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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Business Tools That Save Time & Money Part III

When it comes to running your business, what online or offline tool/ product/ service do you find has saved you time and money and helped you run your business more effectively in one or more of these areas:

Office Setup
Legal Advice

Sherman Hu of 3Foreheads Productions offered the following ......

Here are some online/offline tools that make my life easier. I'll break it up into categories...

// Hardware //

>> Macbook Pro (http://apple.com/macbookpro/): Convenient plug and play. Lifestyle, media and business applications are all very intuitive. Saves me time, frustration and agony not worrying about the typical annoyances on a Windows machine. Generated thousands in revenue from leveraging audio and video apps (eg. iMovie, Garageband) for client projects and digital products. My Macbook Pro has saved me a boatload of time and frustration, along with generating me thousands in revenue from using its simple apps to produce end results that look amazing.

>> iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone/): I "don't leave home without it". Manages my email, instant messaging, social media (twitter, facebook etc), browsing, documents, productivity, lifestyle habits and more on this device. With version 4, I'll leverage the 720p HD camcorder recording and editing, 5 megapixel digital camera, multi-tasking and even video chat to its fullest. As I'm developing iPhone apps, the new Calendar sync feature from within apps to the iPhone calendar is simply brilliant.

>> iPad (http://apple.com/ipad/): On my Christmas list, and see unlimited opportunities for time savings and convenience with this device. In addition, revenue opportunities as I develop apps for the iPad (and the iPhone).

>> Livescribe (http://www.livescribe.com/ ; $150-$170): Would a smartpen (that records handwriting and audio) and special dot paper that syncs to your computer and web account, so you can skip to any point in your notes to listen to the audio recorded at that moment be of any value to you? Need I say more? My 4GB Livescribe Pulse - with a full battery charge - recorded an all day workshop (about 8 hours) and still left me with one bar at the end of the session. Priceless.

// Documents //

>> Evernote (http://evernote.com ; free): From cloud to desktop to iPhone app, it acts as my second brain to brain-dump anything (text, audio, images etc) and it all syncs together. It will also OCR business cards so data is searchable via the Evernote apps. Free app, with premium account for multi-user sharing capabilities.

// Email //

>> Gmail (https://mail.google.com ; free): For email, I consolidate multiple Gmail accounts into Mailplane (for Mac). Strong spam filter, practically unlimited storage, available via any internet cafe and works like a charm on my iPhone.

// Instant Messaging //

>> Google Chat (free): By default, this instant messaging service is packaged with your Gmail account. It's my preferred instant messaging service to communicate with my team and colleagues, as all chats are logged in Gmail for easy recall. In addition, Beejive (iPhone app, consolidates most IM services) works extremely well with GChat on my iPhone, giving me freedom to connect with my contacts while mobile.

>> iChat and Skype (free): As I have teams and partners on different platforms, I do use iChat and Skype for video chat. iChat text chat is integrated into Beejive for mobile IM, but Skype isn't, hence I don't dislike using Skype now.

>> Beejive (iPhone app) or Meebo (iPhone app, free) are two apps on my iPhone that consolidate all my instant messaging contacts across most IM services. Push notifications alert me when a contact is attempting to reach me. Closing the app doesn't terminate the use of the app, which is highly efficient.

// Time Management //

>> Pomodoro (http://pomodoro.ugolandini.com ; free): A Mac desktop application for managing time and focus, based on the Pomodoro technique (http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/). Helps maintain my focus on the project at hand.

>> Moleskine Planners (http://www.moleskineus.com ; $10-$20) I've graduated from the pocket, to the large to the extra large Moleskine for my weekly planning. My favorite is the Weekly Planner, either 12 or 18-months version (http://www.moleskineus.com/mcx51118w-moleskine-18-month-xl-soft-cover-weekly-planner.html). Love the tactile nature of Moleskine's acid-free paper notebook, their back flap (for inserting receipts or notes) and black elastic band closure. The Weekly Planner+Notes format shows the week’s appointments at-a-glance on the left, complemented by a page for notes and ideas on the right. Couple this with Leo Babauta's "3 Plan" (http://zenhabits.net/ztd-habit-3-plan/) and I'm rocking my week with productivity.

// Backup //

>> SugarSync (https://www.sugarsync.com/ ; free - $25/m) At present, my favorite remote file backup and sync service (for both Windows and Mac). I especially enjoy designating specific folders/files to my team without the annoyance of transferring large files via FTP.

// Image Editing //

>> Skitch (http://skitch.com/ ; Mac), Picturesque (http://www.acqualia.com/picturesque/ ; Mac) and Fireworks (http://www.adobe.com/products/fireworks/) are my 3 most used image editing applications on my Mac. Quick, easy, and I love the results from it.

// Mindmapping & Flow Charts //

Mindjet (http://www.mindjet.com/ ; Windows and Mac) and Omnigraffle (http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnigraffle/ ; Mac) are my two favorite mind mapping and flowcharting tools. Easy to use, I've created mindmaps for my team and for my products as add-on value.

// Screencasting & Tutorial Documenting //

Screenflow (http://www.telestream.net/screen-flow/overview.htm ; Mac) and Screensteps (http://www.bluemangolearning.com/screensteps/ ; Win & Mac) are my two favorite apps for creating tutorials and documentation for my team, products and clients. These apps have saved me a huge amount of time to train others, and has also helped me generate thousands in revenue in product sales and consulting jobs.

// Web Publishing //

Wordpress (http://wordpress.org ; free) is my blogging and website publishing platform of choice. Couple this with WooThemes (http://wordpresstutorials.com) and you have a simple-to-deploy website that looks amazing that the search engines love. Plus, you have freedom and control to publish whatever and whenever you want, and not be held hostage by your web developer ever again.

// Accounting //

Just the thought of accounting makes me cringe. To make my life easier, I use Freshbooks (http://www.freshbooks.com/) for online invoicing, time tracking and expensing, and Shoeboxed (http://www.shoeboxed.com/) to send them my receipts for scanning and organization.

// Project Management //

Basecamp HQ (http://basecamphq.com/) is a lifesaver for project management, collaboration and tasking with team members and partners. Couple it with the many Basecamp iPhone apps and you can be on top of your projects and team in your office or while mobile. My iPhone app developer, partner and I currently use Basecamp to collaborate iPhone app ideas and designs, sharing images, milestones and communicate without the use of email.

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