Evernote – a must for mobile journalists

Evernote is one of the most used apps on my iPad and Macs. Used on any one device it’s a great piece of software but its cloud backend, allowing notes to be synced between devices with no effort, makes it a great way to work in both the office and when on the road. Here are three reasons why, if you’re not already using Evernote, you should be.

1. It’s an invaluable research tool

Whether you’re in the local library, working online or just putting together ideas, Evernote is incredibly useful. Start by creating a Notebook for the project you’re working on. If you’re surfing the web and find something, you can use a browser extension to either send a link or the complete contents of a web page into an Evernote note.

Of course, there’s the obvious application of being able to quickly type notes as you’re doing your research.

2. Evernote is multi-platform

The reality is that we don’t always carry our laptop or iPad with us everywhere. It’s more likely that when a spontaneous idea or unexpected piece of information comes your way that it’s your smartphone that will be on hand.

The mobile version of Evernote can run on iOS devices, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm and Android devices. Simply run Evernote and make your note or record some audio. Then you can sync back to the cloud and access the information from any other device you’ve installed Evernote to.

3. Templates

Although one of the great things about Evernote is that it can capture unstructured data easily, templates can be a great way to keep things organized.

On the Mac desktop version of Evernote, create a note that has the headings and structure you want to re-use and go the File menu. Choose Export and save the File as an Evernote XML. When you want to use it, simply import the template and you’re ready to go.

Saasu – cloud-based accounting

A few years ago, when I first started freelancing, I needed to get some basic accounting software so that could raise invoices and track payments. My needs were modest as freelancing was a sideline to a fulltime job. But when I decided to become 100% self employed earlier this year, it was time to look at a more comprehensive solution. That’s why I went to Saasu.

Saasu is a cloud-based accounting solution that works on any platform including the iPad. Although I’m predominantly a Mac user, I need to be able access my accounts from several systems. Traditional, locally installed accounting systems rely on me having the computer with my accounts with me all the time. This just isn’t practical for me. Although I typically carry a laptop, I don’t like the idea of having my accounts on a computer than can be stolen, lost or damaged. I could keep the software on a computer in the office and remote into it but that’s a pain. While remote access software is pretty good these days it’s still not perfect.

Also, when I travel for just a couple days I travel with just my iPad. I needed a solution that was multiplatform. That meant a cloud-based solution was likely to be the best way to meet my requirements.

My shopping list of functions is fairly basic but I think typical of small businesses or sole traders.

  • creating and sending invoices
  • entering expenses
  • creating my Business Activity Statement for the tax department
  • running payroll
  • bank reconciliation
  • basic reporting

What I’ve found over the last few months is that Saasu can do all of this.

The first step in using Saasu is to go to the home page and create a user account. That gives you access to a test account so you can try things out as well as the opportunity to create your own business entity.

Once the account is set up, you are confronted with Saasu’s Dashboard. This is a snapshot of your cashflow, profit and loss, outstanding invoices and upcoming payments. You can see each of the main elements of the screen by clicking on each of the images in the gallery below.

Entering invoices and expenses is very straightforward. All of the onscreen forms are nicely laid out. When entering data, fields are automatically populated where it makes sense. For example. when entering a sale, if you need to enter the payment at the same time, simply clicking in the payment date field will result in the date being instantly populated from the invoice date. Similarly, the payment amount is automatically filled in with the invoice amount.

If you need to run payroll, Saasu is already set up with Australian tax tables. Once an employee is set up in the system, all you need to do is enter the salary amount and all the tax, superannuation, Medicare levies, Fee-Help and other deductions are automatically calculated.

Reporting is well executed. For those who need to complete a Business Activity Statement for the tax department, Saasu generates the worksheet with just a couple of clicks, making it easy to complete the monthly or quarterly statement.

Now, I’m aware that many people are skeptical of cloud services. There are concerns around security and backup. Saasu provides information on how they backup data and how you can do your own backups. Saasu has 7 backup processes across 4 locations and it’s possible, using the Saasu API to have your own bespoke solution developed.

Saasu certainly isn’t the only cloud-based accounting solution. Xero is another, popular option. However, over the last six months I’ve come to rely on Saasu as an integral part of my business.