I'm a big believer in tools that help us to be more efficient. I work hard enough. I want to work smarter. I'm a huge fan of Evernote for small business owners. I have a feeling it's like a smart phone in that most of us are only using it for a fraction of what we could be.
I'll get into exactly how we use Evernote, but first, if you're not familiar with Evernote, let's get you up to speed. Evernote is an app that works across multiple devices. You can collect information, make lists, whatever you want. I think of it like my online filing system. Evernote organizes the information in "notebooks" and then each thing you put into a notebook is a "note."
I started out using Evernote's free plan now I use their Premium plan. It's worth the small price! I also use the Evernote Clipper for Chrome extension. Without Evernote Clipper for Chrome, I would still love Evernote like a friend, but combined with the Clipper extension, I'm head over heels in love.
I keep track of our client's web design information in Evernote. What colors we use on their website, what fonts we use, basically a snapshot of the important information we'll need to know later. If you have short term customers instead of clients, you may be more inclined to use Evernote for things like keeping information on your employees, services, locations, etc.
I keep a notebook of links to resources. I use the Evernote Clipper for Chrome extension to bookmark resources like a website that compresses PDF's, a Facebook photo size guide, and a free flowchart website. You will likely bookmark very different sites, but you get the idea.
You might be wondering - Why not just bookmark these sites instead of filing them in Evernote? I bookmark my most used links right in my browser and I file the less used resource links in Evernote. I have 46 resources (and increasing all the time!) saved in Evernote. I don't want that kind of clutter in my browser.
As small business owners, we often have more ideas than we have time. I have a long list of ideas that I'd like to incorporate into my business. I make notes of my ideas in Evernote and can go back to them later, as time permits. Sometimes when I look over my Ideas notebook, I see that an idea doesn't sound as good later. In that case, I'm glad I gave it a little cooling off period. Other times, I'm glad I saved the idea and am excited all over again to put it into action.
This is probably #1 favorite way that I use Evernote. I don't keep a single paper receipt. I have a personal receipt notebook for tax deductible items and a business receipt notebook. If I receive an emailed receipt, I forward the email to my Evernote email with the correct notebook name in the subject line. If I'm out and about and get a receipt, I take a photo of it with my phone and email it to the appropriate folder. Imagine the possibilities! You can get as complex with this as your business needs. *Update: This feature used to be available for free accounts but it's now only available for paid accounts.
I have notebooks dedicated to my business goals. I have bookmarks for things I want to buy for the business but can't quite justify yet and it's also where we keep a snapshot of my business vision - What kinds of clients do we want to work with? Where do I want Type B to be in 5 years? What does success look like to me, and to the entire business?
Your notebooks will likely be entirely different. We don't have inventory or a physical location like most of our clients do. The idea is to make things easier for yourself, not more complicated. For example, a personal trainer could have notebooks for each client to keep track of their progress, bookmark new exercises or fun workouts to later share or incorporate into their training sessions, health and fitness articles to share with their Facebook following, bookmarks to new training to expand certifications. The possibilities really are endless!
I haven't even gotten into tagging and how Evernote makes it super easy to search to find whatever you're looking for, even if it's not just in one notebook. Or that you can file away photos, add notes to anything you save with the Clipper, and much more. Really, you just have to dive in to see what it's all about.
Do you already use Evernote for your business? How do you use it to be more efficient?