Archive for the ‘Office gadgets’ Category

Password Management apps make it easy

Password management apps can make your life much easier. Tired of trying to remember all your passwords? Stuck resetting every time your saved logins get wiped out? Turn to a password management app.

If you’re like me, you have a bazillion passwords for business, home and family. It seems like everything needs a login these days — your Wifi, electric company, phone company, email, online notes, social media and even devices like phones and computers. And you may even have multiple accounts with the same company, perhaps having accounts for home, business, multiple plans or even your kids.

This summer, I experimented with a couple of free password management systems. These are encrypted systems that manage all your logins and allow you to automatically login in by using a master password. You would not believe the stress relief this brought!

I tried 1Password and loved it, but switched to LastPass because I saw that I could share passwords with other people without telling them the password. So now it’s easy to hand over login credentials to web developers, freelancers and others without taking the risk of them actually knowing or seeing it. This makes collaboration easier, reduces risk and saves everyone the hassle of calling to find out what the password is THIS TIME.

In fact, LastPass on my phone lets me log in to see passwords just using fingerprint recognition. And you can use it for more than passwords — you can make secure notes and store secure photos too.

Every system has its limits and I’m not suggesting these systems are infallible. But if you are constantly setting passwords, using the same password on multiple sites or using easily hacked, easily guessed passwords (like password!), you may find that password management apps make your life a whole lot easier.

Do you need a laptop for business?

Wondering if you really do need a laptop for business? We’ve previously written about this very question under the aptly-titled article, Do You Need a Laptop Computer for Business? . Things change and it seems like it’s worth revisiting this topic. After all, today’s entrepreneur has a range of device choices, including smartphones, tablets and iPads, desktops, Netbooks, laptops and other electronics.

When do you need a laptop for business?

Before you decide what to buy, think about when you’re planning to use your laptop for business. Consider all the circumstances:

  • Home office
  • Business office
  • Client settings
  • Public transportation
  • Coffee shops
  • Libraries
  • Office sharing and hotdesking
  • Presentations
  • Teaching

What do you need your laptop to do for your business?

Think about how you’ll need to use your laptop for work and business:

  • Email
  • Presentations
  • Document editing, including wordprocessing, spreadsheets and presentations – or something more intense?
  • Specialized apps and programs, such as GIS or architecture, rendering or high end accounting
  • Coding and programming
  • Gaming
  • Video editing
  • Graphic design

What do you really need in your business laptop?

There’s no sense investing in a laptop aimed at college students who game if you really need something just to edit documents. Think about:

  • ¬†How fast your laptop needs to be
  • How big your screen should be
  • How heavy your laptop can be? Will an extra pound throw out your back? Do you really walk around with it that often?
  • How long does your battery need to last?
  • Will you plug your laptop into a docking station when you’re in your more ergonomic office set up?
  • Do you need your laptop to do everything? Will you have another workstation computer or is this it?
  • How will you use your laptop with other devices? Could you get away with a Netbook or an iPad/tablet paired with a keyboard some of the time?
  • Could you soup up your existing system with extra memory, cloud-based drive space or even just running some system maintenance?

Today’s business laptops are so powerful that, in many circumstances, it’s not whether you need a laptop computer for business – it’s what laptop computer do you need for business?! And the answer to that will come down to your unique needs. Spend the time to think through what you need before you end up investigating the devices available. It may save you from being pressured into a purchase you don’t need.

If you’re looking for a laptop for business, pop over to Amazon for some options. Consultant Journal is an Amazon affiliate.

3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money

As you know, I love my smart phone. Not only do I love these 7 reasons to use portable media in your business, but I’ve also discovered the 3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money.

3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money:

1. Never miss out on another opportunity with a smart phone:

How many times have you been away from the office and come back to a missed opportunity unread in your email inbox? A last-minute request for a media interview that would have garnered national media attention? A spur of the moment invitation for drinks with a coveted client-to-be?  Today, most invitations and requests come in via email or other online channels.

Turning missed opportunities into opportunities that you can act upon can mean the difference between staying at the status quo versus making more money. With a smart phone always at your fingertips, you’ll never miss another big opportunity due to being away from your email.

2. Creating more working hours in the day with a smart phone: 

If you’re exercising one of the biggest perks of being a consultant–flexibility–it might mean you’re out during the day running children to swimming lessons, traveling to a seminar or picking up supplies for your business.

With a smart phone, you can turn otherwise frustrating times–waiting in the airport, waiting in the car to pick up a child from school, or other lost working times—into working hours. Answer client emails, communicate with sub-contractors, check status reports and perform other important tasks–all from your smart phone. 

And more working hours means more money.

3. Nip disasters in the bud with a smart phone: 

If disaster is piling up in your inbox, for example, if your website’s online shopping cart has been hacked or if a client is having an emergency, you can receive notifications in your pocket from your smart phone no matter where you are. Nip problems in the bud by checking your email frequently throughout the day. Catch problems from your smart phone before they become disasters and you’ll make more money.

As a new consultant, it can be difficult to determine where to spend and where to scrimp and save. For example, should you rent office space or work from home? Should you create your own business cards or have them professionally made? Land line or cell phone line? Smart phone or not? All of these business decisions are important, and balance is key when it comes to saving and spending in the right areas of your business.

In today’s business world, smart phones can be invaluable tools that will help you stay on top of your business, offer increased flexibility and increase your earning potential. These 3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making money with your smartl phone.

How does your smart phone help you make more money?

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Why build your consulting website using WordPress

Whether you are a just getting started as a consultant or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, chances are you will need a consulting website. Gone are the days where a business card will suffice when it comes to marketing your consulting business. You’re going to need a website.

The good news is that building a website is not as expensive as it used to be. And websites are becoming easier and easier to update and use.

If you are in the early stages of getting your consulting website set up, I suggest finding an IT consultant who is familiar with "WordPress" and having your consulting website built on WordPress.

What is WordPress? WordPress started out as free blog publishing software, but it is now used for more than just blogs. In fact, WordPress has been used by the Wall Street Journal, Ford, universities and many other large organizations. 

So, why build your consulting website using WordPress? Here are the top three reasons why you should build your consulting website using WordPress.

1. Inexpensive:

WordPress is free to use and inexpensive to install. Most IT consultants and firms are familiar with WordPress, and setting it up for you is a snap, which is generally reflected in the price.

Quick tip: Ensure that your WordPress site is installed on your own domain name (for example: www.yourbusinessname.com) rather than at the free WordPress blogging site (for example: www.yourbusinessname.wordpress.com).

2. Easy to use

WordPress is easy to use. And its popularity ensures that there are many online tutorials available for free. These tutorials can help you learn how to update your own website without having to rely on your IT consultant for every little change, such as changing your phone number or mailing address.

3. Standardized

If, in future, you would like to change the design of your consulting website, it will be easy to change because WordPress is standardized. You can easily buy new designs for your website, which most IT professionals should be able to install for you.

Are you looking for an IT professional to help you build your consulting website using WordPress? Check out the consultant directory.

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7 ways to use the iPad 2 in your business

Are you considering whether the iPad 2 is a valuable investment for you and your business? In order to help you make your decision, here are 7 top ways to use the iPad 2 in your business:

1. Calendar/Email/Web browsing

Similar to smart phones, the iPad 2 has core functions that are invaluable to business: access to your calendar and email when out of the office. Similarly, the iPad 2 has the capability to browse the web. The iPad 2 is also available with 3G options, which means that you can connect to the internet without standard wireless internet access.

2. Photos/Videos

The iPad 2 actually has two cameras: one on the front of your iPad 2 and the other is an HD camera that’s located on the back. Learn more about using digital cameras in your business here.

3. Presentations / PowerPoint

Replace your bulky laptop wtih your iPad 2 for quicker set up. The adapter on the iPad 2 plugs into any TV set, computer monitor, or digital projector that’s equipped with an HDMI port. And with a battery that lasts up to 10 hours, odds are you won’t need to fumble with many cords or plugs.

4. Video conferencing

Use the iPad 2′s two cameras for quick and easy video conferencing. Running late for a meeting? Just join in through your iPad 2. Less travel time means more time to get work done.

5. Ebooks

Stay up to date and travel light by loading your iPad 2 with digital versions of useful books and often-referenced material.

6. Leverage apps for business

There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps available for business use. From Roambi – Visualizer (automatically graph your business metrics) to SketchBook Pro (create beautiful graphics), there are business apps for every niche.

7. Wow factor

There’s no denying that the iPad 2 still possesses a wow factor that your clients and customers may appreciate. While "wow factor" alone is not a good reason for purchasing an iPad 2, it is a nice bonus.

If you’re considering whether to purchase an iPad 2 be sure to think about how these 7 ways to use the iPad 2 in your business will affect your business before making your decision.

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Digital cameras for business

Digital cameras for business are becoming increasingly common. Many large organizations have digital cameras in office, and that goes for consultants, too.

Digital cameras can be used for many business purposes, including taking photos to include in presentations and proposals, to document change, to capture people and ideas and to promote products or services. Many smartphones have digital cameras built right into them, and smartphones can be great to snap quick pictures as reminders. But if you plan to use your photos for public consumption, opting for a high quality digital camera–perhaps even a digital SLR camera–is wise.

Professionals should have a dedicated digital camera for business use instead of using a personal camera for both home and business use. Why? Because if you’re sharing one camera for both purposes you’ll never have the camera when you need it: when you want your camera at home it’ll be at the office, and vice versa.  However, if you work from home, distinguishing business versus personal is not as important. If you do buy a digital camera to use in your business, don’t forget to consider the tax benefits of your purchase.

What do you think about digital cameras for business? Are digital cameras for business necessary? How do you use digital cameras for business purposes?

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Bluetooth products and your business

You may have heard Bluetooth a few times – maybe you even ownsome Bluetooth products. But do you know what Bluetooth means? Bluetooth is a way of exchanging data over short distances. You can use Bluetooth to securely connect and exchange data between devices such as laptops, computers, printers, phones, faxes, cell phones, digital cameras, video game consoles and more. Bluetooth uses short length radio waves from fixed and mobile devices. It’s an open wireless technology standard.

Why it’s called Bluetooth

Bluetooth – or Blatand – was Danish King Harald, who united the peoples of Denmark.
 

How to use Bluetooth products for business

  • Use a headset with your cell phone
  • Network your computers
  • Wirelessly connect your computer with a mouse, keyboard or printer
  • Connect your laptop to the Internet using a cell phone

 

Learn how Bluetooth works

Here’s a great article on how Bluetooth works.

 

Check out Bluetooth products

Want to see what products you could use in your business? Google has a great list of Bluetooth products here.
 
 
Do you use Bluetooth products? How?

 

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How a smart phone can help your business

Wondering how a smart phone can help your business? Smart phones give you the option of browsing the web, listening to music, making telephone calls, checking email, taking photos and watching videos–all in one tiny phone. As you can imagine, smart phones help businesses in many ways. Here are six benefits that smart phones offer for businesses:

1. Work while waiting

If you’ve got a consulting business that takes you out of the office frequently, you’ll know that there are many times during the day while you’re waiting: in line at the coffee shop, waiting for a late client, and so on. Having a smart phone allows you to make the most of your working day. Get more done while you’re out of the office.

2. Information at your fingertips

A smart phone gives you easy access to the internet, which means you’ll have 24/7 access to, well, all the information you could possibly imagine. Need directions? Need to look up an address or need to brief yourself with some background information? With a smart phone you’ve get all the information you could ever need.

3. Avoid wasted trips

With access to your email while you’re out, you’ll be able to catch those last minute emails or phone calls, like when a meeting or conference is canceled at the last minute.

4. Relax when you want

If you’re out of the office and wanting some quick down-time, you’ll have access to video and music to help you relax when you need a break.

5. Availability when out of the office

Having the ability to check email and be available while you’re out of the office is crucial, especially if your consulting business means that are your client’s first call in case of emergency. But be careful. Set boundaries and don’t neglect your work-life balance.

6. Take advantage of web apps

There are thousands of web apps that offer time-saving and ingenious tools, from expense trackers and schedulers to invoicing apps. Digitizing some of your administrative tasks can save time and money.

Do you have a smart phone? How do you use your smart phone to help your business? Or do you find your smart phone is just a distraction? Let me know whether you think a smart phone would help your business.

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Keep a calculator handy

Years ago, I took Philosophy 101. I thought I was a pretty good student. One day, the prof asked if anyone had a calculator handy. I said, "Why on earth would philosophy students have calculators?" The prof replied, "Well, surely you people take other courses!" It was all pretty funny back then, but I’ve since learned to keep a calculator handy.

I do most math in my head. But, if you’re in a meeting with a prospective client, a calculator can help you work through sales deals. You can estimate costs, hours, margins — anything that involves numbers. A calculator can help you decide whether to take on a job or whether to negotiate a better deal.

If you don’t have a calculator in your briefcase, think about buying one.

Do you need a laptop computer?

I’m a computer junkie. I’ve had a computer since I was about eight years old. Before that, I used to stand in the computer section of Sears, pining for the chance to play the Pac-Man clone. However, as much as I love computers, I held out a long time before moving up to a laptop.

In fact, even though I was consulting in the 90s and early 2000s, I stuck with a desktop. I did all my work from home and rarely had a need to bring a computer anywhere. But, a few years ago, I decided it might be nice to be able to take a laptop computer to the library, hotels, vacation destinations and even my parents’ house.

Still, most of the time, I find packing up my computer is a big effort. So I usually leave it at home. But, when I do want to tote it along, at least I have the option. A desktop computer isn’t portable at all, unless you’re comparing it to an old mainframe!