The days of the rolodex are far behind us – so far that if you’re an entrepreneur under 30 you might not even know what one is (clue – look left). It’s now possible to build and grow a business using hardware that weighs less than a kilo – that’s 112g for the smartphone and and 816g for the laptop. Ah, but who’s counting?
The problem is that, like with everything in life, it’s what’s inside that counts. The lightest, fastest laptop won’t get you anywhere unless you load it with the world’s best apps and tools for entrepreneurs.
We’ve rounded up eight of the best tools for entrepreneurs. Don’t step into the office without them.
Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, there’s very little you can achieve without some form of collaboration with other human beings. But collaboration has its own perils, and these have been well-documented over the years, by business people worn thin by collaboration overload.
This is where Trello comes in. At its most basic, it’s like a shared noticeboard where you and your collaborators can share ideas, projects, updates and attachments. Trello is the online project management tool for entrepreneurs and large businesses alike, so take a look now if you haven’t already.
Slack is more than just a business chat app, and not just because it offers conference calling as well as messaging. Because Slack is organised around different channels, it works almost like an old-fashioned transistor radio, except that tuning into different channels doesn’t take any time at all. You can have dedicated channels for different projects, as well as teams and you can even use Slack for private messages between individuals. And, because it’s a business app, it’s really easy to share documents, either as attachments or as Google docs. The search function is very powerful, so you’ll always be able to get to the exact comment you’re looking for.
While Google Drive is a cloud drive first, it’s actually one of the greatest ways to share files between users and, best of all, it’s free. The interface is super-easy to navigate, and almost everyone you’ll come across as an entrepreneur will have a Google account, so it’s the perfect way to share documents that you don’t want to send to just anyone.
On top of the sharing facility, Google Drive also lets you collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations, so that everyone can have their input. Saving is immediate, so the stress of lost work is greatly reduced.
If you’re an entrepreneur and your business is moving fast, you often need a quick and easy way to hire a freelancer to get a straightforward job done for you. This could be anything from designing a logo to programming and even business consultancy. There are a few freelancer marketplaces out there, but one of the best is Fiverr. It’s a great way to grow fast in a lean way, without having to invest heavily in building a team that you might need to reshuffle only a few months down the line.
If you’re an entrepreneur it’s very hard to tune out to give your body (eyes, hands, back) a break from the devices that are keeping your business afloat. Workrave is an oldie but goldie app that reminds you when to take breaks to flex your hands, stretch your legs or relax your eyes.
It’s extremely hard to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to what your body needs, but if you don’t look after it now, you could burn out. Occupational health doesn’t matter any less just because you’re the boss.
Xero’s easy-to-use software belies its hefty power. This is one accounting tool that will support your business from its peppercorn days right up to wherever you want to grow. As well as offering sophisticated bookkeeping and accounting functionality, the great thing about Xero is its great app marketplace, which allows you to bolt on perfectly integrated and brilliant extras, including tools for inventory, time-tracking, CRM, reporting and payroll.
Once you’ve got your business rolling, you’ll be facing one of the unavoidable parts of an entrepreneur’s life: the need to spend. But if your business’ hard-won cash is flowing out as well as in, you’ll need an easy way to control it. In all likelihood, you became an entrepreneur because you wanted to find a form of freedom – whether financial or occupational. Nobody goes into business because they like hoarding receipts in shoe boxes and pouring over credit card bills. That’s where Soldo comes in.
All of the things that entrepreneurs hate most about managing their expenses suddenly become easy with Soldo. With integrated Mastercard® cards, a web-based admin dashboard and a snappy app, Soldo is an ‘anywhere’ solution that saves you time (and therefore money). Card users can capture receipts in-app, and you as the business owner have total control over everyone’s budgets and spending, right down to the nitty gritty. You can create cards for unlimited users too, meaning that Soldo can support your growth forever.
This last one is only slightly a joke. Sleep is everything. We know this, and yet so many of us ignore it. In fact, according to a study by McKinsey, sleep-deprived brains lose the ability to make accurate judgements. McKinsey has joined a chorus of business leaders calling for more attention to be paid to employees’ sleep hygiene, since the effect of sleep deprivation on employees is a cost no business can afford.