Home office

Archive for the ‘Home office’ 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.

Label makers for business

I use a lot of nifty gadgets in my business and it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about them in ages. Well, I was just on Amazon to check on my print books, when I ran across this label maker.

Now, I’m an Amazon affiliate. I’ll be clear about that up front. But I use a label maker in my own business and it occurred to me that maybe other people could do the same. I got the idea to use a label maker from my client, who has franchised her business internationally. She’s always hip to new ideas. I bought my label maker about four years ago.

How do I use my label maker? Well, I put labels on my devices. In fact, I put my cell # and tell people to text me, along with my email. I figure people are more likely to text you than call you. I put labels on my storage boxes. I label things I take along to meetings. I put labels in books I loan out. I put them on water bottles I use at meetings. I put them on anything I cart along with me. I put them on anything I think I might lose or misplace.

I wouldn’t say labels have changed my life. I still label a ton of things with Sharpie markers:

But they’ve been a help. And maybe they’ll help you. I have a Brother label maker (in pastel pink!) that I picked up at Staples, but I noticed the above label maker on sale and thought maybe someone else out there would want to discover the magic of label makers.

Related – Office gadgets I can’t live without

How to manage home office clutter

You may be asking this question as you stare at your disorganized desk: how to manage home office clutter? It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Just follow these few simple steps, and you, too, can have a clutter-free office space so that you can concentrate on the important stuff.

First of all …
Keep your desk clear
Items that are used daily stay on your desk (pens, notepaper). Less frequently-used items go into the desk drawers. Everything else can be stored elsewhere. The less on your desk, the better!
Keep your drawers organized
Remove everything not work-related. If you can’t use it for your home office, then it doesn’t belong in your desk.
Where to put it all?
File holders
A file folder system is the single most important item for your office. A file cabinet would be great, but cheaper alternatives exist. Any office store offers compact file storage boxes that will fit on or under your desk. Keep a current file holder by your desk; store dated files elsewhere.
All of your paperwork, documents, invoices, correspondence, insurance papers, contracts, envelopes, etc. should be place into files and stored in a file holder.
Stackable trays
Stackable trays will be your new best friends. These will hold anything from copy paper and note paper, to awkward items like staplers and calculators. The ability to stack the trays increases space.
Plastic containers
You can’t beat these for storing pens and pencils, staples, paperclips, tacks, and sticky notes.
Other useful items
Use elastics, paperclips, and small clips to bundle paperwork together for storage.
Be creative
A funky vase can hold pens and pencils. Search for colourful bins, boxes, trays, and other containers to hold your supplies. Check out craft stores rather than office supply stores for fun, yet functional, containers. How to manage home office clutter doesn’t have to be boring!
Time to get started
Now you’ve learned a few easy ways on how to manage home office clutter. Isn’t it time to reduce the clutter in your home office?  You may be surprised at the clarity and focus a tidy office can provide.

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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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7 reasons to use portable media in your business

Aah, smart phones, iPhones, BlackBerries and Droids. Are you part of the portable media club? If not, here are 7 reasons to use portable media in your business:

1. Stay connected

Use portable media in your business and stay connected 24/7. Check in on your business no matter where you are and never miss important last minute emails.

2. Maximize your efficiency

Use portable media in your business and avoid wasting time waiting for meetings, flights or any other moment where you find yourself waiting with little to do. When you’ve got downtime–even a minute or two–you can plow through email, check your calendar, or check in on your business online. One of the main differences between portable media and traditional laptops is that with portable media you don’t have to wait for the long boot-up time that traditional laptops need. One touch on your smartphone wakes up your iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid in seconds.

3. Be more active on social media

Use portable media in your business to keep up with social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. Posting to social media is quick and easy on portable media, especially if you take advantage of social media apps. Checking in on social media is a great option when you’ve got a minute or two between appointments.

4. Be on call for your clients

Use portable media in your business and be accessible to your clients whenever you want to be accessible. Respond to emergency emails from wherever you are. But be careful. Being an independent consultant doesn’t necessarily mean being accessible 24/7. Be sure to set boundaries and give yourself “me” time during which it’s okay to let business emails sit unanswered. Work/life balance is key, after all.

5. Access your data from anywhere

Use portable media in your business and rest assured that you’ll never be without your important data. Email addresses, phone numbers, reminders and calendar appointments are all at your fingertips wherever you are.

6. Consolidate your information

Use portable media in your business and sync your smartphone to your home computer.  Automatic syncing of your information means that you’ll spend less time  transferring files back and forth and more time generating business.

7. Personal perks

Use portable media in your business and reap personal benefits, too. Out on the road for an evening? Want to make dinner reservations? Want to see what movies are playing at your local theatre? Check in on your portable media unit from anywhere.

Are you interested in building your expert-status? Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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5 ways to use video cameras in your business

Video cameras are becoming more common as quality increases and prices decrease. Here are 5 ways to use video cameras in your business:

1. Tutorials

Use video cameras in your business to create video tutorials on basic concepts related to your business. Clients will appreciate these tutorials, and on-camera tutorials can save you time and money because you may be able to provide video tutorials instead of in-person training.

2. Social media / YouTube

Use video cameras in your business to promote your products or services via social media. Create simple how-to videos that provide valuable information and position you or your organization as an expert at the same time. Cross-promote these videos at Youtube, Viddler and on other video sharing sites to increase your reach. You can even pull the audio from your videos and package the audio as free podcasts to be distributed on iTunes and elsewhere online.

3. Insurance

Use video cameras in your business to document your workspace and to provide evidence in the event of an emergency like a flood, fire, or theft.

4. Client testimonials

Use video cameras in your business to capture client testimonials. There is nothing more powerful than the endorsement of satisfied clients. When done professionally, on-camera client testimonials can have powerful impact on your business. If your camera skills aren’t up to par, consider outsourcing this project to video professionals.

5. Interviews for information gathering

Use video cameras in your business to aid in your requirements-gathering process. Not all clients will be receptive to being on film, but others will find being on camera an added bonus. And for you as a consultant, you’ll be able to refer back to important meetings and decisions for clarification.

Are you interested in more tips on how to build your expert-status? Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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10 ways to use digital cameras in your business

10 ways to use digital cameras in your business:

1. Document for insurance purposes

Use digital cameras in your business to document your workspace for insurance purposes. Be sure to take photographs of your office detailing your business equipment and store the photographs in a safe place. These photographs could prove invaluable if a fire, flood or other disruption occurs at your home office or workplace.

2. Enhance your blog posts and articles

Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your business blog. Leave the photographs on your main website up to the professional photogaphers, but if you have a business blog use your digital camera to take relevant photos to enhance your blog posts. A picture is worth a thousand words!

3. Add benefit to client meetings

Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your client meetings. As a graphic design consultant, a client may indicate a color that he prefers or a logo idea based on an album cover or keychain. Having a digital camera at the ready will help you to capture the client’s desires digitally right then and there.

4. Document your work flow and efficiencies 

Use digital cameras in your business to document your work flow. Snap photos of your workspace as you work on a project. Notice piles of paper everywhere? A pattern of disorganization? Use the photographs to identify problems in your organization and make changes to improve your organization skills and efficiency.

5. Take photos of milestones

Use digital cameras in your business to document milestones. Get your first large cheque in the mail? Snap a photo. Land a superstar client? Take a picture of yourself with your big silly grin right after you hang up the phone. These photos make for great reminders and will help motivate you if you’re having a bad day.

6. Take photos of important events and functions

Use digital cameras in your business to capture notable events of interest to your clients. Did you sponsor a banner or table at a networking event? Did you win an award at a business networking award dinner? Taking photos of these notable events and posting them to your Facebook page, blog, email newsletter, website or other social media outlet will increase your brand power and status as an expert in your field.

7. Enhance PowerPoint presentations

Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Sometimes stock photography is not enough. However, ensure that the quality of your photos is up to par. If your photographs are blurry or low-quality, stick with stock photography instead.

8. Take mandatory photos

Use digital cameras in your business because it may be a necessity. Taking your own photos may be necessary depending on your niche. For example, an environmental consultant may need to take photos of the terrain and adjacent areas to include in an environmental assessment or report.

9. Use as a scanner in a pinch

Use digital cameras in your business if your scanner goes on the fritz. In a pinch, a digital camera can serve as a scanner if needs be. The quality isn’t great, but taking a photograph of a document and emailing to a client is better than having to retype it manually.

10. Create promotional or informational videos using still photography

Use digital cameras in your business to create YouTube or other videos. Did you know that you can create effective videos by linking still photographs together? It’s very easy and can result in effective videos that combine photographs and overlaid text.

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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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