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Original Article

Online Business – This thanks is for you.

Yesterday we were mentioned in the blog of our virtual phone service provider, Grasshopper. HomeStars has had some trying times when it comes to phone service providers — from the totally confusing, to the completely unreliable. When it came time last year to figure out our telephone dilemma once and for all, we found Grasshopper and haven’t regretted it since. Their user interface is super easy to follow and their service, as well as being customizable, has been fantastic. Like their post on 5 Ways to Grow Your Business Using a Virtual PBX says, we have a lot of employees in several different area codes. It’s not always easy, or possible, to sit down with someone and explain to them how to set up their extension and voice mail. Since Grasshopper is so intuitive it’s really allowed us to get new staff members up and running in no time and we are really thankful for this.

This post got me to thinking about all the amazing online services HomeStars uses to help run our business and grow, and how thankful we are for the great service we receive. I think it’s important we take a moment to thank them.

Early last year we started using a program called Mad Mimi for all of our newsletter communications. Email programs were another thorn in the side of HomeStars communications and we had been using another service provider for some time that was *ahem* slightly difficult to use. Rather than taking an entire day to send out a communication we made a change. Mad Mimi has been a dream to work with. Not only is it user friendly but their support staff are amazing. You have a question? Kick it to the live chat, or their Twitter account, and someone super cool and friendly will answer your question– even if it’s totally stupid!  For all of you who read our newsletters, you can see how vibrant and organized they appear. For those of you who are not reading our newsletters (we know it’s not all of you– don’t lie –we can track the messages we send ;) ) you should really check them out; it’s a great looking read and there is a lot of important information that is communicated through them!! If you want to subscribe, send an email to inbound AT homestars DOT com.

Another service we use is called Freshbooks. Freshbooks allows our staff, no matter where they might be, to access and organize expenses and bill clients. Their reoccurring profile has allowed us to grow. Before Freshbooks automatically collected monthly payments from credit cards, our accountant, Garry, was manually sending out up to 60 invoices a month by snail mail! Oh those were the days! There is no way, even if we had multiple Garrys (and who wouldn’t want multiple Garrys? he’s an awesome guy!), we could be operating at the scale we are today without the help of the Freshbooks program and their amazing staff who are always willing to help. Thanks Freshbooks Team! Without you poor Garry would be so tired and his tongue would be all envelope-y.

Those of you who have attended a HomeStars event, have likely received an email from us via Guestlist. Guestlist lets us create and customize events and organize the RSVP so we have an idea of how many wings to order. You know they’re super cool because their logo is really small and the kids partying on their home page are crazy hip looking. But look a bit further and you will see that this service lets you customize your invite, images, URL and even payment method, if there is a fee to attend.  Event set up is monkey proof and it’s also really easy to send mass reminder messages to everyone who has RSVP’d for the event.

So while all of the social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be a lot of fun and help spread the word about your business, we wanted to thank the companies who help us do our job, because sometimes you just have to get stuff done.