As recently pointed out in a cheekily-named article for Inc. magazine, many of today’s top executive assistants can be found in the form of smartphone and tablet PC apps. And while there’s no replacement for the real deal – a great personal assistant is a rare and valuable find – it is worth noting: These iPhone, iPad and Android alternatives can help those on a budget, or hoping to manage their own appointments, tame their inborn ADD, or life’s increasingly hectic demands. Looking for the top apps to help you organize your work and life? Following is a brief excerpt of several recommended applications:
Tame the clutter of your professional life. Evernote lets you take virtual memos on-demand. You can store text, photos, voice recordings (even and add location tagging) and automatically synchronize updates across your computer, smartphone, and tablet. Keyword, tag, and text searches make for easy information retrieval.
A graphical organizer that lets you save notes, build to-do lists, and assign color-coded tags, fonts, icons, and backgrounds for more effective cataloguing and categorization. From travel itineraries to conference schedules, you can plot it all on a nicely-appointed calendar, and add photos, maps, sketches, and assorted images. You can also create folders and assign unique passwords for faster grouping and storage.
This popular list-making utility keeps you from forgetting tasks and outstanding action items. You can organize deliverables by priority or due date, and receive reminders via email, SMS, instant messenger, etc. Big plus: easy integration with mobile, Web, and desktop apps (Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal, etc.) and synchronization across multiple devices.
For more, you can read the full article at Inc. magazine. And as a special exclusive for TechSavvy readers, you can also find more recommendations on the top organization apps for life and work at the following resources:
And remember – while there’s no replacing a real PA with a virtual stand-in, at least these options can tide you over as far as to-do and office shopping lists until you can locate or afford a good one.
Small Business Expert
Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses are increasingly turning to Apple’s popular iPad tablet PC as an alternative to traditional laptops. Given the mobile device’s gorgeous touchscreen display, user-friendly interface, and infinite selection of downloadable apps, which bestow the ability for the system to double as a growing range of gadgets, we can’t say we blame them. Of course, getting the most out of the gizmo often requires investing in some of the best iPad cases and accessories for businesses available out there as well – a point that shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re pondering adding the system to your IT budget.
Important to consider: While the iPad isn’t right for all businesses or industries, it can make a reasonable complement to or replacement for desktop and laptop systems in certain cases, meaning that it’s vital to consider your firm’s needs and high-tech usage patterns before buying. And, of course, recognize the device’s limitations, as its virtual keyboard, limited battery life and suite of software programs (in some cases less robust than those you’d enjoy on a traditional computer system) may not suit your company’s requirements. However, the following add-ons can help mitigate some of these issues, and bestow additional features onto the iPad, which may make the decision somewhat easier.
As you’ll see in our latest column for Inc. magazine, the range of iPad cases, accessories and add-ons continues to grow and expand in new directions – many highly beneficial for today’s business owner.
This leather carrying case has an integrated Bluetooth keyboard and folding kickstand. Beyond the obvious benefits of protecting your device and giving you a more comfortable way to type, it’s also elegantly designed. Heck, it’s even fashionable. Be prepared to pay for the style, however: Units don’t come cheap.
Digital cameras still produce better images than smartphones and tablets on average, especially under dimly-lit conditions. That’s why you might want to pick up this connection kit, which can import photos and videos onto the iPad via your camera’s USB cable or SD card. Support for JPEG and RAW images, and SD and HD video formats (H.264, MP4, etc.), make it especially handy for social media campaigns or those needing to capture low-light shots at product demos or events.
An all-in-one solution for mobile professionals, this “Bluetooth keyboard speaker system” (read: full-service workstation) provides a physical keypad, stereo speakers, and two USB ports for device charging. Using it, you can videoconference, play music while working, and recharge mobile gadgets all while you’re getting work done.
For more of the best iPad cases and accessories, please visit Inc. magazine.
It’s a fundamental paradox for small business owners: How do you expand your revenues, grow market share and maintain optimum production and service levels without disrupting cash flow or sending operations into a tailspin? Thankfully, even for the most time-, money- or manpower-deprived entrepreneur, a wealth of apps, gadgets and online solutions exists that can help you broaden your reach without biting off more than you can chew. Looking to give your business a sudden boost of upward momentum? Try the following five high-tech tools and services, all of which could potentially prove vital resources in your ongoing fight to score more customers and send profits soaring.
1. Build an Online Presence – Need a professional-looking website, but don’t have the time, cash or technical know-how to get started? Try Onepager, which makes it possible for beginners to establish an attractive online presence in no time flat. Using the site, business owners simply type their company name, tagline and body text into a number of preexisting templates, to which photos and visual styling can be added. A point-and-click interface further makes it easy to introduce newsletter signups, service rundowns, social media links and contact information. Once complete, the site helps you register a domain name, monitor customer behavior and otherwise enjoy the benefits of marketing to the online world. Providers like Intuit and 1&1 also offer easy off-the-shelf solutions.
2. Secure Venture Capital – Have the perfect idea for a new electronic gadget or restaurant chain, but lack the funds to quit your day job, let alone mass-produce consumer products? Do what today’s smartest entrepreneurs do: Beg strangers for spare change. Crowdsourced funding sites such as Kickstarter, RocketHub and IndieGogo let you post details of your dream projects, complete with colorful descriptions, photos and videos, then source pledges from the general public. Rather than equity, investors typically receive personalized or product-based incentives for their kindness (e.g., a $5 donation nets a copy of the movie you helped fund’s DVD, while $500 scores a personal thank you call from the director). Group seed capital programs such as Grow VC and fundraising platforms like Crowdrise may also prove a handy alternative to romancing fickle angel investors or handing over 30% of your company for minimal return.
3. Start Taking Credit Card Payments – From everyday consumers to major corporations, many customers prefer to pay via credit card. Letting them do so on-demand using a solution like Square, which lets you connect a plastic card reader accessory to your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android mobile device isn’t just simple and convenient. It also makes good business sense, allowing you to instantly swipe their American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover and secure down payments, project milestones and up-front advances on the spot. Charging a single 2.75% flat fee on each transaction, and letting you setup custom inventories of items with personalized photos, names and prices, it can streamline and simplify billing for businesses of all sizes.
4. Land Free Publicity – Every entrepreneur dreams of making headlines or enjoying time in the spotlight. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) offers the opportunity to do so in seconds – and without spending a single dime on marketing or advertisement. A matchmaking service that pairs journalists with subject matter experts, simply submit your name and email to receive a daily newsletter from members of the media who need commenting sources. Think you’re the perfect fit to field calls for a professional organizer or whiz in the field of cloud computing? Just respond to the queries that show up in your Inbox, and you could find yourself quoted everywhere from CNN to The New York Times.
5. Create a Custom Virtual Store – The most direct way to put e-commerce to work: Add an attractive online storefront capable of effortlessly handling myriad payment solutions that’s chock-full of must-have goods. Multiple options from Goodsie to Shopify, Volusion and BigCommerce can help, making it possible to set up both basic solutions that require minimal to no programming, and more complex and sophisticated virtual bazaars. Note that while it’s tempting to go big on features and selection here, the first-time builder is advised to keep things simple. Start by staying focused on practicality, convenience and popular high-margin goods, then expand organically, rather than risking overcomplicating your user interface or overwhelming shoppers with frivolous alternatives.