Software essentials to better run your business

There are so many different software options out there nowadays that one of them is bound to be almost right for you. Many now are cloud-based, translating into lower upfront costs, and painless, vendor-managed updates. A few dozens of them are very well tailored for businesses with limited technical skills or financial resources, yet essential to improve the business and its bottom line.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list but, hopefully, it’s just what you need. We cover a few “products” to make your life easier, and also “services” to help streamlining your business.

Cloud-Mobility--power-for-smbsThe sky is the limit

By 2014, internet access on mobile devices will surpass computer access, so now would be a good time to leverage the cloud and the many softwares available. OnlineGivingStudy.org

Clutter free your files

Store virtually anything with the security of up to date backups automatically

If you are looking for online backup and cloud storage, there a numerous options available. Features range from automated file syncronisation between multiple devices, file sharing (read-only) and collaboration (read+write).

All allow to access your information anywhere and from any device and all that is required is an active internet connection.

When it comes to costs, most have a free tier you can benefit, which would be limited in storage capacity and other features, but sufficient for you to review and evaluate the product.

If you are ready to look at options, check out SugarSync, DropBox, Google Drive and Box which are just a few to get you started.

Helping you brand yourself

DIY marketing and design services to help move your brand forward

For a startup, it’s critical. For an establish business, it’s just as important. You need some basic but good marketing material. Having the greatest business model is the start. Making it easy to understand and supported by an engaging logo, professional business cards and appealing brochures is the key.

This is where 99designs, DesignCrowd and CrowdSpring might help. Just post a brief to describe your project and wait for the designs to come your way. You’ll be able to revise, provide feedback and select the one you like the most.

Also, Lyndal also posted on DIY online marketing you might want to read.

Time to cut your phone’s cord

Worldwide video and voice via VoIP communications are simple and cheap

With broadband and mobile connections galore, a landline is not as necessary as it used to be. VoIP or voice over IP calls are normally cheaper than the conventional rates and many include a dial-in option providing you with a local phone number to most country. Think about it, your UK contact calls a UK number, and your computer (or mobile phone..!) in Melbourne rings..

Everyone knows Skype but you should also look into Voxox and VoipVoip. Google Voice (and now “hangout” – see below) and vBuzzer are also alternatives. Most are free or cheap and will follow you everywhere you go (the office number rings at home, or vice versa!)

Traveling without the jet-lag

No matter what the physical distance is you’re always close with video conferencing.

Face to face meetings are not always convenient or even possible if you deal with people from other states or even overseas. Thanks to many solutions, you can now talk and see your peers with little software or cost (if not free!).

While Skype dominates the market once more, another interesting app is Viber. It has good quality HD voice and video calls. Google recently launched Hangout as a lightweight alternative, while GoToMeeting, WebEx and cheaper alternative Mikogo are known for handling a much larger audience (in other words, more than one-on-one).

The last thing you need is to get the meeting times right, throughout many timezones with this nifty world clock meeting planner.

Virtual beans counting, although counting the real beans!

Save money with online accountant services

Accounting costs. Literally. Even if it’s just bookkeeping and tax statements it can sum up to sums startups can struggle with. Many solutions now try and take care of this for you, and also hold your hand tightly when it comes to setting your books right. Xero has been reviewed and mentioned in many publications, and FreshBooks is right behind, or ahead, depending who you talk to. Australian MYOB is also known worldwide by now and has a serious cloud-based offering too.

Appointments as point and click

Let your customers self-schedule their own appointments and stop juggling time slots

When booking services, we all hate waiting in line for an agent to pick up our call just as as much as getting a busy tone on the other side of the line. This frustration can make you lose customers who are unwilling to wait.

Many “self-scheduling” software like Full Slate will let your clients book their own appointments at any time and it’s especially useful to businesses where not all members can undertake the same tasks. Appointy is a solid alternative and uses Google Calendar to manage appointments in real-time.

Employ the right solution

Focus on your own talents instead of struggling with HR management

Getting the right person for the job is crucial when there is either a few, or too many staff in your business. Many software exist to streamline certain tasks and sometimes, entire department. Human Resources being one example.

TribeHR provides many options such as vacation/leave tracking, employee development, notes and feedback, shared resources, internal job postings and all with reporting capabilities. BambooHR adds training time tracking and benefit tracking also.

Have you used any of those, or others?

Do you know any ground-breaking app we missed? Are you currently using any of these apps or others that might be worth a mention? Are you thinking of changing to the cloud and don’t know where to started? Leave us a comment below or just go ahead and contact us!

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Written by

Analytical by nature, Mora is always on the lookout for new tech trends and releases. Bridging the gap between IT and businesses is how this avid reader enjoys the best of both worlds. Her curiosity and dedication have earned her the EmpireOne's Business Systems Analyst role.