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Top 20 Small Biz Productivity Tools

Run your business in the cloud for almost nothing? You bet you can.  Here are my Top 20 small business web-based productivity tools. If you are a consultant or agency or a road warrior, chances are you’ll enjoy some or even all of these great time and money savers. They are all free or less than $20/mo and they had to be dead easy to use or they didn’t make the cut cause most small business people don’t have IT teams.mobile-worker1

  1. CRM - contact and lead tracking, sales and contact management, sales pipeline management and forecasting, customer service and business management. Keep yourself organized! Free version available from www.freecrm.com, from $7/mo at www.sugarcrm.com
  2. Market Research – Google Alerts is a “must-have” clipping service. Set up your favorite key words and www.google.com/alerts finds and delivers articles about any subject of your choosing to your inbox every day. Watch for news and mentions of your own company, your customers and your competitors. Free
  3. Creative Design – Want a design for a new logo, brochure, website or business card? Go to either www.crowdspring.com, or www.99designs.com, upload your requirements, run a contest and pick your favourite. You pick the purse size, I’ve seen contests get dozens of great results for only a few hundred dollars.
  4. Marketing Collateral – Want fast eay printing?  Upload files for brochures, business cards and stationary. These companies, www.overnightprints.com and  www.vistaprint.com, will  print and ship – too easy.  vistaprint.com is also available in Canada at www.vistaprint.ca
  5. Permission-based Marketing – create and send opt-in newsletters, deliver and track blog posts and updates to customers, prospects and colleagues. www.campaigner.com starts at $10/mo, www.constantcontact.com starts at $15/mo
  6. Accounting – track your time and expenses, manage contractors, send and manage your invoices, totally on-line, getting rave reviews. Join the wave at www.freshbooks.com, pricing starts at $15/mo
  7. Conference Calling – when you need to convene a meeting (and look professional doing it), you can get free reservationless conference calling at www.freeconference.com
  8. Remote PC Access – for those times when you need to get to a file on your computer but your computer is in your office and you’re not. www.gotomypc.com starts at $20/mo
  9. Long Distance Calling www.skype.com offers free or very low cost long distance calling (works best with headphones), and it can also do conference calls
  10. Project Management – web-based project management software that marries time tracking and task management in a collaborative online space with powerful reporting.  www.myintervals.com is $20 for up to 15 projects
  11. Taking orders/selling stuff – the dead easy way to accept credit cards on your website, www.paypal.com only charges you when you sell, a transaction fee up to 3% of sale value
  12. Keeping track of it all – make notes on anything on the web or on your computer using www.evernote.com and have these memory joggers available (and searchable) at any time – free
  13. Sending really big fileswww.yousendit.com – for when you need to send a really big file that your customer may not be able to receive otherwise, or when you absolutely need to know a file reached it’s intended recipient – yousendit has a pay as you go option or plans from $10/mo
  14. Virtual Fax – if you deal with Fortune 1000 companies you know how they love their faxes. www.efax.com lets you receive faxes in your email account instead of on a fax machine – way more convenient. You can also send scanned docs as faxes using the same service. Starts at $17/mo
  15. On-line Meetingswww.dimdim.com makes your meeting almost as good as in-person and much less expensive than airfare. Use it to deliver synchronized live presentations, whiteboards and web pages and share their voice and video over the Internet. Free and $20/mo options
  16. Virtual Receptionist – an Internet voicemail system accessible by phone, email, or the web. an auto-attendant that acts as your virtual receptionist. You can create virtual mailboxes for your employees and enjoy voicemail call forwarding, call transfers, call routing, voicemail notifications, and much more…. www.my1voice.com from $10/mo
  17. Transcription – For those people who just hate to type but love to talk, you can record your messaging, upload it to www.speakwrite.com and receive a typed doc back via email in about 3 hours.
  18. Sharing your thoughts – absolutely the best way to publish your powerpoint presentations on the web and share them with others – www.slideshare.com is free
  19. Document sharing and collaboration – my personal favorite, docs.google.com allows you to upload word or excel files and work on them collaboratively with selected people. Takes all the hassle out of emailing docs around for comments. – free
  20. Running an event? Use www.eventbrite.com to create a webpage for your event, accept and manage registrations and even publish who has RSVP’d. Free if your event is free, 2.5% of ticket price for paid events.

Over 60 people from the Marketing Executives Networking Group MENG and my great group of Twitter friends contributed to this list and once we were done there were at least 2 services I hadn’t heard of (but have since tried and enjoyed). How about you? Which ones are new to you? Which ones do you love? Which ones are we missing? If I get enough comments, I’ll do a Part II.

Written by Lynda Partner

June 2nd, 2009 at 11:34 am

With 18 comments

18 Responses to 'Top 20 Small Biz Productivity Tools'

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  1. Linda,
    There’s a new tool we just started to use, it called Timebridge. http://www.timebridge.com

    It’s a calendaring service when you’re trying to offer several dates across several people to try to find the time they can all participate. You set up the choices in Timebridge and the software takes care of it automatically & automatically confirms the meeting when everyone has clicked on their choices. It also offers free conference call services for the meetings & includes mapping software for physical locations.

    I thought it might be a nice add, we have been pleasantly surprised by this free service.

    Very nice article.

    Cheers,
    Ilene
    Principal, Res Partners

    Lynda Partner

    2 Jun 09 at 9:33 pm

  2. Lynda,
    It is a great list but would add http://www.logmein.com for remote PC access – works as well as “Goto” and its free.
    Cheers,
    Bill

    Bill McKenney

    3 Jun 09 at 10:18 am

  3. Since I’m the co-founder, I obviously prefer Smartsheet.com over Evernote for keeping track of it all, especially since I can use it to generate lists with the new crowdsourcing feature. So it’s my list broker, CRM system, project management, doc storage all in one.

    Thanks for sharing – hopefully you’ll try us out and maybe add us if you like what you see!

    Best,
    Maria

    Lynda Partner

    3 Jun 09 at 11:41 am

  4. I prefer vtigerCRM to SugarCRM. Sugar is kindaOpensource and lacks certain features that are purposefully taken out of their free version.
    Posted by Pattabhi Nanduri

    Lynda Partner

    3 Jun 09 at 11:46 am

  5. Just checked Smartsheet.com …
    Is one sheet like one excel spreadsheet which can be shared and updated , of course with lot many features….
    Sounds very Smart concept ….
    Posted by Pattabhi Nanduri

    Lynda Partner

    3 Jun 09 at 12:04 pm

  6. We use Base Camp and Highrise from http://37signals.com/. I would think they should belong in this discussion as well.
    Posted by Joshua Aikens

    Lynda Partner

    3 Jun 09 at 1:51 pm

  7. These services have worked great for us:
    1) Long distance phone service from Telna (http://www.telna.com/) provides very low domestic and international rates over conventional landlines.
    2) Sophisticated virtual PBX services from RingCentral (http://www.ringcentral.com/) supports virtual phone numbers, fax, extensions, etc.
    Both inexpensive and loaded with useful features.
    Thanks, Lynda, for sharing the list!

    Carlos Machado

    3 Jun 09 at 2:23 pm

  8. From Twitter,
    Google Voice continues 2 impress. They Just sent me text version of 2 min vmail & transcription was 95% accurate
    http://www.google.com/voice/about
    Google Voice is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more.

    Lynda Partner

    3 Jun 09 at 2:56 pm

  9. Hi-would like to add Zoho (http://www.zoho.com) to the list. They cover everything from online office productivity apps, to conferencing, collaboration, CRM, project management, invoicing, human resource management, and many others. A lot of their apps are free or priced at less than USD $20/user (ie CRM, project management and invoicing).

    Jan

    3 Jun 09 at 5:40 pm

  10. Have you tried Microsoft Office Live Workspace for document sharing and collaboration? It offers users the ability to create, save, access, and share documents and files online (5 GB of storage for free!) and fully supports the MS Office Suite. There is even a plug-in for MS Office that lets you save your files to your online Workspace directly from whichever Office program you are using. Check it out and let us know what you think!
    Cheers,
    Kate
    MSFT Office Live Outreach
    http://www.officelive.com/

    Kate H

    4 Jun 09 at 1:10 pm

  11. Thanks for listing Intervals as one of your top 20! We are glad to hear you found it a good fit for your business.

    John

    9 Jun 09 at 5:51 pm

  12. Any recommendations for free FTP software?

    Shara

    10 Jun 09 at 10:18 am

  13. Someone just told me about http://www.rebtel.com/ let’s me call Singapore from my cell phone and only be charged for a local call – way cool.

    Lynda Partner

    11 Jun 09 at 11:05 am

  14. Hi Shara
    My network recommends http://filezilla-project.org/ as a free FTP client – let me know what you think
    Lynda

    Lynda Partner

    11 Jun 09 at 2:57 pm

  15. good points. nice posting.

  16. great posting! very helpful

  17. Here is another one for Part 2: http://www.ScreenToaster.com

    Lynda Partner

    14 Oct 09 at 1:46 pm

  18. Linda,
    First of all thanks for doing this (a couple of years ago. Not sure you will even see this). It was great that you put it all together in a short and sweet (just the beef) format.
    FThere is a new tool for small business that is very cool and very cost effective, http://www.wemeus.com
    It combines CRM, Lead Mgt and note taking/ follow up all into one and does a SUPER JOB. It is web based and most of the service is free. Lead mgt there is a small charge but well worth the few dollars.
    One of the things I like best about it is that once I put the reminders/notes in I can forget it. The application will email me my TO DO LIST, per what I set up. CHECK IT OUT!!

    Curt Ward

    4 Jun 11 at 10:05 am

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