Every small business needs an arsenal of online tools to achieve business success without breaking the bank. In today’s “freemium” world, many companies offer low-cost or even free online management tools that will help you stay sane and effective as a manager while increasing your productivity.
Best of all, they do the job without putting pressure on your pocketbook. Below are six of them worth a serious look.
The ability to efficiently share important files such as spreadsheets, documents and presentations with your team, customers and other partners is crucial. Box, a cloud-based file sharing and storage solution, makes it easy to share files without complicating the way you normally work.
Getting started is a snap: Just drag and drop your content from your desktop to Box, even really large files. Be sure to check out the BoxSync download that lets you keep the content on your computer in sync with Box.
As a small business owner, you can enjoy instantaneous file backup, easy file sharing and the ability to access files from multiple computers and mobile devices.
FreshBooks is all about making accounting fast and simple and was designed specifically around the needs of small business owners. Just add your customers and you can easily generate professional-looking invoices and send them with the click of a button and even accept online payments.
One of the best things about Freshbooks is that although it’s easy to use, it still boasts a lot of really great features that help you stay organized when it comes to your money. Things such as reports, time tracking and expense tracking. Freshbooks is a cloud service, so your data is backed up and accessible from remote locations.
You also can access Freshbooks from all your favorite gadgets, such as your smartphone or tablet.
Providing your customers and prospects with world-class service is something you strive for every day because you know how critical it is. Making sure that you and your team stay on the ball and even improve those efforts, especially as you grow, is a different story.
With the right blend of horsepower and ease of use for small business, Insightly’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software can help. It allows you to collect, organize and share important contact information so that you can manage the relationship more successfully and create a better customer experience.
Insightly offers a simple, friendly user-interface, which is huge plus, both for getting set up quickly and for getting familiar with the system. It integrates tightly with tools such as Gmail and Google Apps, so it will work well with systems you already have in place. With built-in project management tools such as tasks, milestones and notifications, you stay organized and deliver on time. Because the information is centralized, everyone on your team who needs to know what is going on can stay in the loop.
A cloud-based system with anytime, anywhere access, Insightly offers modern features demanded by savvy small businesses, such as smartphone access and social media integration.
Meetings and conference calls are an integral part of daily business activity. By introducing Web conferencing tools such as MeetingBurner, you can effectively and cheaply connect with customers and other colleagues who are far away.
Save yourself the expense and time involved in a business trip by using the Web for your next meeting. Simply schedule the meeting from within MeetingBurner, add it to your calendar and then email your participants the instructions provided. MeetingBurner automatically generates a conference call line that participants dial into as well as a website link to click on so they can see whatever you want to share with them from your computer.
MeetingBurner works for both Mac and PC, and will even send everyone reminders about upcoming meetings.
Email marketing with newsletters can be a terrific, cost-effective way to engage your customers and Mailchimp helps make it all painless and relatively quick. How do you build your list? What do you do when someone doesn’t want to receive emails anymore? What is the appropriate size when you’re designing an email newsletter? How do you know if people are looking at the emails you send? Mailchimp handles all of that for you – and more.
At its core, it helps you build your list, wrap your message in a pretty package, blast it out and track the results of your campaign. Other notable features include the ability to segment your mailing list, so you can target your messages according to the different needs of your customers and to integrate with services already in use by small business everywhere, such as Freshbooks, Google Analytics, Facebook, WordPress and Magento.
Is your small business leveraging multiple social media channels as part of your core marketing strategy? Are you looking for a smarter way to take control of your social media activity? Then give HootSuite a whirl. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that gives you a centralized place for managing, tracking and measuring all of your different social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.
Because Hootsuite is a cloud solution, all you need to access the service is an Internet connection and Web browser. Plus, HootSuite boasts a wide range of mobile apps to help users on the move.
From CRM to email marketing to social media, your small business solutions can be the difference between a smooth sailing enterprise and an ugly crash on the rocks. Fortunately for today’s small business owner, the modern world is competitive. That means more free online management tools than ever before.