Entrepreneurs and small business owners are typically short of time. Too much to do, active minds, a life crammed full of possibilities and never enough time to do it all. Making time isn’t possible, but saving time is, so here’s a list of apps and tools that can make your life easier, your business more secure and all on a budget. The majority of the tools listed below are either free, low cost or have premium alternatives. As business owners are obsessed about being able to do more in less time, time-saving or productivity boosting apps are a great place to start. Here are nine of the best:
Consistently one of the most recommended apps for improving productivity. Evernote works across operating systems and on both mobile and desktop making it possible to sync and save most of your digital life whether that’s receipts, web clippings, Kindle notes, meeting notes, you name it. It is an application to launch as soon as your computer has booted up and keep open all day.
Another tool that is regularly recommended by the pros for its simplicity and ability to solve one of the web’s biggest constraints – versioning. Simply put, emailing files or media around to colleagues and keeping track of changes is almost impossible and makes collaboration difficult. For small businesses, Dropbox is a must that can really help drive productivity and co-operation between colleagues.
While the recession and a squeeze on profits cut unnecessary business travel in its tracks post 2008, the truth is that it helped workers come to terms with conference calls and video conferencing, making the virtual meeting more acceptable, more dynamic and more similar to its face-to-face alternative. Zoom beats Skype for stability, although many business owners maybe more familiar with Skype, which does have good voice over IP calling and instant messaging functionality.
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners have an insatiable thirst for information but reading books takes time and while you can read on the train, you can’t while you drive a car. Audible.com allows you to download audio books, so you can listen to books on your smartphone whether you’re in the queue at the grocery store, stuck in traffic on a long drive, or want to make the most of your daily commute.
A great set of tools to help you record expenses on the go and stop hours of time consuming form filling as you match crumpled taxi receipts with journeys to meetings or networking events. Expensify is an easy-to-use web-based platform and iPhone and Android app that allows you to scan receipts on the go, manually add expenses, record your billable time or track distances of journeys in the car. Expensify can save you time and money.
This might be a slightly light hearted productivity tool, but actually it’s really helpful. Focus@will really helps focusing on the task in hand by supplying the right music to help concentrate and shut out other distractions. It’s web-based and there’s a basic free service that allows up to 60 minutes of free music of a ceratin type and there’s a paid for service, with additional premium features. This is a great app to help you find your flow if you need to compose an important presentation, write a blog post, or just need to really focus on the task in hand.
Most great ideas are born in three places: the bar, the bath or in bed. While it can be relatively easily to record your ideas in a bar and to keep a pen and notebook by your bed, jotting in the bath or shower is beset by problems. Well that is until now… Aqua Notes allows you to jot down your great ideas and notes while you shower, so they don’t disappear into the ether as soon as you’re dried off and started the next task.
Password security is a vital step that help users secure their digital lives. In fact it’s the number one thing that employers and employees can do to protect against hacking. Of course, having one password across all accounts is a like a birthday present to hackers, but remembering strong passwords is incredibly difficult, meaning that many hours can be wasted resetting passwords to accounts that we want or need access to. There are several password managers on the market, but Last Pass works well and allows you to share passwords securely with your virtual assistant.
Data security is a massive area for any business owner and while strong passwords can be an essential part of your business’s security, it may not always be enough and encypting data has increasingly become part of the security mix. If you’re storing business critical data that competitors shouldn’t get their hands on, or customer’s information that you are by law required to protect, think about encrypting that data too. This will ensure that your company’s business critical information can only be accessed by authorised users. AES Crypt is another easy to use encryption service that is free.