9 Business Tools That Really Work

Nov 11, 2014, Written by Sue Miley


I remember when paper planners came out.  I was in love.  I tried all of them.  As a matter of fact, every three months I would get bored with my system and have to get a new one.  The problem with paper was actually a problem with me.

I would change planners and not get everything transferred.  Or I would not bring my planner with me everywhere personally, and inevitably see someone who wanted to get together.  It wouldn’t get in my planner and I would double book myself.

As fun as it was to have a different tool to try regularly and randomly, it turned out to be the antithesis of organized for me.

Then came along technology.  But way back when, probably less than 10 years ago, you had to sync your phone with your computer and calendars, etc. to make sure it was all up to date.  And I am talking about the old fashioned, connect the two devices physically. Not the newer wifi version of syncing.

I was still out of sync.

I used Outlook, Gmail, you name it.

Technology That Works

It wasn’t until 2008 that I purchased my first iPhone. As a matter of fact, it was only a month before our Hurricane Gustav 10 days without electricity event that I had purchased it.  It saved me.  It was the only connectivity I had for my life and business.

It was the beginning, though, of tools that worked for me.  I know I am not the only organizationally challenged business person.  Once I found Apple products, my organizational reliability increased ten-fold.

MacBook Pro, Ipad, and iPhone are the foundation of my business tools and systems.  We can argue size, features, and price of other smart phones, tablets, and pc’s, but to me Apple just works.

Automation Equals Organization, Efficiency, and Effectiveness

Apple is the just the foundation, however. Here are my other tools:

iCal – I use the Apple calendar.  It all syncs automatically.  Because of my problem, I mean need, to try different things, I have tried Outlook for Mac, the Basecamp calendars and many calendar apps.  Again, it isn’t as exciting as trying something new, but I always end up back at iCal because it works.  It is all integrated and automatically syncs.  It shows up on all of my devices.  I can share calendars.  It works.

Mail – Same with email.  I have tried them all.  Once you forward all of your email addresses to your iCloud address, not only do you have your email on all of your devices and anywhere you have an internet connection, you also automatically have a backup of everything in the cloud. Since I forwarded everything to iCloud, I have never lost an email, contact, or calendar event.

Evernote – I have shared my love for Evernote many times, and wrote a whole blog post on Evernote that you can see here: A Guide to Evernote for Small Businesses

However, I am still finding new features that I love about Evernote. I am typing this on the new format of Evernote in the cloud and it is a great writing tool.  It gives you the whole minimalist feel, yet your document is stored where you need it.  I particular like Evernote as my research tool when I am browsing the web and need to save and store something with just one click.

Skitch – This is an app to take online screenshots and annotate right on the picture.  It is owned by Evernote, so it automatically saves to Evernote. However, you can email right from the screenshot too.  It is great to send changes to websites, graphics, etc. to your designers.  It also saves in a JPEG so it is also a great tool to add screen shots to blog posts.

Basecamp – This is still our favorite project management and collaboration tool.  It is reasonably priced, cloud-based, and the developers continue to improve it monthly.  I get my fix of new tools, almost every month, when they put up the New Stuff  link!

Harvestapp – I keep looking at other time tracking tools, but haven’t left Harvest.  It is easy to use, keeps your whole team in the same system, provides analytic reports and is also our invoicing tool.  It syncs automatically now with Quickbooks.

Quickbooks – We use the online version of Quickbooks.  If you don’t have inventory and work-in-progress in your business, I recommend the online version.  Again, with the online version, you have access everywhere and they have apps for both the iPhone and iPad.  If you run a small business, many times you don’t spend a lot of time analyzing your books during the work day.  I always wanted to review everything at home, and I couldn’t until I went with the online version.

Dropbox – We still  use Dropbox to store graphics, large files, and as a back-up for our working documents.  I love that I can just add Dropbox to my finder window on my Mac and save directly to my file folders on Dropbox.  Again, all of my files are accessible on all of my devices and Dropbox has apps for ease of use.

Hootsuite – This is still my favorite social media productivity app.  I have tried older and newer ones and always head back to Hootsuite.  It allows me to schedule posts in advance and includes all of the social media platforms I use: FB, LinkedIn, Twitter and G+. This way, I don’t have to constantly be updating social media accounts if I want to stay consistent on them.

What’s on Your Favorite List?

I love reading other people’s list of best business productivity tools.  More and more I see my favorites on everyone else’s list.  My list is starting to stay constant.  It doesn’t feel as fun because I like that change factor.

But I have found something I like more.

I like that these apps and programs all work!  I like that they all play well together.  And I like that they are all at my fingertips on ALL of my devices.

How about you?  What are your absolute all time favorites?  Do you find yourself staying with the same solutions?  Are any of your favorites on my list?

Reader Interactions


  1. Gil says

    I’m an android user so some of the above didn’t apply, but a these tools I use as well. The nicest thing is that most of these are scalable, just may cost more than the free accounts/versions. If someone is wondering from the android side of things what the comparative tools are, this is what I use.

    Gmail (calendar, email, contacts, even some social media connections), Evernote (my #1 for all things notes, lists, journaling), Skitch as well (although not as feature full as the IOS version), TeamworkPM (very much like Basecamp but with additional features), Dropbox (another winner application, for personal and business, now you can two separate ones on your computer and your tablet/phone devcies) and Buffer for Social Media.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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