The Rolling Stones had a big hit telling people to get off that cloud, but now is definitely the time when you want to get ON it. Cloud computing is all the rage. And while you personally might not care about server configurations, managedIP and the like, you definitely will care about getting access to great applications (apps) via your laptop browser – and often on your phone or tablet as well.
Here are a few applications I use in my business that I wouldn’t want to live without. All have a basic version for free. Some you may know and some you probably haven’t heard of:
Dropbox – Wondering what the best thing since sliced bread really is? It’s Dropbox. This service does only one thing and they do it exceptionally well. It is a file storage service that many people found when they needed to send big files that couldn’t be handled by e-mail such as video or audio files. Dropbox takes 10 seconds to install and syncs files between your desktop, devices, and the cloud. You can invite people to share specific folders and I use it every day with clients. For those of you missing the company shared drive, this is a great replacement.
Evernote – I recommend Evernote to absolutely everyone. I use only one function of it, web clipping, but it makes me very organized and I can find anything I have seen online in a snap! When you find an article that you want to save, you highlight it and send it to Evernote. You can file it in a specific folder with different tags so that you can find it again easily. I have folders for entrepreneurs, job search, coaching, recipes, etc. Clients are amazed that I can find and send them information they need in seconds! Other folks I know use it for to-do lists, creating documents, note taking, and other tasks.
FreeConferenceCall.com – When you work for a big corporation you tend to do a lot of meetings via conference call. But what happens when you start your own business and need to talk to three or more people? This service really is free and works great. You can record calls to create feeds, or download the files in .wav or .mp3 formats and post them as teleclasses, add the audio track to videos, etc.
Workflowy – Like Dropbox, Workflowy is a very clean, easy, and unassuming app that does one thing really well. It helps get things out of your head and creates tiered lists in an organized fashion. Too many ideas running around in your head? Capture everything in minutes in Workflowy. (It is really simple to use but you will get WAY more out of it if you take 90 seconds to watch the intro video on how to use it most effectively.) I am using Workflowy with clients to capture to-do lists and projects since you can share specific sections.
iDoneThis – Keep yourself (or your clients) accountable on a daily basis. This app sends you an e-mail and you take 30 seconds to reply with what you accomplished. Ever finish a week wondering what the heck you did all week? No more! Go back and look at your history and feel proud of your accomplishments (or at least know how you spent your time). I am going to start using this with my accountability coaching clients so they remember to do the things they committed to, and I know that they have done them.
SoundCloud – I love the look and feel of this service. It is VERY easy to set up and use. I post my audio teleclass recordings for small business owners on SoundCloud. There are embeddable widgets and social media sharing is set up for you. The players look cool in WordPress. I wrote @SoundCloud a fan tweet that they “favorited” on Twitter.