Business Applications for Frugal Entrepreneurs
Cutting costs around the office is possible with the right business applications. Here are several tools your office shouldn’t be without.
• Google Docs: The beauty of Google Docs is that you can collaborate with others in real time and access your documents from anywhere. With Google Docs, you can create spreadsheets, presentations and other documents – and you always have the most recent version online. Best of all, it’s free to use!
Have your own domain name? Put it to use with Google Apps for Domains. All the best Google applications, plus you get to use your domain name in your email address so your business correspondence always looks professional.
• OpenOffice: Not ready for web-based applications? Open Office is an open-source full-fledged office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheets, presentation package and database software. This powerful suite can be installed on as many computers as you’d like and is absolutely free to use.
• Basecamp: Organization goes a long way in business, and this cost-effective web-based application is a great tool designed to help small businesses collaborate and stay on top of all their active projects. Basecamp features to-do lists, file sharing, a milestones calendar, group chat, time tracker, message boards and a concise project overview page to help your team get their tasks done in time. iPhone users have the option to download various applications to keep them productive, even when they’re on the road. Plans start at $24 a month, but there is a free 30-day trial available for the curious.
• Freshbooks: This web-based service offers a slew of features to users looking for an invoicing program similar to QuickBooks. A free account lets you use an unlimited number of invoices for up to three clients (you can pay a premium if you want more), and allows you to insert your company logo on your invoices, mail out invoices and track the time you spend on each project. Your clients can pay you online via a payment site, and best of all, Freshbooks keeps track of any outstanding accounts for re-billing. Certainly a must-have for anyone starting a new business.
• Constant Contact: Using newsletters to keep your customers engaged and informed is a must, and Constant Contact has some serious tools that allow you to create surveys, newsletters and invitations to events. You can also keep track of who’s reading your emails and clicking on your links. Their plans start at $15 month and go up based on the number of email addresses on your list.
• Free Conference: This free service offers your small business a convenient way to set up conference calls with clients, employees and colleagues. Calls can be scheduled online from any web browser for up to 150 callers. There is a 4-hour maximum time per call, and all participants receive an email with a dedicated dial-in number along with an access code.
• SlideShare: Wanna share that great PowerPoint deck or Word document with the world? SlideShare allows you to do just that by creating an embeddable Flash presentation you can post on your website or blog. Simply upload your docs, add audio and wait for the Flash movie. Presentations can also be downloaded by users or shared via email with friends. It’s all very Web 2.0.
Got any other suggestions? Let us know which ones you use in the comments below. Hope this guide helps you save money this season!