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Five top time-saving tools for soloists

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

feature-clockwork-thumbIf there’s one thing sole traders are starved of, it’s time. Fortunately, the vast range of technology options open to modern day start-ups provide plenty of time-saving tools designed to help time-poor entrepreneurs.

 

Peter Bradd, chief executive of Scribblepics and a director of Fishburners, has some basic tips to help you save time. Like many entrepreneurs, his advice is based on his own experience.

 

“For me, it’s about being distracted. It’s a massive time killer,” Bradd says.

 

“I use practical tools from Siimon Reynolds’ Why People Fail book… Make sure you’re working [on] only the most important things. Focus, focus, focus.”

 

So how do you maintain focus and save time? StartupSmart consulted the start-up scene to identify five top time-saving tools.

 

 

1. Lean Canvas

 

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Web-based product Lean Canvas was built on the premise that business plans take too long to write, are seldom updated and are almost never read by others.

 

Lean Canvas solves this problem using a one-page business model. You can outline multiple possible business models on a canvas in one afternoon, as opposed to weeks or months.

 

“We use a Lean Canvas for any idea or project to ensure all functionalities are met,” says Nicola Farrell, marketing coordinator of Pollenizer.

 

“Rather than going through the process of writing up a business plan, this will save a mountain of time when determining the viability of an idea.”

 

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2. Trello

 

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Trello is a collaboration tool that organises projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

 

“Our team at Arribaa uses the Trello app to manage our entire start-up,” says co-founder and chief executive Colette Grgic.

 

“Using it as a collaboration and project management tool has saved us hours in emails and meetings.”

 

Arribaa is a community marketplace that helps travellers fund their next trip through hosting unique local travel experiences for other travellers visiting their town.

 

“Within Arribaa’s Trello set-up, we’ve created various boards and columns that match our work flow, with separate boards for each stage,” Grgic says.

 

“At any given time, any of us can look at the whiteboards and see what our team members are currently working on, what’s coming up next and what’s already been done for the month.”

 

“Trello syncs seamlessly between desktop and mobile, and is hands down the best tool I’ve ever used.”

 

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3. RightSignature

 

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RightSignature claims to be the simplest, most efficient way to get documents signed. It enables users to close more deals in less time, avoid tax hassles and cut cycle time from weeks to hours.

 

With RightSignature, users can sign documents using their mouse. It also lets users upload a document and enter recipient information in less than a minute.

 

Recipients may sign online, on a faxable signature page or on an iPhone.

 

“This is a great tool for sharing documents, ensuring people far away can still sign off docs, and keeps everything in the same place. Moving off paper can save a lot of time,” Farrell says.

 

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4. Google Reader + Hootsuite + Android

 

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“If you want to keep a Twitter stream active with lots of juicy, curated content, you can do it very simply from an Android device,” says Iain Dooley of Decal Marketing, the digital marketing division of Working Software.

 

“Follow lots of interesting blogs, then whenever you have some idle time just open Google Reader, scan through your articles and ‘share’ anything that looks interesting.”

 

“I schedule the tweets using Hootsuite mobile. That way, if I have a spare 20 minutes, I can schedule tweets a few days in advance at different times and ensure that you’ve always got ‘something to say’.”

 

“When you’re scanning the articles, try and find a nice quote from the article to include in your tweet and/or add a note and the Twitter username of the author.”

 

“This is a great way to use up ‘gaps’ in your day to execute what is otherwise a relatively tedious task.”

 

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5. Storyberg

 

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Storyberg is a lean start-up management tool that helps teams build more successful start-ups by enabling them to follow the start-up process.

 

“Storyberg is a lean product management app that helps demystify the lean start-up methodology by helping you follow the learning process and validate your features,” Farrell says.

 

“For project management, the teams use Storyberg for communicating through the development of new features.”