#small business tools
Top 5 Small Business Tools
Being your own boss can mean being your own marketing department, public relations team or sales squad you name it, small business owners often end up handling it themselves, at least at some point. With so many hats to wear, you need to make every second count.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there that can streamline tasks, boost productivity and, in sum, save lots of time and money. Since I travel frequently, I ve built up a list of favorites that help me prioritize when I m short on time and that get me where I need to go as quickly as possible. Most of these services are free, and all of them do a fantastic job addressing the everyday challenges that small business owners face. What s not to love?
Buffer — Social media made easy
This user-friendly social media management tool helps me distribute content across major channels Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. with minimum hassle. It lets me schedule posts in advance, selecting prime times to optimize my reach, which is especially helpful when I m away from my computer or traveling. And it allows me to leverage analytics to improve my engagement rates, as well as add clean visual elements, perfectly formatted for each different channel, through its intuitive Pablo tool.
You can use Buffer as a browser extension or handle your social media on the go through the mobile app for iOS and Android. It s free for individuals, but Buffer offers upgraded packages starting at $10 a month to cover multiple profiles, teams and agencies. Sleeker and easier for beginners than tools like Hootsuite, Buffer simplifies the management aspect so you ve got more time to hone your message.
Outlook — Smarter inbox, smarter email
I don t spend enough time on email, said no small business owner ever. Managing and organizing an email inbox can be one of the biggest time wasters entrepreneurs face. That s why I use Microsoft Outlook to either delete, respond, drag to, task or process all mail. Never keep email in your inbox. It creates unnecessary stress and leaves you always feeling behind. Most people use folders, but that s highly inefficient. Processing mail immediately helps me prioritize and label every email that comes my way. This eliminates the need for folders (and trying to determine which one an email should be assigned to), by allowing me to label each email with one or many categories of my choosing. This makes them simple to find when the time comes.
OnStar — Your car as your ally
Since many newer cars include a free trial of OnStar, people already know about many features it offers: a turn-by-turn navigation system, a mobile hotspot, a diagnostics system, and services such as emergency response, stolen vehicle and roadside assistance. When I m on the road, OnStar is my go-to. I rely on its excellent AtYourService tool, which comes at no extra cost with my Guidance Plan. With a press of OnStar s blue button, I can connect to a live adviser for assistance in looking up destination addresses, finding nearby gas stations, making restaurant reservations and even booking hotel rooms. There s a mobile app as well.
Waze — Savvy navigation
There s nothing more frustrating than wasting time in a traffic jam especially here in the Seattle area. Enter Waze . a community-based navigation app that issues turn-by-turn voice directions and provides road alerts before you get stuck in a back-up. When you enter a new destination and leave the app open on your phone, it contributes passively to traffic data, but app users can also actively share information, pointing out cheap prices at gas stations, reporting accidents and editing maps to update local road data. Available free for iOS, Android and Windows Phones, this handy app saves me time, gas money and headaches.
TripIt — Taming your travel itinerary
Gone are the days of shuffling through reams of printed travel reservations or even searching through multiple emails, for that matter. TripIt consolidates confirmations for flights, hotels, car rentals and restaurant bookings into an easy-to-digest master itinerary that I synchronize with my calendar or share selectively with colleagues or family. The free app allows me to access all my info on most of my devices, even offline.
For $49 annually, you can upgrade TripIt to receive real-time travel alerts, alternative flight route information, notifications for potential seat upgrades and frequent-flyer point tracking. TripIt also offers group packages to coordinate itineraries for whole teams, with master calendars and expense tracking.
Saving time for what really matters
These tools leverage technology so that you don t lose time that s critical to your business success. You can turn your car into your office, and you can use the spare minutes you spend waiting in line for coffee or to board a plane to knock out key communications. The more effectively you work, and the more time you save, the more you can concentrate on the aspects of your business (and life) that are near and dear to your heart. For me, that s what it all boils down to.
Window Cleaning Coach: How to Start a Window Washing Business, Tips, Advice, Training, Tools,
#window cleaning business
Hi, my name is Dave and I run my own successful window cleaning business called ShineTime in Birmingham, England.
The reason I’ve created this website is because I found that there was a lack of free information on setting up your own window cleaning business when I first started.
Instead I found there are a lot of opportunist window cleaners on the internet who are selling their knowledge (you can’t blame them really can you).
I realise when you’re setting up your own business funds are tight, so I’ve decided to give my expertise away for free.
The reason for this generosity you might ask? Well window cleaning helped me out of a tight spot: I was working in a dead-end factory for minimum wage and wasn’t too happy about the situation.
I finally decided to start my own window cleaning business, and after a lot of trial and error my business became successful. I want to help other people thinking of starting their own window cleaning company avoid some of the mistakes I made when I first started by doing this informative website.
Let’s get one thing straight, being a window cleaner is a horrible job: in Winter you feel like your hands are going to drop off, if you’re working by yourself it can become very lonely, and sometimes your customers can give you hassle. As you’re the head of the company you’re the one who has to deal with troublesome customers because there’s nobody to pass the blame onto.
It’s not easy either, most people seem to think it’s just a case of buying a bucket, getting a chammy and you’re away. Sadly there’s a lot of competition out there, it’s highly likely you’ll find all the best areas where you live (the posh ones that make you the most money) are taken.
You have to be prepared to work hard to build up your round and be able to discipline yourself because there’s no boss to kick you up the arse when you feel like having an impromptu day off. It’s very easy to slip into the habit of thinking: I can’t be bothered with it today. or I think I’ll knock off early .
It’s good to have the freedom that only comes with being your own boss, but it still doesn’t mean you can spend every other day in bed. Disappointing I know, but that’s life.
I want to make it clear that not everybody is suited to self-employment, some people need a person watching over them to make them work. If this is a description of you then you probably shouldn’t bother wasting anymore of your time on this site. Instead, you may want to consider looking for other cleaning jobs first to get some experience and see if a window cleaning career is really for you.
Despite all the drawbacks however, I believe if you’re desperate, i.e. stuck in a job you absolutely hate, or unemployed and on the dole, then window cleaning could be for you because it’s a realistic way of making a respectable living for a person who has no other options, just don’t expect to be driving around in a Bentley anytime soon.
Business Process Modeling tools for the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) – Enterprise Architect
#business process modeling
Tools for Business Process Modeling using the BPMN
Business Process Modeling is an important part of understanding and restructuring the activities and information a typical enterprise uses to achieve its business goals. With a modeling tool like Enterprise Architect. you can model, document and restructure those processes and information flows using industry standard UML and the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). Best of all, the process designs and models can be used to drive process re-structuring and software development .
With EA you can:
- Model business processes with industry standard UML
- Easily take advantage of the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)
- Model processes. information flows and data stores
- Manage requirements at a very detailed level
- Take advantage of UML Profiles for business process modeling
- Reverse engineer legacy code and database models
- Produce great looking reports in standard RTF and HTML format
- Connect your business process model to use case and software design models for end to end traceability
MDG Technology brings BPMN support to Enterprise Architect
The BPMN Add-in for Enterprise Architect provides a full-featured implementation of the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). This allows business processes to be expressed in a standard graphical notation.
Business Process Modeling is the discipline of defining and outlining business practices, processes, information flows, data stores and systems. BPM often involves using a notation such as UML to capture graphical representations of the major processes, flows and stores.
UML provides activity. state. object and class diagrams to capture important business processes and artifacts. More detailed BPM models can easily be built using UML Profiles. Sparx Systems has available for download a detailed UML Profile for Business Process Modeling based on the extensions defined by Hans-Erik Eriksson and Magnus Penker in their book, Business Modeling with UML . This profile is used to define a set of stereotypes for working with Business Activities, Processes, Objects and Information flows.
BPM differs from software system modeling in a number of important ways. The key difference between system modeling in UML and Business Process Modeling is that the emphasis on how the work is done within an organization, rather than what work is done. It is an important tool in understanding the activities a business undertakes, and the kind of information it needs to successfully engage in those activities. Enterprise Architect can help you identify and document processes within a business, and identify which business processes can be managed more effectively. Also, they serve the important function of situating new and existing software systems within the business context.
Enterprise Architect is ideally suited to capturing and documenting your business process models. Best of all, the models you create in EA can then be used to drive the requirements, use cases, analysis and design phases of new software development projects, all with complete traceability back to your original BPM.
The BPMN Add-in for Enterprise Architect provides a full-featured implementation of the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). This allows business processes to be expressed in a standard graphical notation.
Crossroads in the Boston Business Journal – Giving Kids the Tools to Succeed #best
#boston business journal
Crossroads in the Boston Business Journal – Giving Kids the Tools to Succeed
On Friday, April 24, the Boston Business Journal featured some thoughts from Crossroads President Deb Samuels about what young people truly need to succeed. Thank you to the BBJ for helping us spread the word and ensure all young people have what they need to succeed and thrive.
ViewPoint: Giving underprivileged kids the tools to succeed
Apr 24, 2015, 6:00am EDT
A recent story on NPR s This American Life described the disparities that often derail the dreams of students from underserved communities. As reported, exposure to new places, ideas and experiences can often inspire low-income kids to think of secondary education as an opportunity within their grasp. But it takes much more than standard campus tours to help these students get to and flourish at college.
The ability to perform in an academically rigorous environment, while important, does not guarantee success. To help get and keep students with limited resources on the college track requires communication, social and critical thinking skills. Engaged, motivated students feel connected. These kids must believe that they belong at college, that they deserve to be there, and that they possess the tools to thrive, not just survive.
In order to succeed at college, at-risk kids, who may have faced homelessness, financial instability, physical abuse or emotional upheaval in their young lives, must experience trusting relationships with both peers and adults outside of their families. Here in Massachusetts, there are a number of agencies that help guide, motivate and encourage at-risk urban youth to pursue a college degree. My organization, Crossroads for Kids, and those we partner with such as Bottom Line and uAspire, offer a wide range of essential services, from tutoring and leadership development to help managing looming deadlines and navigating mountains of paperwork including applications and financial aid forms which can be overwhelming, especially for the uninitiated. We simply help demystify the often complex selection and admissions process for first generation college students and their families. With much needed support and exposure to the world of possibilities within and beyond their communities, kids get the encouragement they need, one-on-one and in small group settings, that can help level the playing field.
Deb Samuels is executive director for Crossroads for Kids.
Welcome to the Instagram for Business blog. See how businesses of all sizes around the world are inspiring people with their stories, and get the latest news from Instagram HQ.
Instagram is a place where people can turn their passions into livelihoods. For instance, handmade accessory business JACKSON AND HYDE started an account a year and a half ago to raise awareness of its wares. Instagram has been critical for brand exposure, dialogue with new and potential customers and being discovered by partners and retailers, Genevieve Monroe, the CEO and co-Founder tells us. And other companies, like eCommerce business Caeden. are taking advantage of Instagram advertising to expand beyond their current following and find new customers.
With so many companies using Instagram, and many people on the platform interacting with them, there was a desire from our business community to do more. So we listened. And, after hundreds of interviews with businesses, three key needs became clear stand out, get insights and find new customers.
First, businesses want the ability to stand out on Instagram. Many companies, including a furniture store in San Francisco, shared that it would be easier for customers to email questions because comments are hard to track and take time to sift through. Second, businesses want a simple way to get insights. A retailer in Austin explained that many analytics are overwhelming and hard to apply to its marketing. And third, businesses want to reach even more customers. A do-it-yourself craft shop in New York City mentioned it s always looking for quick ways to fill seats in class.
With these insights in mind, we set out to make Instagram work even better for businesses. So today, we re excited to unveil our new Instagram Business Tools.
Business profiles are a free feature for accounts wanting to be recognized as a business on Instagram. With a business profile, businesses can choose how they want their customers to get in touch with them: call, text or email with a tap of the contact button as well as get directions. Business profiles also unlock access to insights and the ability to promote.
Insights on Instagram give businesses actionable information about who their followers are and which posts resonate better than others all from within the mobile app. By learning more about the behavior and demographics of your audience, you can create more relevant and timely content.
The ability to promote lets you turn well-performing posts into ads right within the app helping you connect with even more customers. Simply pick a post you ve already shared on Instagram and add a button encouraging people to take action. You can select a target audience or allow Instagram to suggest targeting for you. After that, your post will be promoted as an ad for any length of time you choose.
With these new business tools on Instagram, the furniture store in San Francisco can receive emails from customers saving valuable time responding. The retailer in Austin can better understand its audience, tailor its content and refine its marketing strategy even beyond digital. And the do-it-yourself craft shop in New York City can quickly fill a seat, move a product or get people into its store with ads on mobile.
These business tools are just some of the ways we hope to make growing a business on Instagram that much easier. Business profiles, insights and the ability to promote will be rolling out in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, and will be available in all regions globally by the end of the year.
#stock market websites
Scottrade Client Website for Online Trading
Scottrade received the highest numerical score in the J. D. Power 2016 Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study, based on 4,242 responses measuring 13 firms and the experiences and perceptions of investors who use self-directed investment firms, surveyed in January 2016. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com .
Authorized account login and access indicates customer’s consent to the Brokerage Account Agreement. Such consent is effective at all times when using this site.
Unauthorized access is prohibited.
Scottrade, Inc. and Scottrade Bank are separate but affiliated companies and are wholly owned subsidiaries of Scottrade Financial Services, Inc. Brokerage products and services offered by Scottrade, Inc. – Member FINRA and SIPC. Deposit products and services offered by Scottrade Bank, Member FDIC .
Brokerage products are not insured by the FDIC — are not deposits or other obligations of the bank and are not guaranteed by the bank — are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal invested.
All investing involves risk. The value of your investment may fluctuate over time, and you may gain or lose money.
Online market and limit stock trades are just $7 for stocks priced $1 and above. Additional charges may apply for stocks priced under $1, mutual fund and option transactions. Detailed information on our fees can be found in the Explanation of Fees (PDF).
You must have $500 in equity in an Individual, Joint, Trust, IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA account with Scottrade to be eligible for a Scottrade Bank® account. In this instance, equity is defined as Total Brokerage Account Value minus Recent Brokerage Deposits on Hold.
The performance data quoted represents past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The research, tools and information provided will not include every security available to the public. Although the sources of the research tools provided on this website are believed to be reliable, Scottrade makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or reliability of the information. Information on this website is for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation to invest.
Scottrade does not charge setup, inactivity or annual maintenance fees. Applicable transaction fees still apply.
Scottrade does not provide tax advice. The material provided is for informational purposes only. Please consult your tax or legal advisor for questions concerning your personal tax or financial situation.
Any specific securities, or types of securities, used as examples are for demonstration purposes only. None of the information provided should be considered a recommendation or solicitation to invest in, or liquidate, a particular security or type of security.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, charges, expense, and unique risk profile of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) before investing. A prospectus contains this and other information about the fund and may be obtained online or by contacting Scottrade. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing.
Leveraged and inverse ETFs may not be suitable for all investors and may increase exposure to volatility through the use of leverage, short sales of securities, derivatives and other complex investment strategies. These funds’ performance will likely be significantly different than their benchmark over periods of more than one day, and their performance over time may in fact trend opposite of their benchmark. Investors should monitor these holdings, consistent with their strategies, as frequently as daily.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of a mutual fund before investing. A prospectus contains this and other information about the fund and may be obtained online or by contacting Scottrade. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing. No-transaction-fee (NTF) funds are subject to the terms and conditions of the NTF funds program. Scottrade is compensated by the funds participating in the NTF program through recordkeeping, shareholder or SEC 12b-1 fees.
Margin trading involves interest charges and risks, including the potential to lose more than deposited or the need to deposit additional collateral in a falling market. The Margin Disclosure Statement and Agreement (PDF) is available for download, or it is available at one of our branch offices. It contains information on our lending policies, interest charges, and the risks associated with margin accounts.
Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Detailed information on our policies and the risks associated with options can be found in the Scottrade ® Options Application and Agreement. Brokerage Account Agreement. by downloading the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options and Supplements (PDF) from The Options Clearing Corporation, or by requesting a copy by contacting Scottrade. Supporting documentation for any claims will be supplied upon request. Consult with your tax advisor for information on how taxes may affect the outcome of these strategies. Keep in mind, profit will be reduced or loss worsened, as applicable, by the deduction of commissions and fees.
Market volatility, volume and system availability may impact account access and trade execution.
Keep in mind that while diversification may help spread risk, it does not assure a profit, or protect against loss, in a down market.
Scottrade®, the Scottrade® logo and all other trademarks, whether registered or unregistered, are the property of Scottrade, Inc. and its affiliates.
Hyperlinks to third-party websites contain information that may be of interest or use to the reader. Third-party websites, research and tools are from sources deemed reliable. Scottrade does not guarantee accuracy or completeness of the information and makes no assurances with respect to results to be obtained from their use.
© 2016 Scottrade, Inc. All rights reserved.
Small Business Resources
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Here at Webs, we are passionate about small business marketing. And while Webs family of products offers the tools small business owners need for great online marketing, we know that sometimes tools alone are not enough. Sometimes, you also need the instructions.
That s why we created the Webs Small Business Resource Center, where you will find informative articles to help your small business succeed from branding advice to website tips to infographics. We also have advice for various small business types, to address their specific marketing challenges. We hope you ll find this information helpful, and best of luck with your small business!
Marketing a Small Business
You’ve started a small business, and now you need to tell the world! Whether you need advice on email marketing, branding, or social media strategy, you’ll find it here.
Running a Small Business
Running a small business can be incredibly rewarding it can also be tricky. Here you’ll find tips on running a business, some helpful infographics, and more.
Small Business Websites
These days, a small business website is an essential for success. Check out some example websites, get tips for making your own, and learn about strategies like SEO.
Small Business Types
Every small business type has its own specific set of rewards and challenges. Here you ll find tailored advice for industries from art to real estate and more.
#small business ideas
10 Google Tricks for Taking Your Local Business Digital
By Kim Zimmermann, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor February 29, 2012 07:21 pm EST
Google may be a global search giant, but there are lots of ways to leverage the power of search to promote your small business to local customers. If you haven t yet embraced digital marketing for your local business, Google is a good place to start.
Consumers increased reliance on social media and online research to make purchasing decisions is helping drive the value of using Google to promote small companies. Yet, many companies still don t even have a website. In fact, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of businesses do not yet have a website, Frederick Vallaeys, Google s AdWords evangelist. told BusinessNewsDaily.
Google Places is a good place to plant your flag, he said. These are free directory pages for local businesses; there are 50 million Type in your business name in Google, he said. If a Google Places page exists, it will show up in the results.
When you re ready to invest in advertising, you can take advantage of Google s AdWords. This is self-service, keyword-based advertising that works on a cost-per-click basis. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and comes to your site.
Learn with Google can help business owners get acquainted with Google s business side. Entrepreneurs can check out free video courses, read how-to guides and follow worksheets to promote their businesses online.
Here is a brief overview of Google tools that will help you get your business going in the digital direction.
Since many small-business owners don t have a lot of time or advertising agencies at the ready, this is a quick and simple solution. Business owners provide some basic information and Google creates their ad.
Google will also manage your ad, pushing it to the right people whether they re searching on laptops or mobile devices.
Google+ Your Business
Facebook has become an unstoppable marketing force for many businesses, and Google has its own version.
You can share links, photos and promotions with the right customers at the right times.
The posts can be public so people can find them using search, or you can use the Circles feature to tailor specific messages to specific followers. You can even initiate live video chats with potential customers who want to dig deeper.
You need to know that your marketing efforts are not being wasted, and Google Analytics can measure your success. You don t need an army of analysts or even an enterprise to use this enterprise-worthy tool.
The free system allows business owners to track sales and conversions and measure your site engagement goals against thresholds. Once you know who is coming to your site and what they re looking for, you can write more highly targeted ads and strengthen your marketing initiatives.
Customers are still driven by deals and Google Offers matches your business with relevant customers in your area looking for discounts.
Customers prepay for these targeted discounts and small-business owners are paid a few days after the offer runs.
While Google can drive customers to your business, it can also be a money maker.
Small-business owners can add custom search engines to their site and earn cash from ads on the search results pages.
With AdSense, entrepreneurs can also display ads that match their audience s interests on their website and earn from valid clicks or impressions.
Google Keyword Tool
It is all about the keyword, and it is important to select the right ones to attract the right customers to your business. This feature enables you to test-drive keyword ideas using any combination of keywords, a URL and categories.
Users can compare statistics for your keywords with one or more match types at the same time.
The mobile search component provides data by search volume and competition types.
Once you perfect your keywords, you want to know how much your campaign will cost.
Business owners will get a report on average estimated cost per click, total estimated clicks and total estimate costs for each keyword.
Word spreads on the Web like wildfire, and Google s +1 button makes it easier for customers to share their experiences about your business.
The +1 button that connects Google+ makes it easier for your customers to start conversation with their circles while also providing timely recommendations. In addition, +1 annotations on Google search help bring these recommendations to users who are searching for your products and services.
There are Google Search, Display and YouTube ads, but mobile is becoming a prime methods for targeting consumers at the point of decision.
It is also important that your website displays well on an array of mobile devices. Using howtogomo.com, business owners can see how their site looks on a mobile device and get customized recommendations for creating a mobile-friendly experience.
Google Apps for Business
Communicating with customers and potential customers is key to your business, but it is not always easy without tech support.
Google offers a suite of online tools that are ready for business, including email, a calendar and documents.
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#small business startup
Essential Small Business Financial Tools: Free Startup Budget Template and Guide
Creating a startup budget is one of the most important tasks a new business owner will undertake. A startup budget serves as a roadmap for the business. It can help you understand where the business is going and whether you’re on the right path. The cost of starting a company varies widely, so it is critical to create an accurate and realistic startup budget specifically tailored to your business.
There are many reasons to create a startup budget. The main reasons are to figure out how much money you have, how much you will spend, and how much revenue you will need to meet your business goals. A startup budget is usually a key component of your business plan and is useful when applying for a loan or pitching to investors. It explains how your business will spend its resources to reach its goals.
Business owners should always refer to their budget before making important business expenditures. This helps to make sure they can afford to spend the money. Decisions such as purchasing new machinery or whether to expand operations should only be made after checking to make sure it fits into your budget. You can adjust your budget as needed over time, but make sure to stick to those changes.
Determining a business startup costs is critical to ensure enough cash is available to begin business operations on time and within the allotted budget. A startup budget usually covers the period leading up to the commencement of operations. It should only include costs that are necessary to start the business. Use this budget to be on the lookout for areas where you can save money .
Startup costs typically fall within two categories: monthly costs and one-time costs.
Monthly costs cover expenses that are incurred each month on a recurring basis. such as employee salaries, lease payments and utilities. One-time costs are expenses that are incurred only once during the startup period. Examples of one-time costs include the purchase of a building, computer equipment and consultant fees.
This startup budget template can be downloaded and used for any type of business. It should be customized to include the specific cost items that apply to the company.
To fill out this spreadsheet, determine the number of months the startup period will cover. Next, enter the applicable costs into their respective cells. The total amounts will automatically populate based on the embedded formulas. Once completed, you will be able to view an itemized list of your business’ startup costs. An example startup budget is also included to help guide you through the process.
Starting a business can be difficult and overwhelming. By taking the time to create an accurate startup budget now, you can give your business the best chance of succeeding in the future.
25 Best Business Software Tools and Web Services
Anyone who says their business “runs itself” probably owes a great debt of gratitude to a small army of software applications and Web services that tirelessly feeds the machine from behind the scenes. From creating and storing documents and staying on top of e-mail to keeping the books and getting teams working together, it takes a lot of code to run a business, or at least to run it well. But setting up your company isn’t as easy as just fishing apps out of a barrel. You want the best you can get, and at a price that isn’t through the roof.
With capability and frugality firmly in mind, we rounded up 25 of our favorite software tools and Web services that we deem the best for powering small and medium-size businesses. Of course, not every business needs every type of program or service, but if your small business could use some help in any of the categories below, our list will give you a pretty good shot at picking a winner.
The flowchart-based accounting of QuickBooks is as close to a standard in financial management as the small-business world has, and it’s arguably the easiest way for nonprofessionals to transfer their books from the filing cabinet to the computer, where they belong. Most actions, from cutting a check to billing a client, are just a click or two away from the start screen. ($200)
Backup and Recovery
You can (and should) regularly back up files to an external hard drive or NAS (network-attached storage) device in your office–but what if the whole place goes up in smoke? Hedge your bet with an online backup service like Mozy, which automatically archives whatever you’d like across the Internet, safe and sound. Just select what you want backed up, and Mozy does the rest, either in bulk while you sleep, or in real time, as files are changed. ($5 per month for unlimited service)
If your business still doesn’t have a blog–one of the best ways around to provide up-to-date company and product news–you’re only about three years behind the curve. Hey, it’s not too late to catch up: WordPress installs in minutes (it even offers a free, hosted option on WordPress.com), and the platform is dazzlingly easy to use (the site’s home page carries an ad for WordPress for Dummies. but we doubt you’ll need to crack that volume). WordPress so simple, your team will be begging to contribute to the blog instead of whining that it’s too laborious. (free)
Mozilla’s Thunderbird (our e-mail pick; see that category below) lacks a calendar, so most business users rely on the equally free Sunbird for scheduling. It’s a very straightforward application, with day, week, and month views, and even a publishing feature to enable sending your calendar to a Web site, should you wish to make it public. Get the Lightning plug-in to integrate Sunbird directly with Thunderbird. (free)
With Vyew, anyone can host an Internet session that lets scattered colleagues work together on a project in real time. This Web conferencing platform gives you a very simple whiteboard where you can upload documents for discussion, share your desktop, or create designs from scratch. You don’t even have to register to use Vyew, but if you do, you get access to VoIP and other audio services. (free for up to 20 live participants; additional services extra)
If your team members all have Google accounts (and why wouldn’t they?), sharing files and collaborating on them simultaneously and in real-time is a snap with Google Docs. A word processor and spreadsheet are your only choices–no free-form whiteboarding here–but the service is free and easy as pie to operate. Upgrading to the Premier Edition brings extra space (a 25GB limit versus 7GB for free) and a conference-room scheduling system. (Standard Edition is free)
Customer relationship management isn’t just for the Fortune 500. Even one-person shops can benefit from a more ordered approach to managing the sales process, tracking leads, and ensuring that follow-ups are done in a timely fashion. Salesforce.com requires some training and patience due to its vastness, but its exhaustive feature set and affordable pricing options make it a business must-have. ($8.25 to $250 per user per month)
25 Best Business Software Tools and Web.