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Step by Step: How Elon Musk Built His Empire (by Anna Vital)“The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.”– Peter Thiel in “Zero to One” In the bookZero to One, prominent entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shares his vision on what it takes to create an extraordinary company. Specifically, Thiel believes that instead of making incremental upgrades to an existing product or service, a company must aim to do something completely new to avoid ruthless competition. While Thiel has worked with many impressive people over the years, Thiel points to Elon Musk as a particularlysuccessful memberof the Paypal Mafia that has gone “zero to one” many times. THE RÉSUMÉAt only the…

How I Run My Business On My iPhone

The iPhone is such a wonderful device that I can't imagine how I was able to live without it for the longest time. The new iPhone 4 is the first iPhone I ever owned and all I can say is...wow!

I'm in the consulting business and before the iPhone came out, I used to to carry a ton of stuff. A laptop, a cellphone and a PDA.

For the cellphone, I've always used a Nokia but I never used a high end Nokia phone. I went from the Nokia 3360 to the 8860, Sony Ericsson and then the Nokia 3500. They all worked great as cellphones, but lacking in terms of internet connectivity or use as a PDA.

On the PDA side, I went from carrying a paper based calendar to the Palm Pilot, to the Palm V and then finally to the HP iPAQ.

The best of the bunch was always the Palm Pilot or the Palm V until Palm pretty much failed with the development of the Palm OS. I went to the HP iPAQ on the feature that it included a web browser and WiFi connectivity.

Sad to say, it was all just a promise. It worked great for a few weeks, then eventually, I can never get a proper WiFi signal or connect to the Internet. No amount of updates or setup I do can make it work and it wasn't a faulty device. If I refreshed (hard reset) the device, the Internet will work great for about a week. After that, forget about using it.

No website displays properly and finding apps for it was hit and miss as you were mostly on your own to find a place that has the apps for your device. Once you find an app, you have to make sure it actually worked for your particular model since not every app works for your particular model or MS Windows Mobile OS version.

A few years of this and I was ready to look for a new device. I was looking to jump back to the Palm platform when they introduced the Palm Treo when Apple came out with the iPod Touch. At first it was interesting and did not get into my radar as a PDA replacement. But as I looked more into it, I realized it had pretty much everything I needed as a PDA but it was just marketed as a music player.

So I studied carefully what the iPod offered. I needed a calendar (check), an address book (check), a notepad (check), calculator (check) a web browser that works (CHECK!).

The iPod touch at the time didn't even offer installable apps, it only allowed web based apps. But it didn't matter, it had the basics covered so I decided I will get it as a replacement for my PDA. Best decision ever! By the time I got my iPod Touch (1st gen), Apple already allowed installable apps. Needless to say, my iPod Touch just got more valuable over time.

It worked great over Wifi and never had any trouble connecting to the Internet to check my e-mail on the go or play a little game while waiting for a client.

I wasn't really ready to jump to the iPhone since I just got my iPod Touch, but boy, I did not know what I was missing. Even when I had my iPod Touch, I was still carrying a cellphone, a laptop and my iPod touch. Which was still a lot of devices.


The iPhone

When I finally got my iPhone, I ditched my old Nokia phone and iPod Touch and carry just my laptop and iPhone 4. In reality, I really have no need to even carry the laptop. I can say that I'm carrying my laptop 50% less than previously. Why? The connectivity of the iPhone 4 is top notched. It's pretty seamless and it just gets out of your way and let you do what you need.

Here is how I set up my system to run on the iPhone.

If you work in a corporate environment or have been looking at technology enhancements for your business, there are a few things you need to look at first before you switch over to an iPhone.

E-mail

Everybody runs on e-mail now and it's almost impossible not to be connected to your e-mail all the time. Ever wonder why so many people use a Blackberry? It's not the games, it's the e-mail.

There's a couple of things you have to know when you are setting up an e-mail for your business. E-mail is your tracking system and record keeping system now. You can't afford to lose an e-mail. If you're still downloading your e-mail into your computer using POP3. If your computer crashes, you're out of luck, all your e-mails are gone.

You have to start looking at IMAP services. This is where the e-mails are kept on the server. So even if your computer crashes, just set up your e-mail and everything is back up. A server is far more secure and reliable than a device you carry with you all the time.

Contacts

Same thing with e-mail, if you lose your phone or change to a new phone, you have to transfer all your contacts one by one. You have to find a way to synchronize your contacts and having a server do that is the best way of doing that instead of relying on transferring your SIM card or inputting the data one by one.

Calendar

Same with contacts, synchronization is the key and you can share your calendar with your team.


The Setup

So how do you set up your iPhone to do these? The iPhone has an easy connectivity setting to connect all your data to a Microsoft Exchange Server, Gmail or Yahoo account. Once you set them up, all your information is synchronized.

If you set your e-mail as IMAP or on MS Exchange, when you send or receive an e-mail, a copy is always saved on the server so you never lose the information. When you put a schedule on your iPhone, your calendar on the server is updated as well. If you have a laptop where you want to check your calendar in Outlook, that information is there.

If you share your calendar with your assistant, any updates you do will be shown on your assistant's computer.

Same with contacts, basically, everyone on your team can share all the same contacts.

These are just the basic functionalities for synchronization of your information. How do you expand that to work for your business?

If you're in sales, you can use the iPhone to connect to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like vTiger, Salesforce, Zoho or SugarCRM. Some have native apps on the iPhone and some are web based. But since the iPhone can display a full website and not just a mobile edition of the site, you can use any of these CRM solutions easily. You can track leads, accounts, contacts, e-mails and marketing campaigns on your iPhone.

If you need some spreadsheets or word documents, you can easily install some apps for it or just go to the cloud and use Google Docs to get your word documents, spreadsheets or presentations.

You can even do invoicing on your iPhone or some accounting. In short, you can basically leave everything and go to a meeting with just your iPhone. It's pretty amazing.

Of course, having the camera function is wonderful as you can now take a photo of your product and e-mail or blog it right away.

Since you can develop your own apps, you can use the iPhone to track inventory, scan bar codes, take orders or pretty much anything you can think of that's suited to your own business.

With the new Retina Display, the screen of the iPhone 4 is so sharp, you can use that to show clients your products since it's almost like showing a paper brochure.

And most importantly, if your client is late for an appointment, you can always play Angry Birds while waiting.

So how do you use your iPhone for business? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.

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