It's the late afternoon on a Friday as I lay back against the wall on the floor in my office, my laptop resting on my hips as I type away at the computer. Three floors below, the day's traffic starts to get cluttered on the street below as commuters inch their way towards their homes and offices, a golden light streams in from the glass wall that faces east. In the distance, Beverly Hills begins to twinkle under the setting sun.
I'm in knee-deep in reading the analytics on a soon-to-launch contract project's website, an interesting but tedious task. Before me on the illuminating screen is the day's audience and traffic that streamed to the temporary landing page created a week before. As I read, the world outside the closed office door shuffles as the day winds down. I scribble down results in a nearby notebook. In a short while, they'll be gathered into a waiting email where I'll interpret them for the project.
It's all in a days work for most in digital business. Without analytics, I'd be lost. As I wrap up the day and head home it gets me thinking. There are a lot of tools and things founders can' t live with out, far beyond the usual suspects of laptops and smart phones, but organizers, navigation tools and all kinds of other stuff.
If I were to be stuck on an island, what would my five must-have business tools be beyond the standard?
1. Chartbeat: If you've got a digital business, real-time analytics will change your life. Chartbeat's clean user interface and knowledge of what's needed in terms of numbers and data makes its solution plug-and-play. It's not free but it's well worth it if you've got a content or retail site for the look into what's happening with your customers and business.
2. Paperchase Notebooks: Any time I've got a big idea or am launching a new company or initiative, I buy a slightly jazzier notebook as a reminder that I'm about to do something big. For a little more than standard issue notebooks, you'll have something that's stylish and more durable - and lasts just as long.
3. Docstoc: There's not an upstart entrepreneur or founder who doesn't rely on the internet to find and research basic document templates, forms, etc, from NDAs to service agreements to contracts (especially in the newly launched and/or bootstrap stage). Docstoc offers this and more.
4. LinkedIn: It might be trendy to say but LinkedIn is without question one of the most useful tools for anybody in business. Whether you're scoping out a new hire, hunting for a consultant or researching contacts for business development, everything you need to know is there.
5. Techmeme: The New York Times wrote about this digital resource this past week, but those in digital business have known about Techmeme for years. The site aggregates virtually everything that's being talked about in media and blogs at any given moment, giving execs and founders a snapshot of the marketplace - who's doing what, where, with who. Bonus: It's sister sites WeSmirch and Mediagazer do the same for celebrity news and media business.