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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tools for the Cash Strapped Entrepreneur (part 2)

Evernote for the Real Estate Investor

In the first part of this article I talked about using the awesome Sugarsync to store and synchronize your files between all your computers and mobile devices. The other tool I use that is incredibly useful and powerful is Evernote.

Sugarsync is great for files but Evernote is amazing for all kinds of information storage not just files. If you don’t know about it yet Evernote is an application that allows you to create, store, share and organize notes.

So what's so great about that?…you might ask.

What makes Evernote so fantastic IMO is that it lets you store any kind of note. It could be a text note, a voice note that you record on your mobile device, a picture of anything that you take along with notes, a sketch drawn with their sketch utility and more.

For example, as I go about fixing House #9 I keep a notebook in Evernote with notes for that project. Whether it's pictures about different granite countertop colors I am considering or a part number I need to find at Home Depot. Which leads me to the next great thing about Evernote…synchronization.

Much like Sugarsync, Evernote also synchronizes between my desktop, laptop, iPad and my smartphone. This is key because I don't know about you but I get an idea or need to write something down anywhere, not just at my office. Therefore I can make a note, take a picture or record an audio note on my phone and it will be in my computer when I am back at the office.

You can probably start seeing how there can be a gazillion uses for this type of utility. Here are some of the ways that I use it for real estate and more:

  • Deal evaluation. When inspecting a potential real estate investment I take pictures of the house and make notes of the damages. Then when I get back to my computer I can use those to put together an estimate of repairs and make an offer.
  • Rehab projects. When I am rehabbing a house and I am shopping for parts I take pictures of cabinets, countertops, tile, part numbers and prices for comparison shopping and a lot more.
  • Blog content ideas. When I see something that could be a good idea to write in this blog. I can take pictures of something or clip webpages, URL's, or articles into Evernote to keep for reference and inspiration
  • Organizing a project. Whether it's a house flipping project or our next family vacation. I can keep itineraries, reservation numbers, phone numbers, etc. and I can view and edit them either in my computer or phone. This allows me to keep all the information for a project in one central place.
  • Keeping a reading list. If I run into a great article or ebook that I want to read I just add it to Evernote and then read whenever and wherever I want, not just at my computer. I can copy and paste the actual article into Evernote or just paste the URL. I can also add PDF files to Evernote.
  • Sharing Information. I can share my notes however and with whomever I want. Whether I email the note or share it on the web. Here’s an example of a shared notebook and a shared note I can share real estate contracts, project notes with a contractor or share files on the web.
  • Many ways to collect information. If I don't want to type on my phone or sketch on it, I write on a piece of paper or a whiteboard and then take a picture of it and put it on Evernote.
  • Anywhere collection. I record audio notes of ideas I get while driving, or record “agenda” items I want to remember to discuss with someone — whether my contractor, coach, a vendor, my spouse, or colleagues.
You could write a book on how to use Evernote (there already are). But two more things that you should know. First, Evernote has a wicked search function that can even find text within pictures so it makes it really easy for you to find that thing you were sure you had put in Evernote.

Second, you can also email notes into your Evernote. So if you are at your work computer and don't have Evernote installed you email your note to a special email address and the information on the email will go into your Evernote.

One caution…a lot of people have Evernote but are not aware of how versatile it is so it becomes another app on your phone. But if you take a bit of time and learn how to use it, you will soon realize that it can change how you organize, keep and remember all your information.

For the cash strapped entrepreneur not only is Evernote free but allows you to do things you used to have to pay for or just could not do before. 

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