Serving as the head of a company can be enormously rewarding, and not because it's easy. Staying on top of every facet of operations and spearheading expansion efforts while leading and inspiring others can feel like a 24-hour-a-day job. Successful executives seek out and take advantage of the necessary tools to help themselves, their team and their company succeed.
Some of the simplest and most compelling resources available to entrepreneurs today fit into the palm of your hand and are inexpensive or free. Mobile applications, or apps, provide convenient tools to lead a company while maintaining your sanity.
How apps make an executive’s job more manageable. As a company head, sometimes you can barely keep your head up with all the hats you have to wear. Although delegation is an essential part of being a CEO, some responsibilities simply must be handled by you each day.
Because it’s impossible to increase the number of hours at your disposal, productivity tools such as apps are crucial to efficiently and effectively managing numerous aspects of their jobs:
Managing employees. Maintaining consistent and frequent communication with direct reports can be challenging, especially when you travel or sit in multiple meetings on a daily basis. Apps keep conversations going, even when you’re on the run.
Staying on top of budgets. Mobile apps quickly do the number-crunching and budget analytics necessary to organize and present the information you need to make business decisions, pitches and presentations.
Overseeing projects. Projects can be a “many-headed monster,” but certain apps encapsulate them in a pocket-sized device to keep them at your fingertips.
There are many apps available to streamline and improve business processes but for the particular needs of CEOs, the most useful Android and iOS apps include:
1. EverNote. The constant flood of information CEOs receive each day becomes more manageable with this highly useful app. It serves as a multi-device storage facility for all that data you encounter and may need to remember, from meeting notes to to-do lists and audio reminders. Its synchronization and search functions make it a must for plugged-in professionals.
2. DropBox Mailbox. An inbox stuffed with hundreds of emails can make the most confident professional feel overwhelmed. With this app from DropBox, users can move toward the goal of “inbox zero” by prioritizing more urgent emails over ones they can look at later. Executives should be careful, however. According to Randy McInnis at SportsBettingDime.com, both Dropbox and Microsoft are predicted to experience data leakage in the next 12 months.
3. XMind. If you’ve heard of “mind mapping” or are curious about how it can help you as a professional, this app can show you how it’s done. Users enjoy its search, spell checker, import/export, encryption, file attachment and other features, which help them organize their brainstorms and apply their ideas more effectively.
4. LinkedIn. Every successful executive understands the importance of networking to build and maintain a strong reputation. The popular professional networking site now offers an app through which CEOs can access their connections on the go, read posts by industry leaders, publish their own articles and remain apprised of what’s happening in the business arena.
5. Hightail. Executives who give, attend or view presentations frequently will love this app, which translates seamlessly from mobile to desktop use. Creative and on-the-go professionals use it to review and annotate presentations from wherever they are currently working.
6. Dragon Dictation. Available only on iOS, this app uses the device’s existing voice recognition capabilities to transcribe messages, notes or reminders without your having to rely on a keyboard. Because talking can occur up to five times faster than typing, users enjoy exponentially higher productivity when discussing everything from the content of speeches to grocery lists.
7. Binfire. Managing projects is often a complex and demanding undertaking, but this app makes it easier. By providing a central space in which CEOs can gather calendars, task lists, documents, analytics and collaborative tools, it creates more room for creativity to flow and plans to be implemented. Its security features make it usable for even the most sensitive projects.
8. Siri. Not all executives have their own personal assistant, but the iPhone’s “personal virtual assistant” acts as a concierge of sorts to help users get what they need. From carrying out virtual tasks to performing online information searches or locating the correct app, Siri is an indispensable feature for many iOS users.
Although an app can’t run your company for you (and you certainly wouldn’t let it!), one or more of these virtual tools can free up time, energy and head space to help you become a more effective leader.