Tech-Savvy Tips: The Top 5 Apps Every Small Business CEO Needs

7-new-apps-worth-downloading-this-week-0543acc07cSmall business CEO’s are usually slammed with work. They need to have their info on the go and at their fingertips at all times. Smartphones and tablets are advancing to become nearly as versatile as computers, so they are helping business owners around the world improve efficiency and reduce costs. If you’re a time-crunched small business CEO, here are five of the best apps that can save you and your company time and money.

1. Evernote

Evernote is a life saver when you are having a hard time staying organized and keeping track of ideas or information. It’s an advanced note taking application that you can access from your phone or any other device. With Evernote, you can take written notes, take pictures and store them as notes, or create voice notes. You can even sync the notes across all of your devices so that they’re accessible wherever you happen to be.

2. Scanning Applications

Another must-have application for a small business CEO is a scanner app. There are several different scanner applications that you could use for your business. These apps can be utilized on any of the Blackberry phones from Bell.ca. They allow you to scan documents while on the go and then send them to your computer.

3. Quickoffice

Quickoffice is an application that allows you to access almost any kind of document that you can imagine. With Quickoffice, you can open Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Scribd, and Google Docs documents. This makes it easy for you to create and edit documents from your phone while on the go.

4. Mobile Payment Apps

Another handy application to have when you’re a small business CEO is a mobile payment processor. There are plenty of options for you to choose from in this area, and all of them have some pros and cons for you to consider. For example, you could use Square, PhoneSwipe, Intuit, or a number of other similar applications. With these apps, you can take credit and debit card payments while you are away from the office. Many of them link up with a piece of hardware that you can attach to your phone, which allows you to scan credit and debit cards. You also have the option of entering a customer’s credit card number manually.

5. Financial Tracking Software

Being able to track your finances is also helpful when running a business. Using an app like Mint can make your financial tracking much easier. This app integrates with your bank accounts and other financial accounts so that you get a financial snapshot at any time.

All of these apps have the potential to simplify things for your business. Try them out on your phone or tablet today.

Managing International Business Teams: Cultural Differences

internaltional businessIn today’s shrinking world of business, many companies have the opportunity to work with employees from across the globe. As many American companies discover, cultural differences in other countries can make standard American work practices difficult to maintain. Some of the practices of American companies are insulting to the culture and social world in many other countries.

As a manager in charge of an international team, it is important to recognize the differences between employee culture and manage the team in such a way that will not offend international employees.

Notable cultural differences

While cultural differences will vary from country to country, there are many cultural business trends that remain the same for certain areas of the world. In the East, among Asian cultures, individual effort is not considered a good idea. The focus there is more on team effort and accomplishments. Japan even has a saying that says, “the nail that sticks up gets pounded,” meaning that employees should not strive for individual success.

Hispanic cultures are more family oriented than American culture. Hispanic workers want companies that understand family requirements and would appreciate rewards based around the entire family, such as a family picnic hosted by the company, or a bring your children to work day.

European cultures tend to value money and finances above other forms of rewards. If an employee does an exceptional job from a European culture, he or she will likely expect financial reward for the effort. The United States has similar financial values as Europe, but most Americans also want to be valued with words, position, and titles as well as finances.

Managing an international team

Since employees from different cultures have wildly varying expectations for job performance, it is important to establish rules, boundaries, regulations, rewards, and expectations for international teams. There are four main ways that employers can help motivate international teams.

Get an interpreter: If you don’t know what will motivate an employee- find out. Hire a cultural expert to help explain what will motivate the employees and what they expect from their employer.

Set expectations: Clearly define what you expect from employees. For example, if you do not want employees to bring family members to work, then create guidelines that state the expectation. This will help manage employee expectations and performance.

Praise desired behavior: When you do see behavior that you want, take steps to praise that behavior. Employees may be making more effort than you realize. For example, speaking only in English is challenging for many employees, yet rarely noticed by American employers.

Take steps to motivate: Find out what motivates each employee and use that as incentive for improved job performance. Your interpreter can help uncover the best ways to motivate employees from various cultures.

Motivating a team of international employees can be challenging, but if you follow the right steps, it will become easier. A little cultural research and active praise will go a long way toward smoothing international employee relations.

Author Bio:

This a guest post by Lilly Sheperd, an occasional blogger, freelance writer. Nowadays writing on behalf Profitability, a comapny offers leadership development program. When not blogging she likes to travel and play netball with her friends.

 

5 Crucial Factors for Taking Project Management to the Next Level

project managementThe golden rule of project management is the same whether you are developing a new website or planing to take over the world: assemble a great team and give them the best tools available to accomplish the task. However to truly make the end product excellent you must make sure that every step from planning to final execution is examined carefully both to enhance the final product and reduce inefficiencies. Here are 5 performance management tips for establishing an agile project management strategy that will help you and your team tackle any goal, large or small, with finesse.

Tracking

Being able to track a project through its various stages of development is essential to be able to optimise your efficiency and place your resources where they are most needed. Being one step ahead of the game enables you to foresee future problems and plan the next stages with ease, so making sure you know exactly where each element of the plan is at is crucial. Whether tracking takes place by a daily conversation with team members or by an electronic system off checking off goals, keeping note of where your project stands is key to success.

Low response time

 Circumstances can change at the drop of a hat, so if you have a query or a problem then you often need a lightening fast response. Integrating your project into a system that allows for email updates or desktop notifications is the best way to ensure any problems are dealt with efficiently before they escalate.. For example, professional project management websites like Basecamp improve response times due to the slew of email notifications any change or conversation provides.

Accurate planning

If you have not planned a project well then you are liable to fall at any hurdle. Critically assess every part of your plan for the three Fs: feasibility, funding and function. Is your plan realistic? Do you have the necessary funds and resources to realise it? And how does your plan lead to the realisation of your final product or goal?

Sometimes it simply is not possible to know all the variables a project will contain before it begins, so you therefore should always build in a generic fall-back system. Always allocate slightly more time and resources than a project needs. Although in some cases this can be wasteful, overall most projects will actually require the extra legroom (and then some) to achieve completion by the required date.

Flexibility

‘Agile’ is the current buzzword in the business world for a reason: flexibility is key in our fast moving times and those that cannot change in an instant will more likely sink than swim. Project management should be simultaneously interactive and flexible: those working on a project should be able not only to truly interact with the variables and ideas but also be able to realign themselves and shift responsibilities, deadlines and roles in order to achieve maximum efficiency. While basic constraints should be used to frame a project, flexibilities allows not just for optimisation of resources but also greater creativity and imagination.

Outsourcing

Don’t be afraid to admit that you or your team simply don’t have the skills or expertise needed to complete your project. Outsourcing or bring in new team members can be costly but it also can simply be the right move to either finish your project on time or at the needed quality. Assess the skill set of people available to you and if you need a helping hand think of the quickest and easiest ways to reach out to obtain the workforce you need. For example, if you suddenly find yourself in need of a Ruby coder then it is easy to pick up a short-term developer on websites like Toptal. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box to get yourself the tools you need to build the perfect project.

Project management is not the complicated art that some business books would have you believe. As long as you make sure you have a sound plan, trusted helpers and controlled variables then you can be assured that with a little hard work any project can come to fruition.