808, 2014

10 Small Business Productivity Apps Everyone Should Know About

Get Organized, iPhone apps, Other, Small Business Advice|Comments Off on 10 Small Business Productivity Apps Everyone Should Know About

The most surprising part of running a business is how much time is taken up caring for the back end of your business.  Whether you’re tracking expenses or searching for phone numbers, administrative work can eat up the better part of your workday if you let it. Keep on task by using some of the more common apps. Here are some of my favorite.

1. Project ManagementBasecamp

Cost: starts at $20/month; 60-day free trial available

If you feel like you have been reordering your to-do lists for hours and still are not getting any closer to meeting your goals, your project management software may be the hidden culprit. There is a reason that Basecamp is used by over 285,000 companies for completing hundreds of thousands of projects: it has a slick interface, user-friendly to-do lists with drag and drop capabilities, and the ability to add multiple users to a project to share files, discuss details and even assign tasks. Project managers can select who has access to information for any given project within the system, and people can even respond via email. Everything is stored together under the project for future reference. Basecamp is a web-based tool, but there are also apps on Android and iPhone.

2. Document SharingDropbox

Cost: free for up to 2GB

If you don’t have time to constantly email documents over and over again to the folks that need them, Dropbox is a dream. Simply create a shared folder, have your user accept the invitation, and voila – you’ll have a folder that syncs to all of your computers and devices – and those of any of your co-workers or team members as well. (Who needs thumb drives)?

3. Group Chat: Atlassian HipChat

Cost: free for up to two users, $2/month for more

Want to communicate with your entire team even when they’re working remotely? HipChat gives you a chatroom, video and file sharing capabilities, as well as the opportunity to chat one-on-one. Why is it time-saving? Because it takes away the need to pick up the phone, text or use time-sucking alternatives like Facebook chat, where numerous distractions are abound.

4. Expense Tracking: Shoeboxed

Cost: free plan, or paid plans ranging from $9.95 to $99.95/month (free trials and a free DIY plan are available)

Shoeboxed turns your pile of receipt into usable digital data. Simply snap a photo with your phone (or email receipts in), and Shoeboxed will digitize, organize and classify them for you. It works with Quickbooks and other accounting apps. A free plan includes five receipts a month and unlimited document storage; $9.95 lets you submit up to 1000 documents via prepaid envelopes, and includes tax advice as well.

5. Mileage & Maps TrackingMileIQ

Cost: free for up to 40 trips a month or $5.99/month for an unlimited plan)

If you know you’re forgetting to claim all of your mileage deductions when tax season rolls around, and you want to avoid doling out extra cash to Uncle Sam, MileIQ will come to your rescue. This iPhone app allows you to drive and classify each trip as business or personal with a single swipe. You can even classify multiple trips at once. A mileage log can be edited easily for expense reports or taxes.

6.  Credit Card ProcessingSquare

Cost: 2.75 percent/swipe

Offering services on the go? Instead of copying down credit card numbers for later, use Square. They supply a free scanner that attaches to your tablet or Smartphone. Just swipe the card and you’ll be able to receive payments through the Square app for a small percentage.

7. Contact Management: Highrise

Cost: free, paid plans from $24 to $99/month

Some people are more talented than others at remembering names and faces, but the details can get lost on anyone. Track your clients and leads, their contact information and all of the pertinent details: how you met, who referred you, the name of their company, their social media profiles, websites and any other fields you would like to be able to pull up when needed. Each contact gets their own page, and you and your team can add notes and details, and even assign tasks (such as sending thank you notes) to a specific person. It is also useful for tracking deals, proposals and leads … without having to rummage through messages in email and various social media networks. 

8.  Travel & Calendar Sync ManagementMynd

Cost: free

Mynd is an interesting app that synchronizes all of your calendars, but it has another feature that is incredibly useful: if you are one of those people who's chronically late because you consistently underestimate the amount of time it’ll take you to drive somewhere, this iPhone app will look at weather and travel conditions and let you know when it’s time to go (as long as the address of where you're headed is written in your calendar). Mynd will then launch your favorite navigation app on your phone so you can get there. Meetings that start on time end on time and Mynd helps you get there so you don't hold everyone else up. 

9.  ContractsOurDeal

Cost: free to $29.99+

If you’ve been sending people contracts via email, and then waiting for them to sign them and mail or fax them back, OurDeal can speed up the process. It allows you to create secure and confidential written agreements electronically and even has templates to select if you don't have your own contract to upload. 

10. Easy List and Notes: Evernote

Cost: free
Evernote is the grandfather of note-taking apps. This product works seamlessly as you move from your mobile device to your desktop, something business professionals increasingly do throughout the day. Whether you want to keep track of an upcoming business trip, save your favorite web pages while you're researching online, or simply share notes with colleagues, Evernote makes it a cinch.

What are your favorite time-saving apps and tools? Tell us about them in the comments.

1202, 2014

iPhone apps

Blogging, Get Organized, iPhone apps, Small Business Advice|Comments Off on iPhone apps

Managing a to-do list can be a real pain, especially if you're still using old fashioned pen and paper. Fortunately, there are a variety of to-do list apps for iPhone that make this process much easier. With alerts, notifications, and the ability to manage multiple tasks, these iPhone to-do apps will keep your life organized.
1. Awesome Note +ToDo (US$3.99) is a full-featured list app that offers plenty of customization options. Managing your tasks and to do lists is easy, and the app syncs with Evernote and Google Docs. I also love the monthly calendar view for getting an overview of your tasks for the coming weeks. Since Awesome Note has so many features, it can take some time to figure out how everything works. Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
2. TOD. Some people may balk at the price tag, but the 2Do list app (US$6.99) is packed with features and has a ton of functionality. You can assign actions to each task -- like phone calls or emails -- and the app syncs with your contact list. The tabbed interface is easy to navigate, and 2Do also brings voice recordings, alerts, Twitter integration, and a wide array of customizable features. It can be a bit confusing to use at first, but the 2Do list app for iPhone is a clear winner. Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
3. Todoist.  Like most apps on this list, Todoist combines a web version and an app to give you access to your tasks nearly anywhere you are. Those tools are powerful, organizing tasks by project, offering a smart, natural-language scheduling tool, and setting automatic reminders for any task with a time attached to it. The US$29/year premium version adds integration with calendar apps for a single view into everything you have to do for an entire day and expands the reminder functionality. Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4. Wunderlist (Free) is a stylish to-do list app that syncs with a corresponding desktop client for Macs and PCs. Outstanding tasks are clearly noted, and priority items can be starred for easy access later. Although a monthly calendar view would be helpful, the Wunderlist app displays upcoming tasks in various ways. Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
5. Clear.  Clear is perhaps the most beautifully designed and most iOS-specific app on this list. It uses the iOS's multitouch interface to terrific effect, letting users manipulate and create to-dos with natural pinches, swipes, and drags. The interface--which is structured around tasks, rather than days, and limits to-do length to the width of the iPhone's screen--won't work for everyone, but for those it does, it's likely to work very well indeed. Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
6. ToodleDoThe ToodleDo app (US$2.99) has a simple interface that makes it easy to add new tasks to your to do list. For each task, you can set priorities and due dates, assign it to folder, schedule reminders, and more. Folders are especially helpful for keeping tasks organized. However, the ToodleDo list app has a confusing priority system, and I wish it would set app badges as a default. Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
7. Orchestra. Orchestra (free) is a decent to-do list app for an individual. Put it in the hands of a group, though, and it becomes something special. That's  because Orchestra allows you to assign tasks to anyone with an email address or phone number (ideally they'll also have the Orchestra app, but it's not required). Users can see who's taken on what task, when they've done it, and chat about it all via the app. While it's missing some important features, and takes an unorthodox approach to deadlines, some people will love it. Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
8. TeuxDeux. The TeuxDeux app ($2.99) is an iPhone-specific version of the web app of the same name. Its stylish, spare interface places emphasis squarely on your to-dos, but doesn't offer many features besides syncing with the web app and rearranging items. Its productivity focus will be perfect for some users, but others will require more features to get things done. Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
9. Air ToDo. Air To-Do (US$1.99) is very easy to use, and I love that the app is integrated with Facebook, Twitter, and email. However, the Air To-Do list app is much simpler than its competitors. You can only create one to do list ( with unlimited tasks), so Air To-Do is worth a look if you only have a few tasks to complete each day. Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.