Evernote Premium Gets It Right With Business Cards Scanning

Best Way To Collect Business Cards with Evernote The core reason why I run a cloud office is to work anywhere. Working anywhere means you are going to meet a lot of cool people and collect plenty of business cards. Think of the last conference you attended. How did do you keep track of everyone you met while on the move? And who logs all of your business cards?

When it comes to my cloud office, I ruthlessly look for ways to simplify my workflow. It’s easy to get lost in the learning business when you are in the knowledge business. I choose apps that are easy to learn but powerful enough for remote work. Evernote is one of my essential core cloud office apps. But last December 2013, Evernote Premium upped the ante by simplifying the business card scanning workflow into a powerful business intelligence tool.

This is how I now organize my collection of business cards with Evernote and my iPhone:

1. Configure your initial settings on your Evernote app on your iPhone and/or iPad: Go to Evernote App > Settings (upper left) > General > Camera > Business Cards > Save Contact Info to Contacts (optional) and/or Select Notebook to save all contacts (I prefer this option because I do not want to add all my Evernote contacts to my iPhone. I can easily find them later in Evernote). In this setting panel, you should add your LinkedIn contact info (recommended otherwise, what’s the point in collecting business cards). I also recommend you complete “My Contact Info so you can easily forward via email, your own contact info on the spot.

2. Take a picture of your new contact’s business card with your Evernote app on your iPhone (Android – not yet). Select the business card feature after taking a picture in order to scan and optically recognize the characters on the card.

3. Choose if you wish to email “My Contact Info” to your new friend. This feature instantly emails your contact information to your new contact. Your new contact will remember you with this workflow.

There are plenty of benefits for choosing Evernote Premium to scan business cards. Evernote will contextualize your new contact according to the date and event entered in your calendar. Evernote will OCR your contact info and will locate your contact on LinkedIn immediately. Think of all the business cards you collected and quickly forgot how you come across this new person. Evernote will even link your previous notes or research to this new contact, thus becoming a powerful business intelligence tool.

Finally, here are a few additional resources and quick silent video to show you how fast this workflow can work for you. Good luck and remember everyone!!

How to Eliminate Piles of Business Cards from Networking Events

Evernote Can Remember Every Business Card You Collect

Freshbooks: My Simple 4 Step Cloud Accounting Workflow

Simple Cloud Accounting

Simple Cloud Accounting

How’s the tax season going for you?

I don’t think anyone hates accounting as much as I do. I’m bad at organizing my invoices, receipts and all the crazy paperwork surrounding this annual tax slumpfest. However, if I want to run my business anywhere, I need a simple system to keep me organized year round. This is year 3 of my simple cloud accounting system and I am happy to report an almost stress-free pre-tax season (paying taxes is always a drag but…).

4- Step Cloud Accounting Workflow:

1. Freshbooks: Imagine entering expenses from your smartphone in 45 seconds.  Ever wish you could easily create an invoice from your tablet while on the run. Simple? This describes my Freshbooks experience.

My accountant tried to get me on Quickbooks because of its “Journal Entries” capabilities (now available on Freshbooks). I don’t even know what that means, Commerce degree notwithstanding. I don’t like Quickbooks. It’s just too complicated to learn.

It’s easy with Freshbooks. For example: I just finished fuelling my car. I now take a picture of the receipt. I enter the amount, click on taxes, chuck the paper receipt and 45 seconds later, I drive off. Some of you would rather save the receipt. My recent audit experience tells me digital receipts are good enough. Besides, you have your bank statement & credit card statements.

Finally, Freshbooks can easily be integrated with PayPal and other online payment solutions so you can get paid for selling your digital services.

2. Digitize my paper trail and upload to cloud: I digitize (Scan Snap) all of my paper receipts, such as professional dues, office supplies, car repairs, meals and all other usual monthly bills. I turn on the OCR function of my scanner so I can search by keyword later. I try to scan every week (takes me about 10 minutes). I bought the ebook from Brook Duncan’s Document Snap on how to Go Paperless and it is without a doubt, the best investment under $20 I ever made.  Basically, my system goes like this: All my receipts are uploaded to a cloud provider, such as Dropbox. I name all my digital receipts according to the date it was created, like 20140221_20.00. Remember the fuel expense I took a picture while on the go? Well, I digitized that picture into a searchable pdf with my CamScanner Pro app on my iPhone and upload it to my Dropbox account which is linked to my app.

3. What about e-bills: If you are like me, every month you get an electronic bill. How do I save those e-bills? I emailed the receipts or bills to my Evernote account. I tag my bills with “2014” + “expenses”. That’s it. Don’t go complicated. Evernote has a powerful tagging system that can bring up your e-bills under 2 seconds.

4. What About Super confidential files (like your tax receipts, etc…): I am a big Transporter fan. Transporter is perfect when you absolutely need to keep your data private and non-accessible by third parties (for example, governmental requests). The cool thing is that you can still access your private information from your iPhone or iPad.

There you have it. Say goodbye to your annual accounting angst and start running your business from anywhere.

On Reinventing Lawyers, Consultants and Other Pros: Are You Ready?

Work DifferentlyThe most interesting professionals I’ve met this summer were either fired, independent or living in a trailer. I couldn’t have met a happier bunch. Ironically, according to Forbes Magazine, the unhappiest professional is the associate attorney. The reasons are well documented: lack of control, billable hour syndrome, office politics and if you ask me, the shiny dress code and the mahogany furniture (see Dan Pink’s The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us).

You don’t need to be fired to find your motivational angle. You simply need an “inspired workspace”. Inspired workplaces (or digital workspace) come in different business models so let’s look at a few examples of what is working lately.

#1: Working on Projects Remotely

Teams are now increasingly built around projects. For example, our team is working on a public road project in Canada. Our team was self-selected and is comprised of two lawyers, an investment banker and a renegade engineer. All are independent professionals. We are all located in different parts of North America. We basically use Google Docs and Basecamp to coordinate in real time our project. One guy actually hired three analysts from Europe and Pakistan on oDesk to crunch numbers for a complex infrastructure financing deal in Toronto. It saved him two weeks of time all for under $1000.00. I do the billing, expenses and time tracking. I use Freshbooks because I hate accounting. Freshbooks is amazing. More on Freshbooks next post. The advantage of this type of digital workspace is that it allows you the freedom to choose your project, team mates all the while gaining some very “niche” experience. It also allows you to personalize your own branding.

#2: Virtual & New Business Model Firms

Two colleagues have recently joined law firms with fresh new business model approaches and they love it. For example, Cognition LLP  is a Toronto next-generation firm whereas Delegatus is a Montreal based dynamic law firm. Both firms have adopted both virtual and physical environments where lawyers can operate in. This means you can now work from home or from the cottage without raising eyebrows.  UpCounsel is a US based virtual business law firm. A super cool example of the “new kind” of accounting cloud firm is Bench.co. (I wish they were in Canada.) If you are an independent or solo professional, there is no reason why you should not consider your own virtual law firm. The advantage of a virtual firm is that you are part of a branded digital ecosystem for your web presence, email, cloud phone, billing and on occasion, a real boardroom. The disadvantage remains that many view virtual law firms as a technologically too complicated.

#3: Working from Home

Dan Pink’s Free Agent Nation catapulted the work from home movement into the spotlight back in the early 2000. Today, your personal technology is very likely more powerful than most employers (one of Canada’s largest city is still stuck on MS Office 2003). Hence, there is no reason why you would shy away from giving business advice in your jeans and deliver a professional looking report from the comfort of your home office. People working from home can now tune in to podcasts such as Home Work for better ideas, workflows and resources.

Are you Ready?

The most frequent question I get from professionals is…. what are the basic steps I can do to start digitizing my business (aka inspired workspace)? Simple: Start with digitizing your name. Get rid of your “myname@hotmail or gmail” and the likes. Personalize your name, even with something as basic as “myfirstname@lastname. You will own your digital rights to your name forever and move it around should you change internet provider. Here’s a blueprint on how:

1. Digitize your name AKA “Register your Domain Name”.  Use GoDaddy or Funio. I use them both. GoDaddy can be confusing with all the silly questions (trying to up-sell you). Funio is straight forward but pricer.

2. Get your personalized email address with your new digital name.

3. Get Google Apps for Business so you can have your own cloud storage space, online calendar and contact management system.

Need help organizing that? Contact me.