With so many apps available and created every day, how do you know which ones are the best for your purposes? We asked five entrepreneurs to tell us which apps they can’t live without and why. There are some that were common – nearly everyone listed Dropbox – and others a little more for the times when they aren’t working. Are there any other apps you can’t live without? Mark McDonald – co-founder and managing director of app developer Appster EverNote – The perfect app for capturing ideas and concepts between meetings and while travelling. I love that it syncs up to my Macbook Pro as well, so wherever I am I can find important ideas. ZombieRun – Staying fit sucks. But when you are running from zombies it's more fun, I really love how this app gamified the process of jogging. Things 2 – I'm a workaholic but also have the attention span of a small child, that's why using Things 2 as a way to manage my daily activities, projects and responsibilities in a really simple interface has doubled my productivity. James Wakefield – co-founder and managing director of online tailoring firm InStitchu Asana – Asana is an excellent app that helps our entire team manage and organise tasks and projects across all areas of the business. Before we used Asana, we had so many unnecessary emails going back and forth across members. Now, each individual project has a to-do list, saved in the cloud, enabling each of us to view updates and changes as they’re made. Asana is also fully integrated with our CRM, which is an additional bonus! Evernote – Evernote is the perfect note-taking app for every entrepreneur. Because it syndicates across all of your devices, I’m able to make notes and save attachments on the go, using my iPhone and I’ll later revisit these on my laptop or iPad. It's saved me many times when I have been travelling and haven’t had access to the internet. There was an instance where I had saved my hotel reservation form to Evernote, and was able to access it from the back of a taxi in Shanghai on a sourcing trip. Without it, I wouldn’t have had a clue where I was heading! Dropbox – We back up everything on Dropbox, again because the cloud is such an integral part of our business. Dropbox provides us the storage that we need to save large files too, like high-resolution images of suits and shirts. Every single program we use at InStitchu is cloud based and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have the freedom to jump on any computer, anywhere in the world to access all of my programs and via Dropbox, all of my files! Story continues on page 2. Please click below. Tim Fung – co-founder and chief executive of online tasks outsourcer Airtasker Dropbox – An oldie but a goodie. I use DB across all the companies that I work in and love the fact that I can access my files from anywhere, including from my iPhone. The app can be a little bit pervasive (trying to get you to store and sync all of your personal photos, etc) but it does make life pretty easy and is good risk management in case you lose your device. GoCatch – A really good taxi hailing app. I use these guys to grab taxis between meetings and the office to make sure I'm not waiting outside on busy days. It's a super simple app and also lets me keep track of my taxi receipts, which is a plus. Pocketbook – An easy to use app for tracking your personal budget. You just link up your bank accounts and credit cards and then PB sends you an update each week to let you know if you're overspending or within budget. They also have a bunch of features to monitor and analyse where you're spending and where you could save. Andrew Ward – managing director of online investment community SelfWealth LinkedIn app – As an entrepreneur, LinkedIn on your iPhone/on the move is invaluable. Each time you read a media story about other entrepreneurs, or a story related to your target market, connecting to these related parties ASAP is a must. Ingogo – The taxi booking app. This is a must for an entrepreneur getting around in the boondocks and racing to get to that next meeting. Cricket Australia’s "Live" app – I'm a cricket tragic; enough said. Ben Cohn – co-founder of mobile self-storage firm TAXIBOX Swann View – Swann View gives us live, streaming access to our surveillance systems through an iPhone. It’s an incredible feeling waking up every morning and seeing the entire company running smoothly – without us! Dropbox – The Dropbox app seamlessly integrates with Dropbox Desktop and allows us to run a large portion of TAXIBOX’s operational processes without having to be near a computer. Face Swap – Because there’s nothing quite like seeing your parents swap genders!
LinkedIn is way more than just your online resume and Rolodex. LinkedIn is now a go-to source of business news, a content publishing platform and a contact relationship manager (CRM). Find out why LinkedIn is the best social media platform for start-ups, hands-down. If you’re undecided, check out these six reasons to get on-board straightaway! 1. LinkedIn is your auto-updating Rolodex Back before LinkedIn we’d all keep a Rolodex or maybe an online database of contacts, but if that person changed jobs or businesses, we’d lose contact when their details changed. Nowadays, LinkedIn means we don’t need to worry about losing contact with people or losing their business cards. 2. Now it’s your free CRM Since the recent rollout of ‘contacts’ functionality, you can now tag contacts, add notes and reminders, and record how you met them. That is a huge improvement in how we can manage our ever-growing network of business contacts. Note: you can install this new functionality on your LinkedIn for free, but it doesn’t happen automatically. You’ll be prompted to install it when you login, and it takes a few minutes to process all your contacts into this new format. The invite to install it does look like a banner ad, so keep an eye out for it and don’t accidentally ignore it! 3. It’s the place for business news LinkedIn is fast becoming the go-to place for business news. You can read unique articles written by a wide range ‘influencers’ and well-known business leaders, such as Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington. In addition, it also has the LinkedIn Today feature where they publish popular content from all around the web. 4. LinkedIn is your free content-sharing platform It is now as easy as ever to share your content with your entire professional network. You can also submit your best articles to LinkedIn Today and if they decide to publish your work, you’ll be exposed to thousands more readers. And publishing your articles to LinkedIn Groups is the perfect way to introduce your content to new readers, and engage with them. 5. You can connect with fellow professionals My colleague Selina Power got me thinking about better ways to use LinkedIn in her recent podcast. Until my subsequent discussions with Selina, I’d been quite closed in my approach as to who I accept as a ‘connection’ on LinkedIn. My reluctance to accept people that I did not know personally lay in the fact that it may be seen an as endorsement of that person, when in reality I didn’t know any more about these people than what they say in their bio. I was initially sceptical about connecting, but since LinkedIn is becoming much more of a content publishing platform, it makes sense to broaden my network, so more people can read and interact with my content. After all, we are marketing a business, and this is the perfect content marketing tool. My rule of thumb now is to accept people if they have written a personalised request. 6. LinkedIn is improving everyday LinkedIn continues to get better and I’m sure there are many exciting improvements in the pipeline. I still wish that LinkedIn had the ‘follow’ functionality for individuals like it does for Company Pages, because it would allow for people who you don’t know to still opt-in to receive your content. That way it would still mean you could limit your connections to people you actually know but share your content far and wide. Maybe that will be next. To help your LinkedIn marketing you may also like to download the LinkedIn 5-Minute Daily Marketing Plan – there’s a version for beginner, intermediate and advanced.
With bushfires already burning around the edges of Sydney, Australia’s natural disaster season has arrived early this year, and businesses need to prepare for how to survive the worst case scenarios. Michael French’s start-up idea emerged during the Brisbane floods in 2011. With the office of his 20-plus year old digital marketing company only kilometres away, French watched the water in his flooded home street swirling and realised business owners needed a way to quickly check that all of their systems were still functioning. He started building what became his Bizeo app, which launched earlier this year. Essentially a dashboard app, Bizeo monitors all available data from servers to engines on key machinery, to temperature to exchange rates and social media. “Business owners spend a lot of their time running around checking on things, but this does it for them, and gives them a single indicator that everything is alright,” French says. “Bizeo monitors the status and data across your whole enterprise, and watches everything at once.” As the waters receded and Brisbane began to clean up the mess, many businesses struggled to stay afloat. French realised he could add more functions to the dashboard. “Our cashflow was struggling as our debtors blew out and our sales pipeline struggled as many Brisbane groups went under,” French says. “Bizeo now plugs into your CRM, accounting and social media systems.” Bizeo received a $200,000 grant from Commercialisation Australia last year. French used the funds to hire a business development manager, and file for intellectual property protections such as trademarks and patents. French says he realised he would need a strong sales team and partner network as one of the key challenges facing the company has been launching dashboard into an already crowded marketplace. “Getting people’s attention to have a look at it can be tough because there are so many options out there. But once they see it in action, they get sold on it. People don’t want more dashboards but we solve the dashboards problem by only having one,” French says. This marketing angle inspired the Bizeo team to pivot their focus from small to medium enterprises to large businesses after they realised big businesses were often struggling to manage multiple dashboards. “We thought the big corporates would have their dashboards sorted, but we discovered a lot either had none or they had so many they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. We started getting a lot of traction in the large corporates, and pursued that,” French says. Bizeo is currently working with clients in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Mexico and London. “The demand has been high and we’re expanding out partner network to meet it. We had someone sign up for the service in Abu Dhabi this morning, so we should probably start advertising internationally too,” French says.
I have worked in four accounting firms, all with a mix of paper and paperless (or less paper as I'd like to think of it). Even in my time spent consulting to various businesses I saw so much unnecessary paper it wasn't funny. It seems to me that nobody seems to get it right! What grinds my gears You know what really grinds my gears about the fact that some large corporations could literally stack paper to the clouds every year they operate? It's not the ‘green’ factor, it's the inefficiencies that these businesses refuse to acknowledge due to the thought of change. Both the inefficiency of the paperless process and the fact that people are so negative towards change really grinds my gears. Heading towards a paperless or less paper environment brings on many different creativity opportunities to gain efficiencies. Instead of reviewing that next contract on paper, try reviewing it on your iPad. After 10 goes you won't notice the difference and you'll get the added benefit of being able to watch your favourite TV show at the same time. Instead of printing your next document why don't you just save it to PDF in your Dropbox or Skydrive? As the little green slogans say at the bottom of emails – ‘think before you print’ (clearly these messages should be at the top of emails, anyway). The other gear grinder for me is that people are adverse to change. Change is a good thing. Do you think we got to where we are today by doing the same thing? No! People have tried new things, taken different approaches and because of all this we now all live in a better world. I personally think that the world could be even better if people were just that little bit more responsive to change. I'll never forget the book that my first manager got me to read Who Moved My Cheese? It's a great short story about why change is important. If only everyone could be inspired by this book, a paperless environment would thrive with new ideas coming from all angles rather than just the one. The last word Finally, I'll have you know that once you go paperless you don't go back. So while it seems like a giant hassle now, you probably already know that you're going to have to do it at some stage. Why not now? Cloud technology with accounting, CRM, word processing applications and DMS all at the click of a button makes all this so much easier than it once was. Make the move now or forever swim in a sea of paper. For more information on how to go paperless, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @JohnRussellAus
Pollenizer is looking for co-founders for four of its start-ups, one of which would involve a partnership with a Skype co-founder while another would involve working with the former chief executive of CareerOne. According to Pollenizer co-founder Phil Morle, all four businesses need “gutsy entrepreneurs with the audacity to believe that they can pull off a global business with limited resources”. The businesses are as follows: Fitbit for your house – collaborating with your social network to use energy more effectively. This is a partnership with one of the Skype co-founders. “This is a brand new idea so they’re looking for co-founders from scratch,” Pollenizer co-founder Mick Liubinskas told StartupSmart. Social Powered Retail – using social networks to increase sales. This would involve working across south-east Asia as well as Australia. “Social Powered Retail is Gyft… The co-founders took it as far as they could and we’re now looking for a new set of co-founders to go where the business needs to go,” Liubinskas says. 99designs for recruitment – crowdsourcing new hires. This would involve working with the former chief executive of CareerOne. “The recruitment business is looking for more co-founders; more engineering talent,” Liubinskas says. SasS for coaches – customer relationship management, session management and other tools for business coaches, consultants and mentors. “SaaS for coaches is Coachy, which has a lot of great potential customers… We need an entrepreneurial engineer who is longing for some B2B experience,” Liubinskas says. At this stage, Pollenizer has declined to reveal the names of the Skype co-founder and former CareerOne chief executive. But according to Morle, co-founders are paid a “modest salary with great equity”. “We will train you in lean start-up skills – if you don’t already have them – and mainline you into an amazing network of entrepreneurs and investors,” he says. Liubinskas, however, is quick to point out the Pollenizer environment is not for everyone. “A lot of people who come from the corporate world, where they ran a really large company, will say that it’s the same as running a small company, which it definitely isn’t,” he says. “Some people can make that transition but a lot of people can’t. The other thing is completely green people. “[You must also have] a willingness to share… Really the key to that for me is people in the same location. “I vowed I would never, ever do another start-up where the whole team is not in the same room. Some people can do it but it makes life harder.” Liubinskas says anyone who joins the Pollenizer family must be open to change. “Start-ups change every day. Even the businesses we’ve learned a lot about, they’ll continue to change. Not a single successful Pollenizer start-up is the same idea it started with,” he says. “You also need to not be precious. You need to be thick-skinned to deal with a whole bunch of failure along the way.”
As time goes on, technology inevitably improves. Business should move with the times and, therefore, move with technology. This seems like quite a simple formula when you think about it and you would assume that this just happens naturally. Funnily enough, there is no such thing as natural change in most businesses. Why? Well, as a rule of thumb, people are naturally adverse to change. For instance, before I read Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese! I found even I was adverse to change. I was doing something that I didn’t enjoy five days a week because to change what I was doing was a scary thought. This would involve changing careers, leaving my old career behind and starting anew. A change in business is fundamentally no different. Why? Because people run businesses, businesses don’t run businesses. Human behaviour is judged ultimately by the interface by which we interact. Changing that interface is changing behaviour. This is sometimes scary. Numbers in marketing Since the conception of the internet and cloud infrastructure there has been a fundamental change in business opportunity. While I could rattle off 10 reasons why running your system either on an internet platform or through cloud infrastructure would be far better than having everything stored underneath your desk in an office, most people would still be naturally adverse to this idea. Quite simply, it means change. They believe what they can see and what they have on their desktop is safe. Safe until it crashes and then what happens? I wrote an article recently about cloud accounting and how Xero, Saasu and now MYOB Live Accounts are making huge changes to the way businesses can operate. Well, the exact same thing is happening in cloud marketing. Have you heard of that term before? Maybe not. But I am betting that you have seen its incredible power without even knowing about it (Commonwealth Bank of Australia is currently using it). Technology like Salesforce.com, Oncontact, Sage, Prophet are all fantastic examples of CRM software. The add-ons like Marketo (Datarati does implementation for this Australia-wide), Hubspot (Bluewire Media is an Australian partner for this software) and Salesforce Marketing Cloud are simply incredible. Landscape Talking to Paul Holstein from Brandrally recently it was really interesting to discuss the difference between marketing teams and C-Level executives. The disparity between the two is incredibly fascinating. That is that one looks traditionally at the tangible and the other at the intangible. The great thing about the before-mentioned software is that it allows these teams to now play in the same sphere. C-Levels can effectively measure the success of creativity, while at the same time marketing teams can express creative ideas with real insights that were never previously available. These two species can now speak the same language. These tools will no doubt change the landscape of the marketing industry and how business has traditionally operated. It has been estimated that by 2017 CMOs will spend more money on IT than CIOs. Again, another funny concept. However, when you drill down into the CIOs role – being across absolutely every piece of software relevant to an industry – it is revealed as an almost impossible task. This is why I believe ‘cloudware’ will slowly but surely change business forever: It will create a system (using technology) which makes everyone in a business accountable to each other, rather than the traditional structure of the manager above being responsible for the employee below. Where to from here? So, there is this awesome technology everyone now wants to get their hands on. What’s the cost? Will it work for my company? Which one should I use? All these questions will be solved with time (apart from the cost part – just go to their websites and check). Remember the quote from Steve Jobs from my last article – “It’s so much easier to connect the dots looking back.” Just as social media has taken a while to find its feet; these powerful technologies will take time too. Personally, I’m excited to be working with this technology to help the greater good. Being a cancer survivor, I’m excited to be helping the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland with their web strategy and utilising technology (like marketing in the cloud) to help them achieve their goals and reach for the stars – helping cancer sufferers around Queensland and Australia. If you require any help setting up on either tool or have a chat about the best platform for your business, please do not hesitate to contact me on email@example.com or give me a call on (07) 3040 8083.
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If you’re in retail, there’s a good chance that you’re keen to see the back of 2012 as quickly as possible.
Australian-founded mobile solutions provider 5th Finger has been acquired by customer relationship management firm Merkle, five years after relocating from Sydney to the US.
The Decisive Moment: How the brain makes up its mind by Jonah Lehrer (Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2010, 294pp, RRP$29.99) Here’s a book that tells us what we already know: We often make decisions without thinking.
Online department store DealsDirect has flagged further start-up acquisitions, after appointing former Centrebet boss Michael McRitchie as its new chief executive, with Linda Barrett named as head of buying.
If you spent 10 years of your life starting and building a market-leading business, few would begrudge you leaving, especially if you received a reported $40 million pay-out for your shares.
Australian software specialist Reckon has taken a 30% stake in Sydney start-up Connect2Field for $660,000, with Connect2Field describing Reckon as an ideal partner for its future ambitions.
Melbourne-based online start-up TheAgendaDaily.com says it will focus on expanding its CRM strategy after receiving funds from Domenic Carosa’s Future Capital Development Fund.
Business management software company Greentree International has unveiled the finalists of its Game On competition, which will see 10 Australian companies compete for a $250,000 prize.
Cloud-based solutions and virtualisation are among the top technologies tipped to take off in 2012, according to Quest Software, amid increasing demand for mobility and collaboration.
A group of four budding entrepreneurs have just launched Navy Design, a digital consultancy with a difference.
New technology continues to redefine the point of purchase, according to a new PayPal report, with start-ups being urged to embrace new business models in order to remain competitive.