5 great tools to save time & money in YOUR small business.

Most business owners, particularly small business owners, share a common lack of time.

Rarely do they have the opportunity to go searching for tools that may save them precious time and increase their productivity.

This brief article outlines five key technology based tools we’ve found and use in our own business. We know they will save you a lot of time, increase your productivity and provide you with quality output – they’ve done it for us.

1 – Video Creation/Picture Capture with JING – jing.com

Everyone is talking about the need for creating videos for your websites and the power they have both as a search engine optimisation tool and as a way of communicating your key messages.

Having these created professionally can be an expensive and a time-consuming journey but if you are looking to demonstrate product, train people how to use your products or software, looking to share a PowerPoint presentation or maybe taking people on a virtual tour of your business JING is probably the answer.

Once loaded onto your system it leaves a little sun spot at the top of your screen that is always visible. So if you’re looking to capture a picture of what you’re seeing on your computer or creating a video of what you are doing (includes PowerPoint presentations or screening videos) and provided your video is no longer than five minutes you hover over the sunspot, select the area to capture and choose picture or video and JING captures what’s on screen.

The free version does have JING captions on videos and if you’d like to remove those you can do so for an annual subscription of just $14.95.Oh, an added benefit of the subscription version is that videos can be automatically uploaded to YouTube and Facebook.

Here’s a couple of links to examples of what we’ve created from PowerPoint presentations using JING…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikKG6Yx6xs0 OR  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ara2yinGjg

2 – Storing information with Dropbox – dropbox.com

Having worked in small business disaster recovery, I’m acutely aware of the need to capture core information and store it in a safe and easily accessible place.

Dropbox is a smart way of both storing and sharing documents, spreadsheets, photos and other materials required by your business. The free version provides up to 2 GB of storage (higher amounts are available with a monthly subscription) plus you can increase your free storage capacity by inviting staff members, family or friends to become Dropbox users.

One of the great features of Dropbox is the ability to share files with other staff members so that all of you have access to the most current version. We found this particularly helpful when sharing coaching information, business files for review and/or notes on specific topics with clients.

If you think Dropbox might work for you, contact me through ‘contact us’ on our website www.transformyourbusiness.com.au and we’ll send you an invitation to join so you can get a bonus 250 MB of storage space for free.

3 – Dragon voice recognition – nuance.com/dragon/index.htm

If like me, your thoughts and speaking voice faster than your typing speed you’ve got to get Dragon.

Dragon is a voice recognition program whereby you speak your thoughts/ideas (we used it for this article) and it types the words for you.

Set up of your Dragon software only takes a few minutes provided you have a reasonable quality headset/microphone -we use a Plantronics model that cost around $50 – but there are many other brands/prices including those offered by Dragon.

Setup is completed by reading some text so Dragon can check the volume of your microphone and to familiarise with your speaking voice. Later versions also type from digital recording devices which is great when you have a digital recorder and capture notes/ideas on the run.

We’ve noticed it’s important to speak a little slower than conversational speed and of course to speak clearly to get the best effect. Typically we’re now achieving voice recognition and typing accuracy in excess of 90% which is a lot better than when I type by myself.

4 – Making social media easy with Hoot Suite – hootsuite.com

Been getting into Facebook, Twitter, Linked in and other social media tools?

How would you like a tool where you can update all of them at one time?

Hoot Suite is that tool and provides a couple of unique features other services (e.g. ping.fm) don’t have, like the ability to pre-schedule messages and postings.

Once you’ve set up your Hoot Suite account you select which social media tools you have and then synch with them so Hoot Suite can automatically post your latest updates/messages directly to all or any of your social media accounts at the one time.

In addition to posting your social media accounts of Hoot Suite provides a browser feature that allows you to look at traffic/posts in each of your separate accounts and respond directly or re-tweet/share items that you believe may be interesting to your friends and followers.

5 – Becoming the expert on your topic with Scoop.it

If you have a passion or interest and would like to be seen as the ‘expert ‘on that topic I suggest you take a good look at Scoop.it.

We came across this tool through a Facebook recommendation and set up our own Scoop.it topic called Transforming Small Business – see http://www.scoop.it/t/transforming-small-business

The way it works is through Scoop.it  searching the Internet, blogs and social media outlets for any information based around keywords that you have chosen. It then brings those items together in a list where you decide to either keep or discard the specific topics. The ones that you keep, or Scoop, are posted onto your Scoop.it page and are broadcasted as updates on your Twitter/Facebook if you so choose.

Another great feature of Scoop.it we enjoy is the ability to ‘Scoop’ interesting articles, blog posts or documents we see and share these immediately from our desktop through a simple command button added to our web browser.

Sure there are many other tools available and we would love to hear about some of the ones saving you time and money so we can share these with our clients and help them save time and money too. Just drop me an e-mail through ‘contact us’ on our website www.transformyourbusiness.com.au and I’ll send you a copy of my latest e-book “Hamster NO MORE… surviving the small-business treadmill” as a thank you.

Article written by Anthony M Turner – Small Business Coach/Mentor, Speaker, Author and the founder of Transform Your Business.

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This Article was sourced from Transform Your Businessa specialist coaching, mentoring, consulting and skills training services for small and micro businesses