Running a small business isn’t easy. And when you’re limited to just one or two people managing the entire thing, cloud-based tools are the perfect solution to increase productivity and improve efficiency. Tools are available to cover the major areas of business operations, and can scale to grow as your business does. Run your business with tools similar to what enterprises use, at a price that won’t break the bank.
Contact Relationship Management (CRM)
Using a CRM tool like Insightly makes managing client relationships and projects much simpler. Keep track of where all of your customers are in the sales and marketing funnel, send all leads to a central location, assign tasks, identify sales opportunities, and more. Plans start at free and go up with usage and features.
QuickBooks Online® lets you manage all your accounting without the hassle of software licensing on your desktop, with plans starting at $10.36 per month. Access it from anywhere there’s an Internet connection, so you never have to worry about forgetting to reconcile your receipts again. Plus, as an added bonus, it integrates with a number of tools, including PayPal™ and FreshBooks.
Due offers online invoicing and time tracking for individuals and teams. It integrates with popular project management software, BaseCamp, and pricing plans start at free.
Office Suite/Document Management
Google Apps for Work™ gives your business access to an outrageous number of tools including: Gmail, Docs, Drive, Sheets, Hangouts, and more…all for $10 per month or less. Get all the features of Gmail with a branded domain email, plus word processing, spreadsheets, video conferencing, file storage, and more.
Dropbox® is an ideal solution for businesses that need file sharing/collaboration, and file backup protection. With free and paid plans up to $15 per user per month, you can choose the storage space that best fits your needs, and upgrade at any time. With free automation tools like IFTTT (If This, Then That) and Zapier (free for 5 zaps, premium prices depend on number of additional tasks), you can even set email attachments to automatically save to Dropbox, saving you time and protecting your files.
Productivity and Workflow
Hubstaff is a ridiculously cheap project management time tracking tool that’s particularly useful when working with freelancers who telecommute. Once the software is installed on the user’s computer and the project is started, screenshots are taken are random intervals, without disturbing the user. This ensures the freelancer you’ve hired is actually working on your project, and keeps track of time spent. Hourly rates can be set, and manual time can be added. Multiple team members can be managed on a single project, and multiple projects can run at the same time. Various plans determine the number of staff and number of projects that can be active, so you can scale up as necessary. Premium pricing plans max out at $10 per month.
Trello is a free card-based project management/workflow tool. The card-based system allows it to be adapted to any workflow setup, from customer service and support to freelance assignments. Create boards, share boards with various staff members, and collaborate together using cards on the boards.
Email and Email Marketing
Boomerang for Gmail is an extension that allows you to schedule emails. This is great if you have to work strange hours, and want to be sure your email is seen – but don’t want to forget to send the email at a certain time. You can also set reminders for yourself to follow up on important emails, to keep a cleaner inbox. It’s free for a limited account, and goes up from $4.99 per month as you add features.
MailChimp is a free email marketing platform. Create and manage one or more email marketing lists, keep track of who’s opened your emails, etc. Emails can be personalized and automated, and sent at any time. The free-forever plan allows you to send 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers.
Quote Roller is a proposal tool starting at $19 per month that helps automate sales documents. Automate quotes, project proposals, and contracts. Spend time getting all the documents created now, to send them in a matter of minutes later. Follow what happens after you send the documents to clients, and even address their concerns with real-time comments.
For an extra efficiency boost, integrate these tools with your CRM. With a central location for these core areas of business operations, your processes will run smoother, making you more productive in less time. Who says you have to be a corporate giant to look and run like one?