Briefcase with seven business tools

7 Online Tools to Streamline your Business

by: | August 18, 2011

The internet promised to do away with paper completely. Email was supposed to make the postal service irrelevant. Neither of these really happened. We might not be completely paper free, but these online tools can help you run a more efficient, connected business and might just help you use less paper in the long run.

Project/Business Management
Price based on number of projects

Basecamp is the easiest project management system I’ve ever seen. Whether you’re managing multiple projects or just want a better way to manage your business, Basecamp has you covered. Basecamp lets you manage separate clients and keep track of projects, deadlines, tasks, and documents. Imagine having one place where all your employees can collaborate, you can assign tasks to each of them, and each project has a repository for documents your employees can access. Basecamp has come to save the day.

I use Basecamp in my design company to keep my projects and contractors organized and get a daily snapshot of my tasks.

Free + Phone Minutes

Skype has quickly become the go-to tool for online communication for businesses, especially for international communication. It has a top-notch instant messaging and chat functionality, plus the ability to voice and video chat to other Skype users. Skype-to-Skype communication is free, but what really sets Skype apart is the ability to call phone numbers, in addition to their affordable international rates.

In my current business, we use Skype for our weekly teleconferencing calls and to send each other quick messages.

Google Docs
Office suite: Word processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations

The days of documents living only on your computer are long gone. Forget those days of emailing a document and having to wait to get it back before you work on it anymore. The days of being able to collaborate online in real time are here. Google docs lets you share documents with whoever you want, and you can decide who can edit the documents in real time. You can upload documents of almost any kind, and Google will interpret them into its own format.

We use Google Docs to share internal documents and spreadsheets and for meeting minutes.

File Sharing
Free + Extra Space

Simply put, Dropbox is the best file-sharing system for businesses available. With Dropbox, you have a folder on your computer that shares files through the cloud-based system. From within that folder, create subfolders that you can share with different people.

We use Dropbox as a way to share files between our whole company, like the latest brochures or business plan.

Blogging, CMS
Free. (Some Themes and Plugins Are Not Free)

WordPress is the most powerful and fully-featured blogging platform. It’s also incredibly effective as a content management system (CMS). If that wasn’t enough, WordPress also boasts a full range of themes and plugins created by the community to extend its abilities. It’s honestly no wonder so many companies and individuals trust their websites to WordPress.

I’ve used WordPress for most of my clients, and my current company also uses WordPress for its website.

Free (Subscriptions Also Available)

Music isn’t a business tool, you say? Nonsense! If you listen to music at work, then you know how essential tunes can be to your sanity. If you work in a high-stress environment, music might be your best anti-stress tool. There are many online music tools out there, but Spotify might just be the best. It connects with iTunes and allows you to create playlists with artists on your iTunes, as well as any artist you can search for. You could argue it’s a time-saver since in a few seconds you can be listening to a new album, instead of spending additional time searching it out online.

I almost always have music playing while I’m working. Spotify helps me get through my day and saves me tons of time I’d spend searching for new albums other places.

Notetaking, Archiving
Free (Premium Plans Also Available)

Is your monitor surrounded by post-its? Do you have a place on your phone where you jot down notes only to have to remember where they are later? Worse, do you use the back of receipts to write down ideas? Then, Evernote is exactly what you need. With the ability to sync your phone with the computer app, you can be sure you keep track of all your ideas to easily recall later. You can also create notebooks to keep your notes organized and even record photos and audio clips.

I use Evernote every day. I keep notebooks for business ideas, reminders of things I want to buy, recipes, and more. It’s so versatile that all of my articles on this site are written on Evernote.

Did we leave any tools out? What online tools are essential in your everyday work?Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2B, B2C, E-Commerce, Professional Services

About the Writer:

Born in England and raised in the U.S., Charles Forster is the marketing director and partner at Vine & Grain, a company that creates management technologies for bars and restaurants. Prior to that position, he ran a graphic design company, Call Me Chaz, in Philadelphia, PA and Orlando, FL. He focused on branding, websites, print, video and marketing for small business clients up and down the east coast. He's a self-prescribed car nut and foodie. He's also the curator for This Is Visceral, a site devoted to poster art.

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