Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right? But for many of us, because there are so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know what specific technology is best suited to meet your particular business’s needs.
So, to help navigate the through the overly crowded world of business technology, I have once again sought out recommendations from my fantastic network of experts and entrepreneurs. I have asked them to name the best business technology solution that they use. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar technologies and companies mentioned, but I kept the recommendations separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Videos Create Action!
Whenever I make a sales call on a client or prospect, immediately after the call, I do a FLIP video right outside of their office/store. The content is a wrap up and summary of our meeting. It is vital to include a follow up date. The length of video should be about thirty seconds. NO MORE SELLING; just a "thank you for your time" theme.
This has worked wonders for me. Will be glad to share it with you!
2. A Needle in a Haystack
My blog was a needle in a haystack until I became a client of HubSpot. HubSpot is the tool used by those who want to be found in the world of social media. It just isn't enough anymore to be THE thought leader in your area of expertise. Your blog and website must POP when your potential customer is looking on the web for someone with your ideas. Social media is moving faster than any one of us can keep up with, so the solution is to rely on those that have mastered it.
3. Simple is Best
My current favorite is the ability to print a single Calendar month from Outlook. This single sheet of paper is small, easily folded and carried. It quickly allows me a visual view of my entire schedule.
Some months, I've found myself updating that sheet and not even bothering to put the information in my electronic calendar. That is an extra step, which takes additional time.
I find that more is not always better. It is simply more...confusing...more time consuming- not more helpful.
4. Google Calendar & Google Docs
Google Calendar and Google Docs (both are free) have been outstanding tools for my marketing firm. We use Google Calendar for all of our scheduling and Google Docs, especially the spreadsheets app, for online project management. If you are not using Google calendar and docs, try them out. They are free, very easy to use, and they have outstanding tools. And did I mention that they are free? If you are not sure how to use them, just go to youtube and you will find tons of "how to" videos.
5. "Do You Berry"
As a business owner, parent, wife, grandmother, and volunteer, I am super busy. My blackberry is the best technology device that I use for my business and it keeps me updated with appointments. I love the calendar features and the scheduling feature; how did I run my business before the blackberry, I really don't know.
6. Prevent Paper Cuts
I rely on the Consected Online system to help me organize almost every part of my business. Almost anything that would have required me to print or file paper I can now do electronically.
My current favorite application I am using our system for is to manage travel expense reports - my own and those of my project teams. It even saves me from lengthy, easily lost email chains.
7. Long Live Wave
It's really disappointing how Google Wave has been shut down, but for our business, we thrive on it. It's unbelievable how useful it is for a collaboration and communication tool. Even though there is no further development on it, I absolutely love how it is now and so I say, long live Google Wave!!
8. Making Power Point Come Alive
Technology! I love any new tool which helps me do anything more efficiently. Being a business owner and entrepreneur, there is so much to do with very little time to do it. My latest favorite tool is Ispringfree. Ispringfree allows me to quickly turn PowerPoint Presentations into flash presentations for my website. The best part about this nifty software is that it is absolutely free! So try it and get your BIG job done quickly.
9. MagicJack Here I Come!
I travel quite a bit outside the US and use my MagicJack as my alternate phone number. It plugs into a USB port, has an area code (which I got to choose) the same as my office, and works with less bandwidth than say Skype. If I'm not at the computer, it goes into voicemail and I get an email telling me I have a voicemail. It's like having an office away from home, or a virtual office. Unless someone asks, no one knows I am out of the country.
10. Software That Saves Time!
There are two software programs that keep on giving in our office. These programs save me time, and capture my content and thoughts in a powerful way. Dragon Speak (voice recognition software) was most useful in writing training programs and my book On Toby's Terms. I also use Sony ACID Music Studio to create my own podcasts, recorded messages for powerpoint presentations, and to create products. Together, these two products have helped me be productive, and create products more creatively.
11. Circus Ponies Every Day
I live and die with "Notebook" from Circus Ponies. It is a true replica of a paper notebook on my Mac. I keep to-do lists, client notes, opportunities, and documents - everything in one place. It lets me search any way I want to, so I can always find my information in a snap.
My clients are always surprised when I can get my hands on a file instantly or recall a detail in a moment. And isn't that what you're supposed to do for them?
12. Welcome Cards, Birthday Cards
I am crazy about a tool that allows me to send a greeting card to my new patients. SendOutCards allows me to put my photo on the outside of the card and to design the inside. I have also designed a birthday card with me holding a cake on the cover and a greeting inside that says, 'You Are A Gift To This World'. The best part of it is that I only have to create these cards once. The tool also has a full contact manager, so I only enter the patient's information once. They love it and so do I.
13. Spread The Word - Everywhere!
Integrating my social media connections (Facebook, BlogTalkRadio, Blogging) makes it SO much easier to post once & spread the word everywhere. With Tweetdeck, WordPress Plug-ins etc, a single update to my Facebook page shows up on Twitter, my Blog, & my website. My BlogTalkRadio broadcasts post to my Facebook page, my Twitter feed & my LinkedIn feed. Writing fewer posts saves me time, & knowing my public profile is constantly updated saves me worry that I've missed something. Win-win all around!
14. GTD with Pocket Informant
I use Pocket Informant's (PI) Getting Things Done capability to organize my life using David Allen's principles. PI is available for Android, iPhone/iPod Touch, and iPad to provide a unified way to monitor my tasks and calendar. I love how PI integrates with my Google Calendar and my ToodleDo tasks to provide a clean, unified look at my projects, next actions, and calendar so I stay on top of my workflow.
15. Easy to Write Business Plans?
Do you like writing business plans? I like to write, but the organizational stuff is overwhelming (and paralyzing)! For me, it's A LOT easier using www.theideastartup.com - which helps me manage the process. It's online and collaborative, so our team doesn't have to swap docs and worry about who has the latest version - sweet! We now use it for annual updating - which is a piece of cake - but it's most amazing when you create a plan. It guides you through everything - even the financials! Enjoy.
16. My Phone is My Lifeline!
It may sound too simple, but I depend on my phone to run my business. I'm out of the office a lot, and it allows me to keep up with emails and respond to those that I need to. It also serves as a GPS so I know where I'm going. I can look up nearly anything on the Web with it, and use applications like OpenTable to make reservations. Oh, and it works as a phone too. It's amazing how dependent I am on this simple device!
17. It's Not That New But...
My favorite tech solution is my Motorola Q smartphone. Yes, it's a 3 year old design (I'm on my second one), but it's perfect for me. It's a BUSINESS device and not a toy. I can keep a 5,000 contact database on it, manage my calendar, map locations, etc. and it WORKS. Other, newer phones simply don't have the same business related tools for me, so I stick with what works.
18. Got a Dragon by the Tail
If asked this question a few weeks ago, my reply would have been Outlook Tasks (love them as reminders and 'to-do's')! However, in that I am recovering from rotator cuff surgery, I have to say Dragon Naturally Speaking software tops my list. Dragon is an amazing product that takes dictation at a high level of accuracy and learns words in your vocabulary. I couldn't have kept up with my work post-op without it.
19. New Social Media Currency
BPP is a third party application designed to give the user a personalized business profile on Face Book. This application makes your Face Book page look so distinctly different than all of the other pages that it’s basic functionality, appearance and benefits separate your company from all of the other business profiles on Face Book. These technological differences are the reasons why BPP is in high demand in over 50 countries.
20. Tweet Tweet
I love Twitter. It's great for building a following. And, if you pay attention, you can communicate a lot in 140 characters. I like Twitter so much that I've taken my best tweets on life and career success and turned them into a book "Success Tweets".
WordPress is a close second for me. It's a great blogging platform. Lots of developers have put together lots of apps that make WordPress really easy to use. My www.BudBilanich.com site runs on WordPress.
21. Google Calendar
I use Google calendar to schedule my appointments and important to-do lists. This allows me to share the calendar with my husband and my colleague who handles the manufacturing of my shoes in India. It is a great tool for managing your time and you can print the weekly or monthly pages if you need to.
22. Let the World Bid
As an entrepreneur, author and filmmaker, I use the Internet to have people bid on my projects. For services, I use http://elance.com. Basically, I post a project and let people from all over the world bid on the project. I pick 2-3 finalists and check out their credentials and reviews from previous customers.
23. Contacts in Shoebox?
On your desk is a folder or box filled with contact cards. You have tried various contact management software programs without success. Just when you get a program up and going, you need a new computer or a systems upgrade and your present version is either not compatible or gets a glitch and your entries are held hostage.
I have found the answer: Batchbook. It not only makes it easy for me to capture names and emails that I send to a person, it is backed up twice off site.
24. Careful With This One...
...but once you see the trap, it's no longer dangerous.
I spent hours updating my Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other accounts, so when I found PingFM (which links them together), I was ecstatic! I saved SO MUCH time not being distracted by each site!
By no longer "wasting" time being SOCIAL on the Social Media sites, my messages came across as self-serving and disconnected from my fans.
The lesson: Don't neglect "Old-School" manners in the rush to embrace 21st Century technology.
25. Instant Communication Feedback
I love the ability of constant contact and similar e-mail programs that allow us to stay connected with our readers. It provides a professional manner of communication complete with an ability to instantly track what messages resonate.
26. Measure and Compare Marketing
One of my startup clients, MyNextCustomer.com, has produced a product that I think is both genius and indispensable: an online dashboard to track and compare your marketing ROI across ALL marketing channels. The genius is that it removes the "silos" that exist between online and offline campaigns. For example, it lets you track the ROI of a bus stop billboard vs. the ROI on a Twitter campaign. I have a CFO mentality, so understanding costs and ROI on every marketing dollar spent is key to me.
27. Technology Gold
I use "Gold Mail" as a marketing tool and a way to introduce myself to prospective clients in a unique way. Gold Mail allows me to send power point or other presentations and add my voice to the presentation - and it's free. I've had great feedback on it and it really makes plain old emails more personal!
28. QR Codes and Antiques
I own a small antique and vintage shop that is only open 4 days month for "Event Shopping". We just had a QR Code made that people can scan on their smart phone and it will bring them to our website. I think it is the way to the get our name and website out to more customers. We want to build a great base for all the things we can do with different codes. Try it and see - it will be on all of our emails and printed postcards and calendars.
29. Your Wealth - Your List
Constant Contact -- www.constantcontact.com -- is my favorite technology solution for staying in touch with ezine subscribers and growing my community by sharing tips, resources and learning opportunities to help member businesses grow. The customer service is responsive, the software is very easy to use, and the results that manifest through consistent sharing with my list are meaningful.
My favorite technology solution is ACT! I have been using it for over a decade. I advise my clients to pick a contact management system that works for them and stick to it. I don't care if it's AceofSales, SalesForce.com or a shoe box with all of your contacts in it, pick one.
Meetup.com is quickly becoming my favorite on-line social media tool for developing my business. Meetup.com makes it easy for me to put my brand in front of my target market (ie. small business, entrepreneurs, professional women). No matter what niche I'm focusing on, there's a meetup group for it already established that I can join, sponsor, or offer my venue as a meeting place. I can host my own meetup groups or I can participate in groups that already exist.
32. To Do or Not To Do
I think that one of my favorite tools for staying on top of things in my business is the Awesome Note app for my iPhone. I'm always on the go and like you, have thoughts that pop into my head when I'm out and about. Having this app at my fingertips let's me write whatever I want - take notes, create lists, you name it - and then email the list to myself. Yes, I could just email whatever I'm writing, but I like that Awesome Note has folders and files to keep it all organized. It's my fave app by far.
33. Save on Printer Ink
I love "Snagit" from TechSmith to copy and print relevant parts of websites or documents. I have a Xerox color printer that gobbles up expensive ink. With Snagit, I can print out only what I need and it saves me a bundle.
34. Who Gives a "HOOT?"
One favorite technology solution of mine is one I have found most useful in managing the variety of personal and professional social media sites I have. "HootSuite" - http://hootsuite.com -- provides ease of viewing incoming traffic and all the social media people and groups you are following. Plus, you can use it to update postings you have and wish to make on the fly with a great deal of ease. There are many other features available, but the basic functionality I described can be had for free.
Myles Miller of LeadUP
NetSuite.com is the integrated platform for my website and business. It integrates my shopping cart with CRM and UPS shipping. Plus, it allows me to be my own webmaster. I don't use the financials component, but it's there if I wanted it. Before NetSuite, my assistant would spend 3 hours each morning typing UPS labels into UPS Worldship. Now we just check off which orders to fulfill, click "print labels" and my UPS printer spits off label after label. I'm still in awe...
36. Web 3.0 Is Here!
My favorite Technology Solution is Mobile Marketing, specifically using Mobile Video to grow my business. I was able to sell $120,000 in Ladies Designer Shoes from One text message. It totally revolutionized my business and now I help others use Mobile Marketing to grow their business. Web 3.0 is here. It's the Mobile Web. The World is going Mobile and if you are not using Mobile Marketing to grow your business now, you better get started.
37. The One Program to Run it All
For our company, our best technology investment was Infusionsoft! Take customer management, email marketing and a shopping cart, stick it all together and stick it on steroids! That's what Infusionsoft does for us. It is worth 2 full time employees by itself! It has helped me keep up with all of my customers and track everything going on with my business. I could never keep track of half of what Infusionsoft does for us without it.
38. Very Simple CRM
Most CRM systems are too complicated, so nothing gets updated...try Highrisehq.com.
It's from the folks at 37 Signals and its free up to 250 people. It's easy to contact folks from outlook and copies of the messages go right into Highrise!
Easy, Easy, Easy!
39. Shorter is Sweeter!
I'm in love with the bit.ly Sidebar. As someone who uses social media daily for business, as well as pleasure, it's wonderful to have a two-click solution to shortening long web addresses. Google bit.ly Sidebar, drag and drop it to your browser's header and when you run across something you'd like to share, click the icon, which opens a quarter-page bit.ly window, displaying the shortened link. Click "copy" and the link is in your paste buffer, ready for sharing wherever you care to share.
40. Use a Website Calendar
My favorite technology solution to help my ministry or business is utilizing the electronic calendar that is embedded into my website administration. It lays out my schedule of events for the entire month at a glance. Along with this, I can also add and post obligations months in advance, so that when I have upcoming book signings, interviews, speaking engagements and other responsibilities, I can stay on top of everything. This not only helps me to manage my schedule, but manage my time as well.
41. Where Did I Put My Notebook?
It's not exactly high-tech, but I absolutely love "Evernote"! (Evernote.com) I use it to enter random thoughts, to-do's, resources & projects. You organize by making "notebooks" by subject.
They also have a "clip to Evernote" button for your browser toolbar & if you are on a site where you would like to save the info to read later, you just click on the icon & it gets saved to your account.
The best part is a basic account is free.
It is easier to stay organized w/out sticky notes everywhere!
42. A Mobile Helpdesk Phone App
My I.T. business is always looking for ways to maximize our time and productivity. We have found a new addition to achieving that in a new mobile app called Pocket I.T. This app provides us with a tool to get users immediate self-help through this "mobile helpdesk". Smartphones today are a place of business for many, and Pocket I.T. provides professionals with a new way to help them overcome a non-working asset on their own. This frees up our time to focus on larger technical issues for them.
43. Use a Fan Page on FaceBook
We have had tremendous success creating a Fan Page for clients. This is a great way to take their message to new levels of awareness. It is a favorite technology solution for good reason. Anyone who has a business that relies on communicating would agree that creating a Fan Page on Facebook is perfect for getting an important daily message out that says we’re here and “we’re ready to interact.” Recent client Gayl Murphy did and now has 1,234 fans in under a week and growing.
44. Collaboration Made Easy
After years of trying to get my clients to use a collaboration tool and the importance of it, I've found gold in Dropbox. It can be used online or off, Mac and PC and keeps us all up to date on the latest versions of files when we are online. It is not a project management tool, but a syncing program and the only one universally accepted by everyone I work with. It is free for a certain amount of space and usually enough for my client's needs (free is always an added bonus). Gold I tell you!
45. Use Toodledo for Your To-Do!
I use Toodledo to keep track of all of my to-do's. It has great functionality, features and it has an iPhone app - so I can keep track of my to-do's on the go and it syncs seamlessly. I used to use the task feature on Outlook, but there's no easy way to track that on the go. Try Toodledo!
46. My Clients Love Dropbox
A lot of technologies come and go. This is usually because their "wow" factor is short lived and they don't solved a business problem conveniently and reliably. Dropbox seems to be the exception. Without a single technical hassle, Dropbox make it easy to share docs with my clients and internal collaborators- not a single hitch.
47. See Who Has Emailed You - Free
Xobni for Outlook to your BlackBerry. Click on an email to see a picture of who has emailed you, along with their phone number, company name, and other contact information. That information comes from an email signature, LinkedIn, Facebook, Hoover, or other social networking profiles. In fact, click on the social networking Icon and be brought to their profile on the web. In lightening speed, it will show you the emails you sent a person in date order. Xobni is Inbox spelled backwards.
I have thoroughly enjoyed and greatly benefited from the Yahoo Calendar. I enter or add my appointments, deadlines and reminders to the setup by week, month and year and the reminder system is the hit "kicker", because not only are you able to request reminder emails, but everything can be sent to your cell phone or Outlook! Not to mention sharing your calendar with your assistant or others of your choosing. It's an organizer and a time saver.
49. Track Your Time Bill Correctly
We use Function Fox to track time spent on client projects. By keeping good records, we are able to assess profitability by client/project. Time is logged by clicking a timer on the "time sheet" page. At the end of the project, we run a report on hours and expenses for that project. It's helped us to better price our services to increase profitability. The software is designed for creative firms, but will work for any business that could benefit from tracking time spent on various tasks.
50. Engaging Online Video
As a video marketing specialist, my fave tech tool is definitely "Easy Video Player." EVP is a great resource that allows you to effectively market your videos, create video sales pages, control your video "player", and make your videos totally interactive. You can embed “buy now” buttons in your videos, add opt-in forms, overlays, and even make your video redirect back to your website. More deets are at: http://www.easyvideoplayer.com/evp-2.0/
51. YouTube as a Marketing Tool
OfficeDrop creates simple marketing and how-to videos, uploads them to YouTube and embeds them on our website. Video is a great way to help the customer feel like they are having a dialog with your business, and can effectively explain complex features of your product. Also, since YouTube is one of the world’s most trafficked websites, having a presence there can drive traffic to your site.
52. Double Your Productivity
I am a self-employed writer. I couldn't live without the Plugable UGA-2-A USB display adapter. This handy, inexpensive gadget allows me to add a large monitor--rotated to portrait mode--to my small, landscape laptop screen through a regular USB port. Having multi-mon lets me work in two applications at once, and portrait mode lets me see a whole page of a document, rather than just a few paragraphs. Adding a second monitor more than doubled my productivity. It is now a must-have for me.
53. Anti-Snag, No Tangle Headset
I like using my Dangle headset with all gadgets because it’s always available without being in the way. It’s worn around my neck and the retractable wire hangs like a pendant. When I get a call, I insert the ear buds, that are dangling at my chest, into my ears and extend the cable to connect. When finished, I retract the cable and it’s hanging from my neck ready to be used. There’s no winding or untangling and best of all, if it snags, it never pulls on my ears like all other headsets.
54. List Making
My favorite tool is still Excel. I use it for more than just accounting. It creates all types of reference lists that I use in my Personal Reference Book(tm) like Birthday Lists, Ink Toner lists (when I last refilled my different color toners, costs, which online store), Fax lists, book lists, calendars, etc.
55. Catch Ideas with Your iPhone
I'm an idea person who always thinks of ideas in odd places, so I keep my iPhone with me and use my voice memo to record my ideas, and then send them to myself via email. This is a great way to make sure creative ideas do not slip away, especially for the hyper-creative business person who cannot yet afford an assistant. The trick then is to take the time to listen to the memos and make a list of the good ones to prioritize and take action on. So, my ideas go from voice to email to a list!
I have found that the best use of today's technology is a website, not only, to promote your business or cause, but also, to establish your brand; unfortunately, a website without SEO (search engine optimization) is like having a hot sports car with no gas (essentially useless). So, both technologies need to be co-mingled for maximum single effectiveness.
57. I Heart Mobile Me
Mobile Me is awesome! It allows all the people in our company to share documents, calendars, and emails. It allows me to put a contact or appointment in my cell phone and have it INSTANTANEOUSLY synced with my computer(s).
58. Sharing is Caring
It's true; us MAC users have a little chip on our shoulders. Well, that chip grew when my partner and I discovered that we could screen share through ICHAT. Screen sharing allows me to actually share my partner's screen, make corrections on documents and send emails right from my computer, in the comfort of my own office. Whenever we find ourselves unable to be physically present with one another, we just screen share and POOF we're there!
59. Got Apps?
AppMuse is the leading provider of mobile application development quotes for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry. The service is free to entrepreneurs! AppMuse has built a network of the country’s top app developers, who pay a fee to become a member of the network. Pre-screened developers bid on leads from businesses that have expressed an interest in having apps developed. Businesses will get three quotes from developers so they can choose the perfect developer for them.
Mark Stetler of AppMuse
60. GoDaddy Gets You Started
If you need a quick Web site for a project or new business, GoDaddy provides everything you need. After you get going, you can design your own, but you can have a Web site up in minutes that looks professional and is usable.
61. Green Technology
While my suite of Microsoft Office 2010 applications have made all aspects of document production more efficient than ever before, the thing that has provided me with the biggest lift in productivity sits next to my computer – a live, green plant! Surprised? The researchers at Washington State University aren’t. They recently documented a 12% increase in test subject’s productivity (and less stress) when live plants were added to the work environment. Give it a try!
62. Use Free Google Alerts
Monitor and protect your brand for free using Google Alerts. Controlling the message of your brand is key to its success and to trademark protections. Google Alerts will grab items from all over the web - including news, blogs, and websites - and email the results matching your brand names daily, weekly, or 'as it happens.' For even better monitoring, create several alerts with variations of your trademark(s) in spelling and spacing (and singular vs. plural).
63. Mind Mapping
I use "Mind Mapping" as a learning technology in the leadership courses we offer at NASA. The technology is useful (and unique) and stimulates the brainstorming of ideas while providing a basic structure for organizing them. Our participants use this technique, and others, to make presentations on the leadership lessons they have learned during our course.
64. 5 Bucks to Do About Anything?
FiveRR.com is a whole world of folks who do just about anything for a mere 5 dollars.
I've had blogs custom designed; research & transcriptions done; multiple tweets on Twitter; SEO advice; set up a FB fan page advice....
I've found 3 or 4 with whom I’m developing long-term work relationships for very good fees.
If you're stuck for time, spend 5 bucks for something it would take you hours to do, FiveRR.com is your answer.
65. Timely Reminders
As a busy physician, I've found that Google Calendar is invaluable by reminding me of meetings or when I have patients. I type the dates and times into the Google calendar and set the reminder time that is most appropriate and helpful for the specific event. Because I have email on my Blackberry, I get reminders on the go. It's as if a personal assistant is at my side!
66. Outlook in Color You in Charge
I see Rainbows! Outlook has a neat feature called categorizes and they can be in color. Do you have family activities, business projects, client appointments, personal events. Create a category for each and attach a color to the activities. Now when you schedule something, click on the category icon on the top of the page. When you open your calender, you'll now see very quickly where your family activities are, the clients' appointments are and what the priorities are by color. You're in control!
67. Self Text
I create a lot of ideas and sometimes, I'm in a place where I can't record an audio of them. I saved my number in my phone and text the ideas back to myself so that I can brainstorm on them later.
68. Android: Power in Your Pocket
I have to say that I love my Android phone (HTC Evo). The nice thing about Android is that it links up with your Google Account, which I depend on highly not only for email, but for Google Voice, calendar, and contacts. With the syncing ability of Android, I can carry these tools around with me at all times and update them from any computer or from my phone. In the case that I need to reset my phone or replace it, logging in with my Google account restores everything.
69. Credit Cards at My Website
After I got my Delivery Business up and running, I wondered HOW I would be able to accept Credit Cards. I saw ads telling me "How you can accept credit cards" but most of them wanted a Service Fee, plus a percentage of each transaction, and I just couldn't afford that.
I soon discovered "PayPal.com" as a payment option, so I added it to my website. Now, people can go there and enter their data. PayPal handles all of the credit card transactions for me. It is just what I needed!
70. My Super Performance Tools
The tools that help me stay most productive are 1. The FreeMind mind-mapping tool (a free share-ware) and 2. Action Machine Pro.
The FreeMind mapping tool allows me to plan out every detail of my long-term and short term goals. I use it to plan every detail of my live events, teleclasses, marketing my book, etc.
Action Machine Pro helps me time each activity and it also generates reports showing me where I did spend my time every day.
Super great tools - give them a try!
71. Virtual Connection with Skype
Skype has proven to be an extremely important business technology solution for me. I telecommute for Mustang Marketing as their Director of Client & Media Relations, so it is essential that I stay connected with the company and our clients. Skype allows for face-to-face interaction to ensure that sense of personal commitment and connection to both, facilitating better work and working relationships.
72. Who, What, When, Where
As the founder of www.ShivaConnect.com, I needed help keeping track of all of the Funeral Homes, Synagogues, Hospices and Jewish Charities I was speaking with.
ACT! is easy to use, allowing me to enter all pertinent information and sort by category. Records can be customized and I can record notes, schedule follow-up calls, as well as send letters or emails to the entire database with just a click!
73. Track Your Time Online
I use a number of tools to run my business from anywhere & I'm constantly trying out new ones to ensure I streamline my business and save time and money.
Then, I love to share that with my community. In fact, I'm writing the Ultimate Entrepreneur's Toolkit, so that I could list a great number of awesome tools.
I recommend using the Chrometa app so you can stop wasting time tracking your time. It does it for you and other members of your team, if need be. It keeps you focused on your important work.
I've been loving Dropbox lately. It's seriously the most convenient way to achieve techno-omnipresence. We aren't using it for hard-core storage or backup - that's why amazon cloud exists, but we are using it for events and day to day stuff. It's amazing.
75. Camera-phone + Email FTW
My favorite piece of technology for any and all purposes is my phone with its built-in 3.2 megapixel camera and its ability to email the photos that I take to anyone. I am constantly taking pictures of food and sending them to my flickr account (I manage a restaurant, so food presentation is an important part of my competition research), where I can look at them later, or send them directly to one of my team members for their input.
This tech solution is indispensable!
76. Making Waves in the Cloud
My virtual PR firm, Make Waves, uses freelancers and we work on documents together. The best thing to happen to us is Mobile Me by Apple. For $100 a year, we get plenty of space in this cloud to upload, share and edit docs, spread sheets, etc. It also serves as a useful backup space, in case one of us has a computer crash. And it has a Public Folder where we place docs for clients and others to download, but they will not be able to access our proprietary folders, which are password protected.
77. Your E-One Stop Shop Solution
Practice Pay Solutions (PPS) is one of my favorite technology resources because it provides e-payment, e-commerce, e-web site builder, e-learning, and e-university services. Need a professional website? Want to broaden your strategic business knowledge? Ready to make sales online? Need to process credit card transactions for services or products? PPS has proven to be a trusted one stop shop for growing and automating your business on the web with ease. Visit here: http://bit.ly/d7iMh4
78. Basecamp + ooVoo + Vonage
I love BaseCamp. It allows every possible feature a project management solution for a SMB would need. It's very inexpensive & even the clients love it, because once the administrator has subscribed, anyone, i.e. clients, vendors, and employees can simply join in via web without a need of downloading etc. I've no affiliation with BaseCamp, just a happy customer! We also love oovoo.com for face to face conference calls & Vonage World phone has cut down our phone bill to a fraction of what we used to pay!
79. SalesForce - Lead Tracking
I enter all my leads and contacts into SalesForce. It helps me to keep track of my clients' correspondence, project status and related documents.
80. Instant Largesse
Unless you are sending the unedited version of "Dances With Wolves," never tell a client that a file is too large to email. This makes you seem, well, small. Instead, if you send large files such as manuscripts, graphics, or video and photos on a routine basis, make large-file transfer a standard part of your technology platform. Sites like YouSendIt.com or TransferBigFiles.com come with nominal fees. This simple convenience is a boon for customer service and efficiency. Go large. Win big.
81. Picking Each Other's Brain
I love working with MindMeister. It's an online mindmapping tool. It's very simple and intuitive to use.
I use it to make a quick braindump to get clear on new ideas and projects. I do this for myself, but also with business partners. Fleshing out an idea takes a couple of minutes. When I've done that, I can share the mindmap, my partner dumps his brain and we can work on the idea/project together (at the same time or asynchronously).
I also use it to support my coaching clients online.
82. Eco-Friendly Technology
One service technology that we use daily and are big fans of: SendThisFile. We utilize the branded enterprise plan to send and receive large files to and from our global clients. A few of the reasons we are big fans: eco-friendly, cost-effective, lightning fast!, end-to-end encryption, and if you find yourself running through the airport but needing to redistribute a large file (previously linked), it is as simple as hitting the forward function.
83. Cat - 1 Mouse - 0
Keeping data safe is a game of cat and mouse. I'm the cat- hackers the mouse. They want to steal our cheese. We hid behind a wall, but mouse was sneaky. Like Troy, our OS was indefensible, so we stored backup cheese in a cloud. Then, we played really dirty and moved to a different OS and saved tons of cheese. Windows OS will always be vulnerable. The solution was moving to Linux, a different language that the mouse is too lazy learn. The cat still stores cheese in a cloud, but sleeps better at night.
84. Business Excel-lence
I use three Excel spreadsheets to keep track of the financial basics in my business. The first tracks Mileage, the second, Expenses, and the third (and my personal favorite), Earnings. The formulas allow me to calculate anything with a minimum of effort.
85. Business Grower
I leverage my LinkedIn usage and offline networking by using them together. For instance, on LinkedIn, I do niche company searches and find contacts within those companies that I want to connect with. Then, I take that list to face-to-face networking meetings and ask for connections to those contacts and companies. It's surprising how often it works when you get very specific.
Do you know of a great business technology solution that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone who contributed to this article!