The Communication Hackers Blog
February 20, 2018
Four Productivity Tools for Busy Business Owners
Thanks for joining us! This is a members-only premium article in our Favorite Things series. In this series, we share the digital marketing tools that we’ve discovered and actually use ourselves, after almost two years of testing and experimenting. We’ve done the research and test-driving, so you don’t have to. Today’s topic: productivity tools for busy business owners.
No affiliate or promotional links. We are committed to providing you with unbiased digital marketing advice. That means nothing you find in this, or any other series, will ever contain affiliate or promotional links. Rest assured that when we recommend something, it’s because we use it and like it. We never recommend products, companies, or tools because we get a kickback.
In this post, we’ll be sharing our favorite productivity tools
The thing about being a business owner is you’re always busy. Ever feel that way? Do you feel like your mind is always running in 5 different directions at the same time? Often wonder how you’ll fit everything in? For us, time literally is our most precious resource and as we juggle two side hustles and a full-time job. There are certain productivity tools that are total lifesavers. Without these tools, we couldn’t be half as productive as are and would certainly have lost our minds a long time ago.
The productivity tools
Evernote – searchable, shareable note-taking anywhere
You never know where you’ll be when great ideas pop into your head. Waiting in line at the grocery store, at the gym, waiting for your food to be brought out at a restaurant… anywhere. Without a tool to capture these ideas, you could lose them forever – maybe even the next million-dollar one! Evernote is our favorite mobile note-taking app. Huge portions of the ideas behind Communication Hackers were recorded in Evernote notes! With pretty sophisticated editing tools, you can even brainstorm, outline, and write entire blog posts directly on your phone in Evernote so you can be productive literally anywhere!! The coolest thing is that Evernote is available for virtually all of your devices: laptops, iPhones, Android phones, tablets… So you can start a note on one device, continue on another, and retrieve it on a third!
Evernote is perfect for teams too. You can share individual notes or entire notebooks and the sync function works pretty seamlessly and perfectly in our experience.
Finally, all of our notes are infinitely searchable, and quickly too. Wanna know when you wrote the phrase “killer idea?” Whether it was yesterday or last decade, the search function will serve it up in an instant.
If you’re a busy business owner, Evernote belongs in your toolbox.
Details: Evernote website. Free basic account. Minimally priced premium features including additional storage, priority uploading of images, and ability to sync more devices.
Grammarly – your very own copy editor
Few things make you look more like an amateur than poor grammar or spelling. Of course, the problem is, spell-checker only works in certain apps (like Microsoft Word) and who can afford their own copy-editor right? Well, the folks at Grammarly heard us loud and clear and gave us a powerful spelling and grammar-checking tool that works (almost) everywhere.
Want to make sure emails to clients look good so you don’t let dumb grammar mistakes erode their trust (or get misunderstood)? Grammarly has you covered with an Outlook plugin.
Need an extra eye on your blog posts so they make you look good? Grammarly works on just about any website you’re on. In fact, Grammarly is giving us helpful hints on our spelling and grammar as we type this very blog post (it just told us about the missing comma after “Of course” at the beginning of this paragraph.
Look your best across all of your digital marketing with Grammarly!
Details: Grammarly website. Free basic account including plugins for Microsoft Office products. Upgrade options for even more intelligent copy-editing (like editing for a specific style of writing).
Cloudapp – screen capture, video capture, & annotation too
Ever wanted to describe something on your computer screen to someone and wish you could just snap a pic and mark it up or make a quick video of it? Maybe you even tried hobbling together a solution using your iPhone that didn’t work quite so good (not to mention the 5+ steps it takes). This is a problem when you’re trying share information with friends and family. When sharing info is part of your business, that problem starts to cost you money.
Cloudapp is our go-to solution to easily take screen grabs and even capture video so we can explain things really easily. We find ourselves using Cloudapp all the time – whether we’re collaborating with each other remotely and want to explain something real quick, working with a client and need to explain what we just found on their website, or are calling to customer service for some app we have and want to show them what we need fixed.
You’ll want to add Cloudapp to your toolbox for sure. It will make your life much easier anytime you need to explain something digital to anyone.
Details: Cloudapp website. Free basic account. Upgraded accounts offer longer video capture length, more storage, and more bandwidth.
Slack – team collaboration at its best
In the digital age, communication often means email. Email might be fine for customers, old roommates, or people you’d like to keep at a distance but it downright sucks for communication between teammates. Attachments can be clunky, privacy is a nightmare, send delays can result in your teammate down the hall cursing you and yelling “where’s that file again?” and don’t even try to do anything useful with the search function.
We’ve entirely jettisoned email for team communication and use Slack instead. Slack is one of the biggest growing players in the small business and entrepreneurial scene and it’s no wonder. Think of Slack as secure, infinitely searchable, highly organized instant messaging. You can easily attach images, video, URLs, or just about anything else you can think of to your Slack conversations so you can get more work done! Oh, and the list of Slack integrations is endless. For example, we use a Drift Bot on our website to be as responsive as possible to our customers and the Slack-Drift integration allows us to answer Drift messages right in our Slack stream. It’s like magic!
If you haven’t migrated your team communications to Slack yet, you’re really missing out on some huge productivity gains and super cool integrations.
Details: Slack website. Free basic account. Upgraded accounts for unlimited archiving/searching, guest access, screen sharing, and more.
Here’s to more digital productivity!
There you have it. Our favorite digital productivity tools! These tools will have you doing much more in less time and staying sane in the process.
We’d love to hear from you! Have you tried any of these tools? What do you think? Did we miss any of your favorite productivity tools? Let us know in the comments or come drop us a line on our Facebook page.
November 9, 2017
Have you been paying attention to the Airbnb revolution?
Essentially Airbnb has totally disrupted the hotel and hospitality industry. With its killer platform it has revolutionized the way people travel. Some hotels have tried to ignore Airbnb (or have complained to regulatory authorities about them) and they are suffering. Others have adapted and have become more competitive in the digital space.
Of course Airbnb is just one of many examples. We can talk about Uber, Avvo, Betterment, etc, etc.
Have you thought about what this all means for your business?
Well, unless you have some rare business that cannot work better on a completely digital platform, here are the key takeaways.
- You’d better be building a digital brand. You’d better be spending an inordinate amount of time learning the digital landscape and figuring out how your business will stand out there. Those businesses and professionals that don’t have a digital brand won’t be in business in 2020. Digital brands aren’t built on credentials either. So leave your MBA, PhD, or JD, etc at the door when you’re building your online reputation. People are realizing that these letters don’t necessarily translate into value. Instead, they’re focusing on what kind of content you produce, your reviews from other customers or clients, and what your social media presence looks like.
- Make use of the platform. Avvo.com has completely revolutionized the legal industry. It has given consumers unprecedented access to crowd-sourced reviews about lawyers, has massively incentivized lawyers to give out lots of free advice and to change their fee structures (read: flat fees) and, most importantly, it has given lawyers a platform to reach LOTS more clients. Problem is, many lawyers resent Avvo because of how it has disrupted the legal industry and refuse to advertise there or even to claim their profile (which exists regardless). These are the lawyers who are probably complaining to the state bar associations about Avvo. These are also the ones who are bleeding red when it comes to revenue. You can’t stop the digital train and as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Be open to using platforms that are made available to you.
- Build platforms, not products. Are you the more enterprising type? Wanna build something digital? Well learn from Uber and build a platform, not just a product. With Uber, the individual drivers are offering a product (and some are even doing pretty well doing so). However, the clear winners are the owners of Uber since they created the very platform where all this business takes place. Platforms beat products every time.
- Keep looking for opportunities to be the first on scene for new digital and social platforms so you can build attention there. Attention is the #1 most important commodity in the digital world (thanks for teaching me that Garyvee). The first people to build huge followings on Twitter were huge winners in their fields. Same goes for Youtube and Vine (even if the latter was short lived). Now it’s Instagram’s heyday and soon to be Snapchat. Understand that platforms come and go and that the risk-takers who take the time to build enterprises early on the successful ones win. Bigtime. Be willing to capitalize on the next one to come along and let go of ones that no longer work. That means ditching your Myspace account (finally).
Want some free training? Before we wrap up: are you ready to add Instagram to your digital marketing plan? If so you’ve gotta check out our FREE “Instagram for Small Business” training. Access this on-demand webinar here!
Bottom line. The internet is changing EVERYTHING and it isn’t slowing down. Be smart and strategic and the world literally is your oyster. Just don’t be the one who thinks “this tech thing” is a fad. Otherwise you’ll be working for your competitor who realizes it isn’t.
Now to you. What do you think about the Airbnb revolution? Has this article made your day? Made you mad? What are you doing for your business’ digital marketing? Let me know in the comments or come sound off on our Facebook page!