Do More Faster: 10 Best Apps & Tools


Inc.com - The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs

Five-time entrepreneur Frank Addante lists the digital gems that help him be organized and save time.

apps

1.  Organize your email: Sanebox

Sanebox uses algorithms to organize your email into what’s important and what’s not. I was skeptical and had trouble giving up control of my inbox, but now I’m hooked.

Tips: Trust it. Check @SaneLater twice a day, @SaneBulk whenever you feel like reading newsletters or promotions, and @SaneBlackHole for all the junk you never want to see again.

2.  Keep track of all your notes: Evernote 

Evernote stores your notes in the cloud, so you can access them from any computer or mobile device.

Tips: Use Evernote for both business and personal reasons. I take all of my business meeting notes directly in Evernote and scan or fax documents to Evernote that I want to keep. On the personal side, I take photos of wine that I like and store them in a notebook called Favorite Wines and keep copies of all critical identification (like my driver’s license, passport, and insurance papers) in a notebook called Wallet.

Download App: iPhone | Android

3.  Store your documents in the cloud: Dropbox  >>

Securely file away your digital documents in the cloud, so you can find and work on them from any computer or mobile device later.

Tips: I created two Dropbox folders–~Working Drafts and ~To File–and put them on my Mac in my Finder Favorites and on my Dock. I set the default sort order to be by Date Modified. This way, my most recent documents show up at the top of the list, and I can quickly drag or find documents there. I use ~Working Drafts as if it’s my desktop and never actually store anything on my computer desktop. When I’m finished with a document, I drag it to ~To File, and every once in a while, I go into the folder to organize folders that make more sense long term. Note: I include the tilde (~) in the filenames so that, when sorted alphabetically, these folders always show up at the top.

Download App: iPhone Android

4.  Prioritize your to-do list: Action Method

It’s an online app that helps you organize to-do lists and track and delegate tasks.

Tips: Use Action Method’s three color codes to set your priorities. Use orange for tasks that must be done on the scheduled day, blue for tasks that should be done that day but can push a day if necessary, and grey for tasks that you’d like to get done that day but will push if there are other deadlines. I follow the same color code in my calendar. The website is great, but definitely download–and set to open at login–the desktop, iPad, and mobile apps. Start every “to-do” item with an “action” word. The only negative about the Web application is that it can’t be used offline. I use either the iPad or iPhone app while on a plane and sometimes will print a PDF of my to-dos before I take off and leave it on my desktop.

Download App: iPhone Android

5.  Assemble your travel plans: TripIt

TripIt files all your itineraries in one place. You can even have it automatically send your itineraries to your significant other, kids, or always-worried mom. The Pro version alerts you of flight delays and gate changes.

Tips: Download the mobile app and put it on your home screen. Create a contact for plans@tripit.com and forward all itineraries to that contact.

Download App: iPhone Android

6.  Automatically transcribe your voice-mail messages: YouMail

This voice-mail service transcribes your voice-mail messages and sends them to you by email or text (or both). The mobile app makes it easy to view, listen, read, and forward your voice mails.

Download App: iPhone Android

7.  Consolidate your social network accounts: HootSuite 

This website allows you to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, and others all from one place.

Tips: I tend to have pockets of time when I can read and post on social media. Try HootSuite’s new “auto schedule” feature, so you can spread out your posts and don’t flood your networks with many in a row.

Download App: iPhone Android

8.  Communicate in real time with your whole team: Yammer

Yammer is like a private Twitter stream just for your company.

Tips: Get everyone in your company to sign up, and then use it as your main means of communicating information. This way, everyone will adapt to Yammer, because no one wants to miss out. Allow employees to post things that are “business” material and “fun” material. The fun material makes it more entertaining, and, in turn, the business material is more likely to be read.

Download App: iPhone Android

9.  Stay fit: miCoach

Exercise keeps your mind sharp. The miCoach iPhone app acts like your personal trainer. I lost 20 pounds using it at home and while on the road.

Tips: Set up your workouts in advance. I selected Get Lean for running and Get Fit for gym workouts. Buy the heart-rate monitor and stride sensor; it’s worth it. What gets measured gets done.

Download App: iPhone Android

10.  Sleep better: iSleep

It’s important to get a good night’s rest. If you’re like me, your mind is constantly racing, and the day’s work never ends. The iSleep meditation app helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s particularly helpful when you have jet lag or can’t fall asleep. I use the Deep Sleep playlist at the end of a long, stressful day.

Download App: iPhone Android


How to Criticize Employees | inc.com


Inc.com - The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs
Even if you’re an experienced executive, it’s likely you often find it very difficult to tell other people where they need to improve. Praising a good performance is easy; everyone likes to receive a compliment. But what do you do when a kick in the butt seems more appropriate than a pat on the back? Here’s how to do this effectively:

 

1. Treat criticism as a form of feedback.

The term “criticism,” while accurate, carries the baggage of negativity. By contrast, the term “feedback” implies the participation of both parties–a two-way give and take where both people learn and grow. Feedback is an opportunity for mutual growth. You learn by getting feedback, and you learn by giving feedback. The moment you reposition your criticism into the context of feedback, both you and your employee will feel more relaxed and receptive.

2. Provide criticism on an ongoing basis. Leer más “How to Criticize Employees | inc.com”

Reasons Your Top Employee Isn’t Happy | inc.com


Inc.com - The Daily Resource for EntrepreneursNot sure why your top performer is unhappy? Check out what the most brilliant (yet difficult) employees hate about company culture.

1. Inconsistent / Frequently Changing Priorities

Why It’s a Problem: Nothing irritates a top performer more than ditch-to-ditch or fad-based management.

How to Spot It: Employees hunkering down every time a new initiative is introduced–glazing over at strategy meetings.

What to Do About It: Set a short-, medium-, and long-term strategy and stick to each for a reasonable period without being distracted by the newest new thing.

2. Condoning Mediocrity

Why It’s a Problem: The No. 1 reason high performers leave organizations in which they are otherwise happy is because of the tolerance of mediocrity.

How to Spot It: Disdain and distance between top performers and others who are not pulling their weight. Dissatisfaction with rewards (compensation, bonuses, awards, etc.) given to others.

What to Do About It: Set high goals for the entire organization and build in both rewards (for success) and consequences (for failure). Apply both consistently and fairly.

3. Round Peg / Square Hole Syndrome Leer más “Reasons Your Top Employee Isn’t Happy | inc.com”

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Are You Running Business: Impossible? Things To Outsource Now | inc.com



Inc.com - The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs

If your business needs an extreme makeover, it’s time to start outsourcing.

My family loves watching Restaurant: Impossible. The show provides an extreme makeover for restaurant owners who have little or no prior experience. Most of them are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

In most episodes, Chef Robert Irvine decides that the restaurant leadership and expertise is out-of-whack. The auteur with the knife in the kitchen might not have the people skills necessary to manage the wait staff. The bubbly front-of-house staff might not be capable of ordering food deliveries or creating a menu. When people aren’t in the right role or are trying to do too much, they get frustrated and the entire enterprise suffers.

Starting and running a business, of any kind, is not something you should do alone. The best leaders know when to delegate or outsource, but some owners let years go by and delay critical business decisions because of arrogance, fear, or a lack of confidence.

I waited far too long to hire employees because I was afraid it’d take too long to train them and they’d never do things the way I wanted. Of course, the result was total suffocation and paralysis. Just like in the TV show, it wasn’t any fun being the owner, chef, server, host, accountant, marketer and dishwasher!

So when should you step back and let another cook in the kitchen?

1. Legal.
2. Accounting.
3. Insurance.
4. Benefits.
5. Marketing.
6. Tech Support.
7. Mindless.

Read full story

The Power of Praise: ‘Thank You’ Goes a Long Way | Inc.com


Kathleen Kim | Inc.com staff
Thanks INC!

New research reveals something pretty obvious. Thanking and rewarding employees can give your business a boost.
Don’t hold off until annual performance reviews to praise stellar employees. A simple “thank you” here and there can boost efficiency and even help your business make more money.

According to new research (and, perhaps, the laws of common sense) companies that excel at employee recognition are 12 times more likely to generate strong business results than those that do not.

In companies focused on rewarding their workers, employee engagement, productivity and customer service were about 14% better than in those that skimp on recognition, the study found.

The study was conducted by advisory services firm Bersin & Associates President and CEO Josh Bersin wrote recently that “high-recognition culture” companies share three common traits:

First, they build focused recognition programs which collect “thank you’s” and “feedback” from peers, not just managers. Second, they directly tie recognition to business goals and company values, so recognition reinforces strategy. Third, they give employees open and transparent access to the program – so everyone can  see who is being recognized and anyone can recognize another.

But to really praise like a pro, start here:

Be specific and know your people
Consider the delivery
Get everyone involved

Leer más “The Power of Praise: ‘Thank You’ Goes a Long Way | Inc.com”

Best Way to Introduce Yourself | inc.com


If so, your introduction is all about you, not your audience.
Instead:


See less as more.

Brief introductions are always best. Provide the bare minimum the other person needs to know, not in an attempt to maintain distance, but because during a conversation more about you can be revealed in a natural, unforced, and therefore much more memorable way.

Stay in context…    Leer más “Best Way to Introduce Yourself | inc.com”

Secret: Your Age Doesn’t Matter


Inc.com - The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs

Hey, baby face. Think you’re being judged? You’re not. In fact, you may be at an advantage when starting a business.

Baby Face

Getty

If you have the sort of cute-but-less-than-authoritative face that causes random aunts to reach out and pinch your cheeks, is your career as an entrepreneur bound to suffer? After all, who would support the business ventures of someone who looks like he could still be mowing lawns for pocket change to go to the prom?

But baby-faced business owners and entrepreneurs who are genuinely young and look their age should take heart: Not everyone thinks your youthful looks are simply a disadvantage. For instance, a new study led by a professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business finds that when hiring managers are given a choice between proven ability and apparent potential, they often opt for the excitement of the untested but promising candidate. Leer más “Secret: Your Age Doesn’t Matter”

What Your Brain Has to Do With Your Brand


 |  | inc.com

Tell your employees and customers about how you think and behave, your innate genetic strengths and preferences, and you'll see your brand loyalty grow.

 

On a whim, I just Googled “personal branding” and got 7,300,000 results. On Amazon, I found 18,915 books listed under “Brand You.” That’s a lot of chatter. But I believe I have something new to add to the conversation.Business guru Tom Peters is credited with popularizing the idea of being your own brand 15 years ago. “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.,” he wrote.  “To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you…. You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description. Starting today, you are a brand.”

Your brand is not your current job or title. It is not your skills and experiences, although of course these things matter. It is not, as many people suggest, one particular attribute with which you “differentiate yourself.” It is not your reputation, which is fragile and depends on what others say about you.

“Brand you” is the sum of your innate strengths and preferences that are locked into your genes and etched into your brain. It is the way you think and the habits you have, the way your mind processes information and the manner in which you explain your ideas. In the language of my company, it is your “thinking and behavioral attributes,” how you see and interact with the world. These attributes generally do not change over time, and always can be depended upon, by you and others.

As author Maureen Johnson describes in her blog: “A personal brand is a little package you make of yourself so you can put yourself on the shelf in the marketplace and people will know what to expect or look for when they come to buy you. For example, Coke is a brand. When you see Coke, you expect a dark brown effervescent sweet drink that is always going to taste like . . . Coke.” Leer más “What Your Brain Has to Do With Your Brand”

3 Ways to Get More Time Out of Less


 |  | inc.com

You can achieve more in a constrained market without running your employees into the ground. These three steps will get your team focused on the work that really drives growth.

Across the country, businesses are being pushed to do more with less. Typically this has taken the shape of longer hours, later nights, and a big group of unhappy employees. Achieving in a constrained market should not mean spending more time at the office doing less exciting work; it means that you should stop wasting time.

There are three steps managers and staff can take toward a more efficient, more productive organization. By 1) identifying and focusing on your biggest priorities, 2) completing two objectives every week, and 3) outsourcing work, you will find a smoother running organization that employees are happy to contribute to every day.

1. Identify and focus on your biggest priorities. Leer más “3 Ways to Get More Time Out of Less”

Don’t Let Meetings Suck Your Time


 |  | inc.com

Six reasons why I hate meetings, and what you can do to make them more efficient

Employee sleeping during meeting, man in pink shirt and glasses

 

I was recently out to lunch with a few colleagues who work at a very cool company. The CEO of their company had left, and the second in command had taken over. They like her, but they said the number of meetings they’re required to go to now has doubled.

They were describing my hell.

Now, I don’t think that meetings are completely useless. But I do think that most companies have useless meetings, including my own. And the people at my company, VerticalResponse, will tell you that they know how I feel.

Why do I hate meetings? Let me count the ways. Leer más “Don’t Let Meetings Suck Your Time”

In Brazil, Babies Mean Business | Jillian D’Onfro


inc.com

A small crop of Brazilian baby retailers are gaining traction–and funding from high-profile investors.
Baby boom? It looks like there is a burgeoning baby e-commerce sector in Brazil.

shutterstock images

Most recently, Baby, a Brazil-based online retailer of baby goods, just secured $16.7 million in financing, led by Accel Partners, according to The New York Times.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of more Brazil baby start-up success: Another online retailer, Bebestore, recently raised more than $10 million from London-based venture capital firm Atomico, reported The Times.

Overall, Brazil’s economic growth forecasts continue to drop, but e-commerce still entices investors. Why?  Brazilians spent 26% more online last year than they did in 2010—or $10.1 billion. This year, experts estimate total spending to increase to $12.6 billion.

While the sector is growing, it does offer unique challenges for entrepreneurs.  The two Americans who founded Baby, Davis Smith and Kimball Thomas, told the paper they struggled with a shipping infrastructure that is very different from that in the United States.

“Being an entrepreneur in Brazil is not for the faint of heart,” Smith told The Times.