The adage “time is money” is never more true than when applied to the multi-tasking days of business owners. That’s why software and app developers have flooded the market with products to help entrepreneurs use their time as productively as possible. Here, two tech consultants share some of the applications on which they and their teams rely:
1. Spend more time listening, less time taking notes
“With the AudioNote app you can take notes on your phone or tablet during a presentation or a meeting, while the app simultaneously records audio,” says Caroline Green, principal at IvanExpert, an IT support and consulting firm. “When you look back at your notes later, all you have to do is tap on a word, and AudioNote will start playing the audio that was recorded at the exact time you wrote it.”
www.luminantsoftware.com; free limited version; unlimited version, $4.99; available for Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android
2. Stay on top of social media and SEO management.
“If you’re looking to manage social media, Sprout Social does a great job,” says Jennifer Shaheen, president of The Technology Therapy Group. This web app integrates with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks, then delivers relevant messages to one inbox; it also provides detailed reporting. “If you are looking to manage both social media and SEO, it’s better to have it all in one piece of software,” says Shaheen. “We use the Raven Tools platform for this. It also does a great job at link building and integrity tracking.”
www.raventools.com, from $99 monthly; www.sproutsocial.com, from $39 monthly
3. End password confusion.
“One of the largest time-sucks is remembering passwords for sites we have to log onto all the time,” says Green. “With the 1Password service, just one master password will open up the vault of all your other passwords. There’s a button you can click and be signed into a site with a keystroke or two. You can sync it with all your computers as well as mobile devices. And it helps guard against password hacking.” For the same purpose, Shaheen recommends the cloud-based OneLogin, which gives one-click access to all your web apps.
1Password at www.agilebits.com; $49.99, 30-day free trial, available for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, and Android; www.onelogin.com, versions from free to $5 monthly, available for web-based and Android devices, iPhone, and iPad.
4. Streamline expense reports.
“Use SmartDoc Expense Report to easily keep track of expenses on your phone,” Green advises. Log each expense and take a photo of the receipt as soon as you get it—and then at the end of the day or the week, upload the data to the developer's website, and you'll get back an email with a spreadsheet or PDF made from your data. No need to manually log everything into Excel at the end of every week. www.smartdoctech.com/er/features.aspx; payment options from $4.99; available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch.
5. Work more smoothly with a creative team.
“At some point, most small businesses outsource some design work, advertising, or website development, so you’ll need to collaborate on visual concepts,” Shaheen notes. For this, she recommends Concept Share, a “visual collaboration” platform that can scale to any size project or team. It allows users to easily mark up digital assets and debate and discuss on threaded comment strings. “Because it keeps everyone organized, it’s great for productivity,” Shaheen says.
www.conceptshare.com; from $5 per user per month
6. Get phone-to-computer access
“Some apps give you the ability to leave your office without worrying about having left a crucial document behind,” Green says. Access your computer files or applications from your phone with an app that allows you to remotely log on and otherwise securely control your PC or Mac. Green likes Screens, Jump Desktop, and LogMeIn.
www.screensapp.com, $19.99, available for iOS systems; www.jumpdesktop.com, $9.99 to $29.99, available for Android and iOS mobile devices, and Mac; www.logmein.com, available for iPhone or iPad, monthly and annual subscriptions available.
7. Scan business cards.
“We love getting business cards, but keeping track of them takes more time than we want to devote,” Green says. “It’s much easier to take a photo with a mobile phone, which will then automatically file the info. Some versions we like are CamCard, which does character recognition; and ScanBizCards, which does character recognition but also gives you the option of having an actual human manually transcribe the card, for an additional fee.”
www.camcard.com, free lite version and paid full versions, available for iPhone, Android phones, or BlackBerries; ScanBizCards.com, $6.99, available for iPhones, Windows phones, and Android phones.
Lee Lusardi Connor is a business writer and editor. She can be reached at LeeLusardi@gmail.com.