking small businesses are putting Slack at the core of their operations to increase productivity. We talked with three small businesses making Slack work harder for them so they can focus on their bottom line.

Manage headcount without the headache

Home renovation and construction company Moontower hires frequently to accommodate the fluctuating needs of new builds and redesigns, and to keep pace with market demands. In designated Slack channels, new hires can easily onboard and get up to speed, with the ability to review documents and search message history on current builds.

“It’s super easy to scroll through Slack and know what’s going on with different builds,” says Moontower’s office manager Vanessa Salazar.

When an employee leaves, someone on the admin team simply deactivates their account without losing any important information they may have shared. This is a far cry from Moontower’s pre-Slack method of adding and removing people from text chains in a messaging app. “When we communicated through texts, adding a new hire to every single group chat and then offboarding them was a headache,” Salazar says. “Now I just deactivate an employee, and that’s it.”

For a fluctuating and flexible team like Moontower, it’s equally important to preserve a culture of camaraderie. The company’s success channel in Slack celebrates big and little victories—with team members posting pictures of finished builds, cheering on new clients and congratulating one another when a project moves from the design phase to construction. Celebratory emoji on personal and professional updates help everyone feel connected.

Vanessa Salazar, Office Manager, Moontower

“It’s super easy to scroll through Slack and know what’s going on with different builds.”

Vanessa SalazarOffice Manager, Moontower

Keep your team and external partners organized

Having expanded its variety of fair-trade, handmade leather shoe styles over the years, Fortress’s nimble team of four needs to stay organized. Inventory management, supply chain issues, product details, spec sheets and advertising campaigns are just some of the operational items they must consider for every style. That’s why Fortress creates specific Slack channels for each shoe.

The team works asynchronously with its digital ad agency in Slack Connect, making data-informed decisions by integrating the same tools they use internally in secure, partner-facing channels. “We rely on Slack Connect to do pretty much everything, like reviewing performance reports, return on ad spend and new digital video cuts,” says Evan Streusand, the founder of Fortress. “Our inventory is constantly changing, so we need to be on top of our ad strategy and update what we’re promoting in real time.”

When a decision deserves real-time conversation for alignment—like marketing plans, warehouse logistics or updates to their shoemakers in Peru—the team chats in Slack huddles, lightweight audio and video calls.

“We rely on Slack Connect to do pretty much everything, like reviewing performance reports, return on ad spend and new digital video cuts.”

Evan StreusandFounder, Fortress

Scale business operations with a centralized operational hub

Slow Clap is a San Francisco–based production company that’s grown significantly since launching in 2014. What started from its founder making video content for friends is now a full-scale production house with six full-time and four part-time employees, and often up to 30 freelancers. Slow Clap’s growth meant it needed an operational hub, or digital headquarters, to keep track of fast-moving projects and staffing needs, and to ensure that client experiences were smooth.

Slow Clap’s founder, Dan Lichtenberg, sets reminders in Slack for many of his tasks with clear deadlines, like “send shoot estimate to client tomorrow.” Previously, he used a separate app for his to-do list, but now he doesn’t have to leave Slack. And with Slow Clap using integrations for Google Calendar, Google Drive, Frame.io and DocuSign, all the company’s work really does happen in one place.

“Slack is part of our DNA. I can’t imagine running Slow Clap without it,” Lichtenberg says. “Not every conversation deserves to be 10 minutes. Some things can be a 30-second exchange.”

Dan Lichtenberg, Founder, Slow Clap

“Slack is part of our DNA. I can’t imagine running Slow Clap without it.”

Dan LichtenbergFounder, Slow Clap

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, “How to cut down on busywork, grow smarter and brave economic uncertainty,” coming soon.

Note: Sections of this blog were originally published in Fast Company, Inc., and other media outlets.

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