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20 Smart Tools And Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use

20 Smart Tools And Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use

Running a successful business is hard, especially if you don’t have the right tools at hand. Razor sharp time management skills and keeping your productivity levels high are essential when you have a lot on the plate. Don’t forget: Time is Money. If there’s a tool or an app that can help you do things faster, it’s worth paying for. Here are 20 killer tools recommended by entrepreneurs to cater all your needs – from effective social media marketing to sales and networking.

1. Streak (For managing emails)

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    Streak will power up your gmail and turn it into an actual CRM that will channel all your discussions into actions. There are different gmail add-ons available like Streak Sales to track your leads and close the deals faster or Streak Support to deal with urgent customer queries. It’s graphical, intuitive and comes with a free plan for up to 5 users.

    2. Casual (For managing projects)

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      A neat new app, re-inventing the way how you manage your projects. Organize all your tasks in a visual flowchart where you can easily track their dependencies, urgency and keep all comments in one place. Casual is extremely easy-to-use, graphically appealing and works great both for personal projects and small team collaborations. You can start using it for free and choose a relevant pricing plan afterwards.

      3. Rapportive (For smart networking)

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        An excellent browser add-on for outreach and networking. Rapportive pulls out all the data associated with a certain email address including all the information from your Linkedin profile, photo and other publicly available contacts like Skype, Twitter and other social media. Start sending better outreach letters today with all the information at hand. And did I mention this browser extension costs nothing?

        4. Slack (For better communication)

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          Slack brings team communication on the next level. With Slack you can create open channels for specific projects with different groups and topics everyone on the team can see and contribute to. You can upload files, add comments, inline images and video, reach link summaries within the discussion and Slack will make sure everything’s neatly organized. All  the data is conveniently searchable, so you won’t miss out on anything important again. The service is free and folks from Buzzfeed and About.me have already been raving about it.

          5. Strikingly (For a quick new website)

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            Yes that’s another new website builder. Yet what makes Strikingly stand out of the crowd is that it’s the best solution for non-coders. You can create a gorgeous mobile-friendly, multi page website in less than an hour. The platform also comes with a simple text editor, page analytics, beautiful site templates and a custom form builder. You can create a website on Strikingly domain for free, yet you’ll need to switch to a paid plan if you’d like to use your personal domain.

            6. Conspire (For fast network expansion)

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              Ever struggled with finding the right way of connect with someone from a higher-league or a well-known company? Conspire has you covered! Set up an account and let the service analyze your network and suggest you the best way to connect with any person or company. You don’t need to search for people who could introduce you or waste time sending emails to the wrong folks at the wrong time. Consipre is free to use. Just sign up and see how you can elevate your network connections.

              7. ZenPayroll (For effective payments)

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                Make sure your team gets paid on time and you don’t need to spend a gazillion of hours for that. ZenPayroll automatically calculates all the taxes, schedules payments and provides your employees with a beautiful paystub where they can see all their bonuses, reimbursements, vacation hours and much more. Moreover, Zen Payroll with generate all the contractor forms at no time and help you create a flexible payment schedule. You can test it for free and purchase a basic plan for just 29$.

                8. Fiverr (For micro-jobs)

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                  Fiverr is like a box of wonders – you can find a huge variety of fun, creative and useful services all sold for just 5$. From banner design to professional voice overs and social media promotion, Fiverr can have you covered at nearly any occasion, so you could have more time to focus on urgent matters. Can’t find a gig you need? You can always request it from the community and someone will show up to do it for you. Fiverr is an essential service for solopreneurs and small businesses with limited budget.

                  9. Zapier (For managing apps)

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                    Zapier is a cool new service to save you loads of time and sanity on organizing and transferring data between all your apps. It’s a powerful app integration service that will sync data sharing between all the apps you use and store it in one place. Currently Zapier supports over 300 apps and you can start using it for free or opt for a paid membership plan that suits your needs.

                    10. Clarity.fm (For professional advice)

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                      Feeling stuck on a certain problem and need an advice from a professional in the same field? That’s pretty much what Clarify is about. It’s a new marketplace that connects entrepreneurs with industry experts who are ready to share their experience and walk you through the problem for a fixed fee. Currently, there are over 30.000 members with some big names like Mark Cuban and Eric Ries who are ready to land you a help hand. Create an account, find an expert, schedule a call at the convenient time and talk everything over for as long as you need.

                      11. Quora (For answers to any question)

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                        What is the formula of a successful product launch? How can I expand my customer base? Where should I look for angel investors? Folks at Quora know it all. The community there is awesome and full of incredible professionals in various areas who are ready to share their experience and advice for free. Before asking your question, make sure you’ve searched the existing ones as Quora has already a ton of valuable knowledge published. Seriously, it’s one of the best sources of business advice you can get for free.

                        12. PeoplePerHour (For amazing freelance workforce)

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                          A smaller freelance marketplace compared to well-known Odesk and Elance, PeoplePerHour, however, has a higher concentration of talents and rock-start professionals. All of them pass a serious verification process before they can join, so there are low chances of running into con artists. PPH also has a huge marketplace of ready-to-buy fixed offers (hourlies) that vary from an hour of accounting work to a full scale online marketing campaign. Hiring and managing a freelance team goes extremely easy with their invoice system and customer protection policy.

                          13. Product Hunt (For hawking on new trends)

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                            Discover cool new products daily and keep an eye on the competition in your niche at the same time. Product Hunt will help you find new productive solutions for your niche, discover possible partners and get instant community feedback on your new product.

                            14. Unroll.me (For keeping Inbox Zero)

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                              As an entrepreneur you just have to stay in pace with all the industry news and posts from the influencers. However, don’t let your subscriptions flood your inbox. Unroll.me will help you with cleaning your inbox from unnecessary subscriptions. Instead of 20 emails, you’ll receive just one containing organized brief summaries from all the newsletters you read. It will be send at the time you specify just once a day.

                              15. Typeform (For beautiful surveys and forms)

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                                Customers’ feedback is one of the defining factors of your business success. With Typeform you can create appealing survey forms in just a few clicks. Include as many fields as you like, add multiple answers questions and receive detailed reporting and analysis after the forms are filled. Typeform has free and paid plans to choose from depending on your business needs.

                                16. Square (For easy credit card processing)

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                                  If your business is both online and offline, Square is your go-to app for processing credit card payments. It turns your device into an instant credit card terminal to conduct all the payments. The app is free, but you do pay a 2.75 percent fee for processing with every transaction. Square works with cards issued by most US, Canada and Japanese banks. Currently available for iOS only.

                                  17. MailChimp (For crafting newsletters)

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                                    Email marketing is among the most powerful techniques nowadays to drive sales and traffic for an online business. With Malchimp you can create customized subscribe forms, beautiful newsletters to funnel your sales or announce special deals, plus track opens, click rates and conversions. The service is free to use with paid plans available for advanced features.

                                    18. Mention (For monitoring your brand)

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                                      Never miss another mention of you brand on the web with Mention. It’s a simple tool that will send you alerts each time someone publishes a few good words about your company or talks about it on social media. Interacting and responding to your customers is the best strategy to turn them into lifelong fans and your brand promoters. Help the buzz grow and reply on time! The service offers a free 14 days trial and an array of paid plans to suit your needs.

                                      19. LucidCharts (For creating visual components)

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                                        Create appealing diagrams to illustrate your points and cater project management needs. LucidCharts are easy-to-use, comparable with most programs including Google apps and available in numerous formats for exporting. Besides, with this service you can create website and app mock-ups, flowcharts, org charts and much more. All the visuals you create can be shared instantly via email or social media, printed out as high-quality PDF or JPEG images. You can test it out for free and sign up for a paid plan afterwards.

                                        20. Hootsuite (For effective social media management)

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                                          Hootsuite is the ultimate helper for busy entrepreneurs who still want to stay active on social media. Link all your accounts, schedule all updates, track brand mentions and interact with your audience without spending the whole day for that. Hootsuite also offers detailed analytics insights and social marketing assistance from their professionals. You can opt for a free or pro plan depending on how much traffic and sales you drive through social channels.

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                                          Elena Prokopets

                                          Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                                          Last Updated on March 23, 2021

                                          Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

                                          Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

                                          One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

                                          The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

                                          You need more than time management. You need energy management

                                          1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

                                          How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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                                          I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

                                          I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

                                          2. Determine your “peak hours”

                                          Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

                                          Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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                                          My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

                                          In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

                                          Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

                                          3. Block those high-energy hours

                                          Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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                                          Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

                                          If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

                                          That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

                                          There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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                                          Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

                                          Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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