December 21, 2014

6 Low Cost Online Management Tools for Your Small Business

online tools

Every small business needs an arsenal of online tools to achieve business success without breaking the bank.  In today’s “freemium” world, many companies offer low-cost or even free online management tools that will help you stay sane and effective as a manager while increasing your productivity.

Best of all, they do the job without putting pressure on your pocketbook.  Below are six of them worth a serious look.

6 Low Cost Online Management Tools

Box

The ability to efficiently share important files such as spreadsheets, documents and presentations with your team, customers and other partners is crucial. Box, a cloud-based file sharing and storage solution, makes it easy to share files without complicating the way you normally work.

Getting started is a snap: Just drag and drop your content from your desktop to Box, even really large files. Be sure to check out the BoxSync download that lets you keep the content on your computer in sync with Box.

As a small business owner, you can enjoy instantaneous file backup, easy file sharing and the ability to access files from multiple computers and mobile devices.

Freshbooks

FreshBooks is all about making accounting fast and simple and was designed specifically around the needs of small business owners. Just add your customers and you can easily generate professional-looking invoices and send them with the click of a button and even accept online payments.

One of the best things about Freshbooks is that although it’s easy to use, it still boasts a lot of really great features that help you stay organized when it comes to your money. Things such as reports, time tracking and expense tracking. Freshbooks is a cloud service, so your data is backed up and accessible from remote locations.

You also can access Freshbooks from all your favorite gadgets, such as your smartphone or tablet.

Insightly

Providing your customers and prospects with world-class service is something you strive for every day because you know how critical it is. Making sure that you and your team stay on the ball and even improve those efforts, especially as you grow, is a different story.

With the right blend of horsepower and ease of use for small business, Insightly’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software can help. It allows you to collect, organize and share important contact information so that you can manage the relationship more successfully and create a better customer experience.

Insightly offers a simple, friendly user-interface, which is a huge plus, both for getting set up quickly and for getting familiar with the system. It integrates tightly with tools such as Gmail and Google Apps, so it will work well with systems you already have in place. With built-in project management tools such as tasks, milestones and notifications, you stay organized and deliver on time. Because the information is centralized, everyone on your team who needs to know what is going on can stay in the loop.

A cloud-based system with anytime, anywhere access, Insightly offers modern features demanded by savvy small businesses, such as smartphone access and social media integration.

MeetingBurner

Meetings and conference calls are an integral part of daily business activity. By introducing Web conferencing tools such as MeetingBurner, you can effectively and cheaply connect with customers and other colleagues who are far away.

Save yourself the expense and time involved in a business trip by using the Web for your next meeting. Simply schedule the meeting from within MeetingBurner, add it to your calendar and then email your participants the instructions provided. MeetingBurner automatically generates a conference call line that participants dial into as well as a website link to click on so they can see whatever you want to share with them from your computer.

MeetingBurner works for both Mac and PC, and will even send everyone reminders about upcoming meetings.

Mail Chimp

Email marketing with newsletters can be a terrific, cost-effective way to engage your customers and Mailchimp helps make it all painless and relatively quick. How do you build your list? What do you do when someone doesn’t want to receive emails anymore? What is the appropriate size when you’re designing an email newsletter? How do you know if people are looking at the emails you send? Mailchimp handles all of that for you – and more.

At its core, it helps you build your list, wrap your message in a pretty package, blast it out and track the results of your campaign.  Other notable features include the ability to segment your mailing list, so you can target your messages according to the different needs of your customers and to integrate with services already in use by small businesses everywhere, such as Freshbooks, Google Analytics, Facebook, WordPress and Magento.

HootSuite

Is your small business leveraging multiple social media channels as part of your core marketing strategy? Are you looking for a smarter way to take control of your social media activity? Then give HootSuite a whirl. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that gives you a centralized place for managing, tracking and measuring all of your different social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and more.

Because Hootsuite is a cloud solution, all you need to access the service is an Internet connection and Web browser. Plus, HootSuite boasts a wide range of mobile apps to help users on the move.

From CRM to email marketing to social media, your small business solutions can be the difference between a smooth sailing enterprise and an ugly crash on the rocks.  Fortunately for today’s small business owner, the modern world is competitive. That means more free online management tools than ever before.

What free or low cost online management tools have made your business life easier?

Tools Photo via Shutterstock

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Megan Totka


Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

15 Reactions

  1. Awesome tools listed here. I’m a huge fan of meeting burner. I enjoy the ease of use and free option they have available.

    Ti

  2. These are all great tools. I really like how Mail Chimp integrates with so many different platforms. For instance, I recently worked on a project for a Crossfit gym. They utilize a CRM that integrates with mailchimp and wordpress. So, when they capture leads through their website, it automatically populates their CRM database which syncs directly with their email list. You gotta love APIs!

    • Using a CRM that is cross platform is great. It makes it so much easier to keep track of all of your clients or leads in one place.

  3. Great list! All of these tools provide great options for small businesses that find it hard to compete with tools that resource-rich businesses use. Another tool that businesses can use is mplifyr, it allows them to build their own customized, professional-grade loyalty program to rival large programs, but at a fraction of the cost. In the past, mostly large businesses could build full-scale loyalty programs, but now small businesses can do the same to engage their customers and build relationships, beyond what social media can do for them. Thanks for great content!

    • You’re welcome, Veronica! We will definitely take a look at mplifyr. Sounds interesting. You are absolutely on point about small businesses having to work harder to match the resources of larger companies. Free CRMs have definitely made keeping track of client relationships a lot easier.

  4. We have been using Freshbooks for over 5 years now and it really makes “the not so fun part” of business easier and interesting. You can do estimates, see when prospects view the estimate and their invoices. Run reports etc. It was nice to find out the company itself was located in our home city of Toronto, Canada. Best of all I’ve called for service a few times and it was awesome. Mailchimp is another reliable system we have tried and used for free because our list is small. These little power lists are great. thanks.

  5. ScheduleBase is online employee scheduling software that is worth looking into. It’s cheaper and simpler than most scheduling software programs, but is just as effective. Simple and efficient tool for small business owners to schedule staff.

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