I find that these days I am using my Macbook less and less when I am out of the office as it really is a mission to switch on and work like i used to. The mass introduction of smart phones and tablets in business has streamlined and standardized certain methods of how we do business with each other and increased my productivity for the most part. I have selected four essential business apps that I use on a daily basis, and that I can’t imagine going without.
Last year, I spent an unhealthy amount of time traveling across the country to see clients and attending meetings, and like George Clooney’s character in Up In The Air (sans the fancy suits, expensive luggage and first class seating), I developed a certain routine when it came to the arduous tasks of packing, checking in and choosing my seat on the plane. Now, I can’t remember what kind of phone George had in the movie (I recall seeing a BlackBerry) but I’m sure that if he had an iOS device, he would’ve been using TripIt.
TripIt is an amazing little travel companion app that allows you to plan your entire trip (flights, rentals, hotels etc) and keep all the necessary information in your pocket. Flight numbers, boarding times, reference codes and checkin details are all stored in a simply designed and highly powerful package that allows you to be that guy who sits in the front of the plane, rather than the guy who holds up the flight.
Clients are a lot like plants. Some are easy to manage and don’t require much attention to bloom, and some are always looking for attention and suffer when you neglect them for too long. One thing is certain though, clients, and plants (to continue, and hopefully close off this horrible but truthful analogy) both need to be happy and looked after if you’re going to be able to enjoy what they could potentially become. In today’s fast moving and highly accessible world of business, it become increasingly easier to forget and neglect these important and potentially profitable relationships.
That’s where Salesforce comes in. In its entirety, Salesforce is a massive online CRM suite that is used by thousands of businesses around the world to manage its various client relationships. The iOS suite of Salesforce apps exist as connections to the main account and allow you to search for contact details and addresses when you’re on the road, keep in contact with other members of sales teams, monitor deal cycles and also update and edit information on clients, deals and other information. The interface is beautifully designed and does a great job of simplifying what could be quite an arduous task. One does need a full Salesforce account though.
I have reviewed this app in its entirety before but as it is still a firm favorite of mine and number one in my business apps folder, I couldn’t leave it out of this summary of business apps. To sum it up quickly, Expensify is one of the most innovative and brilliant apps out there right now. It is basically an expense tracking app (you all know how much I love those) for recording and reporting on business expenses. All you do is drop the details of any expense (client lunch, parking, fuel etc) into the app and then draw and mail a report to the person responsible for capturing and reimbursing those expenses.
What I really like about the app is that if you’re really in a hurry, or just lazy, Expensify allows you to snap pictures of your receipts and let the system enter in all your details for you, it takes a bit longer but is incredibly accurate and reliable.
In today’s working environment, and especially in Cape Town, the wearing of neckties has dropped quite dramatically over the last few years. Gone are the days when we would suit up everyday before going to work with briefcases and freshly shined shoes. These days, its only for important meetings and presentations that I get dressed up and don the tie. Problem is that I have no idea how to do one properly, as I spent most of my tie-wearing life cheating the system with a clip on.
As embarrassed and emasculating as that fact is, I wouldn’t have found this app or my love for good looking neck-knots without it. The free, ad supported version of this app features eleven step-by-step tutorials on some of the world’s best loved knots as well as which shirt works best with each knot. The paid version comes with few more, including bow ties, as well as a feature called camera mirror that I’m sure will add a lot to how well you can do the knot. I personally prefer the St. Andrew knot, as it is the easiest to do while sitting in the parking lot outside your client’s office.