10 Apps That Will Change the Way You Do Business

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Smartphones have made life easier for many small-business owners on the go. But you can do way more than take a conference call, or schedule a meeting reminder to your calendar. There are a number of apps out there that can simplify your business.

1. Google Wallet. …Keep your gift cards (and view the balances), record your loyalty program details, and send and receive money from your friends—all in a single app

2. Mailtracker. Get updates when someone views your email, including details about how long a person spent on the email and what device it was accessed from.

3. Refresh. Have an important meeting with a new client—someone you know nothing about? Refresh crawls through publicly available information and gives you a snapshot with current details about new contacts on whom you’d like to make a favorable impression.

Read on for seven more apps that will transform your business.

Are Microbreweries Getting Too Popular?

Some beer enthusiasts worry the answer is yes. Microbreweries are facing competition from corporations like Budweiser and MillerCoor, as well as from larger craft brewers like Lagunitas and small-batch companies. With more breweries in the United States than ever before in history (note: In 1983 there were 80, now there are more than 3,000), local microbreweries are facing more pressure than ever.

From OPEN Forum’s “Is the Craft Beer Bubble About to Burst?

Just like any work environment, working from home has its pros and cons. A big one for working parents is managing their company and their wee ones. Here’s a solution:

Arrange for some type of child care at least a few hours a day, then use that time to take care of tasks that require concentration, client meetings or other stuff you can’t do while juggling a toddler on one hip.

From OPEN Forum’s “4 Pitfalls of Working From Home (and How to Drag Yourself Out of Them)”

Just like any work environment, working from home has its pros and cons. A big one for working parents is managing their company and their wee ones. Here’s a solution:

Arrange for some type of child care at least a few hours a day, then use that time to take care of tasks that require concentration, client meetings or other stuff you can’t do while juggling a toddler on one hip.

From OPEN Forum’s “4 Pitfalls of Working From Home (and How to Drag Yourself Out of Them)

The Management Mistake Everyone Makes (and How to Fix It)

We know, we know: You’re incredibly busy, and your team is supposed to help you meet the goals you’ve set to keep your business operating like a well-oiled machine. But don’t forget: Your team is made up of people, not robots. If you find yourself barking orders more often than not, there’s an easy fix:

Set up individual, once-a-week check-ins with each of your employees or, if your company is too big for that, with each of your direct reports. If you dedicate 30 minutes every week to meet with each of your team members, you’ll be able to guide them as needed and stay on top of what’s happening with them on the work front.

Read on for four more ways to fix common management mistakes.

Transform Your Business in 60 Minutes or Less

Think you don’t have the time to devote to strategic thinking for your business? Think again. It only takes an hour to complete these tasks that could take your business to the next level.

1. Write out a detailed system for one recurring business process.

2. Establish and review your key performance indicators.

3. Research a new technology or educate yourself on best practices.

Read on for two more practices that can make your business more profitable in an hour or less.

11 Ways to Improve Your Brain Functioning

Feeling the midday slump? Get out of the office and bring your laptop to a coffee shop! The right level of distraction is actually good for you:

When you need nose-down concentration, it might not sound efficient to head to a coffee shop, but studies show that the noise provided by most coffee spots give your brain the right amount of productivity boost it needs. One study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, for instance, found that a small level of distraction (in this case, a coffee shop’s ambient background noise of 70 decibels) was just the right formula for heightened focus and creativity.

Read more of our great tips for boosting your brain power on OPEN Forum.

When investors didn’t see the value in CleanBeeBaby, a California-based service that cleans baby car seats and strollers, the owner borrowed brand credibility by partnering with some major brands. Watch the video above to learn how she did it.

This Is Your Brain on Boredom

It’s quite productive, actually, according to new studies:

When your brain is tired, you take in distractions that you would normally ignore because your mind is too drowsy and disorganized to fight the invasion. Your tired brain struggles to focus on one thing at a time, so you wander, gather loads of irrelevant information, and connect those random pieces together, which can result in offbeat solutions or innovative products and ideas.

From OPEN Forum’s “Why Being Bored and Tired Can Improve Your Creativity

10 Common Money Mistakes That Can Sink Your Company

1. Not keeping an eye on cash flow

2. Investing too much in product or infrastructure ahead of sales.

3. Appearing too successful

4. Over promising and under delivering. 

5. Not paying payroll or other business taxes when they are due

Read five more ways you could be endangering your company’s finances on OPEN Forum.

Having an engaged Twitter following can be a great resource for a company looking to attract new customers, build brand awareness, and more. But how does one exactly go about doing that?
1. Post regularly, and keep it conversational. Most of what you share should be informative, useful or inspiring—and it should be sent out several times a week. Occasionally you can add personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information about your business. You’ll hold your followers’ attention if they feel that they’re getting information they couldn’t get elsewhere.
2. Include photos when appropriate. Images are some of the most shared content on social networks. You need to post more than just text to keep your followers interested.
3. Share content from others. Sharing content isn’t just about retweeting posts you find interesting, though that’s definitely a big part of it. You can tweet links to online articles, videos and websites. Position yourself as a source for information relevant to your industry, not just as someone who only posts about his or her own business.
Read on for eight more tips on how to build a strong Twitter following.

Having an engaged Twitter following can be a great resource for a company looking to attract new customers, build brand awareness, and more. But how does one exactly go about doing that?

1. Post regularly, and keep it conversational. Most of what you share should be informative, useful or inspiring—and it should be sent out several times a week. Occasionally you can add personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information about your business. You’ll hold your followers’ attention if they feel that they’re getting information they couldn’t get elsewhere.

2. Include photos when appropriate. Images are some of the most shared content on social networks. You need to post more than just text to keep your followers interested.

3. Share content from others. Sharing content isn’t just about retweeting posts you find interesting, though that’s definitely a big part of it. You can tweet links to online articles, videos and websites. Position yourself as a source for information relevant to your industry, not just as someone who only posts about his or her own business.

Read on for eight more tips on how to build a strong Twitter following.