Ever hear the saying, “Time is money”? It’s true, but people don’t often realize the extent to which it’s true. Of course, time is precious and irrecuperable and all that, but let’s focus on the financials. (This is a business blog, after all). The value of time is not fully measured by hourly rates or annual salaries. Time as money is far more valuable than most people think...
The 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 (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.
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 (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 (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 (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.
Branding is about the warm-fuzzies. It's about creating excuses for your company to always be associated on the positive end of a customer's emotional barometer. It's about story telling and giving other people the tools to tell stories on your behalf.And that's why it's not enough for a company to think that branding ends at just a logo.
Small businesses should consistently be giving "tools" which can help customers promote a company. Although there are many, we've narrowed it down to the 4 most powerful tools for small business branding.
If you don't have an email newsletter, get on it! MailChimp recently acquired TinyLetter to serve the needs of small business owners when it comes to email marketing.
"Basically, TinyLetter is for people what MailChimp is for business; we help you have engaging converstations with your followers."
MailChimp is geared toward the business side of things. You can automate your newsletters, manage customer databases, track analytics/reports, and integrate with survey tools to see what your customers' opinions are. MailChimp possesses several other features, easily accessible to its users. As your customer base grows, you won't be hindered by email limits like some email providers; MailChimp will help you get the word out.
TinyLetter adds the personal touch customers need to keep coming back. Returning to the basics of letters and conversation, TinyLetter keeps things simple and sweet. If you want to engage with your audience, as time permits, you can make the bonds between business and customer stronger by paying direct attention to their questions and comments.
With a two-in-one package, you have the freedom to choose a more personal approach versus an all-encompassing one.
When you promote to your customers through email, you want to avoid two things: making your promos appear to be spam and making them absolutely dull. This is where Smore comes in.
Smore is a service that allows you to create beautiful online flyers easily and quickly. There are templates, designs, and color options to play with according to your promotional needs--Events, Promotions, Businesses, and more. When you start, the template guides you and offers suggestions for content placement. You can keep everything clean and simple, while visually appealing and informative. View their Featured Flyers section to spark your creativity and come up with your own for your business--and personal--needs.
While it's called Smore, it is (sadly) not edible.
No matter what, business cards will always be a valuable investment, especially quality cards. You never know who you meet, and MOO Cards can give you memorable cards to keep them coming back for more.
MOO Cards provides a few options for business owners small and large. In general, MOO Cards allows you to use your own artwork or photography in designing your cards. You can also use their free designs and add your logo. With the variety in design and card types they have, you'll feel like a kid in a candy--business card--shop.
Additionally, they have an option for business with more than 10 employees and typically order to scale, which is called MOO for Business. As your business grows, this could be a helpful option.
Another idea for your business is Printify. Printify is a feature that allows you to print different photos on multiple cards. You could put pictures of your most photogenic products on your business cards and become a walking catalogue. Share you business in conversation and let them take a piece to remember.
Dabbling in social media takes so much time, and you need that time for your business. Buffer App solves this issue by consolidating your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and sharing your content automatically.
Buffer App lets you to schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts easily; your posts stack and Buffer App sends them according to the times you set. Rather than huge URL links taking up characters in your Twitter posts, Buffer App shortens them so you can add relevant hashtags and comments. And, if you are having trouble keeping up with this on your own, you can add team members to join your social media brigade.
Recently, Buffer App partnered with Feedly. If you don't know what Feedly is, it's an app and browser extension that pulls current news and content of interest to one place. Visually, it's like a sleek online magazine. You can also customize what types of news you get by following particular websites--fresh articles your way.
But how does this help your social media presence as a business?
Buffer App has integrated with Feedly, so you can easily Buffer and share the articles you come across. By following websites that create content related to your business, you can share what you believe your followers will find helpful. Plus, if you're short on time and don't have blog posts churning out constantly, these articles act as useful filler.
The more you share, the more your customers feel an active presence on your end. Providing cool content keeps your customers awake to your business.
These are just four of many useful tools for small business branding. Building your brand online and offline has become imperative for businesses of all kinds. We hope these help save you time and serve your needs well.
Have any other suggestions for branding or want to share your small business story? Share in the comments or tweet us (@Shopventory)!