As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats and juggle many different roles: so the last thing you need is to figure out how to use a tool. If you can’t get set up within minutes and understand intuitively it’s features on offer, then it is not the right tool for you.
A great example of a tool that is `oh so easy’ to set up and use: Rescue Time, a personal productivity tool that tracks the way you spend time online, showing you where you’re wasting time and how you can be more effective.
Simply download their software, and it installs within minutes on your computer. During the first 24 hours, it asks you a series of questions via pop up prompts to gauge how you work, then quietly works in the background to discover what you’re wasting time on.
After the initial 24 hours you receive a report on all your activities, and how effective you were – which you can then adjust. It can be scary when you find out you spent 5 hours on email and 3 hours on social networking sites, and barely anytime on the really important work you had planned.
Yet after the first week, by just having Rescue Time monitor your every move and show you in clear visual charts, you can instantly see where you could improve on being more productive.
The best part: the lite version is free. I know several people who have stopped wasting time as a result of this simple yet powerful software. Check them out at RescueTime.com.
Does the cost equal the benefits?
Sadly, I’ve heard way too many stories of people signing up for new tools and services, spending considerable amounts of money and then never logging in again!
Free trial versions are great for checking out the benefits of a tool without committing to a price up front, and it’s also a good way to find out whether you will actually use the tool more than once.
Camtasia Studio from Techsmith do a great job of this. This powerful screen recording and video editing software helps you turn screen recordings into polished videos that train, teach, sell and more.
If you offer video editing or production services to your clients, or need to create one to market your own products and services then I’d highly recommend this tool. You can download and try out the functionality of Camtasia Studio on your PC or MAC for a full 30 days before paying their one-off cost, which gives you the software and updates for life.
That’s a lot of videos you can edit and make in that time! By then, you’ll likely be convinced of how useful this tool is, but on the off-chance you’re not you have just created some very professional videos for nothing – just some time watching their tutorial videos so you get straight to the important stuff. Take a look at what they offer at: techsmith.com/camtasia.
Is this the latest fad or here for good?
Startups come and go, and often that means do their products and services. Once you’ve gone through steps 1 & 2, the last thing you want is to find out is that the tool no longer exists, or will never be updated or have any customer support in the future.
Luckily, there’s plenty of stalking to be done on search engines to find out who’s invested in what company, what their track record is and whether this company or tool is backed by a larger more established business.
One of my favourites is the host of free tools available over at Google. Google Apps alone contains more incredible tools in one place than any other company I know. Particularly useful are Google Docs – not only for sharing your documents and spreadsheets securely online with members of your team, but for real-time editing and updates from one central location.
Last year I discovered that Google Docs have simple template forms available that you can customize and send out as a survey to your clients and customers. Even better, all the data entered via this form is collected directly into an online Google spreadsheet – of course, which saves you time and makes it extremely straight forward to manage and analyze.
The link can easily be shared via email, or embedded. Plus, they’ve just recently added commenting – this is available to people who aren’t using Google Docs to make it more social and integrated. If you’re not already using Google Calendar, Gmail, Documents or more then go and check out what they have on offer: google.com/docs.
Where to next?
The reality is discovering one off tools like this still requires you to go out and find them, or get recommendations from your friends. If you’re struggling to stay on top of the latest tools and technology that can streamline your business and save you time and money then you need to know about The Ultimate Toolkit for Evolutionary Entrepreneurs.
Ultimate Toolkit for Evolutionary Entrepreneurs features 85 tools to help you streamline your business and save time and money. It’s a handy reference tool that features tried and tested handpicked tools you need to run your business from anywhere.
From setting up a virtual office to managing your online social media presence, this book is your secret weapon. It’s the armory you need to go into battle in the world of business. The discoveries you make in this book will make you smarter, faster, leaner and more agile and save you time, money and sanity.
The concept of this book is simple: To provide you with one free (or as good as) tool and one paid tool for each area major area of business.
Every tool comes with a short and sweet description of what it does and why that’s useful to you – in real terms you can understand. I’ve covered what it’s best for, who it’s best for and how much it costs.
If you’d love to get your hands on this invaluable resource then visit http://womanzworld.com/toolkit. Simply enter the code featuredtool at checkout to get 20% off.
Natalie Sisson is a Kiwi Entrepreneur and Adventurer dedicated to finding creating ways to help you run your business from anywhere. She focuses on using online tools, social media and outsourcing to create more freedom in business and adventure in life. Over on her blog The Suitcase Entrepreneur you can find articles on all aspects of running a virtual business, a wealth of resources, biz and travel tools plus a large dose of inspiration, insight and intelligence.