The Tools of the Trade
The role of the creative entrepreneur is to invent, design and build something profitable, personal and creative.
To do that, we need a set of tools that enhance our work and magnify our impact.
The following is a quick list of tools I’ve found ESSENTIAL in designing my new company (more on that later), writing my book, and building my blog.
A caveat: tools can’t do the work for you. The most important thing to remember, for the creative entrepreneur, is to do the hard, creative work, no matter what. These tools will help, but if you’re searching for a tool to do the work for you, you’re not going to find it (no matter how much you outsource).
Powerful Cloud Based Storage
I’m not sure how I would live without Dropbox.
I’ve used other cloud based software, like Microsoft’s Skydrive and Google Drive, but nothing compares to the simplicity, accessibility (I can access it from computers where Skydrive and Google Drive are blocked), and space (Dropbox gives you extra free space every time you have a friend sign up!).
I put every writing file in Dropbox. I put all my designs, artistic creations and business plans in Dropbox. I’ll even put movie files I want to watch on my laptop when I’m disconnected from the internet (Dropbox will download the file to your computer when it’s connected to the internet – so you can still edit, change, and use the materials without a connection).
I try to back up my Dropbox folder on my computer, but even when I don’t, I’m completely confident in Dropbox to work without fail (a bold claim, but true).
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook
This is my creative tool of choice.
When I’m driving to work and I have a moment of inspiration, I take out Evernote and simply talk into my phone. Evernote transcribes my dialogue for me. It only works if you talk slowly and enunciate correctly, but, once you get used to it, you’ll be taking verbal notes like crazy.
It also syncs up with every device that has Evernote (for me, that’s every device). So I can edit my to do list on my computer and see it on my phone when I go to the grocery store, or take a clip of website and make a note to read later, or just take a picture and scribble notes on it…Evernote is essential for the creative entrepreneur.
It’s free. Get it.
The Creative Entrepreneur’s Sketchbook
Skitch is an add-on to Evernote, so maybe it shouldn’t be a stand alone product…but I also find it has enough value on its own to deserve it’s own spot here.
Skitch allows me draw pictures very quickly on my smart phone and easily save them for later.
I had the idea for the cover of my eBook, The Art of Instigating, when I was driving to work. I took out Skitch and drew up the concept to make sure the idea didn’t pass me by:
Sometimes, the best way to capture an idea is to draw it out. Skitch helps the creative entrepreneur get his thoughts out on paper when words just don’t work.
Your Creative Workspace at Your Fingertips
Okay, so iPhones are great, but I don’t own one, so I can’t really comment. But the Galaxy S-3 is perfect for all the above apps, plus it’s not restricted to Apple’s locked-down ecosystem (for me, this means more freedom).
The Galaxy S-3 is crazy fast with an awesome screen and camera. It’s like having a creative office in my pocket.
Bonus points: the battery is great, even with heavy use. Worst case, I usually have to charge up midday because I use it HEAVILY. Brilliant phone (and you can get it for less than $200 with a 2 year contract from any of the major telephone companies).
Never Forget Another Password
Okay, this tool alone is something I can’t stop promoting.
It’s free, easy to use, and will save you HOURS of time.
LastPass is a secure way to save all your passwords, so you don’t have to log into 30+ accounts every day – you log into your LastPass account and when you come to a login page, LastPass will auto-fill or auto-login for you with the click of a button.
For someone like me, with dozens (possibly hundreds) of different login usernames and passwords, this thing saves me the frustration of having to get a new password every time I visit an old site.
Okay, so this isn’t so much something you can use to create (that I know of), but something I’ve found essential in my creative process.
I love listening to my Ultimate Indie Party in Your Pants Playlist when I do work.
A lot of people prefer to work in silence, but if you want complete creative control over your music (unlike Pandora), Spotify (even the free version) is the way to go.
Of course, for $10 a month, the premiere, ad-free version is a no brainer.
Easy to Use Editor for Writing and Design
I know it’s not cool to use Microsoft products, but I know Word and PowerPoint 2010 like the back of my hand. I used both to create my logo, design the covers of my books, typeset/design the pages of my eBook, and write all my rough draft blog posts.
The reason I mention these products, in particular, are because a lot of people get caught up in having the right software; but you don’t need anything special.
I’m not saying my stuff is professional grade, but, in its minimalist fashion, it works. And yes, even if you have the bare essential equipment and software, you can create works of art (whether you use a PC, Mac, or something else entirely, the basic software is all you need).
Often times, the limits and boundaries we’re forced to deal with help us create better art anyway. So, in a way, Microsoft products help my creativity…
And that’s it (for now).
There are definitely a bunch of other tools I use, but none as often as the ones listed above.
One last note: you don’t NEED to use any of these tools, and there are definitely alternative tools available. Test out others and see what works for you. This is just a quick list to show you what I’ve found simple, easy to use, and effective.
I hope these help. Let us know in the comments below which ones you like or hate, and what tools you would add to the list!
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