Of all the problems that plague small business owners, technology issues can be among the most embarrassing: Smartphones that suddenly die in the middle of pitches, unexpected software crashes, incompatible PowerPoint presentations—every entrepreneur has been there.
But with a little help from leading apps, gadgets, and online services, there’s really no excuse for getting caught unprepared again. Buy or download the following tools, and you’ll always be prepared for the worst:
Battery Life and Backup – Popular as Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S have become with business owners, each has a dirty secret. Battery life tops out between 4-6 hours of talk time and Internet, so consider packing charge-extending cases like mophie’s Juice Pack Plus and MiLi’s Power Spring 4/4S when attending tradeshows and events. Alternately, recharging solutions that serve myriad mobile devices such as the ZAGGsparq 2.0 or Motorola 89442N P793 Portable Power Pod can also provide instant power. Manufacturers are also starting to introduce new smartphones like the Droid Razr Maxx that offer 20+ hours of talk time. Buy one, and you can skip the additional juice-extending accessories.
Document Printing, Scanning and Signatures – Want to print contracts or invoices straight from your iPad, or your Apple or Android handset? Downloadable apps PrintCentral Pro and Print n Share Pro let you send document, email or shipping label reproduction requests directly to WiFi printers or office networks via wireless or 3G connections. If a quick signature is all that’s needed, document signing and sharing apps like Sign It!, EasySign, and YouSendIt can let you ink the deal right from the palm of your hand. Portable solutions such as Scanner Pro, Genius Scan, and CamScanner, which transform your phone or tablet into a mobile scanner, may also prove handy upgrades.
File Storage, Sharing and Archival – With Dropbox, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive and SkyDrive, many of which offer downloadable apps for access via Web or mobile device, there's no excuse for accidentally leaving crucial reports behind. Should you need to access your Mac or PC desktop while traveling, try TeamViewer, SplashTop Remote, JumpDesktop, Remote Desktop Client, or Wyse PocketCloud. Likewise, services like SlideShare, SlideShark and MightyMeeting let you upload PowerPoint presentations, slideshows, and videos online for on-demand viewing via laptops and tablets.
Task Planning, To-Dos and Organization – Are colleagues constantly bombarding you with useful websites, articles, factoids, and business ideas? Record actionable data and items of interest before they go in one ear and out the other with virtual organizer services Springpad, Evernote, Catch and reQall. Similarly, programs such as OmniFocus, LeaderTask, Task PRO, Things, and Toodledo can make effective substitutes for a personal assistant. All let harried execs plot to-do lists and organize daily schedules.
Travel, Communications and Location-Based Services – Keep up with sudden flight delays, gate changes, or shifting itineraries with the Flight Track Pro app. A helpful complement for travelers, AroundMe can track your position and point you toward nearby restaurants, gas stations, hospitals, or taxi stands. Managing expenses is simple, too, with programs such as XpenseTracker and Expense Tablet for iOS devices, while portable invoicing solutions Omni Invoice and Invoice2go let you send quotes and invoices virtually anywhere. Private social network Neer, which displays your location to approved contacts, can assist with tracking down missing colleagues or setting area-activated alerts, e.g. shopping lists that appear when you visit Office Depot. Finally, if you’re headed out for a conference, consider the cross-platform text messaging application WhatsApp as well. It lets teams group-chat and send texts, photos, and videos for free between varying types of smartphone (BlackBerry, iOS, Android, Nokia).
What are your favorite disaster-averting apps?