5 Essential Apps for Parents

10 December, 2012 Life No comments
5 Essential Apps for Parents

While the kitchen may still be the physical hub for the family, more and more families are taking advantage of the power of smartphones to help them stay on top of their family life.

According to the mobile security experts at Lookout, nearly 2/3 of parents with 5 or more in the family consider the smartphone to be the mobile command center of the family.  Nearly half use it to coordinate grocery lists and entertained, as well as keep their kids entertained.

As fun as they are, Angry Birds and Words with Friends won’t get everyone to soccer practice on time, so here’s our list of five essential apps for parents to help them stay in control of their family.

Cozi – Cozi’s an app that can do a little bit of everything for your family.  With calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists ad more that sync across all your family devices, there’s no excuse for anyone to say they didn’t know where they supposed to be.  This means that if you add to the shopping list from your device at home, your husband will have it updated in real-time, even if he’s at the store. You can also log onto your Cozi account on the computer to update and track information from there. Cozi can also send out e-mail and text reminders for any event, if you want them.

Kik Messenger – A program like Kik Messenger or another messaging program is great for families to be able to stay in touch without worrying about racking up the texting minutes.  What sets them apart from using your phone’s regular messaging capabilities is the ability to easily add other people to conversations as well as add photos directly to a dialogue. Kik Messenger also works across all different types of devices, so it’s especially handy for families in which not everyone has the same type of phone.

Find My iPhone – While ostensibly designed to help find lost smartphones or remotely erase data in case it gets stolen, Apple’s app (and an equivalent Android app such as Andriod Lost) is great for giving parents piece of mind that they can track their kids by using their phones.  With these apps installed, you can make sure your kids are where they say they are by viewing their location on an app.  The safety feature

A Family Matters – While it’s tempting during downtime for everyone to get lost in their own devices, the A Family Matters app makes using a smartphone a family affair, with games and activities designed for everyone to participate in.  So whether you’re at a restaurant waiting for food or at the theater waiting for the movie to start, A Family Matters is an app that can actually bring your whole clan together, and for that we think it’s essential.

Lost Kidz – Heaven forbid something should happen to your kid, but if it does then the Lost Kidz app can act like an APB to everyone else in your vicinity running the app.  If your kid disappears, you can send out an immediate alert to all users in the area to notify them.  A second alert will go out even wider.  It’s horrible to think of worst-case scenarios, but if something bad does happen, an app like Lost Kidz can help make sure you’re prepared.

5 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

4 December, 2012 Work No comments
5 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

In this tricky economy, it feels like the average worker is constantly teetering on the precipice—a mere shove from falling into a pit seething with wolves. There honestly hasn’t been a better time to consider giving up your corporate obligations and striking out on your own. Of course, talk is cheap and the real world is merciless, but there really are a lot of good reasons why you should start your own business. 

Working for yourself and/or starting up your own business can be tricky, but when you hold up the advantages to the current state of your life, you may discover that the benefits actually outweigh the risk. Besides, controlling your destiny is immensely rewarding. Here are five good reasons to start up a business. 

A relatively flexible schedule – When you work for yourself, you’re in command of deciding how your time gets spent—especially if you work from home. This makes running your own business ideal if you have a family. Mind, that’s not to say that you work fewer hours when you run your own business; rather, it means that you can shift your day around to suit your social needs, though that might be a little trickier if you run something like a small store. Regardless, you will no longer be beholden to the typical 9-to-5, a nice change of pace if you dislike predictability. 

There’s no motivation like being your own boss – People that work in the corporate world often complain about being a “cog in the machine.” They’re not often granted a sense of accomplishment, and they don’t always recognize their work in the final product (provided a final product even comes into fruition). But when you work for yourself, you’re directly in charge of what you do, and what you make. It’s extremely fulfilling to finish up a product or an assignment, then lean back and recognize it as your very own work. 

Save money on commuting – Running your own business usually means falling outside the 9-to-5 day, which, in turn, means no more lurching along the highway twice a day during long commutes. You’ll save money on gas and car maintenance—and you’ll feel a lot less stressed out, too. 

You’re responsible for your own security – Full-time jobs and job security are shrinking like so much arctic ice. You can’t depend on your employer for a pension, insurance, or bonuses anymore (certainly not for years at a time, as was the case fifty years ago), so you may as well take your fate into your own hands and run into the fray with all of your passion. 

Do what you love – You’re presumably not going to start a business just to do something you despise, so there’s your number one motivator: If your run your own show, you can do what you love day in and day out. That’s not to say you’ll never have your off days, but running your own show will go a long way to making you a happier camper. 

Need more convincing? Here are more reasons to start up your own business: 

10 Reasons to Start a Business This Year at the Wall Street Journal

Top 10 Reasons to Run Your Own Business at Inc.com

10 Reasons to Start Your Own Business at The Business Insider

Market Your Business with QR Codes

Market Your Business with QR Codes

Small Business Expert

Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.

The use of Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) continues to increase, as free apps are making it easier than ever for folks to focus on these images and see where it will take them.  Last year, more than 14 million users scanned a QR code, and that number continues to rise.  And interestingly enough, according to comScore, more than a quarter of folks actually scan QR codes directly from web pages. What can a small business owner or marketing professional do to make sure their efforts get noticed?  Here are a few tips on how to use QR codes to market your business and engage customers.

Discounts: Companies are finding that consumers want deals, so link your code to a coupon or other incentive to reward customers for checking it out.  Don’t be afraid to tie it to something like a short promotional video, at the end of which is the deal.  As long as consumers get something out of it, they don’t mind a small investment of time and effort to get it.

Social Networks: It’s a no-brainer to take folks to a landing page where then quickly or easily like or follow you your brand page, but set clear expectations as to what that entails.  And again, consider offering special benefits via your social media presence for those that do take the time to follow.

Tinker With The Design: Work with your art department to see if you can place images or words within the center of the QR code to help folks know what it is they’re scanning, and also to catch their attention.  Get creative to encourage action.

Be Specific:  When you use a QR code, make it really clear what the customer call-to-action is.  If you want them to watch a video or consider a specific product, take them to a page that makes that really easy.  Don’t just do a generic code that goes to your business’ home page.  No one is that interested in showing up and not knowing what to do.

Use Them For Networking: Encourage an extra bit of activity for those you meet while networking by including a QR code on your business card.  Or if you’re going to a trade show or another place where you’ll be meeting lots of folks, put one on your laptop bag and encourage others to scan it.  It can go to a specific company page or some other link that’s personalized for you, like your LinkedIn profile.  It can help make a great and lasting impression on any that scan it.

Gamification: Consider peppering codes throughout your store, website or different ad campaigns, and reward users who are able to find them all.  By making QR codes a part of a larger campaign, you prolong user engagement, and hopefully provide positive associations for your brand.

Get Creative: Consider having t-shirts or even bumper stickers made with QR codes, and include cryptic clues as to their destination.  The content on the other end is just as important as you’d hate to pique customer interest only to disappoint them with the destination.