Question: I am constantly on the go as an entrepreneur. I have no office and travel most of the year for sales and partnership meetings. What types of devices, gear and services would you recommend I use to remain efficient and effective?
Question by: Veronica Michaels
Manage Your Points and Miles
"With so much time on the road, you're no doubt racking up a lot of miles among all the different hotel and airline loyalty programs. AwardWallet.com and TripIt.com both provide this functionality. I'm also a huge fan of FoundersCard.com which offers massively discounted hotel rooms, elite & gold status at multiple hotel chains and airlines, and discounted business services for entrepreneurs. "
Start with Google Docs
"Any virtual office has to lay its foundations on Google Docs. You can house key presentations, spreadsheets, and documents here that are accessible from any computer with Internet. You can also share the docs with people on your team for easy collaboration. Google Voice is great for having voicemails forward to email. We also love DropBox.com for storing large files: http://bit.ly/dFAh0E."
Direct Online Banking: Cha-Ching!
"For those of us who don't know where we might be next week, it doesn't make sense to use a bank that only operates in certain areas of the country. I'm in the process of switching over to Ally Financial because they're a totally branch-less bank. Everything gets done via ATM, phone or online, and them reimburse you for ATM fees on any ATM. Sweet."
Hands Down, Evernote Runs My Virtual Business!
"Evernote is one of those apps that changed everything for me and my team. From taking notes at meetings to photos of whiteboards to syncing on all my deivces (iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro) all the way down to sharing docs and collaborating online. My whole team has Pro accounts so we can work together, see project docs, send document edits and work with images. Essentially Evernote is our office!"
Staying in the Mix While on the Go
"Entrepreneurs find themselves more on the go than in the office (if they even have one)! Smartphones and iPads aren't enough, it's the applications you access through your devices that allow you to remain efficient and effective. I recommend Hootsuite as the best Twitter client to connect you to your followers while easily keeping all of your social networks up to speed with your latest news. "
Mailbox Forwarding is An Essential Tool for On-The-Go Entrepreneurs
"I am also an urban nomad--I travel from city to city doing business with no central office. I have found mailbox forwarding to me really helpful for this. It basically takes and scans all of your mail so when you are traveling you can see bills, invoices or other important mail. If you fly a lot I also recommend Seat Guru. This tells you the best and worst seats on a plane so you can sleep/work."
Keep It Simple
"As someone who also travels frequently, I'd recommend keeping your travel work routine as simple as possible. 1) Leverage the Cloud. Everything I need to access for work, I can do online. 2) Invest in an extended battery. Read: Flight delays. 3) Setup Google Voice - It will transcribe and email you your voice mail. This way you know which calls need to be returned immediately, and which can wait."
Get Your Head in the Cloud
"The beauty of technology is that it enables small business owners to operate from anywhere. BackPackit, means you can have everyones systems and calendar online, accessible from anywhere. Basecamp, is a project management tool that can be accessed by anyone in your business. Things is online To-Do list that has an iPhone App. Stay mobile, stay lean, get organised."
Integration Is Key
"Just because you're on the go doesn't mean you can't give the perception of perfectly put together! First, make sure you have a phone service like Grasshopper, that can serve as your answering service, and forward voicemails via email. Second, use an app like Evernote, which allows you to record important information both on your phone and on your computer. Finally, back up everything!"
Get A Virtual Phone System
"A virtual phone system allows you to stay connected with your business when on the go. Your customers will never get a busy signal and you can route phone calls to voicemail or to another extension when you are in meetings or on a flight. Virtual phone systems allow you to stay flexible and run an efficient and effective business for a surprisingly low cost. Check out RingCentral or Grasshopper."
Don't Get Tripped Up, Tripit!
"Tripit.com is the best travel organizer that I have come across to-date. It's easy to use and will keep you and your team organized for all your travel and meeting details. All you do is email your travel itineraries to firstname.lastname@example.org and it intuitively schedules it. And of course, there's an app for that...iPhone, Android, and Blackberry apps make it great for on the go. "
"When I'm traveling a lot, I find it challenging to keep all my expense receipts organized. That was until I discovered Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed.com is a must-have tool for any on-the-go entrepreneur. Shoeboxed scans and organizes your receipts so you don't have to worry about them while you're on the road building your business. You'll never again have to waste time looking for a missing receipt."
Utilize Virtual Office Services
"One of the best ways to look professional if you don't yet have an office is to utilize virtual office services such as Stark or Regus. It looks much more professional when you have someone else answering your phone-this also gives the impression that you currently have an office.I would also recommend getting an ipad 2 with skype to have virtual meetings with clients who are International. "
Couch Surfing and 3G Sticks for Cheap Travel
"If you're really, really on a budget, then there's an option for staying for free: couchsurfing.com. So long as you don't care what type of accommodations you have, you can find hundreds of free lodging options on couchsurfing.com. If you want a slight step up, then just check out airbnb.com. Also, I recently got a 3G mobile stick for my laptop. These things are epic. And it goes wherever you go."
Always Have Internet Access with MiFi
"I highly recommend getting a MiFi device to ensure you always have access to internet wherever you go. MiFi internet services are available via most mobile carriers, and usually you can provide internet connectivity to up to 5 devices. "
Write Everything Down
"Call me old fashioned in this regard, but a pad and paper works very well. Every time you think of something that needs to get done, write it! If you let all of these to-do's pile up in your head, you won't be able to concentrate. And our mind should be used to create and think of new ideas. Not to think about the same things over and over. "