Running a business has always been an involved and time-consuming endeavour at the best of times.
Entrepreneurs famously have to be willing to work several different job roles at once, often flat-out, in order to get their fledgeling businesses off the ground. And companies which are more well-established have their own unique set of challenges, too.
One interesting fact of the modern world, however, is that it presents various opportunities for improved efficiency and effective business management, which, even recently, were difficult to imagine.
The virtually limitless array of apps and services that exist today can help you to optimise your business and get the most out of your professional life, with little in the way of added complexity.
Here are a few ways in which modern apps and services can help you take your business to the next level.
By holding you accountable to your professional goals
To be successful, a business, and an entrepreneur, both need to be accountable. You need to be able to pursue your professional targets with singular purpose, and you need to be able to put as many obstacles in the way of any tendency to procrastinate, as possible.
In fact, accountability tends to be one of the most pressing issues that faces new entrepreneurs and the newly self-employed, generally.
In the world of conventional work, there are entire structures in place to keep workers on track. Managers, and supervisors, and shareholders, and all the rest.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to do the job of holding yourself maximally accountable, on your own. A single moment spent distractedly spent surfing the web can have devastating consequences.
Fortunately, a whole array of apps and online services have been developed specifically to boost accountability in individuals with ambitious goals. One of these services is StickK, which allows you to set monetised “commitment contracts”. If you fail to meet a target, the pre-agreed amount of money will leave your bank account and end up somewhere you don’t want it to be.
BeeMinder is a similar service, but focuses more on routine behaviours than one-off commitments. With BeeMinder, you lose money when you stray off a “golden path”, and the further and more often you stray, the more money you lose.
Apps like these — and several others besides — work firmly on the premise of making you “put your money where your mouth is.”
By streamlining the process of handling accounting and finances
Accounting and financial management are time-consuming processes for any business; and if you’re an entrepreneur without a dedicated team to deal with these things, you may well find that you end up routinely spending an unacceptable amount of time on these necessary “admin” tasks which, nonetheless, don’t directly influence the overall success of your company.
Various accounting software exists to help deal with this issue and streamline the process, including accounting software UK, US, Australia, and otherwise localised by region.
Other financial services, such as Freshbooks, streamline and smooth out the process of sending and tracking invoices, while programs such as YNAB — or, You Need a Budget — can help you keep on track of your personal finances which, in and of itself, can overlap in a significant way with your company finances.
By tracking your time and helping you to increase the efficient use of time during the working day
Time and money are both vital resources for any business, but money can be accumulated and lost, whereas time is allocated in the same quantity each day, and once lost, can never be regained.
Put somewhat differently; everyone on earth has the same amount of time to work with in a given day. That includes super-wealthy business success stories such as Warren Buffet, you yourself, and the least successful and productive people on earth.
A key part of what differentiates someone like Warren Buffet from one of the least productive people on earth — or from someone like you, from that matter — is that Warren Buffet treats time as an invaluable resource and carefully controls and shepherds its use.
If you’re given to procrastination — or even if you’re just not as productive as you might otherwise hope to be — a variety of time-management services exist which might have a powerfully transformative effect on your life.
RescueTime is a service that tracks everything you do at your computer, and then sends you reports on the websites you were visiting, the programs you were using, and the overall productivity rating of your day. It can also block various websites and essentially “force” productivity by ensuring that you have few options to do anything else.
By allowing you to coordinate with team members and colleagues efficiently and smoothly
Any project that requires work and input from a whole team, rather than just from a single individual, runs the risk of becoming tangled up. Different team members can easily step on each other’s toes, repeat or nullify the same parts of an assignment, and just act in an inefficient ill-orchestrated way.
This risk is especially prevalent in the case of small startups, particularly those who don’t have well-tested team management systems in place, and also those who rely on remote workers to a significant degree.
Trello is one of many team and project management services which helps to bypass this particular issue. The way Trello works, is via a visual display, where tasks can be assigned to particular “cards”, and then moved between different categories, such as “to do”, “completed”, “to review”, “to publish”, and so on.
Each card has various options, including the possibility of limiting who is authorised to work on a given card at a time, or to upload work to a card, to move cards around, etc.
In essence, this means that you can have a large number of people working on a given project at the same time, while simultaneously ensuring that everyone knows what their particular role is, and avoids stepping on anyone else’s toes. You’ll also have a good overview of the general progress of the project, too.