Wish you had a personal assistant? Wondering what it would be like if you had a full time office manager for your small biz? Starting a business on a budget is hard but you’re about to discover you have more resources than you actually think. Just like you can cut costs by using a free website builder, you can save lots of time and money by unlocking the full potential of your Smartphone.
Yes: that 5-inch device in your pocket is actually a fully-stocked, virtual office right at your fingertips. The secret, as always, is in finding that perfect set of apps that meets your own specific needs. Here are out top selections along with some first-hand reviews and tips. To unlock the power and full potential of that little gadget, we’re going to offer some tips on how to tap into that virtual office that’s with you all day – and all night.
Here are a some fabulous apps that will turn your smartphone into a killer virtual office:
Your secretary is the one you can’t live without. The personal assistant who knows where everything is. They manage your calendar, set up your phone calls and make sure your documents are organized and easy to find when you need them.
There’s no one app we know of that does it all, but a combination of several apps can make sure you are covered.
For starters, download an app for conference calls. Skype or Google Talk work well and are free, allowing you to talk to anyone around the world, right from your phone. We recommend using well known phone apps so that everyone you need to call will have the same app.
Google Drive makes it incredible easy to share and edit documents, Excel spreadsheets and presentations. Accessible from your computer, tablet and smartphone, you can use Google Drive to organize your docs into folders, make comments and share at will.
If you need help managing expenses or struggle to organize all those receipts lying around, Expensify will be a lifesaver. A free app, it allows you to track expenses by photographing receipts. It will also track your mileage and sync with your QuickBooks account.
Hate typing? Imagine if at the sound of your voice, your phone would take care of writing your emails, posting to your social media channels and even making phone calls. Tempted? Then check out Vokul. The hands-free app can transcribe speech, making it easy to get work done while driving, or anytime you just don’t feel like typing into that tiny little screen. Another great app for speech recognition is Dragon Go.
Have great ideas while you’re driving? Remember something you have to do while dropping the kids off at school. There are dozens of note taking apps to choose from but we love the little-known Google Keep. You can easily create reminders and todo lists, or upload a quick snapshot to help you jog your memory. And since it’s made by Google, it will easily sync with your email, calendar and Google Drive.
Many jobs require collaborating with people in different locations. If your business includes group work, then project management systems like Evernote, Basecamp and Trello will help you stay organized and efficient. The program will help you and your coworkers establish clear objectives, define roles and assign and track tasks. Their mobile app makes it easy to check a project’s progress on the go.
If you travel frequently for business, then TripIt should be promptly placed on your phone’s homescreen. The well-designed app manages your travel plans like a pro. Simply email them your travel itineraries and they will make sure you know when and where you’re flying. You can easily view your travel plans from your phone and you’ll receive helpful reminders before your flights. Paid features will help you track your airline points, find better seats, receive real time flight alerts and more
Smartphones are powerful machines that do far more than we typically ask of them, but they can also be a timekiller and a distraction. (Especially if you’re one of the 93 million people playing Candy Crush each day.)
We hope these great apps will help make your life a little bit easier. And since we know that independent business owners are often guilty of working around the clock (and cell phones tend to facilitate those never-ending work days), we want to offer one last piece of advice:
Before you go to bed, shut off that phone! Having your phone on while you sleep is a proven way to disturb your sleep, so one of the best ways this little virtual office can help you be more efficient is if you remember to power it off before you hit the sack.
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