For entrepreneurs, staying connected is no longer an advantage, but an absolute necessity. The structured 9-to-5 life is a thing of the past, and new digital capabilities have dramatically changed what we are expected to accomplish on any given day. Yet, face-to-face meetings still happen regularly, traffic jams seem to have increased, there is more news than you could possibly process and the number of “must attend” industry conferences keeps growing. While there are tools to help solve all these problems and more, below are a few areas that have been helping me and other co-founders navigate a growing number of priorities.
1. Bring offline, online. As important as you are to your office, your schedule will rarely permit the amount of time you'd prefer to be at your HQ. Since you can't always be there physically, finding ways to accomplish certain tasks remotely can be a huge advantage.
Scanner Pro is one of my most used apps, allowing me to scan any document to PDF on my phone -- allowing me to share any hard copy document digitally, anytime and anywhere.
A second tool that has proven especially effective is SignNow, a “wet ink” signature that can be transformed to eSignatures. The app lets you keep your team in the loop of all documents, use templates for standard contracts and even save the ones you use most to increase efficiency without requiring a stop at the office in the middle of a manic day.
2. Own your email. Whether we like it or not, many entrepreneurs are enslaved by their email. To keep my inbox organized I've been using Mailbox and since downloading the app I've kept my email interactions prioritized and my inbox at (almost) zero. A second tool that I've grown increasingly dependent on is Rapportive by LinkedIn, a simple email plugin for Gmail. When reading the latest email from a client a box pops up along the side giving a full breakdown of their contact details according to LinkedIn, their social media hyperlinks and even a place for you to write a brief note about your interaction with them.
The ability to maximize email is of crucial importance to an entrepreneur and can help them save time, improve the depth of their conversations and be far more effective each day.
3. Get organized. For entrepreneurs there simply aren't enough hours in the day and any tool that can help them automate, remember and organize is a welcome benefit. 24me and Evernote are two apps that allow me to stay on top of my tasks and notes. They integrate seamlessly with my calendar and offer robust functionalities.
4. Make conferences valuable. As the founder of an event networking platform, I’m biased in my opinion, however I try not to go to conferences that don’t offer tools to help attendees network and be more efficient with their time. My favorite tool (of course) is Bizzabo. It allows attendees to maximize their event experience and focus on finding the key people to meet. While perusing the conference floor I also use Hello by Evernote to scan business cards and turn them into LinkedIn contacts or save them directly to my phone, making networking post-event even easier.
5. Improve your memory. Time is precious for entrepreneurs and having ways to hack through the complicated and arduous login procedure is a welcomed benefit. Dashlane logs you in automatically and saves significant amounts of time. Not to mention, the app stores your passwords with a four step encryption model that ensures you will never have to press the dreaded “forgot your password” again. Another indispensable app is Refresh, letting you refresh your memory in real time of contacts with whom you will be meeting during your busy day, another way to save time and never forget an important detail.
Hopefully, these tools will help make your life easier by focusing on growing your business instead of wasting time on managing yourself.