The Founder’s Toolkit

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Web Services to Make You More Productive

Company founders are always on the move. You’re always thinking of new ideas, networking, building relationships with customers, and going over monthly income statements. Not to mention getting new business to keep your own business afloat.

But aren’t you tired of feeling like nothing is getting accomplished?

That’s why I’d like to suggest moving to web applications to get things done and easily manage day-to-day operations of your business. You probably still wear 15 hats of a founder. This means the closest you’ll get to giving up control is web apps (until you have enough hours to hire a part-time person).

While many of these apps are available on mobile and web, I suggest using the web version because you get a bigger picture on a larger screen. It’s hard to quickly make changes on your smartphone when the screen is just four inches. When you’re on your laptop or desktop, I believe you’re more productive because of the amount of screen real estate.

So which web apps should you use?

There are tons out there. It’s overwhelming to pick a couple because you have no idea if they’re going to actually help you. Today, I want to introduce you to five applications I’ve found to help get more done in my day. They’re applicable to any small business owner. Plus, they help you focus on what needs to happen in your business.

I hope you’ll be able to use these tools to increase your own productivity.


fancyhands

 

 

Similar to virtual assistants, Fancy Hands is staffed by real human beings – no automation here. With five tasks available to you for just $24.99/month, you can task Fancy Hands employees to do pretty much anything. From selecting the best hotel in St. Louis, to finding the perfect flight out on Monday morning, or even rescheduling your haircut, you’ll save tons of time. With Fancy Hands, you won’t have to deal with the language barrier and time difference of overseas assistants.

Why it makes sense for founders:

Let’s say you value your time at $50/hour – and that’s pretty conservative. That means the lowest price plan, at $24.99/month, would be 30 minutes of your time. You can pay someone to do five tasks (that would easily take you more than six minutes apiece). Free up part of your day to do what you want instead of trying to find a swanky hotel for your mother-in-law.

What I’d love to see:

Integration with TaskRabbit (Yep—bonus application to help you). Fancy Hands handles many of your virtual needs and TaskRabbit handles your real-life needs like donation pick-up, dinner party planning, and house cleaning. Combined, they’d be a powerhouse of help.


bidsketch

 

 

Proposals for new business need a face-lift  They’re normally put together in Microsoft Word and then a PDF is created. Shouldn’t these proposals be visually appealing? That’s where Bidsketch comes in. Bidsketch quickly creates beautiful, easy-to-read, web-based proposals starting at $19/month with a 14-day free trial. Now, there are tons of proposal apps out there. For me, Bidsketch is the cream of the crop because of their compatibility with many popular services: Basecamp, Harvest, FreshBooks, etc. Making applications speak to each other is always a benefit.

Why it makes sense for founders:

If you deal with client proposals, they can be a pain to create. Plus, they’re probably stuck in Microsoft Word format. Sending a word document as a proposal could date your company and poorly reflect your company’s credibility. And don’t you want to get rid of that pesky fax machine? Take your proposals to the web and manage them from a useful interface. Clients can approve and sign in one place.

What I’d love to see:

Bidsketch sell pre-formatted proposals. If you’re a founder just starting out, creating your first proposal is quite daunting. Having industry-specific proposals would help smaller companies get more out of the software.


trell

 

 

 

I love this tool. It’s similar to Kanban in that it uses cards to increase project efficiency. With board-specific projects, you’re able to layout everything you need to do, categorize to-dos, and assign them to your team. Then, when you want to know where your project stands, log in and see what’s in progress and what’s been completed. Trello is completely free to get started.

Why it makes sense for founders:

As a founder you’re the chief cook and bottle-washer for the first couple years. Whether you’ve got a team of 20 employees,  you’ve got more on your plate than anybody. While it’s hard to give up control of a business function, Trello keeps you focused on your personal task list and that of others in the company. It’s the best 30,000-foot view money can buy.

What I’d love to see:

I’ve used Trello for personal project management and to-do lists. However, I stopped for a couple of months because I kept on forgetting to log in and move tasks from “to-do” to “done”. Even though I completed tasks outside of Trello, I’d love an email nudging me to get back in and complete a couple of tasks.


unrollme

 

 

 

Out of every tool on here, this is my favorite. Why? Because email is my biggest time-suck. The solution is Unroll.me. Just sync your Gmail account up to unroll.me and it removes all of those pesky subscription emails, daily deals, and magazine spam from your inbox and sends them to you in a daily rollup. Now, all you’re left with is the important things. The best feature is the ability to unsubscribe from anything in your rollup with one click. But don’t worry. Want to send something to your inbox and not the rollup? You can do that from their easy-to-use interface. Unroll.me is also 100% free!

Why it makes sense for founders:

Who doesn’t want less email? Unroll.me has taken my inbox from littered with daily deals and in-store promotions to clean as a whistle. I now get less than 20 emails a day and almost all of them are important, actionable emails. For any founder, it’s nice to look at your inbox and see emails you need to read.

What I’d love to see:

Better management of emails that get sent to the black hole of death. Unroll.me is the judge of what gets nixed from your inbox initially. However, you’re also able to label what you want sent to Unroll.me. When I come across something I want sent to my inbox, I have to login to Unroll.me and figure out which rollup the email is in—which day, find the sender, and send it directly to my inbox. Basically, I’m asking for a slightly better user experience.


dropbox

 

 

 

Dropbox launched in 2008 and I’ve just started using it. It’s one of the best tools for traveling workers who have multiple devices. Dropbox can sync up to your phone, tablet, desktop, and laptop, perfect for times when you’re in one location but your files are somewhere else. You get 2GB to start (which is plenty of space for pictures and files), and it’s easy to get free space, too.

Why it makes sense for founders:

You can keep everything in spot – no matter where you are. Need to edit a spreadsheet but you’re at lunch across town? Use Dropbox from your phone. Want to show off your new user acquisition to your co-founders? Use Dropbox. Best of all, you can share anything with a simple link—from folders to individuals files. Biggest cost-savings? No more driving back and forth from your house to your office.

What I’d like to see:

This is tough for me because Dropbox is near-perfect. The only thing I can think of to make it better is multiple-account management. I have a personal dropbox and a company dropbox. Maybe that’s my fault, but it’d be great to merge the two.

These five apps have saved me tons of time, both personally and professionally. From one founder to another, good luck with trying to get as much time back as possible. It’s tough, but with these apps, you’re headed in the right direction.

Image: iStockphoto

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Michael Adams
Michael Adams is the Marketing Manager for Fourtopper, a leading restaurant website design company.
Michael Adams

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About The Author

Michael Adams is the Marketing Manager for Fourtopper, a leading restaurant website design company.

1 comments
jsmith0211
jsmith0211

Don't forget Cyfe.com! It's a great way for founders to keep track of their startup all from one dashboard.