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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 21 Systems to Boost Business Productivity for Good

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 21 Systems to Boost Business Productivity for Good


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    What productivity system can you not live without as an entrepreneur?

    1. Manage Projects With Asana

      Although Asana is a project management tool it doubles as a productivity system by making our team and clients more efficient every day. By tracking, assigning and follow up on individual tasks, Asana allows us to eliminate the noise and focus on what action has to be taken today.

      Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

      2. Share Files Through Dropbox

      Annie Wang

        This must-have app is installed on all our laptops, tablets, and phones. Since we’re often traveling or working remotely, Dropbox is absolutely essential in helping the whole team stay literally in sync. In addition, it makes updating and distributing decks that need to stay extremely up-to-date, like our Media Kit, very simple and efficient.

        Annie Wang, Her Campus Media

        3. Check It Off on Ta-da List

          Ta-da List is the simplest way that I’ve found to create and share a checklist of action items for our team. Team members claim the items that they are working on by checking them off. We have staff ranging from Palo Alto to Senegal (an eight-hour time difference), and Ta-da List keeps us on the same page.

          Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

          4. Producteev Keeps Up Productivity

            Producteev is a cross-platform productivity application. It works online, on Desktop and across mobile applications to help streamline your personal or corporate activities. Producteev is ideal for small teams and we use it extensively in my businesses.

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            Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

            5. Keep Track of Tasks on Any.DO

              I organize my life around “to-dos” and without a doubt the best app to organize these tasks is Any.DO. It’s simple and beautiful, which makes it a pleasure to use on a daily basis.

              Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

              6. Track the Noteworthy on Evernote

                Without a doubt, Evernote. I keep all meeting notes, client info and personal ideas in one place, and am able to access anything and everything from any of my devices on the go. I’ve used it religiously for the past couple years, and can’t help but wonder, “What the heck did I do before Evernote?”

                Matt Cheuvront, Proof Branding

                7. Get It Back With RescueTime

                Jennifer Vargas

                  RescueTime is a great app that runs in the background on your computer. It graphs your activity and breaks it down onto a scale from “very distracting” to “very productive.” It helps me to find the leaks in my productivity so that I can address them and get the most out of my time.

                  Jennifer Vargas, Accompl.sh

                  8. Stop Guessing With Wunderlist

                    Wunderlist has become a wonder for me. Not only is it very easy to input all of your projects, your clients and their associated priorities, but the accessibility of it constantly syncing to all of your portable devices, such as your smartphone, tablet and computer. It is unrivaled and has made my life that much easier, whether in the office or on-the-go.

                    Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

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                    9. Root Back to BasecampHQ

                    Roger Bryan

                      I’ve used a ton of others and even tried to have my own built, but I always come back to BasecampHQ for project management.

                      Roger Bryan, RCBryan & Associates

                      10. Keep an Eye Out With Trello

                      Patrick Curtis

                        Trello allows me to easily keep track of our major tasks and the stage of development on each. It’s a simple and intuitive interface is perfect for web development teams. Best of all, it’s free.

                        Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com

                        11. Money Matters on Freshbooks

                        Susan Strayer

                          Client perception is important when you’re small. They need to see you have your act together, especially on the basics. If you can’t get that right, how can you handle their business? Invoicing and expensing with Freshbooks makes it easy for me to look good and work efficiently.

                          Susan Strayer, Exaqueo

                          12. Day-to-Day on Google Calendar

                          Bhavin Parikh

                            Without Google Calendar I’d never get anything done. Since the calendar is web-based, I always have access to it whether it’s on my laptop, iPad, or smartphone. I also use the calendar to block off times when I want to focus on a task for several hours straight.

                            Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh, Inc.

                            13. Capture Leads on Instant Customer

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                            Michael Margolis

                              This CRM system allows me to capture leads when public speaking or networking. From the audience, people can SMS to opt-in to my email list and special offer. Or they can give me a business card, and minutes after I scan it in, it sends them a series of pre-programmed emails with follow-up resources, and a promo offer.

                              Michael Margolis, Get Storied

                              14. Top the To-Do on Google Tasks

                              Eric Bahn

                                I’m a very process-oriented person and I need to have a list of things to accomplish every day. Google Tasks, which is part of your Gmail, is a free task-list service. I update my tasks constantly and it keeps me focused each day.

                                Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT

                                15. Mix Business With Pleasure on Yammer

                                Natalie MacNeil

                                  Yammer keeps my whole team organized, on track, and in-the-know on all important communication for a particular project. It’s where we share files, discuss goals, and most importantly, where my virtual team has an opportunity to build real relationships with their peers.

                                  Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

                                  16. Stay Up-to-Date Through Glasscubes

                                  Heather Huhman

                                    My team and I use Glasscubes on a daily basis for managing documents, keeping track of tasks and organizing information. It’s great because it’s really cut down on the amount of emails we were sending back and forth — and helps keep track of content and its status.

                                    Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

                                    17. Keep It Clear

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                                    Derek Shanahan

                                      I’m finding a nice balance with Clear, a new iPhone app that’s gotten tons of attention because of the way the designers rethought the touch screen user interface. Underneath, it’s a very basic to-do system, but I’ve never been big on bells and whistles when it comes to productivity. The truly incredible UI is the kicker, and seems to fit well with how I prioritize in my head, so it’s stuck!

                                      Derek Shanahan, Foodtree

                                      18. Just Do It With Do.com

                                      Lucas Sommer

                                        I use Do.com to manage all of my various business projects. It helps me track who is doing what and what is left to be done on any given project. Track time, billable hours, share files, etc. — This site can do it all for free. When I discovered it, I knew I would never go back to emails or Excel for managing projects.

                                        Lucas Sommer, Audimated

                                        19. Hire a Remote Assistant

                                        Garrett Neiman

                                          As a startup social entrepreneur, there is absolutely no way that I could afford a traditional executive assistant. Through YourRemoteAssistant.com, I have a full-time assistant for just $1,099 per month. This serve has enabled me to delegate in an entirely different way at a cost that my organization can afford.

                                          Garrett Neiman, CollegeSpring

                                          20. Pomodoro Technique for Top Productivity

                                          Brenton Gieser

                                            Apps and project management tools can help you manage and prioritize tasks effectively, but when it comes to getting stuff done, use the Pomodoro Technique. Dedicate laser focus to one and only one task for 25 minutes — make sure to use a timer! Once the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break. I find that when I use this technique, I tend to not get distracted by small urgent things.

                                            Brenton Gieser, JoynIn

                                            21. Teux Deux

                                              Teux Deux is perfect for simple to-do lists and I love the accompanying iPhone app!

                                              Erin Blaskie, BSETC

                                              (Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

                                              More by this author

                                              9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

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                                              1 10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business 2 Is Memory Enhancement Possible? 12 Ways That Actually Work 3 How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter 4 4 Self-Help Tips You’ll Want to Avoid 5 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

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                                              Last Updated on June 13, 2019

                                              10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business

                                              10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business

                                              Take a minute and think about some of the most successful people you know.

                                              I’d bet they’re great with people, are super-productive, and think differently than most. After all, that’s how they got to be where they are today.

                                              Jealous of them? You don’t have to be.

                                              You can learn these same skills by studying some of the best business and success books that can help you take your game to the next level. Here’re 10 of my favorites:

                                              1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

                                                Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book that helped to launch a personal growth empire should be required reading for everyone who wants to learn how to build and nurture relationships for a lifetime.

                                                Read this book and you’ll learn some simple advice than can help you build popularity points within your current network and just as important, expand it to others.

                                                Get the book here!

                                                2. Focal Point by Brian Tracy

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                                                  Got a lot on your to-do list? Of course you do. But what separates productive people from others is their ability to focus on a singular task at a time, and getting it done before moving on to the next one.

                                                  Sounds simple in theory, but this can be extremely difficult in practice. In Focal Point Brian Tracy offers tips to help build discipline and organization into your day so you can get more stuff done.

                                                  Get the book here!

                                                  3. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

                                                    Creating a “me-too” product can be easy at the start but can doom you to business failure. That’s why marketing maverick Seth Godin recommends creating a product that is truly different from anything already available in the marketplace.

                                                    In essence by making the product different you’ll be building the marketing into the actual product development…which just makes your actual marketing a helluva lot easier.

                                                    Get the book here!

                                                    4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

                                                      If you’ve struggled with procrastination or small thinking, this is the book for you. In it Schwartz offers practical advice that can help you get inspired and motivated to create a bigger life for yourself. And with it can be a more lucrative and rewarding career.

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                                                      Get the book here!

                                                      5. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel

                                                        It can be difficult for lots of people to keep things in perspective, especially when working on high priority and urgent projects at work.

                                                        Man’s Search for Meaning can be a life-changing book in the sense that it can open your eyes to a first-hand experience of one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind, while also teaching a valuable lesson about having purpose.

                                                        Get the book here!

                                                        6. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

                                                          Solo-entrepreneurs can learn a ton from the guy who made lifestyle design popular. But guess what? The 4HWW isn’t just for guys and girls who want to start a small online business.

                                                          Smart moves like outsourcing, following the 80/20 rule, and automating processes should be made by entry-level workers and established executives alike.

                                                          Get the book here!

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                                                          7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

                                                            I remember sitting on a couch and opening this book on a Saturday morning, thinking I’d get through a chapter and then get on with my day. Instead, about 12 hours later, I was finished with the book. The concepts in it were mind-blowing to me.

                                                            To think that thoughts can create your reality sounded a little far-fetched at first. But after going through the book and understanding that your thoughts create your beliefs, which lead to actions, which then lead to habits….well you can get where I’m going with this.

                                                            If you focus your thoughts on success, achieving it will be much more likely than thinking about obstacles, failures and everything else that can get in your way.

                                                            Get the book here!

                                                            8. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

                                                              If you’re going to read one management book in your life, this should be it. It’s simple. You can read it in an afternoon. And the advice works.

                                                              Get the book here!

                                                              9. The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries

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                                                                Before you create any sort of business you’ll want to give Lean Start-Up a read through. Doing so can save you money, time and other resources you could have potentially wasted otherwise.

                                                                Get the book here!

                                                                10. The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar

                                                                  The story Randy Komisar shares in the Monk and the Riddle offers advice about not just about how you need to think when starting a new business, but also about how to build a life you’re passionate about.

                                                                  Understanding the technical aspects of launching a start-up is great, but if you don’t have the staying power to stick with it when the going gets tough then it’s not likely to work.

                                                                  This book can help you understand this lesson before you spend blood, sweat and tears on a project that you’re heart isn’t into.

                                                                  Get the book here!

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                                                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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