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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

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                                          Trending in Productivity

                                          1 How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive 2 How to Be A Genuine Expert in Your Field 3 How to Get Unstuck and Get Back On Track to Achieving Your Goals 4 What to Do When Bored at Work (And the Reason Why You Feel Bored) 5 10 Things High Achievers Do Differently to Attain Greatness

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                                          Last Updated on September 17, 2018

                                          How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

                                          How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

                                          Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

                                          Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

                                          All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

                                          Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

                                          How bad really is multitasking?

                                          It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

                                          Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

                                          This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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                                          We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

                                          So what to do about it?

                                          Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

                                          Now, forget about how to multitask!

                                          Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

                                          1. Get enough rest

                                          When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

                                          This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

                                          When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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                                          2. Plan your day

                                          When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

                                          When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

                                          Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

                                          3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

                                          I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

                                          I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

                                          Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

                                          4. When at your desk, do work

                                          We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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                                          Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

                                          5. Learn to say no

                                          Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

                                          Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

                                          By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

                                          6. Turn off notifications on your computer

                                          For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

                                          Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

                                          7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

                                          Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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                                          You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

                                          The bottom line

                                          Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

                                          Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

                                          Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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