apps

4 Ways to Use the New Hyperlapse App for Your Business

We love a good app launch, and Instagram/Facebook just launched a new one that we think is going to have some fun applications in the retail world. It's called Hyperlapse, and it creates amazing time lapse videos right from your smartphone without expensive equipment. hyperlapse

Typically, you'd need a big tripod to make this even remotely possibly on your phone, but the Hyperlapse app instantly stabilizes your footage to smooth out the little (and big) bumps in the road and give a cinematic polish to your videos. All you do is shoot timelapse videos in motion while you're doing whatever it is you're doing. Then speed up that video and share it on Instagram of Facebook directly—or save it for later to include in your next blog post.

The app's simple design makes it easy to use, and you don't even need an account to get filming.

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Here are a few ways we'd love to see businesses use this new app:

1. Go on a shop tour: Give customers a quick look behind the scenes into your shop or your workshop.

2. DIY handmade products: In just 5 seconds, show days of work on your handcrafted jewelry or other goods.

3. Recap a shop event: Hosting a special event? Why not share it with your community so everyone can feel like they were there!

4. Inventory animation: Create an internal contest for your employees — whoever comes up with the coolest time lapse inventory videos wins!

Are you going to try it out? Let us know what you think!

5 Tips To Help Your Small Business Go Paperless

Even if you're a savvy, eco-friendly business, chances are you are still buried in paperwork. A paperless small business is a wonderful thought, yet in practice, the receipts, billing and tax forms don't seem to quit. We know that file cabinet and printer of yours are certainly not extinct yet, but it is easier than you think to eliminate at least some of that huge pile of paper in the day-to-day operations of your small business. INTERIOR DESIGN

So, power up the paper shredder and invest in the most reliable digital backup system you can find, because we've rounded up a few tips and tools to help you keep the paperwork to a minimum.

1. Empty the mailbox. 

Do you get a surplus of junk mail that just goes straight to the junk bin? Make it disappear completely by registering on the National Do Not Mail List or cancel catalogs and mailersdirectly. The five minutes spent contacting that direct mail company that sends you daily pamphlets will save you time and sanity in the long-run. Plus, with the pulp and paper sector ranking the third largest energy-user in U.S. manufacturing, you'll be saving the world a little bit too.

Additionally, try changing the way you handle the mail, perhaps by dedicating particular times each week to deal with it. Sort it into orders, bills, correspondence, junk (to the recycling immediately), etc. when it arrives—then tackle each pile starting with the most urgent. There are very few cases these days where snail mail is so urgent it cannot wait a day or two to be addressed.

2. Get a grip on accounting, expense reporting and payroll.

For small businesses, something like Wave might be a good option to get a handle on accounting, receipts and payroll in one place without any paper. Most of the features are free, and they also have human accountants at the ready in case you have a question.

If you have employees that need to track business expenses, Expensify boasts "expense reports that don't suck!" They mean it. Their software and app allows you to easily keep track of everything from mileage to meals, including attaching receipt photos so your wallet can breathe again.

For your employees, paperless payroll with direct deposit is very easy to set up with something like Zen Payroll, which gives your employees access to their pay stubs whenever they need them and provides you with important office space where that huge file cabinet used to be.

3. Bypass paper in the first place.

Need to send client contracts or invoices? Adobe EchoSign might be a great option for going digital with your legalese. You can draw from your own library of forms and sign paperwork with the flick of a computer mouse. Genius Scan  is also great on the go for scanning and creating sharp black and white copies and PDFs that you can email, fax or throw into the cloud for later. This is a great option if you're handed paperwork that you need but don't care to hold onto in a physical sense.

4. Start shredding responsibly. 

If you're implementing new paperless systems moving forward, you're probably wondering what to do with all the paperwork you already have. Enter, the shredder. If you haven't yet, develop a secure filing system that works for your business and then methodically go through your files to scan what you need, back up the digital files and shred away. When you're finished, re-organize the hard copies that you actually need into a smaller space. We promise this is a very freeing experience.

5. Make the ask.

When it comes to the sale, you've got "the ask" down, so implement that into other parts of your business. Do you need to print out that sales report or can you just check it out on the screen? Do your customers need a tangible receipt? Just ask them! If you're using Square or PayPal Here, make it your shop's default policy to email receipts rather than printing them out. Simply asking is something needs to be printed could mean saving a tree or two.

What steps (big or small) have you taken to go paperless? Let us know in the comments!

5 Free Productivity Apps For Small Businesses

5 Productivity Apps for Small BusinessesThe app store can be an overwhelming place. In the world of time-saving, life-hacking, productivity apps, it's easy to get lost among those little icons that promise so much. To help you suss out the tools worthy of your screen's real estate, we rounded up a few of our favorite small business productivity apps at the low-low price of free.wunderlist

Wunderlist (Free) iPhone, iPad, Mac Desktop, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire Wunderlist is a cloud-based productivity tool that can do pretty much anything list-related. You can use it from multiple devices, so you can jot down your to do list on your work laptop and then revise it on your morning bus ride the next day. You can set deadlines, make notes, turn on reminders, set recurring tasks and even use your email and browser to send tasks directly to Wunderlist. It's collaborative as well, so you can share  lists and work with your team on projects. The app is free on all platforms, but they also offer paid options with additional features: Wunderlist Pro and Wunderlist for Business.

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Timer (Free) iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. Yes, we really do mean the timer that comes standard on your phone. Or—screw apps—even your kitchen timer. We humans do our best work in spurts with frequent breaks—it's science. One of the most common techniques is to work in 90-minute spurts with a 15 minute breaks in between, in order to follow our natural ultradian rhythms. The other is called the Pomodoro Technique, in which you break down your tasks into 25-minute blocks and focus solely on that task during that block. As you get comfortable with one of these techniques, it may help your day run more smoothly and efficiently because you'll be able to identify projects that take up too much of your time, as well as distractions that may've been keeping you from completing things faster. Bonus hack: Use Siri as a shortcut on your iPhone by asking her, "Wake me up in 25 minutes." This will automatically set a new alarm for you to let you know when to wake up from your work and take a short break!

mailbox

Mailbox (Free) iPhone, iPad Clean inboxes, here we come. If you're anything like us (big David Allen fans), inbox zero is tough but necessary. Mailbox is a new way to deal with your email. It connects with Gmail and provides an intuitive labeling and archiving system. With the most simple of swipes, you can "snooze" emails, delete them, set reminders and more. It syncs that system up with your Gmail account so everything is easy to find whenever you're dealing with your email on your laptop too.

evernote

Evernote (Free) iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac Desktop, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Windows Desktop There's a reason this app is typically near the top of the best of lists, no matter the category. It's kind of a catch-all and we had to include it on our list too. Send Evernote anything and it'll help you catalog it and find it later. Use it to keep track of documents, research, travel information, inspiration, project notes, photos, business cards or anything you'd like to collect from the web. Evernote also offers an array of other products like a Peek (a study tool), Clearly (a reader) and a collaborative set of business tools for $10/user/month.

asana

Asana (Free for up to 15 team members) iPhone, Android, Desktop Asana's mantra is teamwork without email. It is robust collaboration tool, great (and free) for small teams juggling multiple tasks at a time. It not only helps you organize and assign tasks and deadlines to your staff in a clear way, but it integrates with all kinds of other software like Wordpress, Google Drive, MailChimp, etc. If your business outgrows 15 team members, they have a paid service available.