What did we do before smart phones and tablets? If you work from home like I do, I am going to guess that working from home actually means you often work outside of the house and on the go: at coffee shops, in airports, at swim lessons, while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, at the library, or, if you’re lucky, at the beach.
I rely heavily on my iPhone for increased productivity and connectivity, as both an entrepreneur and as a mom. Here are my top 10 favorite apps to keep my business running smoothly.
My love affair with Dropbox is not to be taken lightly. I rely on this handy app to store work and personal documents and access them from any computer, tablet, or phone no matter where I am. This cloud storage option is especially fantastic because you can share individual document folders with co-workers, employees, clients, team members, and friends, and you can all see updates happen in real-time. As someone whose clients tend to be located in various parts of the world, Dropbox can be a lifesaver!
As a former Outlook, Entourage, and Mac Mail user, I admit it took me a month or so to really get into Gmail. However, now I love it. I have 12 different active email accounts (and that’s after cutting back!), and I filter all of them into Gmail. In Gmail, emails come into one convenient location, I can answer emails using any account, customize signatures per account, and easily access my emails, calendar, and tasks in one spot. I love Gchat, which allows you to quickly have a text-like convo (hence, chat) or a video chat with colleagues who are online at the time. Accessing Gmail on my phone allows me to quickly view emails per project based on the folders I have designated, and I can also access past Gchats since those are archived.
Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to access and update numerous social media accounts at once. This app is a must for those of us who manage social media accounts for clients. Whereas many people would be satisfied with the robust features offered with the free version, I use the Pro paid version to not only access my personal Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, as well as client accounts and my own business social media accounts. You can pre-schedule updates for any individual accounts and also post on several accounts at once. I like Hootsuite also because of the access to social media analytics, which gives you access to data such as Facebook Insights, Google+ analytics, Twitter profile stats, Ow.ly link stats, and more.
Freshbooks is a cloud accounting system that I use mainly to track my time working on projects, track expense receipts, and invoice clients. I searched for quite a while for a time tracking app and have found Freshbooks to be the best (at least, for my purposes), since it seamlessly integrates my tracked time per project into a calendar and makes invoicing clients super easy. I use the iPhone & iPad apps to take photos of receipts and add them to my expense sheet automatically. I really love Freshbooks.
I’m including both Kashoo and Xero here because in all honesty, I think both are fantastic and I have yet to make up my mind as to which one I want to stick with. I think for some people, it will just come down to user interface preference, and whether or not one is able to allow you to automatically import your bank & credit info over the other. Both are full-service cloud accounting systems. I use Freshbooks in a combination with Xero and Kashoo: I use Xero or Kashoo for importing bank, loan, and credit card data, and then import my Freshbooks information into Kashoo (as of right now, Xero does not offer Freshbooks integration, but Kashoo does). Both have well-design interfaces that are fairly intuitive and they offer very similar services. I suggest checking both out and deciding for yourself which will work better for you.
I’ve been using Evernote sporadically throughout the past few years and am slowly starting to use it more and more. Features I love: it can read text (typed or even handwritten!) from photos, which makes searching for images much more efficient (I use this app to document & search for my fave wine labels in a pinch); I use the Notes section for taking notes on my iPad during meetings and keeping track of blog post ideas; and I use the Web Clipper to quickly clip favorite recipes and important business web pages. Much like DropBox, you can access Evernote from any device, anywhere, at any time.
Trello is a fantastic project management app. Whether you are looking for an app that allows you to manage personal projects, solo work projects, and/or team projects, Trello does the job. You can create checklists, add images, deadlines, goals, attachments — you name it. I use this app as my main checklist app, for everything from client projects to planning my family birthday parties.When you share Trello boards with colleagues or family members, you can see who’s working on what, assign tasks to others, and quickly update your team on project specifics.
9. Google Maps
This is pretty straight-forward and I am sure most of you already use Google maps or are at the very least aware of its capabilities, but I had to include it because it truly is an app I use almost every day. Even if I know exactly where I am going, the ability to see traffic in real-time is a HUGE (GIGANTIC! ENORMOUS!) timesaver. The maps that tend to come standard with cell phones don’t, in my experience, have the most reliable traffic reporting. Google Maps has rarely let me down. Since I’m usually running from one place to the next, on a minute-by-minute schedule, it has saved my behind more times than I can count. Except, when I’m just running late because I’m me. Even Google Maps can’t save perpetually late entrepreneurs like me all the time.
If you travel for work, TripIt is a great app that allows you to email plane, car rental, and hotel info so that you can view & access all travel itineraries and get reminders from one central location. I’ve only ever needed the free version, but there is a Pro version with enhanced features for those who travel a lot, and also a Team version to help keep team travel itineraries organized.
There are numerous other apps that I use to help with daily and specialty productivity needs to maximize my time as a busy mom entrepreneur. If you have any favorite business apps that you love, feel free to post a comment and let us know!