No matter how amazing, super-performing and highly productive a person may be, breaks are needed to refresh both mind and body. That’s why it’s important to take a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of running your small business.
Many small business folks, however, find it hard to leave their business “baby” with someone else. Or, if they’re solopreneurs, they don’t have a “someone else” in the first place.
What if there’s an emergency? What if an important person contacts the business? Worries like these can wear down a person, defeating the whole purpose of a vacation.
To truly get the most out of their time away, small business owners need to find a way to achieve some peace of mind. That’s where the business productivity apps listed below come in handy.
These business productivity apps will monitor the critical pieces of your business, help you act if a business emergency occurs and enable you to take advantage of business opportunities you encounter on vacation.
If you can’t leave it all behind, then work when necessary with these essential business productivity apps and solutions:
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Alert Automation and Website Monitoring Apps
The apps listed in this section will monitor everything from your website to emails. And they can look for everything from important messages sent by clients to negative comments on social media. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing that if an emergency does occur, these apps will bring it to your attention immediately.
These apps are all about addressing “What if…” moments. Both of them provide tons of ready-to-use formulas that will jump into action when triggered. Let’s take a closer look.
Available online as well as on iOS and Android devices, IFTTT (short for for “IF This Then That”) is a free solution that enables you to use “recipes” to kick off actions triggered by hundreds of different events. Here are some examples of IFTTT recipes that anticipate a variety of scenarios:
- If you get an email from a specified “VIP,” it will notify you on your iOS or Android device.
- When an email arrives in your Gmail inbox and has a specific label applied to it based on your filters, it will notify you on your iPhone.
- When an email is received with a specific subject, it will send an SMS to your Android device.
- When a stock you’re monitoring goes up or down, it will send an iPhone alert.
- If motion is detected inside your business after hours by, say, a Belkin Wemo Room Motion Sensor, the system will send you an alert.
- If your Nest smoke/carbon monoxide detector goes off, IFTTT will send you an alert, too.
This barely scratches the surface of what you can do with IFTTT and, as you can see below, it’s easy as pie.
Zapier offers “Zaps” that enable you to automate actions set off based on pre-configured triggers. Unlike IFTTT, however, making the most of Zapier requires paying a fee. Then again, Zapier seems to integrate with many more systems (e.g. Zendesk, so you can get alerts about new customer serviced tickets) than IFTTT. So this fact may well justify the cost.
Unlike IFTTT, Zapier does not offer an app for mobile devices which means that you’ll need to connect to the site online if you want to set up triggers and alerts. However, alerts can be sent to your mobile. And, since you’ll be doing most of your setup before your vacation in any case, this may not be a big deal.
Social Media Monitoring
Worried about what’s said about your business while you’re away? The app below is your key to blowing that worry away.
Sentiment is a social media monitoring solution that includes two super handy features: sentiment monitoring and alerts.
As you can see below, Sentiment looks at the social media messages you track (e.g., mentions of your company name) and uses a special algorithm to rate each message as positive, neutral or negative:
By itself, this is a very useful tool. Add configurable alerts and Sentiment just became your online reputation patrol.
An alert can be triggered based on the sentiment of a message. If a negative sentiment is detected, you can take a moment out of your vacation to hop online and address it immediately.
Sentiment does not offer a mobile app. However, alerts can be sent to your email triggering a mobile alert using IFTTT or Zapier.
These days, your website is almost an employee of your business serving as the receptionist that greets online customers, the cashier that conducts transactions and the bouncer that keeps unauthorized folks from logging in to protected areas.
If worrying whether your site is up and operating well keeps you from relaxing on vacation then the apps below will help rid you of your concerns.
Pingdom and Uptrends
Both Pingdom and Uptrends are website monitoring tools. What makes them super useful however is their ability to monitor more than just whether your site is up or not. These solutions can also monitor if your site is functioning well when executing its broad range of tasks.
Your free time will no longer be plagued with questions such as “Is my site still up?”, “Can users log in?”, “Are folks able to buy the items for sale on my site?”, “Is my site responding quickly enough?” and more. When all is said and done, the usefulness of, and peace of mind provided by, these tools extends well beyond your vacation time.
Uptrends offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows phones while Pingdom offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
Less complex and less expensive than the previous two apps, UptimeRobot monitors the most important aspect of your website: whether it is up and accessible. Though it offers no mobile app, UptimeRobot offers several alert options for your mobile device including SMS and email.
Apps for Taking Action While On Vacation
If an emergency does take place while you’re away, it’s best if you, or someone you delegate to, can take immediate action. Here are a couple of apps that’ll let you do just that.
Caller101 enables you to blast out emails, texts and phone calls to dozens, or even hundreds of people simultaneously. This is a great way to mobilize the troops for action without wasting too much of your away time. Click here to watch a demo video.
At first glance, Meldium looks like another online password manager and, to some degree, it is. However, this online password manager takes it one step further by enabling you to create Meldium accounts for the folks covering you. Once they log in, these people can access the systems you’ve designated without once having access to your passwords for those systems.
Once you’re back from vacation, you can restrict or remove any Meldium accounts at will and rest assured that no one can log into your systems because they don’t have your password.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
How often have you met folks you’d like to work with while on vacation? Whether a potential client, collaborator or supplier, here are some apps to help you maximize those opportunities.
Corda is a handy app that enables you to leave your business cards at home while on vacation. When you run into someone you’d like to pass your contact information to, simply open Corda, select from one of the many cards you can create for specific situations and send it to them via text message.
The recipient doesn’t need to have the Corda app to access and import your information. You can send a personal message along as well so they can remember where they met you. Click here to watch a demo video.
Even when you’re away on your own, it’s nice to share a meal with someone now and then. LetsLunch enables you to do just that by finding folks near you who also wish to sit down to eat with someone, especially if they have some business topics in common.
For an alternative to LetsLunch, check out CityHour. Click here to watch a demo video.
While it’s almost impossible for small business owners to separate ourselves from the office completely, it is possible to filter, and thus minimize, interruptions.
The essential apps and solutions listed above will enable you to enjoy your vacation by giving you peace of mind with the knowledge that you’ll know immediately if something goes wrong.
Working on the Beach Photo via Shutterstock
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