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10 Must-Have Apps for Startups and Small Businesses

10 Must-Have Apps for Startups and Small Businesses

Running a startup or small business can be costly and hectic, but today’s apps can help save entrepreneurs time and money. Download these apps to make living the entrepreneurial life a little easier:

Rescue Time

This time management app runs in the background of your computer and mobile devices to track activity on websites and applications. At the end of each day, users are sent a report with a snapshot of how their time was spent. Entrepreneurs will be able to better manage their days knowing what activities are taking the most time. Sounds perfect, right? The only downside to this miracle app is it is not yet available for iPhones.

rescue time app

    Mobile Day

    This app eliminates the frustration that comes with having to access your Outlook calendar and type in a 10-digit number for a conference call while trying to rush out the door to catch a flight. Mobile Day syncs with your phone’s calendar and provides one-touch access to any conference call or online meeting you have scheduled.

    Running behind? This app also allows you to easily text or email all attendees when you’re a few minutes late.

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    mobile day app

      Slack

      Pick up the slack with the Slack messaging app. Each conversation can be organized into channels that can be defined by the user. Whether you want to split up the channels by project team, department, or another way is up to you.

      Not only does this useful app allow for instant messaging, it also integrates with other apps such as Twitter, Google Hangouts and MailChimp to keep your conversations all in one place. These notifications can be assigned to appear in whatever channel you choose. For example, create a channel with your marketing director and assign Twitter notifications to appear here so both of you are aware when your company receives a retweet, mention or direct message.

      slack app

        LogMeInPro

        Traveling entrepreneurs have a new best friend with the LogMeIn Pro app. This app gives you fast and easy access to your PC or Mac from your browser, desktop or mobile device. Using the app, entrepreneurs can access files or applications stored on a PC or Mac from anywhere.

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        logmein app

          Humin

          As an entrepreneur, you probably know networking is essential to growing a business. But are you really expected to remember everyone you meet? Not with the Humin app. This revolutionary app combines contacts from your mobile device and social media accounts with your calendar, email and voicemail to provide context to the contacts in your phone. After this information is brought together, you can use a Google-like search feature to sift through contacts.

          What was the name of the person you met last Wednesday night? Ask Humin.

          Know someone who works at Apple? Humin does.

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          humin app

            Mint                    

            An essential app for any small or growing business, Mint brings financial management to entrepreneurs’ fingertips. This app compiles all financial accounts into one spot to provide a quick overview for business owners. Each transaction can be categorized so entrepreneurs can track expenses, revenue and monthly spending with a simple visual chart. The bill pay reminder feature is an added bonus for on-the-go (and forgetful) entrepreneurs.

            mint app

              Perka

              Brick and mortar store? Perka is a must-have for your business. Don’t force your customers to carry around a dingy paper punch card to prove their loyalty! Perka brings these old-fashioned reward cards into the digital age. Customers simply log-in to the app and check-in to your location, which will allow their account to show up in your system. When the customer is ready to make a purchase, all he or she has to do is tell you the first name the account is under in the system. No hole puncher required.

              perka app

                Asana

                Yoga practitioners may recognize the word asana as a pose or posture, but entrepreneurs will now associate it with one word: efficiency. This project management app works great for organizing tasks for small businesses. Each user can create to-do lists and assign tasks to others with due dates, relevant files and detailed notes. Users have the capability to comment on or add subtasks to lists, eliminating the need for incessant back and forth emails.

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                asana app

                  Pocket

                  How many times have you scrolled through a newsfeed and reminded yourself to come back and read an article later? How many times have you actually remembered to do so? Chances are, even if you did, it would be difficult to relocate the article.

                  With Pocket, busy entrepreneurs can stay up-to-date with current events, industry news, and that funny video your best friend sent. Using this app, you can quickly bookmark articles, work documents, videos, or photos with ease and revisit them later at your convenience.

                  pocket app

                    Unroll.me

                    Tired of sifting through holiday sales, 20% off coupons, or social media notification emails to get to the ones that really matter? Busy entrepreneurs and small-business owners should not be tied down with cleaning out a cluttered inbox.

                    With the Unroll.me app, users can unsubscribe from aggravating email lists with one click instead of having to open each individual email and go on a scavenger hunt to find the microscopic “unsubscribe” text. Unroll.me goes one step further and combines the email lists you decide to keep into one daily digest.

                    Which apps for startups and small businesses do you use? Did your favorite make the list? Tell us in the comments below!

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                    Joel Goldstein

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                    Last Updated on December 5, 2018

                    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

                    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

                    Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

                    We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

                    How do they do it?

                    By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

                    1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

                    There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

                    If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

                    2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

                    Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

                    According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

                    Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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                    3. Demand Learning from Your Team

                    CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

                    “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

                    His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

                    Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

                    “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

                    Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

                    4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

                    Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

                    Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

                    • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
                    • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
                    • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
                    • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
                    • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
                    • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

                    5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

                    Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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                    Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

                    • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
                    • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
                    • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
                    • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
                    • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

                      “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

                    Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

                    6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

                    The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

                    Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

                    You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

                    7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

                    Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

                    But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

                    On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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                    • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
                    • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
                    • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
                    • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

                    8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

                    Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

                    When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

                    9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

                    The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

                    What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

                    Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

                    10. Empower Your Employees

                    Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

                    They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

                    Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

                    You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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                    If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

                    11. Nurture Your Company Culture

                    Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

                    Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

                    However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

                    Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

                    Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

                    Be a Leader, Not a Boss

                    Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

                    However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

                    In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

                    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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