Autumn Product Roundup – Three Tools for the Small Business Owner

It is, as usual, pretty busy around here. I’ve personally been working on a contract for a Fortune 1000 client in the Silicon Valley for a good chunk of the year. We’ve got a couple of other projects on the go, a new server setup and migration, potentially a cool new build for a new client coming up, a couple of internal projects and the list goes on.  But instead of telling you about those, I thought I’d give a quick update on a couple of tools I’ve come across and started using lately. I’ll write-up proper reviews on these a little later, but if you’re a small business owner, these may find themselves to be very helpful for you and your business.

 

1. IFTTT – If This Than That (Free)

This clever tool allows you to “program” actions based on triggers without having to know a lick about code. It is currently set up with a bunch of services (gmail, tumblr, SMS, phone, bit/ly, rss, etc) and it revolves around the trigger (the If this happens, then do this thing logic). Want to automatically post you latest blog post to your Facebook Wall? Easy. Send a text when an event happens on you calendar? Done.  You can browse through “recipes” others have made or create your own. There’s still some other services that would be cool to see, but this tool is pretty slick.

 

2. Fancyhands.com ($25 per month – $585 per year, see site for details)

Ever felt like you’re getting bogged down with simple tasks? Feel like you could get more real work done if you had someone to do those tasks for you? Ended this train of thought when you did the quick math in your head that tells you a full-time personal assistant is not in your budget? Enter Fancyhands.com, This service offers a virtual private assistant service that is easy to use and is staffed by well-trained folks based in the US. You can use the service to complete tasks that need to get done, but don’t specifically have to be done by you.  Send flowers for someone’s retirement party, research hotels for your next business trip, call and make your next doctor’s appointment, research an aspect of a blog post with supporting links, and all kinds of tasks similar to this. You purchase via monthly or annual subscription a certain number of tasks per month and depending on the pricing you choose, tasks will cost between $1.95 and $5.00 each (I went with an Annual Basic Plan with 5 tasks per month for $225). I have had one task completed and another underway and so far, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of work completed and it is indeed saving me time.

* Link above is a referral link and get a $10 credit if you sign up. You could type in the URL manually if you prefer.

 

3. Fitbit $99.00 USD (Same price in CAD at Amazon.ca)

If you hit the gym and eat well all the time without trying, then maybe this isn’t for you. If you get bogged down in work from a desk and don’t make time to get active, then Fitbit might be what you need. In all fairness, I’m on day three, but so far I love it. Over time, mainly the last 10-12 years, my diet and exercise habits have slowly degraded. It wasn’t an overnight thing. I’m aware of this and that I need to change something. Fitbit is a small hardware dongle (I have the Fitbit One, there is an older model called the Ultra, and a lesser featured version too) that you wear on your body all the time. It tracks your steps, number of staircases you climb, distance traveled and calories burned and reports it back to the web where you can log in and see how you’re doing against your goals. You also wear the Fitbit on your wrist at night and it tracks information on your sleep patterns. On the site, you can track your food intake, sleep, exercise, weight, and even join groups and add friends. Fitbit does a good job as motivator and making things fun and challenging. The hardware is beautiful. It is small, unobtrusive and sleek and I barely notice it is there. It syncs within 20 feet of my computer or with an iPhone (there are both iPhone and Android apps, but the Android app unfortunately does not have all the features of the iPhone app. Get on that Fitbit!). My wife and bought them for each other as early Xmas gifts and as long as we stick with it, Fitbit will help us gain the exercise and diet balance that has waned over the last decade.

 

As I mentioned, I’m pretty new to all of these, and I plan to write proper reviews when I’ve had a bit more time to experience them, but early on for all three services, things look very promising and I recommend you check them out. Hopefully, in the next several weeks I’ll get some more updates out on what we’re doing and a couple of posts for small business strategy and tools . We have a couple of site launch announcements coming up too that we’d like to share. We recently signed up as a member of live-local, so we’ll talk about that too. Lastly, I’m hoping to move the blog to our site (also re-designed lately), so I have to figure out how to point you there from here.

Thanks for reading.

-b

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