5 Cool Tools for Business

Every business (and business owner) needs tools to get the job done. Small businesses need especially versatile tools, that they can easily master and that offer the necessary value.

Office Solutions ME provides Virtual Administrative Support, so many of the tools that we use are software based or allow us to access the software that we use.

Here are 4 of the tools that we use most often, and really couldn’t operate without;

  1. Smart Phone – Not just a phone, but a miniature computer! We use the iPhone. It allows us to access the Internet, e-mail, social media sites, and so much more from almost anywhere! We can download applications that allow us to view and alter Microsoft Office documents, make calls via VOIP, scan QR Codes, and an endless number of other geeky yet useful things.
  2. Laptop – A notebook computer is really essential for any company, but completely unavoidable for a virtual assistant! To be able to complete client work virtually, you have to be accessible and able to respond efficiently. A laptop ensures that it is possible to meet your client’s demands from (almost) anywhere. This was our most recent purchase, as we upgraded from a 6-year-old Averatec to a Sony Vaio.
  3. Scanner – Green is gold! Being able to scan and e-mail documents, instead of faxing or snail mailing is another necessity. This improves productivity and creates less waste. Plus you can then store your documents electronically and save valuable office space. We choose the Canon MX860.
  4. External Drive – Back-up is King! With all of our electronic documents and important e-mails, we need to make sure we are protecting our assets appropriately. With an external hard drive, we can create protected and encrypted back-up files quickly and easily. We chose the Western Digital My Passport Elite.
  5. Blue Tooth Headset – Multi-tasking is easier when your hands are free, so our 5th and final cool tool for this post is the hands-free blue tooth headset. There are many versions, at various prices, but they are an essential for note taking, typing, driving, and other tasks without missing a call. We have a very basic Jabra that does the trick.

Please feel free to share if you have any other business tools that you can’t live without, or if you have questions about any that we have listed.

For product reviews and prices, we recommend cnet.com.

Need help getting organized and being productive? Please Contact Us for help with Administrative Support and Business Developement!

Advertisements

Time Management Tips & Software

Pocket WatchTime is money, time is of the essence, time is a valuable commodity! We never have enough Time, yet we take it for granted.

So, how do we make the most of the time we have? When it comes to business, there are many tools that we can utilize to make the most of our time and maximize our efficiency!

It’s all about organization and scheduling, then sticking with that schedule and using the tools that we have available!

  1. Set Priorities – Tasks will be different for everyone and may even change depending on the week or month. They can include any of the tasks you complete on a daily weekly or monthly basis; Client Relations, Blogging, Filing, Invoicing, Prospecting, Updating Social Media Sites, Newsletters, Mailings, Reading E-mail, Updating Websites, Working on Client Projects, Staff Meetings etc…
  2. Arrange Availability – Coordinate the activities that require others’ participation. Check with those that are involved in your tasks and be sure they set aside time for you. There’s no sense in scheduling time to meet with a client if you don’t know when they are available, or setting aside time for a staff meeting when staff will be out in training. Be practical about your time usage in order to get the most out of it.
  3. Create a Schedule– After you’ve determined the most important tasks and the best times to coordinate Wrist Watchwith others; it’s time to set a schedule. Set up task in order of priority and then block off the time during the week or month that works the best for each task. You may find that Tuesday is a good day to block off an hour for website updates, Wednesday or Thursday evenings are dedicated to business networking events, Friday mornings are the best days for staff meetings, Blogging will get done on the 10th and 20th of every month, AP/AR will be best completed on the 14th or 15th of each month, and you will check e-mails at 8am, 10am, 2pm, and 4pm.
  4. Use Tracking Software – Whether this is new to you or not, chances are you will need some sort of tools to assist you. This could be as simple as setting timers or alarms on you cell phone to remind you to check your e-mail or start prepping invoices. This could also be as complex as utilizing time tracking software. There are many versions of time trackers available, some are even free.
  5. Adjust when Needed – If it’s broke, fix it! If your schedule isn’t working, then adjust it! It’s not set in stone, it’s a tool that’s suppose to make you more organized and less stressed, more efficient and more productive. So, make it work for you. And you may find that you can’t do everything… it’s okay to get help!

Here is a list of some time trackers and project managers that I’ve discovered;

Find more time Management tips;

If you have tips or can recommend any time management software, please feel free to comment!

 
 
 

iPhone: 4 Apps, 7 Features, 3 Wishes

iPhone

I’ve owned my iPhone 3GS since August, and have yet to share my favorite applications (apps) or my review of the phone overall.

In a nutshell, I LOVE IT!

My favorite  apps;

  1. TweetDeck – Twitter (social media) platform that allows me to manage multiple accounts at once, post Tweets, attach pictures, etc…
  2. Word Press – allows me to manage multiple blogs at once, update posts, attach pictures, read comments, etc…
  3. Facebook – (social media) keeps me informed of new messages and information as needed, allows me to update, add friends, etc…
  4. Conquest – a mobile version of Risk that allows me to spend my down time conquering the world.

My favorite features;

  1. Access to the Internet virtually anywhere! – even without an app, I can access e-mail and websites any where that I can get a cell phone signal, priceless especially for a virtual assistant!
  2. Calendar – I live by a schedule and having an easy-to use calendar at my finger tips is essential!
  3. Maps – this is almost as good as my GPS and it’s free.
  4. Cut, Copy, Paste – this is such a time saver. I can copy a name or an address and then paste it to a contact or calendar item
  5. Screenshots – by pushing the ‘home’ and ‘power’ button at the same time, you can take a picture of your screen, very helpful.
  6. World clock – with friends and family all over the world, I can now know exactly what time it is and avoid call them at 3am.
  7. Being able to look up a business on the Internet and then just touch their phone number to call them.

My wish list;

  1. Spell check – while there is a sort of predictive text feature, I am a terrible speller, and a built in spell check would be amazing.
  2. Record phone calls – there is a record feature and many downloadable apps, but none of them seem to work while you are on a call. I would find this useful during a business call, because I wouldn’t have to take as many notes.
  3. Camera flash – while this is trivial and not standard on most phones, there have been occasions of dim lighting that were photo worthy.

Overall, this is an amazing piece of technology and I continue to find more ways to utilize it. And as a virtual assistant it has been invaluable as a business tool, saving me time and making me money.

If you have thoughts on the iPhone or additional features to add, I would love to hear them!



Bookmark & Share

Don’t Waste Time on Social Media

Social Media Time Management

We’ve all been hearing about social media for a while now, and most of us agree that we should be using it in some way. After all, it’s FREE Marketing and Public Relations, right?
Well, almost… if time is money, then it certainly has a cost.

What are some of the ways to reduce the amount of time spent on social media?

  1. Spend less time.
  2. Become more efficient.
  3. Outsource.

Spend less time.
Yes, this sounds obvious and very simplified, but it’s true. For those that are already well versed and actively using social media, it may be a simple matter of limiting the amount of time spent per day/week. A great way to achieve this is to set a timer, or only allow yourself to access social media sites on certain days of the week.

Become more efficient.
Work smarter, not harder. This is my favorite answer.
There are many platforms available that allow you to integrate multiple social media sites. Platforms such as TweetDeck or HootSuite, allow you to view and update multiple social media sites at the same time. An RSS Feed on your Facebook page would allow Blog and Twitter updates to be viewed without any extra work by you. This and many other tools would obviously save you time.

Here are some great websites to help you learn more about using and improving social media efficiency;

Mashable
The Social Media Guide
Business Week
Wikipedia

Outsource.
This is not the answer for everyone, but if you’re not well versed in current media trends and technology (or you just don’t want to be), you can hire someone who is. This does require trust and communication by both parties, and when done correctly it has some great benefits.

Feel free to share some ways that you are currently saving time with Social Media? Or if you are having trouble with Social Media, feel free to post a question.

And for those still not convinced to use Social Media, may I recommend a video from David Meerman Scott at the 2009 Business Marketing Association National Conference.