Gone are the days when all you needed to run a business was a pen, paper, and maybe a calculator.
These days it’s all about your software stack—the apps, cloud or otherwise, that you use to manage everything from contacts and sales leads to projects, customer support, and finances.
With literally dozens of apps being released for desktop, mobile, or web every week, there’s no shortage of software to choose from.
So which ones should you use?
Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are six new apps that will help you better manage and grow your business in 2019.
Most people’s brains aren’t built for multitasking.
In fact, only a very select few can actually multitask for real. The rest of us just think we can do it.
So when you’re taking a sales call or meeting with a very important client, it takes quite a bit of brain power to keep the conversation flowing and jot down detailed notes at the same time.
There’s always the risk of mishearing something or forgetting a key piece of information that could spell disaster down the road.
Fireflies.ai wants to get rid of that risk entirely by letting you record and transcribe meetings in real-time, as they happen.
That means you can focus on actual meaningful conversations without having to scramble and scribble every time.
Just send a calendar invite to firstname.lastname@example.org fr your next meeting or sales call and you’re good to go. The app plugs into most web conferencing apps like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet, and can also work with phone calls.
One feature I really like is that it also lets you transcribe and index old recordings for search.
So even if you’re in a face-to-face meeting, you can just record the whole thing on your phone and then upload the audio file so Fireflies.ai can work its magic.
There are three rules to a good meeting: start on time, end on time, and stick to the agenda.
That last bit is usually the tricky part, and can directly affect your ability to end a meeting on time.
Timeblocks helps you do that by letting you create a structured , timed agenda for your meeting so you can stick to your schedule.
It’s easy. Just open Timeblocks, name your blocks (like “Greetings” or “Review of Action Items from Last Meeting”, for example), and specify how many minutes each block would be.
Timeblocks will then act as a timer that lets you know when to wrap things up in one block when the next one is about to start.
It’s a very simple app that came from a very simple idea, but it’s invaluable for those who really want to make meetings more efficient and productive.
And not just meetings—you can even use Timeblocks for your everyday tasks.
The app also lets you save agendas for later use, and comes with pause, skip, and reset functions so you don’t end up a slave to the timer.
Timeblocks is completely free and, since it’s a web app, you can use whatever device you have on hand to access it.
The developer has also recently made the timer bigger when you’re using a tablet or laptop so that everyone can have a good view of how many minutes are left in an agenda block.
Descript is similar to Fireflies.ai in that both of them can transcribe audio files, but that’s where the similarities stop.
This particular app may not be able to automatically record and transcribe meetings, but it does have the honor of being the first commercially available app that lets you edit audio and video files the same way you edit text.
Transcribe a video or audio file using Descript, and you can then edit the media file you used as you edit the transcription.
All those “umms” and “ahs” and other extra junk can be removed from your audio or video file simply by deleting them in the transcription. You can then tweak your text-based edits further by using the app’s timeline editor.
It makes editing videos very easy for those who aren’t too familiar with more professional-grade software like Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro.
More experienced video editors can also use Descript to quickly make a rough cut for later exporting into their software of choice.
Descript is also able to distinguish between different speakers when transcribing. And since it’s powered by machine learning, the more you use it the better it gets at differentiating between one speaker and another.
So if you’re making a lot of video content, you can easily transcribe and turn those videos into new blog posts, presentations, or even knowledge base articles.
Descript is available for both Windows and Mac. The Basic plan lets you transcribe audio and video as you go at 15¢ per minute, but doesn’t come with editing features. That’s available in the $24-per-month Producer plan, which lets you transcribe up to four hours of audio and video per month.
There’s also a Team plan with extra collaboration features, although all plans do let you share your projects and collaborate with others.
These two apps are more geared towards better “quality of life”, but if you’re a heavy Gmail user like me they’re both godsends.
They make the Gmail experience that much better, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised if Google themselves add similar features in the future.
First up is Adios, an app tailor-made for anyone who’s ever found themselves constantly distracted by email alerts and notifications.
It lets you set up specific times for when emails actually enter your inbox. For example, you can instruct it to pull in emails at 8AM, 1PM, and 5PM.
This means you don’t get distracted by the constant flow of email. You can concentrate on actually getting work done instead of opening your inbox every few minutes.
Note that Adios doesn’t actually keep you from receiving emails, it just controls when the emails you receive show up in your inbox.
What it does is funnel all the emails you receive into a hidden label and then moves those emails into your inbox at the times you set.
Adios also allows you to set exceptions, meaning emails from specific email addresses will always be delivered to your inbox as soon as they’re sent.
And if you really want to check your emails, it also has a handy “Deliver emails now” feature. You can also open the hidden “Adios Stashed Emails” label if you really know your way around Gmail.
Another useful Gmail app I found is cloudHQ’s Gmail Tabs extension for Google Chrome.
I’ve got about a dozen labels setup in Gmail, and since they’re automatically sorted alphabetically, I’ve taken to adding 00, 01, 02, and so forth to the label names to make sure the most important ones stay at the top of the list.
Gmail Tabs gives you more control over how you organize your labels by letting you turn the most important ones into tabs that appear above the default Gmail categories tabs, right below the search box.
No more scrolling or cheap naming workarounds needed to find that one label that you use all the time. Gmail Tabs makes them easy to see and easy to access.
Both Adios and Gmail Tabs are completely free. Do note, however, that Gmail Tabs is currently available only for Chrome.
WORKetc Gmail Add-on
As powerful as Gmail is, it’s still not that great at actually helping you grow your business right out of the box.
Instead of just letting your emails stew in your inbox, turn them into real, actionable items with the new and improved WORKetc Gmail Add-on.
Customer just emailed you about an issue with a product they bought from you? Quickly turn it into a support ticket, assign your best product expert to it, and immediately get them started on fixing the issue.
Just got an inquiry about one of your services? Turn that email into a new contact and sales lead, then let your best sales agent start nurturing that lead ASAP.
Really want to make sure your agent calls the lead on time? Just create a task for them and attach the email so they have all the details they need.
With just a few clicks, you can turn any email into a new contact, sales lead, project, task, timesheet, support ticket, or expense—all without ever leaving your Gmail inbox.
I’ve talked about the new features and improvements we’ve stuffed into the WORKetc Gmail add-on before (you can read all about it here), but one thing that might have escaped your attention is that it also works with the Gmail mobile app.
And I’m not talking about a “lite” version of the Gmail web app add-on—the mobile add-on has all the same features that are available to those who use it in the Gmail web app.
Whether you have an Android device or an iPhone, as long as you have the Gmail app installed you can run, manage, and grow your business, anytime, anywhere using the WORKetc Gmail add-on.