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3 Singapore Entrepreneurs Share With Us Their Favourite Productivity Apps And Tips

Whether you’re a one-person company, or managing a team of hundreds, you still only have 24-hours in a day. Here’s advice from Singapore entrepreneurs on how to make the most of out every day.


This article is written in collaboration with OCBC Business Banking. Views expressed in the article is the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg.

Time that all of us have in a day is a precious, finite resource. This fact is even more significant for entrepreneurs, since they cannot increase their time and attention for growing their businesses, even if they have more headcount or funds.

Thus, one of the skills all entrepreneurs need to master is to be at peak productivity, using a combination of tools and techniques so that they can handle both day-to-day operations as well as strategic matters.

For this article, we interviewed three Singapore entrepreneurs to find out more about their favourite productivity apps and tips – all of which you can apply in your own life, whether you’re a full-time entrepreneur, working on your side hustle, or aiming to go further in your career.

Read Also: 3 Ways The Digital Business Dashboard By OCBC Has Helped Us Manage Our Business

Eve Law
CEO, OneThreeOneFour

Eve is the CEO and co-founder of OneThreeOneFour, a Singapore-based wedding photography service that provides a hassle-free and enjoyable for couples seeking a local or destination wedding photoshoot experience.

DollarsAndSense (DNS): Take us through what a typical day is like for you.

Eve Law (EL): I start off my day with updating my to-do list. After that, I spend most of my time talking to my customers and suppliers. I also dedicate one to two days in my week to work on our long-term plans and to seek out business opportunities for the company.

DNS: What are some of the tools that you absolutely cannot live without?

EL: Trello, Trello, Trello. It is a free productivity tool that is available on desktop, the web and on mobile. I love how simple and flexible it is, plus how it allows me to collaborate with other team members.

To communicate with customers from different parts of the world, I use all kinds of chat apps: WhatsApp, WeChat, and LINE, just to name a few!

On the desktop, our team uses a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to stay updated with all our customers and photoshoots. It integrates directly into Gmail and allows me to have an overview of the company’s sales performance.

Read Also: Start Digital Pack: The Government Wants SMEs To Embrace Digital Solutions. Here’s How You Can Tap On It

DNS: What are the key habits you have in place that have the biggest influence on your productivity?

EL: A to-do list is simple but effective in helping me to go through my day and stops me from trying to multitask. I also use a separate to-do list for smaller, mundane tasks that fills those 10-minute gaps before meetings or simply when I’m brain dead.

Meetings are like a double-edged sword. They can be effective, but if poorly run, they can be a huge waste of time. I’ve learnt to run meetings this way: start with an agenda, keep discussions on topic and end with an actionable plan.

 

Mitchell Hong
Managing Director, Bootstrap Beverages

Mitchell is the Managing Director of Bootstrap Beverages, a specialty bottled cold brew producer with operations in Singapore and Bali. They serve ready-to-drink bottled cold brew coffee directly to you in the comfort of your homes, offices, parties and events.

DollarsAndSense (DNS): Take us through what a typical day is like for you.

Mitchell Hong (MH)My day usually begins at around 7am, when I grab a light bite and catch up on major headlines. This is followed by about an hour of clearing my emails and responding to messages.

It’ll take me about 25 minutes to drive to Bootstrap’s brewery where I would then have a team meeting to discuss any critical items for this week as well as review any proposals  or projects we’re working on.

This transitions into the brewing room where I either jump in with the team on the production line or conduct tests to ensure that the quality of the brew is consistent with our standards.

My afternoons and early evenings are usually lined with back-to-back meetings with partners and vendors before another round of e-mails, messages, and proposal reviews.

I make it a point to grab dinner with my family before ending the day with downtime when I do whatever I like to unwind.

Read Also: Is Your Business Account Just Another Regular Operating Account? Here’s Why Entrepreneurs Should Expect More From Their Business Account Beyond Just Traditional Banking Services

DNS: What are some of the apps/software that you use on a daily basis/cannot live without?

MH: E-mail client, WhatsApp Messenger, Calendar App, Trello, and Google’s suite of apps. In addition, my company uses Shopify for our online storefront.

DNS: As an entrepreneur, what are the biggest obstacles that you encounter keep you from being productive?

MH: I think it’s the urge to jump in and be involved in every single aspect of your business that kills productivity. It’s an area I’m hoping to grow more in: to know which are the areas or activities I must pursue, and which ones I shouldn’t.

DNS: What are the key habits/systems you have in place that have the biggest influence on your productivity?

MH: Having certain anchors, immovables in my life and schedule definitely helps me to make sure that I keep my priorities straight. Once these anchors are in place, everything else will find its place.

Sowing into building up a team with diverse competencies and a culture where we have each other’s back all the time definitely has reaped great rewards in the regard of productivity not just for me, but also for the company.

 

Antoinette Patterson
CEO & Co-Founder of High Vibe, creators of the Safe Space app.


Antoinette Patterson is the CEO & Co-Founder of High Vibe, which created the Safe Space app, a mobile application service that connects users to on-demand counselling services in Asia.

DollarsAndSense (DNS): Share with us what you do at your startup. Take us through what a typical day is like for you.

Antoinette Patterson (AP): I’m the co-founder and CEO at High Vibe and our first product is the Safe Space app.

Safe Space is a mobile application for on-demand counselling for Asia. Think of it as the next ‘Uber’ but instead of connecting users to drivers, we connect users to professional therapists for online and offline counselling services.

Powered with an AI-enabled personal assistant, it solves two key problem areas, namely: 1) Connecting users to professional therapists faster through real-time matching and 2) Increase the client pool for therapists.

My primary role as the CEO is to fund raise, lead the development of the company’s short- and long-term strategy and maintaining awareness of the competitive market landscape. However, as a member of the founding team in a startup, I had to work across UX, app development, HR, legal and marketing.

DNS: How does your typical day look like?

AP: My morning starts at 7.30am with a coffee, checking of emails, LinkedIn and mental health news around Asia.

Next, I’ll make a checklist of which tasks need to be done, their deadlines, set a priority level and which can I delegate to the rest of the team using Asana. I’ll then do a quick check-in with the team via Slack if everyone is okay and who requires support.

As we are raising our first seed round, my lunch time slots are usually reserved for meetings or networking sessions with potential investors and other startup founders.

In the afternoon, my ‘real work’ begins: consisting of working on proposals and sometimes a coffee meeting towards the end of the day.

In the evenings, we hold workshops called Safe Space #NoFilter Talk to educate the community on mental health and what options are available. By educating the community, we hope to reduce the overall stigma on seeking mental health treatment and give a platform for our therapists to meet potential clients. I sometimes get invited to moderate panel talks on mental health and wellness as well.

DNS: What are some of the apps that you use on a daily basis?

AP: I’m always on the go and here are my go-to apps to keep me on track everyday:

Slack – All team communication is on Slack.
Asana – The best project management tool I found which comes with notifications so I don’t miss anything important.
Google Calendar – This is updated religiously to keep track of my work meetings personal appointments.
Notes – A quick place to write down ideas quickly.
Headspace and Mindfi – I toggle between both apps for meditation.
Instagram and LinkedIn – We check both daily, since we get a lot of direct client feedback and requests through social media.

DNS: As an entrepreneur, what are the biggest obstacles that you encounter keep you from being productive?

AP: Mindless social media distractions and having too many meetings. Learning to identify collaborations that won’t necessarily bring us more traction and how to say No to meetings.

As we’re in the wellness space, we get a number of collaboration requests but what matters most is traction, especially when we’re a young startup with a really small team.

We were able to save time on travel by doing video calls and if not, we kindly referred the other partners to another company that might be more suited to their cause.

DNS: What are the key habits/systems you have in place that have the biggest influence on your productivity?

AP: I’ve simplified my phone and made it minimal by removing unnecessary distractions.

Beyond that, I always have an early start to plan my day and create a checklist. I’ll set a priority level for each task and see which ones can be delegated e.g. tasks that impact our traction have highest priority

To be able to perform, I need time and space to recharge. I set aside time for my mental health and self-care, such as exercising and dedicating time to meet friends despite busy schedules keeps me rejuvenated.

Focusing On The Right Things For Your Business

As you can see from the insightful sharing by Eve, Mitchell, and Antoinette, each day is a struggle against both internal and external challenges.

To cater to the fast-paced demands of today’s entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals, OCBC offers a suite of tools and services that is specially designed to help business owners do more.

For example, we’ve shared previously about how we used the OCBC Business Dashboard to get instant, actionable insights into key metrics about DollarsAndSense, including page views, newsletter subscribers, and the our financial accounts.

Read Also: 3 Ways The Digital Business Dashboard By OCBC Has Helped Us Manage Our Business

The OCBC Business Dashboard integrates with many of the leading apps and platforms used by entrepreneurs, including those mentioned by Eve, Mitchell, and Antoinette, including Google Analytics, Facebook, MailChimp, and Shopify.

Source: OCBC Business Dashboard

If you’re an SME owner looking to take your business digital, you might be glad to know that you can take advantage of the SME Go Digital Programme.

Launched by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Budget 2017, this initiative encourages SMEs in Singapore to leverage on digital technology to improve productivity and streamline non-core business processes.

This year, the SMEs Go Digital Programme was expanded to include more digital solutions. In particular, entrepreneurs can tap on the Start Digital Pack, which gives you free access to two apps of your choice under the programme on an extended trial basis.

To get started with the Start Digital Pack with OCBC, you’ll first need to have an OCBC business account. After which, proceed with an email declaration and select the solutions you need.

As you make bold plans to drive your business forward, having a banking partner that understands and serves your needs goes a long way in enabling you to fulfil your vision for your business.

Read Also:Start Digital Pack: The Government Wants SMEs To Embrace Digital Solutions. Here’s How You Can Tap On It