Managing even the smallest of businesses can be challenging, but luckily there is no shortage of IT applications designed to make things easier in terms of organization, planning, finances, and dealing with customers.
Many of the most popular services are cloud-based meaning they are easy to employ (no need to install software on several workstations), and accessible from any device and location. As you pay as you go and are charged only for the number of users that need access, these services are often easier on the budget than investing thousands dollars in traditional software.
1. G Suite
G Suite is one of the most comprehensive tools for businesses around, comprising of a full suite of tools for document creation, file storage, collaboration, communication and collaboration.
G Suite tools include:
- Gmail – user friendly web or app-based email client with customizable domain
- Hangouts – HD video chat with built-in screen sharing for up to 25 people
- Calendar – online team-friendly calendars that integrate with other Google tools
- Google+ – a social platform for sharing knowledge and ideas
- Drive – cloud file storage with local syncing
- Docs – word processing with collaboration features
- Sheets – online spreadsheets
- Forms – easy to create forms and surveys
- Slides – browser-based presentation creation
- Sites – easy to use website builder
- Admin – fully featured administration panel for managing users and devices
- Vault – archive for email and chats costing an additional $5 per user per month
- Mobile – mobile device management for employees.
A Business account with access to all tools and unlimited storage and file archiving costs $10 per user per month.
If your business is using G Suite for file creation and storage, an additional cloud-to-cloud backup service like Spinbackup is also recommended. Google Drive provides a limited recovery option for restoring deleted files and Vault for recovering emails, but a more comprehensive backup service offers advanced backup and restore options from any point in time and for individual users as required.
Spinbackup also offers a cybersecurity service to identify risks to data and prevent potential data leaks through monitoring of suspicious apps and user activity, with automated blocking features.
Evernote is an online note taking app, ideal for research, brainstorming, planning, and archiving articles for later reading. It integrates with several browsers to allow “clipping” of text and images and has comprehensive search functionality.
Evernote business costs $12 per user, per month and adds additional functionality for team projects and collaboration.
Basecamp is a project management tool, designed for teams. The idea is to keep ideas and communication in one place instead of scattered through email conversations and various files.
Included in Basecamp is a message board for team communication, to-do list with actions that can be assigned to different team members, a schedule for important dates and deadlines, and a file repository. There’s also an automatic check-ins feature that allows everyone in the company to see what everyone else is working on.
Basecamp costs $99 per month or $1,000 per year, for unlimited users.
Trello is another project management tool that allows an at-a-glance view of every project, organised into “cards” that can have comments, file attachments, check lists, labels, and due dates.
Trello personal accounts are free. Business accounts have added security and features such as app integrations and team overview. Business accounts cost $10 per user, per month.
Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard that allows businesses to manage up to 50 social media profiles (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+) from one place. Content can be scheduled for auto-posting and analytics are available with business accounts.
Pricing ranges from $9.99 per month for a professional account, to $99.99 per user, per month for business accounts.
FreshBooks is cloud accounting and invoicing software, designed for freelancers and small businesses. The system includes easy time and expenses tracking, customized invoice creation, project collaboration features, integrated online payments and financial reporting.
Accounts start from $5 per month for up to 5 clients to $50 per month for up to 500 clients.
If you’re regularly sending out emails to clients, customers, and others on your mailing list, it’s worth investing in an email marketing platform like Mailchimp to easily manage your lists and campaigns.
MailChimp makes it easy to create branded newsletters, with advanced analytics for monitoring open and click-through rates. Integration with many other apps and services such as WordPress, Facebook, and Google, makes it easy to create sign-up forms, and sync data.
Free accounts are available for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. There are a range of pricing options starting from $20 per month for unlimited emails, depending on the number of subscribers you have.
Zendesk is a customer support platform with features such as knowledge base, live chat, and ticketed support system. Multichannel support allows businesses to connect with their customers via email, social networks, live chat, telephone, text, or messaging apps.
Zendesk pricing starts from $5 per agent, per month, up to $199 per agent, per month, for the most advanced functionality.
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