Business Tools Update

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Happy mid-year! Have you checked in with yourself lately to see how you are doing with meeting your annual goals? I just started my paralegal training this week, so that’s one thing checked off my list.

A goal I didn’t write down is to streamline my billing and accounting system. Software packages like QuickBooks or Quicken are too expensive and complicated for my business type.  I do everything in homemade Excel spreadsheets right now, which I love, but I know they can be improved upon. And guess what? Someone has already done that! A colleague sent me a link to Simple Planner. It has everything I was looking for – income and expense calculators in the same Excel file, plus an invoice generator. It may even motivate me to calculate my profit and loss statements. I won’t be changing my system mid-year, but this is definitely going on my list of year-end buys (especially since this tip comes from someone I trust; I promise we are not in the pockets of this company). Check it out here.

[Bonus tip: Apparently, most banks let you download your transaction statements as Excel files. So instead of doing all your bookkeeping data entry by hand, you can copy/paste or link it all up!]

If marketing is your focus this year, BufferApp is another great tool to try. (Again, I am not compensated in any way for sharing this information with you.) I have been paying the nominal fee for their Awesome Plan for a couple years, no regrets. I love being able to schedule updates for events and holidays in advance, and spread out the news I read (usually in one big go on a Sunday) and share so I’m not just dumping everything on my followers at once. But it gets better: BufferApp recently added a feature that lets you sign up for RSS feeds for blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc., right in the scheduling app. So now, instead of going to my RSS feed to catch up on news, then switching to the app to post articles of interest, I can do it all in the same place. Isn’t everything better when it’s streamlined? Check out their plans here (they have a free version, too).

What goals have you checked off your list this year? What tools are you using to meet them? Please share your favorites below!

What’s your opinion of Google’s Nexus 7?

My current laptop is 7 years old, a bit wheezy, and kinda clunky for quick email checks while out of the office. For the new year, I’ve been considering getting a tablet computer. They’re lighter, smaller, and seem just as capable as a laptop at keeping me in touch with my clients while I’m running errands.

Google Winter Wonderlab

Lucky for me, Google has a Winter Wonderlab set up the next town over, right where I host my translator coffee chats. So, last week, after our time was up, I strolled on down to get a closer look at the Nexus 7. Maybe you’ve heard of it? This is Google’s own, Android-based tablet computer. It works just like a smartphone, except you can choose to use it with Wifi only—and thus avoid paying for a monthly data plan.

The direct connection to my email account, Google Drive, and Hangout is the most attractive feature to me as a businessperson. Typing on tablets and touch screens drives me nuts, so I’d be thrilled to skip login screens. One quick tap and I can see my emails? Yes, please! That would have come in major handy at the ATA conference, not to mention all the in-person events I’ve got planned for the coming year.

Google Nexus 7 tablet

I spent a good half hour playing around with this tablet at the mall. It’s pretty easy to navigate and has a lot of useful business features, including a word processing app compatible with Word. Two taps and you’re reading email, looking up directions, or video chatting with a client. It’s solid enough that I wouldn’t worry about breaking it in my conference bag. (In fact, the guy that helped me said it was designed with dudes in mind—just the right size for throwing in your back pocket, and sturdy enough to withstand you forgetting it’s there when you sit down.) What’s not to like?

I was a total skeptic going in to the Wonderlab, and now I’m fairly certain I’m going to buy the Nexus 7. But first, what do you think? If you own one already, how does it work for you? If you’re a tablet user, how has it helped you?