Evernote started as a simple notetaking app, but it's evolved into much more. Its robust functionality and nearly endless customizability makes Evernote a great choice for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike. We talked to some reps from Evernote and dozens of small business owners to get a sense of how today's innovators use this organizational tool to make running their businesses a little easier.
Checklists and email notes
Zoe Duffy is a U.K.-based entrepreneur who juggles a full-time job, her personal life and two side businesses (Hello Wellness and The Little Pancake Company) using Evernote Premium. She's been an Evernote devotee for more than four years and loves that the app allows her to create as many notebooks as she wants. "To date I have 750 notes across 30 notebooks on topics ranging from health and fitness, travel, my businesses, recipes, journaling ... I even used it to plan my entire wedding and honeymoon."
The checklist feature and the ability to email notes directly into notebooks are Duffy's favorite Evernote tools. She creates project plans for her small businesses directly in her Evernote notebooks and then uses checklists to manage all her different workflows. Duffy also emails notes to her Evernote. "I can send emails in as notes to specific notebooks from anywhere. When someone says, 'Oh, I read an article that you'll love,' rather than asking them to just email it over to me, I ask them to email it over to my Evernote into the right folder so it doesn't get lost in my inbox."
One-sheets and creative organization
One-sheets are commonly used for real estate listings, product details, press releases and independent services, and many small business owners use Evernote to maintain, update, organize and share their various one-sheets. Karen Commins is a professional audiobook narrator from Atlanta, Georgia, and an avid Evernote user. Like a lot of independently employed creative professionals, Commins wears a lot of hats. In addition to recording narration for publishers and authors, she publishes her own guides to the audiobook industry, teaches courses, updates her own website, and keeps track of her published work, recent audio projects and webinars.
Commins also uses Evernote to store all her one-sheets in a centralized location and update them as her resume changes and grows. She even uses the paid Evernote Scannable app to manage her contacts. Anytime you use Evernote Scannable to scan a business card, the system automatically enters the contact information as text and links to the contact's LinkedIn profile. For entrepreneurs like Commins, this feature simplifies the networking process and makes it easier to put a face to a name.
Reporting and file access
Cole Hernandez is the founder of Pink Graffiti, a brand marketing agency based in New York City, and she uses Evernote to streamline her reporting process and store essential files for her company. When Hernandez signs a new client, she immediately sets up an Evernote page for them so she can track their campaign. She explained, "When I pitch a reporter, launch a campaign or garner press for a client, I simply add this activity to the appropriate column on the page. This makes my monthly reporting so easy. It's a simple copy and paste for month-end reporting, which saves me hours."
Hernandez also likes the way Evernote allows her to access all her files from any location. She stores client communication, links and photos in her Evernote notebooks. For her, instant access is essential. "You never know when a journalist will need an image or further information, and by keeping a message house for each client, I don't have to sit at a desk all day," she said. Being able to access files from a phone, tablet or laptop gives entrepreneurs like Hernandez the freedom to pursue multiple projects at the same time, without hiring extra help.
Task management and productivity
Project management software can be expensive, which is probably why so many entrepreneurs turn to alternative methods to maintain productivity. Mikey Ahdoot, the co-founder of Habit Nest, a digital journaling company, relies on Evernote to stay on task. "I use Evernote in conjunction with David Allen's GTD [Getting Things Done] philosophy as a centralized home to store all of my tasks and to-dos."
Adhoot organizes his Evernote into four notebook categories: Today, Priority, Anytime and Completed. When Adhoot thinks of a task he needs to do, he puts it in Priority, his task hub. If the task is a low priority, he eventually moves it to Anytime, and if it's higher priority, he gradually moves it to Today. As he finishes tasks, he logs them in his Completed notebook, which keeps him organized and motivated. "It's nice looking over 1,000-plus things you've accomplished," he said.
Some Evernote users don't realize that there are dozens of templates in Evernote, many of which are specifically for business use. There are templates for marketing plans, work orders and interview scorecards as well as specialized templates for recruiting, project management, finance, marketing, customer relationships and more.
Bradley Shaw, the founder and owner of SEO Expert Brad, is a fan of using premade templates and creating his own custom templates to store in Evernote. For him, creating templates is easy. "You can create a note that contains all the required fields for your information, then save and export it as an ENEX [Evernote exported] file." Once that's done, Shaw just saves his custom template in one of his Evernote notebooks for later use. The ability to create, save, share and access templates through Evernote makes it easy for small business owners to establish consistent standards across their companies and cut down on wasted time.
Content and social media marketing
These days, most small business owners are responsible for at least some of their own content and social media marketing, and many small businesses exist solely online. Stephanie Blake, the Chicago-based founder of Your Bride Tribe, knows all about reaching customers online. She uses Evernote to keep her marketing campaigns on track and back up important copy and photos.
Blake organizes her Evernote notebooks into Daily Tasks, Content Marketing, Social Media Posts, Website and Emails. She uses Evernote tables to schedule posts in advance and assign each post a future date and time for release. Once the table is created, she uses Later.com to craft each post and put it on her calendar so it will automatically publish at the correct time. Blake also uses Evernote to store canned messages, website copy and daily to-do lists.
Maintaining client information and searching scanned documents
Sam Warren is the manager of marketing and partnerships at RankPay, an SEO company that helps other small businesses increase their online presence through better search rankings. In addition to his day job, Warren runs a small side business, which he says wouldn't be possible without Evernote.
Warren uses Evernote primarily to store client data and scanned documents, and then share that information with his team. One major benefit to using Evernote, Warren says, is how easy it is to change permissions on different notebooks. He explained, "If employees leave or are reassigned, adjusting their permissions is a breeze. No interruption to daily operations." This is a major selling point for many small business owners who want the option of making some notebooks private, some read-only and some fully editable.
In addition to sharing client information, Warren uses the Evernote Scannable app to file business-related documents. He said that using the paid version of Evernote is worthwhile for him because of the scanning feature alone. While it is possible to scan documents using the free version of Evernote, in the paid version those documents become fully searchable, which is vital for some businesses.
There are dozens of add-on apps that allow you to send checklists, link to a Salesforce account, use DocuSign, record stock market movement and much more. You can use the organizational app for collaborating, sharing company handbooks and even posting employee schedules; it all depends on what you need and how you choose to use Evernote. Give the free version of Evernote a try, and if you like it, consider upgrading to Plus, Premium or Business for increased functionality.