The best part about doing business today is that this era rocks. Now is simply the best time for you to start a business – not so much because of the state of economy, or for the fantasy that almost everyone seems to have enough disposable income to buy what you have to sell.
It’s because technology is at its best right now and every entrepreneur – no matter how small the business is – can look and feel just as big as any of the business behemoths out there.
Given the quantum of information available and the incredible power of the medium that the Internet is, you’ve got to spend a lot of time just to come up with excuses for not using what you have at your disposal. If you are looking for some really awesome tools for your business, here’s a list you could bookmark:
We have seen a lot of CRM solutions already. We’ve probably used them all. Nothing, however, works like Base CRM does.
Now, Base CRM isn’t as fancy as Salesforce.com or SugarCRM. In fact, Base CRM is probably the simplest (and yet, most efficient) CRM on the market. It has just the right tools for you to use. It allows you to integrate documents pertaining to different customers. It also allows you make calls. You can create quotes on the fly, forecast your sales, and view awesome-looking reports on sales and performance (by person or source of lead).
The new Base CRM edition (including the iOS7 upgrade) also has Geolocation and integration with accounting systems such as Xero.com.
For any small business owner, Base CRM is a must have. Go get it.
HootSuite isn’t new now. But it’s an incredibly useful tool that can single-handedly turn your social media efforts into an organized, calculated, and smart endeavor.
Use HootSuite to keep track of all your social media accounts, respond to comments across accounts, and schedule (you do know you should schedule your updates, don’t you?) your social posts one piece at a time or in bulk. You can also manage multiple businesses or brands – each with its own set of social media profiles – just as easily and effortlessly as you would for a single business.
One of the biggest gripes for any social media enthusiast, salesperson, business owner, or social media professional is the amount of time that drains away on social media – for nothing. Don’t let that happen to you. For about $10 a month that HootSuite charges, you’ll more than make up for that monthly fee in number of hours saved.
I know you've seen Evernote being listed in almost every list like this one here but there’s a reason why Evernote for Business is awesome – it changes the way you note things down, keep track of content you surf on the web, helps you track resources, save stuff on the web, store important receipts, and much more.
Evernote can also be used as a central repository for your documentation or serve as your company’s knowledge-base. It makes collaboration and documentation a seemingly simple affair, thereby speeding up the process of decision-making.
For instance, if you were in the website-launch phase, looking at hosting provider reviews and comparing them on a site like Who Is Hosting This, you could use Evernote Web Clipper, clip the comparisons, reviews, hosting information of major sites, and have your programmers and IT admins peruse them to make the decision. This is also a great tool for content marketers: you can collect precious information on a particular subject from all over the web and have your staff writers or freelancers compile an eBook or a large blog post based on it.
Evernote for business changes the way you use the web, run your business, collaborate with your staff, and communicate with everyone else in your verticals.
It sits on a tab on your computer and your brain can fit right into it. Once you shift your brain to Workflowy, maybe you can use your head for better things – like developing a strategy for your business, making deals, selling more, and expanding into other markets. Workflowy is a note-taking app, which looks a bit like a simplistic to-do list. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though. It helps you launch your mind on a web-browser and you can just keep making changes to your to-do list.
You can dream, brainstorm, complete projects, execute work, enhance your productivity, and much more.
Dropbox and Google Drive
I combined these two tools because I couldn’t single one out for its innovation, clarity or ease of use. Use Dropbox and Google Drive as you like, but the point is this: never before in history was saving and backing up your important documents so easy and effortless.
Copy is one new entrant that has gone one-up on Dropbox – as opposed to a paltry 2 GB on Dropbox, Copy gives users an astounding 15 GB of free space. What’s more, for each user that you refer, you get an additional 5 GB with no upper limits, unlike Dropbox which caps out at 500 MB and 16 GB respectively.
Copy and Dropbox just help you to store, share, and read documents on the web, but Google Drive also has its own suite of tools to create documents and spreadsheets on the go, from desktops and mobile devices alike.
Of course, you can share, read, and collaborate with Google Drive too. If you use Google Apps, Google Drive almost becomes a part of your workflow with spreadsheets, presentations, documents, and even mind maps being shared and worked on.
This one is a clever window to a universe of apps from Google. The landscape consists of web-based apps such as GMail, Calendar, Tasks, Mavenlink, Xero, Google Vault, Analytics, AdWords, AdSense, Blogs, Picasa, Google Places, and countless others. Google has really come a long way to establish itself as a go-to resource for SMBs. No one company has so many products in a suite to offer to organizations.
It isn’t just the small businesses; there are plenty of large companies that deploy Google Apps.
What are your favorite tools? Did any of them change the way you fundamentally approach work?