As someone who has been employed in the Internet technology field for many years, I rely on various web services and gadgets to help keep me organized. If you’re starting up a brewery, you will have lots of tasks/to dos to take care of. Here’s a rundown of how I am using technology to get this brewery up and running:
Blog: This website is powered by WordPress and hosted by Dreamhost. I’ve been using Dreamhost for many, many years as both my domain registrar and webhost. If you’re looking for an inexpensive domain registration ($10/year including private registration!) and webhosting with great support and lots of included features, such as automated WordPress installation, look no further. Do yourself a favor, avoid Godaddy.com and the non stop up selling and terrible user experience and go with Dreamhost. I would highly recommend securing the log in of your blog which is done by signing up for secure hosting and buying a security certificate. Again Dreamhost makes all of this easy and cheap. (Shameless plug: Enter code BEMYTOOL during signup and we both save $45).
Email: My Panic Brewing email is actually hosted by Gmail. Dreamhost makes it easy to set up mail hosting such that panicbrewing.com email is handed off to Google’s servers seamlessly. You get all the power of Google’s awesome Gmail service including the web interface, IMAP support, and all the other goodies, free. Huge fan of this. I have my Panic Brewing email forwarded to my normal email address so I don’t need to check two accounts. IMAP is an email protocol which basically syncs your email across all devices that have IMAP enabled. If I delete a message on my iPhone, it’s deleted on my MacBook Pro as well. If I read an email on my laptop, it’s marked as read on my iPhone and at gmail.com. Very nice. Gmail also makes it easy to reply using any email address you have set up, so I can reply as panicbrewing.com even though I’m logged into my normal Gmail account.
Contacts: I’ve been using Google Contacts and its awesome syncing features for years. I use my Macbook Pro’s and iPhone’s built in support for Google Contact syncing so I have all of my contact info, no matter where I am. If I enter a contact in my iPhone, it’s synced to all my devices immediately and vice-versa. Very nice.
Mobile: A smart phone is crucial these days to get anything done, especially in business. My iPhone is just as important as my MacBook Pro to keep things chugging along. As mentioned in the email section, I use the iPhone’s native support for IMAP to keep my email synced with my laptop and gmail.com. I also use my phone to take pictures of any notes I’ve written on paper, just in case I lose them, and Apple’s iCloud service auto syncs the photos with the cloud so they’re automatically backed up. Again, very nice. Wordpress offers a nice iOS app which allows basic WordPress functionality on the go, which has come in quite handy many times.
Computer: My Macbook Pro is the nerve center of this whole venture. In addition to the aforementioned mail and contact syncing I can retrieve any photos from iCloud. As mentioned previously, I have iCal and Address Book set up to sync with Google and I use Gmail’s IMAP protocol to sync up mail across all devices. Did I mention how awesome IMAP is? Probably not.
Software: Well, being the Apple Fanboy poster child, I’ve shunned Microsoft Excel and replaced it with Apple’s Numbers app. It’s a great, great product. Definitely not as fully featured (i.e. bloaty) as Excel, but so far I’ve yet to run into any limitations for what I need and it has some great features that blow Excel out of the water. And I can export everything as an Excel spreadsheet if I need to, so there’s no compatibility issues there. I will also be using Pages instead of Word. I’ve used Pages for several years now and it works great. The fact that it has nice page layout features which Word does not makes it an even better choice for creating a professional business plan. Again, exporting to Word is not an issue. Built in PDF export support in Mac OS X makes creating universally compatible documents a cinch.
So that’s a quick rundown. I realize I sound like a shill for Dreamhost and Apple. Well, I am, but my hope is not to convert anyone one way or the other but more to maybe provide some ideas on how to adapt your current setup to make everything work in tandem. This stuff should just help you get to your goal and then just get out of the way. So far, so good for me.