Must Haves Apps and Solutions for Small Businesses
Below is a list of some web technology apps for your business. Be more presentable and be more efficient. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Do you need a website? Then choose the most brilliant software script ever created: WordPress. It is what we use to design all our sites. Read our blog about why you should use WordPress here. It is smart, flexible, fun to use, efficient, and so much more. Click here to see some key features that make WordPress “on par or better than any other software of its kind.”
If you need a website, you have to have hosting. We highly recommend InMotion Hosting (we use them). A few reasons why we love these guys: great value and reliable hosting with 99.9% uptime, 24/7 support, great customer service, and so much more. With our partnership, ShiftWeb is able to pass down a special 30% savings with InMotion Hosting!
3. Google Apps
If you’re not using Google Apps to help you stay organized for your business (or personal life), then it is time to start looking into it. Stop wasting your time and money on Outlook and switch over to something smarter and better. Some great features from Google Apps:
Gmail: Gmail is smart, efficient, and fast. I haven’t erased an e-mail since I first opened my account in 2005. I can find any e-mail in just a few seconds. I swear Gmail has helped me organize my life tremendously.
Documents: Google Docs has come a long way since it was first introduced. It is now Google Drive, but you can still share online documents, presentations, and spreadsheets securely. Get 1TB of space for only $5! If you are looking for a Dropbox alternative, Google Drive is great.
Calendar: I have about 6 different calendars that are color coded for easy viewing. I couldn’t be happy with any other calendar I’ve used. It syncs beautifully to my iPhone. Utilizing the task lists is very handy as well. Check off your to do list with Google!
Google Voice: Get a new phone number! Google Voice allows users to create one phone number so it will ring anywhere. It also transcribes voice messages into email. You can forward the new number to any phone you wish. This is perfect if you want to create a business number without sharing your cell phone number.
Hangout: Forget Skype! Hangout or chat through video with anyone in the world.
There are more features Google has to offer with Google Apps. Take a look, start using it, and let it help you get organized.
4. Dropbox or Google Drive
Cloud storage isn’t just good for backing up your files, but you can sync your files online and across your computer automatically! For example, I used to work with a team of 4 people, and we all share the same files. Each of us had Dropbox installed in our computers. If one of us were to make a change/addition to a file, the file automatically got updated to everyone’s computers.
I use Dropbox and Google Drive for personal use as well. I have my files synced to my Macbook and iMac so it doesn’t matter where I go, I have all my files with me. I can go on any computer and access my encrypted files online. I can also easily access my files on my phone with the free app.
Forget the external hard drive! No need to think about backing up regularly, let Dropbox or Google Drive do it for you without you thinking about it!
I use Freshbooks for invoicing and tracking my web design projects. I’ve tried out a few different systems, and this is hands down my favorite. Freshbooks is really easy to use, and it saves me a lot of time. It actually makes it fun for me to manage my business! I can track and report my time on projects. I can keep track of my expenses. I can even provide log-ins for clients so they can see their invoices. Freshbooks also integrates with a lot of third party services to allow better workflow for your business.
6. Logo Tournament
Forget trying to find one person to help you with a professional logo for your business. For $275-600 (your choice) you can submit a contest on Logo Tournament and end up with 50 to 200+ professional logos to choose from! ShiftWeb’s logo was conceived from Logo Tournament and we recommend all our clients who haven’t developed branding to use them too. You get a great number of designers who want to win your business so you have a good variety of creativity to choose from. Stop using a clip art image for your branding and look more professional with a beautiful logo!
Aside from their stupid name and advertisements, I recommend Godaddy for everyone who needs a domain name. But I DO NOT recommend them for hosting. I haven’t had the best experience with Godaddy hosting. I buy all my domains using Godaddy because it’s cheap and they make it very easy to manage.
When you buy a domain name using Godaddy, you can always find a coupon online. Just Google “godaddy coupons” and you shouldn’t be paying more than $10 for a domain name.
Are you still keeping your passwords in an excel sheet? It’s time to take a step up on security and efficiency in accessing your passwords. Passpack is an easy and FREE way to keep your passwords secure online so you can access them anywhere and anytime you need them. Passpack is also great for teams and passwords that need to be shared. “Passpack has all the security your bank does – and more.” Access your passwords even when you’re not online with “Passpack Desktop” and access on your mobile phone with their web app.
We’ve tried other e-mail campaign solutions in the past, but we kept coming back to MailChimp. There are TONS of reasons MailChimp is a good solution for individuals or businesses looking to send e-mail newsletters. Not only is it FREE, but it’s easy and fun to use, you can share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, track your results, and get top notch support. They also provide great guides and resources for free! Try them out, you won’t be disappointed.
10. Kickstarter or IndieGoGo
If you are creative or own a small business in the creative industry, Kickstarter is perfect for you if you are looking for funding. Mashable wrote an article about why Kickstarter could be better than government grants for artists. “Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.” If you have an idea, Kickstarter makes it highly possible to make your creativity come alive.
This is very similar to Kickstarter. I love that it is so easy for people like you and me to raise money for our passion. “Everyone should have the opportunity to raise money. Now everyone does. People all over the world use our industry-leading platform to raise millions of dollars for all types of campaigns. No matter what you are raising money for, you can start right now with no fee or application process.”
11. 37 Signals
If you run a business with a team of people, 37 Signals might be perfect for you. They “make collaboration productive and enjoyable for people every day”. Millions of people use their services to help their business run smoother and more efficiently. With Basecamp, you can manage your projects. With Highrise, you can manage your contacts. With Backpack ,you can simplify internal communications. With Campfire, you can create group chat rooms for your business. The only downfall of 37 Signals (in my opinion) is that it is a bit too expensive. If you run a midsize to big company, then it may very well be worth you money though.
12. Capsule CRM
While Capsule has some things they can improve on, I still choose this CRM system over many other popular ones out there. I’ve done a ton of research in the past before I chose this solution for my business. One of the biggest reasons for choosing Capsule is the interface. Nothing is more annoying when you don’t like what you’re looking at when you’re trying to manage your database of projects and contacts. Capsule is simple, but powerful. You can customize it to fit the needs of your business, it’s not just for one type of business. The system works great for a team. It is also reasonably priced! You can try it out for free, and there is no contract, cancel anytime!
I haven’t used UserVoice for my own personal use, but I have seen companies use them for their business. “UserVoice empowers your customers to submit, discuss, and vote on feedback for your product or organization.” Customers can easily submit and discuss ideas. The best ideas are delivered to you based on customer votes, that way you know what to work on for your next update!
Using UserVoice is a great way to listen to your customers. It’s fun for your customers who give feedback. It’s makes them feel like you’re listening (because with this system you most likely are). I’m just speaking from experience as a consumer who has given feedback through UserVoice.
Instead of putting Facebook and Twitter here on the list, I’m going to assume you already have an account. Instead, I’ll recommend TweetDeck.
TweetDeck is an app that brings more flexibility and insight to power social media users. You can manage all your Facebook fan pages and (multiple) Twitter accounts in one place. Too bad they don’t have it set up for Google + yet because that would be huge! You can arrange and filter your feeds, schedule your tweets, and monitor/manage unlimited accounts. I’ve tried other solutions before, and so far this is my favorite choice. TweetDeck isn’t perfect, but it’s so much better than HootSuite. You have the option of using it on your Chrome browser or through a downloading desktop app.
Do you need to build online web forms? Wufoo is a great solution. We provide Wufoo forms for all of our clients, but for those who would like to manage forms on their own, they have a free solution that could perhaps fit your needs. Here is more info in a nutshell from their site: “Wufoo is an Internet application that helps anybody build amazing online forms. When you design a form with Wufoo, it automatically builds the database, backend and scripts needed to make collecting and understanding your data easy, fast and fun. Because we host everything, all you need is a browser, an Internet connection and a few minutes to build a form and start using it right away.”
ShiftWeb has yet to try this, but we are excited to get started. We will update our experience on using Legal Zoom as soon as we use them. Here is more information from their site: “Our founding vision was for an easy-to-use, online service that helped people create their own legal documents. We brought together some of the best minds in the legal and technological fields to make this vision a reality. The result is LegalZoom, the nation’s leading online legal document service.”