Source: Alcatel-Lucent SMB
Smartphones, apps and the mobile internet mean that it’s now even easier to get more out of your work day. Here’s a roundup of apps and online tips to help you stay organized and in control as your small business grows.
1. Get a helping hand with recruitment and staffing
When searching to staff your expanding business, try headhunting on Linkedin or eLance. With the Linkedin app, you can search for candidates, post jobs, network with your peers and even share your own experiences in groups. The Linkedin community is less active in some areas, for example the construction and heavy machinery industries. eLance is ideal for finding skilled freelancers for one-off projects like graphics, logos, website creation and coding – just post your brief, then choose your freelancer based on the quotes you receive.
2. Connect your teams through instant messaging
Good communication is essential when you’re coordinating virtual teams, field-based workers or clients overseas. It’s not always convenient to take a phone call and instant messaging is often a better alternative for quick, direct communication. Skype replaced the hugely popular MSN Messenger in early 2013, offering text, audio and video chat capabilities, both online and via the mobile app. And, you can find collaboration and unified communications tools that give you the ability to share your screen to discuss presentations in detail with one or multiple participants as in the LifeSize Cloud Offering in the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Suite for SMB.
3. Find your way to appointments using maps on your phone
Need to get to a meeting fast? Just enter the postcode into your smartphone’s built-in map app or GPS, and it’ll show you how to get there. If you’re driving, most let you turn on voice directions allowing you to use it as a sat nav system. Many apps show the time it takes to get there too, allowing you to call ahead if you’re running late. Make it easy to get there on time and avoid making a bad first impression. There’s no longer a need to print out maps the day before either.
4. Share and back up your files with cloud storage
Need to share documents, videos or images with your clients or co-workers? Or back up your laptop before you go travelling? Dropbox offers a range of cloud storage options, from a basic free account 500MB up to 500GB, paid by monthly or annual subscription. If you’re watching your overhead, you can earn extra storage for free by referring friends, following Dropbox on Twitter or providing feedback. Dropbox can be blocked on some networks for security reasons, so if it is, there are plenty of other options to try, like Google Drive and box.
5. Speak the right language
Is your business global? For everything from understanding road signs and menus when you’re abroad, to translating email inquiries from foreign clients, translation apps can be really useful. Google Translate and iTranslate are excellent options to help you get ahead. Another useful app for global businesses is World Clock, which lets you see what time it is anywhere in the world – so you won’t end up calling India at 3 in the morning.
6. Make effective lists that work for you
To-do lists are great for productivity. There are lots of apps out there to help you organize and prioritize tasks, with added extras to suit different needs. Evernote is a popular choice. If you’re just looking for a step up from a pencil and the back of an envelope approach, Clear is a simple list app, whereas Remember the Milk (for iOS, Android and BlackBerry) offers more options and can automatically send you reminders by SMS or email. It’s all about finding the app that suits you best, so don’t be afraid to try a few different ones.
7. Forget typing – use voice recognition to speed up your day
This might be one of my favorite ones. Voice recognition apps like Siri on iPhone and iPad, or Google Voice on Android, can save you hours of time by letting you dictate your messages rather than typing laboriously on a small screen. The more you use it, the better the software gets at understanding your voice and your accent, so while it might be frustrating to begin with, it’ll become faster and easier to use.
8. Keep track of public opinion on Twitter and the web
Track how your business is trending on Twitter and elsewhere. Of course, nobody has time to browse Twitter all day, every day, so TweetDeck lets you use hashtags to customize a dashboard showing when people mention you or your company, so you just see what’s relevant to you and react to it quickly. And you can set up Google Alerts for your company name and popular industry terms to receive email updates whenever they’re mentioned online.
8 productivity tips for SMBs