Though an entrepreneur may prefer wearing one hat over another, founding your own company and becoming not only your own boss but perhaps, the manager of many — requires most successful business owners to work major overtime. While before they went solo they had a siloed role, the title of ‘CEO’ often throws many more demands into their wheelhouse, some of which, perhaps they aren’t as skilled to execute. And all of those stakes and deadlines raise their expected output … quickly. Blame it on competition, pressure from investors, those big ideas that miraculously come at the witching hour, but to ensure every facet of their hectic life is run as smoothly as possible, many rely on their smartphone to organize it all.
And while, sure some of these apps directly impact their bottom line, sales goals or deliverables, others become their moment of zen, fitness or social connection, helping them to alleviate some of the stress of their 24/7-lives. Every trailblazer takes the digital concept of productivity differently, but all have certain apps they’d never go a morning or evening without clicking on. And no, sorry, for most, it isn’t scrolling through Instagram day-in and day-out.
If you’re considering starting your own gig, going freelance full-time or merely need an extra push to complete the last quarter of the year, test the effectiveness of these entrepreneur-recommended apps:
New York Times Crossword
“I’m a crossword fanatic so I’m addicted to the NY Times Crossword app. The puzzles come out online the night before so I always have to finish it before bed. I love keeping track of my streaks and seeing how fast I can complete the puzzles.” — Lara Crystal, co-founder of Minibar Delivery.
“Having friends and family scattered throughout the world, and traveling a lot for AUrate, WhatsApp allows me to stay connected and never feel far away. Thanks to our various Whatsapp groups we all know what’s going on, can share videos and voice messages easily and just feel like a tight community, regardless of where in the world we all may be.” — Bouchra Ezzahraoui, co-founder of AUrate.
“This has quietly become the best note-taking app out there with great collaboration, tagging, and customization capabilities. The fact that you can add anything you highlight in Chrome to a note in one click has saved me tons of time. It allows me to seamless sync between browser and mobile makes it easy to catch up on task lists even when offline on the subway or in-flight.” — Mike Lackman, CEO of Trade.
“I love having the soundtrack of life with me at all times—on planes, cars, at home, while out for a run, cranking in the office. Music is life. I create playlists to help manage work and creativity. My ‘Glenn Gould’ helps me get completely lost in new ideas—for products, for team activities, for potential partnerships, you name it. My ‘Memories of Youth’ playlist reminds me how much time has passed, and what I’ve learned along the way. It also reminds me of how quickly time really moves, and that tends to light a fire under my butt to get things done and to not settle. My ‘Rowing Tunes’ list is high-energy, and it keeps my heart racing just enough to keep up with my head. Music soothes the beast of complacency for me—it drives me, inspires me, focuses me all the time.” — Craig Dubitsky, founder of Hello Products.
“Truly, it’s the Google Calendar app because I manage work, personal, co-parenting, and school schedules there. But a close second is Captio. This app takes your notes and immediately sends them to your inbox. Since I use my email as a running task list, I’ll use Captio to jot down notes in meetings and then keep them as unread emails until I’ve completed all follow-up.” — Nicole Centeno, founder & CEO of Splendid Spoon.
“Working in such a fast-paced environment means it’s not always easy for me to prioritize health and fitness when there are so many other things going on. Cardiogram now does that for me. It’s interesting to see what’s going on with my body, and to understand how much my heart rate can tell me about my overall health.” — Darin Rubell, owner of Drexler’s, Boulton & Watt and Forrest Point.
“This app helps me manage all of my connections: meaning current clients, referral partners and leads. I can include notes for conversations that I’ve had, status of the connection and next steps, which then connects back to my task manager in Insightly so I don’t miss that next step. I use this to track certain client successes, my outreach to past clients and leads, how many referrals my referral partners have given me, and more, so I’m managing all of my connections efficiently and effectively. I could go on and on! You can incorporate process templates into the task manager, you can export reports to help you manage your business better. Huge benefits and efficiencies.” — Lisa Rehurek, founder & CEO of The RFP Success Company.
“This is an essential tool when you work in the gig economy with multiple team members all over the world. It does the job of one assistant or project manager because it allows you to set up jobs with main tasks and subtasks, which means that your team members can work independently without you having to check on them every step of the way. You as the boss, can monitor what the status of each project is, and easily identify where it’s stalling and who’s doing what, and if it is on time.” — Beate Chelette, CEO of Chelette Enterprises and The Growth Architect.
“This free invoicing software helps me to easily handle all payments for my company. As a new business owner, it allows me to send my clients a user-friendly, efficient invoice, keep track of who has and hasn’t paid me and more, all with one app. They also have great, free resources for general freelance contracts that you can send to your clients to make sure you are fully covered on all sides. This is the one app that not only helps me pay my bills, but boosts my confidence in myself and my business, every time I use it.” — Jess Tatham, founder of DevelopHer Designs.
“In a mobile world, we need to coordinate seamlessly with co-workers and partners. Meetings are important and Zoom allows for that capability, whether it’s video conferencing or teleconferencing. There are multiple options to join a call and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world at the time of a call – you always have a way to access the call.” — Emrah Gultekin, CEO of Chooch.
“I start each day with meditation to clear my mind, and always utilize the Headspace app. This—coupled with fresh air and movement — helps me to daydream, take in my surroundings and think of new creative ideas. Working in the jewelry industry, creativity is at the core of our business, making this app a vital part of my day.”— Beth Gerstein, CEO and co-founder of Brilliant Earth.
“Between balancing family life and two businesses, it can be super challenging to stay on top of all the little details in life. This app really gives you the freedom to take notes in the form of audio notes, sketches, video, web clippings etc. Evernote has a feature that lets you use your camera and scan business cards, paper documents, handwritten notes and more, so you never have to worry about losing that piece of paper. I can sync my devices so that if I start a note on my laptop but have to rush out of the house, I can finish right back where I was on my phone. All notes and lists are searchable to find what you’re looking for quickly and the app can be locked with a passcode. You also have the capability to share notes with others and if you use Google Docs, you can embed them to your notes!” — Lorena Garcia, founder of Bloguettes and MAJKA.
“Whenever I have a meeting with one or more clients or prospects, I ask permission to record the audio of our meeting, and I explain why. I tell them that not only would I rather focus my attention on what they are telling me—so I don’t need to write it down—but it also helps me better understand what they are saying. When I’m listening, I’m also thinking about how to respond, and how to move the discussion in the right direction.” — Marty Schultz, technology innovator.
“Moment helps you monitor how much time you are spending on your devices and can force you to put down your phone or iPad once you’ve hit your predetermined limit for the day. I have to be honest, I’ve created a fitness brand centered around taking a break from tech and even I struggle with being on my phone more than I’d like. It’s amazing how quickly that time adds up! Also, one of my favorite features of Moment is that you can link your family’s devices and track their device use from the app. As a mom of two, this is so helpful for me. I’m a big believer in empowering my girls to learn to make the right decisions for themselves, but having the ability to help them know when it’s time to put the iPad down has been super valuable for my family. You can even set blackout times where your kids can’t access their device; say ‘hello’ to more tech-free dinners!” — Dionne Del Carlo, co-founder of StarCycle.
“I’m a musician and a DJ in my spare time so finding unique versions of songs is like a hobby for me. Soundcloud gives me that capability to discover new artists and music. Also, when I’m working out, I like to listen to DJ sets as the continuous beat gives me a more constant pace, and Soundcloud has a unique DJ community where all of the stars post their sets from all around the world. It is also a great app because I’m not being interrupted with commercials every few songs like other apps.” — Manuela Seve, CEO of Alpha’a.