Are you a small business that wants to gain an edge, save money and stay current with today's internet world? Then read on. I've identified 4 different tools that are hot and trending up. I've used four of these tools with my business; with great results and some nifty cost savings.
Nobody can deny that the Internet has changed the world. Aren't we fortunate? Everything in the world is changing for the better, thanks to the Internet and technology that give us clever applications and cloud-based solutions. This is especially true for the small business owner.
We are living in the Global Village coined in the 1950s by Marshall McLuhan. More and more people join the global village everyday. Approximately one out of every three persons in the world already is inside the global village, and one out of every seven persons in the world is inside the social web.
Below is a snapshot of 10 of the top 20 Internet countries.
Tools or Apps for the Small Business That Can Save Money (and Time!)
After thinking about our quickly expanding (and CONNECTED!) world enabled by the Internet - I easily came up with my hit list for 4 must use tools.
How cool is it to not worry about sharing documents, slides, and large files easily with colleagues and clients? The cloud-based platform is Dropbox. And, get this, its easy to set up and its free for under 2GB of space and $99 - $199/yr for 50 to 100GB of file space. Teams of 5 can get 1 TB of space for only $795.
Collaborate across the hall or around the globe. There's a nifty FREE app for smartphones tool; Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. This tool works even when you're not online. However, it can't synchronize files when working on them simultaneously.
Bottom line: Dropbox' claim to "simplify your life" is true. Get this cloud-based, service that's ideal for working with files you can store in a single folder. It beats iCloud - Apple's version - for now (let's see what Google rolls out to compete!)
2. Quickbooks Online
Here's another cloud-based beauty. It is an accounting service that rocks. Forget the desktop, or the remote-desktop dial-in version - go with Intuit's QuickBooks Online product. It is targeted at mobile professionals, small businesses and others needing access to their financial data anytime.
There's no software to install and very little management required. I am surprised at how straightforward QuickBooks Online was to setup, learn and use. There's a lot more to the product for those with in-depth bookkeeping knowledge. One account is $13/mo. while multiple user accounts range from $27 - $40/mo.
Bottom line: Most small businesses with be most satisfied with the Essential version since it includes automated invoicing and you can directly update from a QuickBooks software version. However, to apply expenses to a customer or to integrate with cool tool #4 Mavenlink (see below), Plus is the best QuickBooks Online solution for you.
The company HubSpot is going to make a huge dent in the world. It is already making inbound marketing popular and achievable. This fast-growing software company is truly an all-in-one marketing tool for businesses that want to generate leads and continually improve their market positioning. The price is competitive with similar offerings and the feature set is expansive. The interface is pretty easy to use and HubSpot integrates with a lot of third party applications.
At 98toGo we use it and we require it for all of our clients. It is a best in class tool for putting content onto your business website and for measuring the impact of your internet marketing efforts. It stands out on these qualities:
Price - from $200/mo. for Basic to approx. $1,400/mo. Enterprise
Customer Service - top notch, patient. 9a-6p.
Variety of Features - To help market businesses smartly
Ease of Use - Even I can use it
Customization - lots of apps and integrations
Want a project management tool that is fairly simple, intuitive, Facebook-like in its approach to help you organize projects? Try or buy Mavenlink, especially if SalesForce or Basecamp is too expensive. We use this solution to help manage our various marketing clients in real-time. It helps us communicate to each other and to the client while sharing ideas and tracking tasks quite well.
This nifty low cost tool (annually for less than $900) also features file sharing on a private and secure cloud, Google Apps integration, and email integration. Mavenlink provides the benefits of an online centralized workspace, without causing extra work.
Bottom line: Manage unlimited projects, reduce administrative work, and synchronize QuickBooks with Mavenlink’s intuitive online project collaboration tool.
For more on business apps and what's trending up - check out this nifty infographic from the excellent business blog at Mavenlink: