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Evernote: the app makeover

Lots of people dream of setting up a business – it could be that tea café you’ve wanted since you were in playschool, or perhaps a scuba diving business to match your love of exotic locations and adventure. The point is that most entrepreneurs will be focusing on creating a venture around something they love, an idea they’ve had or a problem they’ve solved. But the idea is only a small part of the work involved in running your business; after that, it’s the hard slog of focusing on marketing, finance, business planning, potential recruitment and much more.

The key to keeping yourself afloat and avoiding drowning in a sea of endless to-do lists, is to get organised. We know from our Desert Island App series that Evernote is an app that most entrepreneurs can’t live without – so we figured there’d be more businesses out there that could benefit from an organisational upgrade. Read about their inspiring stories, challenges and battles to get organised below.

Robyn Parker, owner of Archie Mac London

Robyn Parker had been working in mental health with local women, promoting health and wellbeing – her job exposed her to the detrimental effects that unemployment can have on many aspects of people’s lives, including their sense of confidence. Feeling frustrated with her lack of creative skills, she returned to college where she discovered surface design and her business was born.

Her time working with women had helped her to spot an opportunity to create a social enterprise that would allow people to be creative in a safe environment – so she founded Archie Mac London. Robyn has ambitions to offer training and employment opportunities to local women in vulnerable situations as her business grows.

Since starting up, Robyn cites shifting her wares as her biggest challenge: ‘I came out of college having found this thing that I love. So I built my site, put my stuff online and on other retailers, but found myself sitting there thinking, ‘Why isn’t anyone buying anything?’ I’ve learnt that there is so much more to this.’

Top organisational tip: ‘work backwards’

Admitting her aversion to planning, becoming more organised has been key to the success of both her working days and business as a whole. She’s struggled through her dislike of spreadsheets to map her goals over the next five years across timelines incorporating marketing activities and her budget – meaning she can create focused to-do lists every day with tasks such as ordering fabric or organising photo shoots.

Evernote feature of choice: lists and reminders

Robyn makes her lists each night so she can jump straight into a day of productivity. Instead of using pen and paper (which often get lost!) she can now keep her notes in one place and set herself reminders in keeping with her timelines.

Ben Mason, owner of Proper Beans

‘I guess I thought it was about time someone improved baked beans’ – an ambitious response befitting of a man trying to redefine the way we enjoy the humble bean. Ben Mason’s story is impressive but, as he tells it, it actually began over 100 years ago, in 1886,  when Henry Heinz took his premium tinned beans into Fortnum and Masons and they became his first customers. Last year, Ben did the same thing, and has since found his homemade baked beans stocked in stores such as Selfridges.

His rise to success has had its challenges: in his first year, he worked two days a week at an advertising agency and spent the rest of the week focused on Proper Beans. He now works four days a week in advertising, so staying organised is really important, especially as he continues to ‘learn the language of a new industry’.

Top organisational tip: ‘make quick decisions, and leave what isn’t crucial’

‘I used to have never-ending to-do lists’, reflects Ben. His experience to date has taught him to be much more ruthless and focused with prioritising what is manageable and realistic as he continues to grow his business.

Evernote feature of choice: business card scanner

Based on his principle of ‘take every meeting’, Ben does a lots of networking and meets lots of contacts who he says have transformed his business. To keep all of these contacts neatly stored in one place where he can access them on the go, he uses the scanner. He also finds this useful at trade shows where’d he normally have to pay for a scanner to scan delegate passes. There is normally a charge for this, but with Evernote, he can do it for free.

Ellie Laycock, owner of Hunted and Stuffed

Ellie Laycock was going ‘a bit insane’ when she started her upcycling upholstery business, Hunted and Stuffed, around four years ago in Brixton. Ellie collects vintage materials and clothing from Japan and England, and repurposes them as bespoke home furnishings. Interestingly, she doesn’t get nervous about chopping up intricate, highly decorated, century-old robes from Japan: ‘I love finding out the history behind each piece’, she enthuses, ‘where, when and how they were made. I love the symbolism and decoding that – it’s about extracting [those] stories and celebrating them.’

Ellie’s biggest challenge is finding enough time away from admin to focus on growing her business: ‘The dream would be to have a team of people happy in their work, provide jobs for people and finally get to go to Japan for more inspiration’. For now, it’s trying to find ways of working more efficiently to free up time in the long run.

Top organisational tip: ‘avoid the mortal trap’

‘I read a tip online from Brendan Burchard who wrote the One Day Productivity Planner. His advice was not to open your inbox until you’d prioritised your day and reached out to five people that you need to. Inboxes are like a mortal trap – I hate it in there! As soon as you go into your inbox you start putting other people’s priorities first.’

Evernote feature of choice: annotating notes and images

As Ellie is normally researching for a new book, blog or collection, being able to work on the go in an app that lets her annotate or add images to her notes is invaluable – it means far less time searching through endless notepads (or Post-it notes!) and more time building on her ideas and progressing her business.

Ellie and Robyn are part of the Makerhood collective of independent craft businesses based in south London. Find out more about them here.

Find out more about how Evernote Premium can help you work more efficiently towards your business goals here.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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