A Dollar And A Dream: Use Apps To Crank Up Productivity
“A Dollar and A Dream” spotlights low- and no-cost ways to build a better business. The economy may be lagging, but new resources are empowering small business owners like never before. Follow the series to learn how to take your dreams to the next level without breaking the bank.
Your success in business is directly linked to how you produce your product. Maximizing productivity can be difficult for small businesses where manpower is in short supply. Luckily, improving productivity isn’t always about working harder; you may just need to work smarter.
New apps are hitting the marketplace everyday, designed to streamline business systems and help owners and employees get the most out of their time and efforts. The tools below allow for greater efficiency in managing billing, information, tasks and time. This selection only scratches the surface of what is available. Check out “Go Digital: Web Tools for Every Business” for even more recommendations.
When searching for a reliable app, first take a look at how you do business. What tasks or areas are you slowing down? Once you pinpoint the areas where you need to save time and money, the answer is just an Internet search away. It’s hard for a good app to stay a secret for long. Reviews from users and business publications will give you a good idea if a tool has the right features for you.
Here are a few common issues apps solve:
“I’m always late.”
Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Benefit: Analyzes your schedule to provide timely reminders to keep you on schedule.
How It Works: OnTime syncs with your existing calendar and takes into account your current location, the location of your next appointment, and traffic patterns to provide accurate alerts to keep you on time. It will even alert your next appointment if you are running late. Perfect for busy individuals who complain about time getting away from them.
“My team works remotely and has trouble staying on the same page.”
Platform: Web, Desktop (Mac), and iPhone
Price: Free app ($9 monthly service fee / $99 yearly)
Benefit: A central location to create and delegate project tasks and keep project updates from being overlooked in e-mail.
How It Works: Flow is an online collaboration platform. Invite contacts to join a task or project list whether they have an account or not and you can tackle projects as a team regardless of location. The app allows you to delegate tasks, keep track of each team members’ progress, as well as discuss and collaborate issues in real-time. Payment options are available on a yearly basis or month-to-month for special projects.
“My team wastes time tracking me or a client down to sign off on documents.”
Solution: DocuSign Ink
Platform: Android, iPhone, iPad
Price: Free (paid version $14.99 and up)
Benefit: Send, sign and save documents anywhere, on any device.
How It Works: DocuSign is the most widely used eSignature software and provides extra document encryption, authentication of signers’ identities, and tracking of who signed, when, and where. The paid version offers additional features including sending documents to multiple parties and creating reminders.
“We have so much paperwork to keep track of, our filing system takes up too much time.”
Benefit: Turns your iPhone into a multipage scanner.
How It Works: Don’t waste time looking for paperwork. Take a picture of documents, receipts, notes, whiteboards, or other text and TurboScan will generate a high quality PDF or JPEG file that be stored and shared easily. All processing happens on your iPhone, so there’s no need to worry about your confidentiality being compromised.
“I have too many small tasks to keep track of; I feel like I’m always forgetting something.”
Platform: Web, Desktop (Windows and Mac), Android, iPhone, and iPad
Benefit: The classic to-do list, updated with the functionality and portability of modern technology.
How It Works: Wunderlist manages whatever needs to be done, from shopping list, to projects, to to-dos. Unlike a conventional to-do list, you don’t have to keep track of a piece of paper. Wunderlist syncs your lists across platforms, allows you to set reminders or notifications, and lets you share your list via email, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s one of the more elegantly designed to-do list apps on the market.
“I haven’t perfected setting hourly rates for my clients; I think I’m under-billing.”
Benefit: Especially helpful for new freelancers and contractors who aren’t sure where to begin when setting prices.
How It Works: The app helps you calculate rates for a project based on the tools, help, and supplies you will need. Just plug in what you’ll need to get the job done. The app will calculate how much you should charge to turn a profit. MyPrice is also beneficial in helping business owners think critically about the resources and expenses at their disposal for a given project.
Do you have any apps that your business swears by? Help out your fellow entrepreneurs and share them in the comment section.