As a small business owner, you probably struggle with organizing and archiving the constant, often overwhelming influx of information required to run your business efficiently. If you’ve ever searched in vain for a brilliant idea that you scribbled on a scrap of paper or an important email, read on to discover how Evernote can help you readily access key information and organize every aspect of your business.

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a cloud-based app designed for gathering and archiving information. You can save and file anything, including:

  • handwritten notes
  • scanned documents
  • texts
  • emails
  • images
  • audio
  • text files and article clippings

Whatever you store in your Evernote account automatically syncs with all of your devices so you can browse, search and add new notes whether you’re in the office or on the go.

Evernote supports several operating systems, including Chrome OS, Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Android, OS X, iOS and webOS. They have versions for the web, Macs and PCs, and mobile apps for smartphones. Every version is somewhat different, but they all perform the same functions.

Organize your Business

Evernote’s ability to store and organize information means you never again have to sort through piles of paperwork or your computer files for those kernels of wisdom or important facts and figures you filed away. The app’s powerful search function enables you to access all of your information quickly and easily, cutting search time to seconds.

If you’re getting ready for a meeting, for instance, and have stored various bits of information to share with colleagues or clients in Evernote, you simply search under the key term, and everything you’ve gathered pops up. The system also provides an ideal platform for organizing projects and sharing information with teammates and vendors.

To get started using Evernote for your business, follow these steps:

1. Install the app. Download Evernote on your preferred device (e.g., desktop, smartphone) and create an account.

2. Plan your notebooks. Just like real notebooks or paper files dedicated to particular subjects, Evernote’s digital notebooks allow you to store information about specific topics in notebooks. So, for instance, if you want to scan through your various notes and attachments on a project, you need only check that notebook, not your entire archive of notes. Determine the various subject areas for which you want notebooks.

3. Create notes. Icons to the right allow you to make a to-do list, add an attachment, bullet, number and even make a table. The system allows you to choose from three display options for your notes, including a notecard that includes thumbnail images and excerpts from the notes.

4. Tag your note. Tagging allows you to categorize your notes so you can find them more quickly. Tags aren’t necessary, because Evernote will search notes for keywords, but they make searching for information even easier and produce more targeted results.

5. Use your Evernote email. Find your Evernote email address by going to Settings. Look for an address that starts with your username, contains numbers and ends with @m.evernote.com. Save the address in your general email address book.

To send an email to Evernote, forward it to your Evernote email address. The subject line of your email will become the title of your note containing the email. Set a default notebook for incoming emails. Most people use “Incoming” or “Email” so you can easily find your emailed-in note. Unless you specify, the email notes will go into this default notebook.

6. Download the web clipper. This handy function is optimized for Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer and allows you to highlight digital content such as text items on the web, images and PDF files and save them to Evernote where you can access those selections whenever you want. To use this feature, select a section to save from the clipper and add tags and extra notes, if desired. Pick a notebook in which to save the information and click save, which will send it to Evernote.

Evernote’s web clipper also integrates with Google. This means that if you are in the middle of a search for something in particular and need to stop, you can access where you left off when you return to the search, rather than having to start again. Activate this feature by going to the web clipper settings in your browser and clicking on the option to enable Evernote search when you’re Google searching.

7. Clip eBooks. You can plug your Kindle into your computer to access the clippings.txt file that records what you’ve highlighted in your ebooks.

The Many Uses of Evernote for Your Business

The possibilities for using Evernote will vary according to your business, but here are some common ways that the app can enhance your work life.

Agreements and Contracts

Evernote provides a handy location for filing boilerplate contracts so they are at your fingertips when it comes time to finalize agreements. This is also an excellent location to file away client contracts once they are signed.

Client Projects

Using Evernote tools like notebooks allows you to digitally organize and store all information about each of your projects. The beauty of the system is that when you have a bright idea for the project, you can quickly add it to the notebook, no matter where you are. That means you never lose important information and ideas. The system also allows you to easily share project information with other team members, as well as your clients.

You can also share information with others by sending them a public URL or emailing a note. When you share a public URL in a note, those people with whom you’ve shared the note can see all updated versions of the note. To share a note via email, click share and then email.

Employee Files

Evernote is a great place to store information on each of your employees, including their files and data on the various projects they’re working on for the company. This keeps you connected with their work and allows you to easily chime in when your opinion and instructions are required.

Receipts

Evernote enables you to go completely paperless with your receipts. Simply scan an image of each receipt to add to the system. This cuts out having to search paper files and desk drawers for receipts. If you’re looking for a specific invoice from a vendor, for example, you simply put in the name of the business and the product you bought and the receipt will pop up.

Resources

Evernote gives you the perfect location to store all of the useful information that you collect over time and want to remember but have no idea where to file it. The possibilities are endless, but some good choices include restaurant recommendations, the many URLs of useful websites you wish to visit again, whiteboard notes from meetings captured with your cellphone and any other pieces of useful information you wish to save for posterity.

Ideas

New ideas are the lifeblood of a small business, so it’s important to gather yours into one central location. Evernote allows you to include ideas in any format—from images of scribbled sticky notes to entire documents featuring detailed plans. Storing all of your ideas in one location allows you to easily view them so you can continue to flesh them out and consider their viability.

Goals

The first step to reaching your goals is writing them down. Evernote allows you to list your goals in note form and check them off as you accomplish them. Use the platform to list your short- and long-term goals, including where you want to see your business in five years. Having your goals in one central location will help you focus on them and offers perspective over time when you look back at what you’ve accomplished.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the myriad ways that you can use Evernote to successfully run your small business.

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.

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