In business, especially a small business where it might just be you running things, we strive for streamlining and simplicity as many tasks and processes as possible. The tools we use to get on top are essential. While I can appreciate the robust power of the many computer programs out there that can help organize finances, invoicing, contacts, and other information, most are expensive and have significant learning curves. So how can you find something in the right price range that is easy to use?
Enter an application called SohoOS, which says it is an “all-inclusive business enabler.” That’s a pretty tall statement to make…especially for a program that is free to use. So I decided to take a look and having sorted through it for a solid few days, it actually comes pretty close to what it claims to be, which is no small feat!
SohoOS has many nice features, including:
- Contacts. Your list of clients, vendors, leads, or anyone else that you might want to keep contact info on can easily be added.
- Items. You can specify a service you might offer, or a product you sell, in a simple database set-up.
- Invoicing. Do you use an Excel template to create your invoices? SohoOS will do this as well. If you have contacts already entered, you can easily plug them in. The item(s)/service(s) you offer can easily be added.
- Estimates and Purchase Orders. These are just as simple to generate as invoices are; plug in your contact information, enter the item(s)/service(s), and away you go.
Because the service is free, the SohoOS logo appears on your documents and invoices done through it, but this can be removed. For those looking to add some functionality to things, there are additional services that will cost a little bit of cash each month (from $1.95 to $7.95, with a few features ‘coming soon’ and no rate listed). This includes a time tracking service, a currency converter, extra documentation storage, 24/7 help and support, invoice templates, and other useful items.
SohoOS is not unique in this kind of service, of course. Another product called Freshbooks offers a similarly free product, although it limits you to three clients. However, you get time tracking as part of that (unlike SohoOS), including team timesheets, as well as expense tracking and invoice generation. Further features include tracking of tax payments, profits and losses, and item sales. If you shell out $19.95 a month, you can increase your client list to 25.
PODIO is another product in this vein, but more unique in that it is more of a business/employee collaboration and coordination tool (and looks a lot like Facebook’s format). Project management, employee sharing, CRM, and lead management help get everyone on the same page and in the same direction.
While SohoOS and Freshbooks would be great for small companies, PODIO looks more robust and better-suited for companies with several employees that are not centralized. Overall there are plenty of products to help get even the most basic business off the ground.