Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Business Tools

This is courtesy of my buddy Alex Lawrence, who is a local entrepreneur and runs a blog called "A Day In The Life Of A Self-Made Entrepreneur."

Alex's most recent post involves the tools he finds critical for his business. The link to his blog above will take you directly to the post. He invited his readers to comment on the post and to add whatever they felt would benefit the post. So here are my comments:

Alex, this list is great. You'll have to put me in touch with the Exchange Server for $5 deal.

Here are my comments on your above points, and maybe I can add a few while I'm at it.
  • RSS feeds: Boy, are you right about that one. My Bloglines account is currently watching 39 RSS feeds, but in the past I've had it over 70. It's a lot of reading, but it means that I stay on top of tech and business. I remember trying to remember to visit each website and check for updates every day before RSS came along. Thank goodness for it.
  • My rule on monitors is as follows: The more you work in front of a computer, the more desktop space you should have access to. I'm a computer specialist, so I run triple LCDs; a 19" in the middle, flanked by two 17" models. I'm writing this on the right-hand monitor, Firefox (another critical tool) is on the central monitor, and the left-hand monitor has two instances of Windows Explorer and the Task Manager. When I really get rolling, I have 6-8 windows on each monitor. The more I can see, the faster I can work, and the fewer errors I'll make.
  • A great laptop PC: Amen, brother. I understand if you don't want to get into brands, but I've seen too many of my clients buy an off-brand laptop, only to have problems with the laptop and then further problems getting service for it. If you don't need a fancy laptop, buy a Dell and an extended warranty for it (I'm a big fan of buying refurbished Dells cheap and then buying a warranty on top of that.). If you do need a fancy laptop, buy a Toshiba or a ThinkPad and an extended warranty. A three year, full-coverage warranty is generally about $350, and it's a darned good deal if you ever need an LCD replaced. Or a hard drive, or a complete system. Mine is a Toshiba Tablet PC, so I can jot down notes on the screen with the digital pen. It's light, it's powerful, and it's got 1GB of RAM so I can really get work done.
  • High Speed Internet: My home connection is 7MB down and 1MB up. This is way more than most people need, but in January I actually exceeded my 100GB bandwidth allotment. I do a lot of file management. I couldn't do business without a very fast connection.
  • Never eat alone: I'm working on this one. I'm pretty much just starting out, and it's hard to know who to ask to lunch all the time. The book you referred to is Keith Ferazzi's "Never Eat Alone." Here’s the link to his Never Eat Alone Blog.
  • You golf, I play 9-ball. Or 8-ball, or Cutthroat. I love to play billiards, and I'm a pretty good shot. You get me talking over a pool table, and laughing so I can't make shots, and you get to really see who I am.
  • Bluetooth Headset: Dang, gotta get me one of those. I've had a bluetooth-enabled PocketPC phone since October, but I don't have a wireless headset for it yet. But yours is another in a long line of recommendations, so maybe it's time.

Stuff you forgot:

  • Firefox: What would I do without Firefox? I research business concepts and technical projects constantly. In the dark ages when I had to use Internet Exploder, that meant I'd have lots of IE windows open on my PC and lots of popups, too. Firefox allows me to open web pages in tabs so that I can have it all on one window. And it automatically blocks popups. And it's not vulnerable to almost all of the spyware and viruses that IE can infect you with. And it's free! It's just all-around warm and fuzzy. And did I mention it's free?
  • A USB flash drive: I carry my critical files around in my pocket, on a 2GB USB flash drive. I also have a version of Firefox (link is to Portable Firefox) on it that runs on any PC without having to be installed on that PC, and it moves my favorites and cookies around with it, instead of leaving them on the PC (Did I mention it’s free?). Very handy.
  • A Leatherman: I'm a guy who carries a knife wherever he goes. I don't fly much, so it's usually not an issue from a security standpoint. I don't like to see something broken, wherever I am. Broken things bother me. So I fix them whenever I can, and that usually involves my Leatherman's pliers, screwdriver, or blades. Don't leave home without your knife.
I could babble on for ages, but I think I'd better wrap it up. This is an interesting topic to me, so I'll be posting this on my blog, and I'll link back to your post. Thanks Alex!

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