I’m often asked by people that are in growth mode just what the best investments and tools for making it big are. I too have unsuccessfully hopped from one piece of software to hardware through the years always in the search of something magical.
Truth is, managing and growing a business is a complex combination of always being available, keeping track of every interaction and idea, keeping everyone else on track. Oh, and one more thing: paying attention to social conventions. Pull out a phone in a middle of a conversation or look at your laptop during a meeting and people will assume you are not paying attention. Older generations may even consider the move quite rude. It’s a rough terrain.
Here is what made my 2010 the most successful year, ever. Not to mention that I executed my entire 2010 and even half of my 2011 agenda in less than 10 months. How? Louis Vuitton Notebook & Apple iPhone 4
Luis Vuitton Notebook ($500 leather cover; $75 paper insert)
Not to say that this exact same task cannot be done by a $2 notebook, but keep in mind that the level of abuse this thing has taken is nothing short of immense. You know what your laptop looks like, and it has an aluminum or hard plastic shell. Imagine what would happen to a notebook. Mine looks brand new and thankfully, it was a present.
This is simply the most powerful tool I’ve had in 2010. I laid out my tasks at the beginning of every week and spread them out across the workweek. I could track progress quickly and never forget a thing.
Problem: This applies to almost all business owners. If you aren’t completely ADD to begin with, you soon will be. The nature of growing and managing a business is being pulled in 10,000 different directions at the same time. If you’re lucky to complete one thing before you get distracted by another, it’s a slow day.
So how did I do it? We make quarterly goals. Those are broken down on month-to-month progress checks. I further broke down what I needed to do on a weekly basis. Every week I would have a big task to complete and I would break it up into smaller parts. When I completed each task, I would check it. When something fell in my lap, I would add it to the list and just keep track of it.
I spent A LOT of time on the road and in meetings this year. This gave me an analog way of staying on top of things. It also gave me an opportunity to sketch out my ideas, draw things up and be creative away from the keyboard and the whiteboard.
From social standpoint, people don’t react as poorly to a notebook as they do to a phone or a laptop in a meeting. They don’t feel like you aren’t listening to them or not paying attention.
Apple iPhone ($300 up front, $1200/year)
I can’t really say enough good things about the iPhone. I used to have high hopes for the OneNote but I just found the paper a lot more flexible. Sharing? Snap a photo with iPhone and MMS/Email/Facebook/etc.
It seems a bit ridiculous but the phone has become a camera, a training tool, a marketing research tool (video), instant messenger even video phone calls.
I have spent most of 2010 on the road and I would not have been as productive without the iPhone. The key to this has been the battery life. The iPhone goes a day or more on full blast – video, email, text, IM, etc.
I do not say this lightly – the iPhone has been more important to me this year than any of my PCs, laptops or iPad’s.
The most important thing to getting things done is managing yourself and your time. This is difficult on it’s own, but it’s made far worse when everyone else is after your time too. Get some basic tools to help manage your life and your work.