I just got a new little netbook, and I love it. It fits perfectly into my purse, and I take it everywhere. But it was amazing how quickly I noticed certain programs were missing from my new computer. We take so many things for granted and I was just used to them being there.
These tools are some of the hardest working "worker bees" in my business. I thought an article showing some of my favorite "must have" programs would help you in automating your business, too. These are the tools that I use every day in my own business:
If you don't already use this great tool, download a free 30-day trial. Even at $49.95 per license, it will pay for itself over and over.
Snagit allows you to capture part of a screen, the whole screen or even the whole Web page through a scrolling feature. In fact, Snagit features more than 40 ways to capture an image on your computer screen. It is one of the easiest imaging tools I have encountered.
It would take numerous articles to talk about all of the benefits of this feature-rich software. Snagit saves me time and produces professional images quickly. I love using it for:
- Custom graphics: Customize the captured image and turn it into a graphic for a banner, logo, eBay Store header and more.
- Answering a client/customer's question: Snag an image of your Web site, add an arrow and a text box then hit the e-mail send button on the tool bar. It's also good for dealing with customer service agents who "just don't see" what you are seeing.
- Communicating with a Web designer: Quickly mark up a Web site or a new eBay Store design and communicate effectively with your designer.
- Organizing: Tag your images during research with the project name and pull up the file in Snagit for the big meeting.
2. GoToWebinar, 3. GoToMeeting, 4. GoToMyPC
These programs are made by the same company, Citrix. Yes, I use all three of them in my business (Hey! Where's my multi-item discount)?
GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar are similar online conferencing programs. GoToMeeting allows you to meet and share your screen with up to 15 other people online. This tool optimizes the "business meeting" and allows your business to expand worldwide with clients.
I love using GoToMeeting when a client has a question about how to use something. I simply click the GoTo icon on my computer, log in, turn the controls over to their computer, and I am able to see instantly what the issues are and how to fix them. I also use GoToMeeting for those in-depth meetings with a Web designer. We log in and I can show them instantly what does and doesn't work for me on the new site.
I was able to see my desktop, which was more than 10,000 miles away in Seattle
GoToWebinar is a similar tool, but you can have up to 1,000 attendees on at the same time. This allows for some powerful coaching/consulting classes as well as big webinars.
GoToWebinar is one of the tools we use at OSI Rock Stars that has allowed us to create 500 hours of educational content in two years. GoToWebinar also includes branding options with their templates and valuable reports about your webinars to help you be more efficient in your content.
GoToMyPC is exactly what it sounds like. It allows you to log into your main computer from any other computer in the world. While I was in South Africa, I logged into my main computer from the hotel's computer. I was able to see my desktop, which was more than 10,000 miles away in Seattle. I located the file my real estate agent needed, edited the information and sent it to her in an e-mail. I then hit the print button, which made a copy of the file for my assistant in Seattle.
There are free tools out there that will do the same thing as GoToMyPC, but I have tried them and will gladly pay to utilize the features of GoToMyPC instead.
Here are some other tools I couldn't do without:
5. Google Docs
I use Google Docs daily in my business and personal work. Google Docs is a free online application for Web-based documents, and it is incredibly powerful. The documents are kept securely within your Google account, and include the ability to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets and forms (similar to Open Office). Google Docs also includes a great selection of templates that you can use, including an invoice, resume, budget, management scheduling and many more.
So why choose Google Docs over Open Office of Office 2007 or iWork? The main reason I prefer Google Docs is that once you save your documents, they are online—easily accessible via any computer with Internet access. This has saved me more than once when a document went missing at the meeting across town (or across the country).
I also use Google Docs for its sharing capabilities. You can give people access to "view only" or "edit" the document. If they have permissions to edit the document, you can actually see them editing in real time. Another great feature is the ability to see who was last in the document, the time they were there, as well as all previous changes (and the option to return to one of the document's previous versions). This tracking element of Google Docs has provided an additional check-and-balance when working with an employee, confirming times and enforcing accountability.
It's like your own assistant hand- delivering everything you need to be effective in your business that day
How would you like a Web site that greets you in the morning with the top eBay announcements, what your competitor launched that day, latest posts from your favorite marketers, an update on your flight that week, your To Do list and calendar for that day and an inspirational quote to get you started?
It's like your own assistant hand-delivering everything you need to be effective in your business that day. But this one is free, easy to use and it's called iGoogle.
This customizable section of Google allows you to set up various pages that contain, at a glance, all of the information you need to start your day. Similar to a mini Web site, iGoogle works using feeds that you personally choose to create your page. I have an iGoogle page for just general marketing and one that is specific to Church Marketing. Another one has all eBay information on it. I also have a personal iGoogle page with my e-mail feed, daily Bible readings and some geek sites I love reading.
There is almost an unlimited amount of options you could include on your page, including a daily recipe, new videos from your favorite YouTube producer, mini games, sports scores, top articles from The New York Times and so much more.
If I'm working with a client who is in the real estate field, I will add a page to my iGoogle site that will allow me to keep track of trends and topics in that particular field. I also utilize Google Alerts to let me know when the client's business, name or product is mentioned online. I add these to my iGoogle page. Obviously you can also set up an iGoogle page for just your business that includes RSS Feeds, Alerts and other gadgets to aid in your business.
This is another free program that I use daily. Delicious, at first glance, is a bookmarking program that saves all of your favorite online sites to your account. So why do I use Delicious instead of the "Favorites Center" that is starred in my browser's toolbar? First, the "Favorites Center" is a computer-based program. This means that if you save a favorite site, you will only be able to access it on that specific computer. If you're in a different location, like at a client's business, you can't access your favorites. Delicious is a secured online account where all of your favorites can be accessed on any computer that has an Internet connection.
You can share your bookmarks with your contacts. This has worked well when I'm working with clients and have some sites I need to share with them. I simply share the folder with them. (I usually name the file with their company name on it to help with their branding and tagging). This is also a very easy way to have a file on each client. You can set privacy settings for one or all of your links so that only you can have access to them.
And, of course, there is a marketing angle to all of this, too. (Isn't there always with me)? You can utilize Delicious icons on your blog posts, and request that your community members "favorite" your site by using Delicious. If enough people add your site, then you have an opportunity to show up on the popular links homepage.
Another great feature is using tags to locate trends. The place to start is on the "popular" tab on the homepage. I also use Delicious as a research tool allowing the community to do the work and find the best sites on different topics like SEO, marketing, Web sites, etc. Then I simply click to add those sites to my Delicious account. All the information without the work.
Tip: Add the Delicious Buttons to your tool bar to easily add any Web site you come across.
What tools are you using to make your life easier and automate your business so you have more time?