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5 Tech Skills Entrepreneurs Should Learn To Make Their Business More Competitive

5 Tech Skills Entrepreneurs Should Learn To Make Their Business More Competitive

To make a real go at it, entrepreneurs have to know a whole lot more than the business they’re entering. Skills with things like design software and an understanding of the web, the cloud and innovative marketing tactics are crucial for entrepreneurs who can’t afford to hire a whole staff right off the bat. Entrepreneurs everywhere, in every kind of business, should take note of these tech areas they need to be familiar with to compete in their markets.

1. Popular Workplace Software

Even though it’s often less efficient than the software most highly recommended on sites like Lifehack, you need to know all of the common types of software, whether you’re employees of a company or entrepreneurs of them. I was actually just tested on Microsoft Office for a job interview last week! It didn’t matter that I excelled at the superior Google Docs or that I was a master at Scrivener, a service which is at least as complicated and twice as useful. The only thing of import to those considering me for a position was that my skills with the inferior Microsoft World weren’t quite up to par. I know better now for next time.

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2. The Cloud

Since it’s where almost all data is going to end up eventually, you’re most definitely going to need to develop a mastery of the cloud. Whether that means utilizing popular services like Dropbox and Google Drive to share and collaborate on files, making use of innovative apps like Evernote and Trello to revolutionize your personal productivity or just learning how to keep your online files safe, getting a strong grasp of the cloud should be a high priority for entrepreneurs.

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3. Web Design

Sure, you can hire someone to design a website for you, but knowing the ins and outs of your web home is absolutely indispensable. A web designer won’t be on call 24/7 when you need to make a necessary change or add an update to your site, but you will be. Lynda.com is a powerful way to learn web design at your own pace for a far more reasonable price than you’d have to pay for in-person classes, adding tools to your toolkit that will help you better understand and utilize the world wide web.

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4. Graphic Design

One of the first thing prospective clients and customers notice when looking at your product is the design, which makes it paramount for you to know well. Even if you have no intentions of designing logos or flyers or e-books yourself, you need to at least have an eye for design so you know when someone you hired to do the work is actually committed to the project. Lynda.com is a wonderful resource for both web and graphic design – for learning both the fundamentals and advanced features of popular graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and more.

5. Social Media

Any entrepreneurs who think that social media is solely about instant messaging, photos of babies and what someone had for dinner needs a sharp knock to the head. Social media is becoming an increasingly important marketing tool for almost every kind of business. The only prerequisite for social media is for a company to want to build an audience, and you can’t make sales if there’s no one around to hear your sales pitch. Instead of hiring someone to handle Facebook, Twitter, etc., micro-businesses should have entrepreneurs who know how to make the best use of social media themselves, with apps like Hootsuite or Buffer. With the ability to manage social media and the other skills on this list, you’ll be off to a good start.

Featured photo credit: Trading stocks on a computer/OTA Photos via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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