Top Five Applications To Run A Small Business Smarter

Clocks and Time

I am a (very) small business owner, so I appreciate how valuable time can be to other business owners.  For an upcoming speaking engagement I was asked to compile the top five applications I use to run my business smarter and faster.  After compiling the list, I realized that this is something I should be sharing with everyone.

Here are the top five applications I use to make my small business run smarter:

1. Google Apps - Google Apps is the generic term for Google Services for businesses. Google Apps hosts my businesses email, calendar, and contacts, allowing my business to have enterprise level functionality for free. I can use any email client I choose, and have all of my information synced on any computer or device while having a full backup copy available in the web interface. The searching function of Google Mail makes finding emails very easy. Google Calendar makes scheduling meetings and sharing your schedule with others very easy.

2. Batchbook - The one lackluster component of Google Apps is the contacts, so I had to find a CRM system that could manage my contacts. Batchbook is the application where I: consolidate all client communication, use notes to keep track where/when I met someone, tag contacts to separate them into groups, etc. Batchbook syncs with my Google Apps account and my email marketing software.

3. Google Voice - I am always on the go, and don’t have a landline phone at my desk. I also don’t want to give out my personal cell phone number to everyone. By giving out my Google Voice number, I can have that one number forwarded to any other phone number where I am reachable, and screen or play a different voicemail message depending on who is calling. My favorite feature of Google Voice is the text and email transcriptions of any voicemail messages I receive.

4. Dropbox - Gone are the days of having just one computer or just working at the office. I can put any file in my Dropbox folder and it will sync across my computers, mobile device, and the web interface. I don’t have to worry about emailing documents to myself or saving them to a flash drive. I just save the document and it is synced. Dropbox also saves revisions to files, so if you make a mistake and overwrite a document, you can restore previous versions. An often forgotten feature of Dropbox is that you can share specific folders with others, which is a great way to share large files with others.

5. Evernote - Evernote is my brain. That is where I keep all the “little things” I will need to find again. I have “notebooks” for things like: Client notes, Meeting notes, login information, timesheets, websites that inspire me, blog post ideas, restaurants I would like to visit, recipes, etc. I keep my information secure using SSL security to login, and I encrypt text in confidential notes. Evernote has web application, desktop applications for Windows and Mac, and applications for iPhone, Blackberry and Android.

Honorable mentions: Mailchimp and Backblaze

Those are mine, what are  yours?

Photo credit: Esthr

29 thoughts on “Top Five Applications To Run A Small Business Smarter”

  1. Google is a great service – but might not be the right fit for all users. You may end up having to just use MS Word to make sure the formatting is the way you want it. Before deciding on Google, check out “Compare Google Apps to Microsoft and See for Yourself” for additional information: http://smb.ms/cYNFrJ

    Regards,
    Jodi E.
    Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
    msftoft@microsoft.com

    1. Jodie,

      I am actually referring to Google Apps as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange – not Google Docs replacing Microsoft Office. I have Microsoft certifications and I am well versed in your offerings – however, as a company of one I don’t want to run an Exchange Server. I also don’t want to pay a monthly fee for 2gb of storage on Hosted Exchange. I use Google Apps, it works for me.
      Thank you for the comment,
      Rachel

  2. Google is a great service – but might not be the right fit for all users. You may end up having to just use MS Word to make sure the formatting is the way you want it. Before deciding on Google, check out “Compare Google Apps to Microsoft and See for Yourself” for additional information: http://smb.ms/cYNFrJ

    Regards,
    Jodi E.
    Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
    msftoft@microsoft.com

    1. Jodie,

      I am actually referring to Google Apps as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange – not Google Docs replacing Microsoft Office. I have Microsoft certifications and I am well versed in your offerings – however, as a company of one I don’t want to run an Exchange Server. I also don’t want to pay a monthly fee for 2gb of storage on Hosted Exchange. I use Google Apps, it works for me.
      Thank you for the comment,
      Rachel

  3. These are more or less spot on with what I’m using, though I’ve got a couple additions.

    Google Apps Premier – simply for the extra uptime guarantee and super storage capabilities. The whole suite is perfectly suited for small businesses.

    Mavenlink – Manages all of our projects in a single workspace and connects with GApps. Our clients can respond to messages via email and it posts to a thread (similar to gmail) in Mavenlink to keep everything together. Inside Mavenlink, everything from our documents, files, time tracking, budgeting, and tasks / deliverables is visible and editable for the parties involved in the projects. And, of course, everything syncs to Google Docs for real time collaboration. Mavenlink has the best support of any company I’ve worked with.

    Working Point – Accounting solution for small businesses. At only $10 a month (or a free version), this is a steal. The reports are great and the system is as complex as you need it to be and as simple to use as you want it to be. It “syncs with Google Apps” apparently, but that function is truly lacking. All it really does is redirect you to your login page, like a bookmark. Great support too.

    Action Method – this is a nice little notepad system from Behance. I used to use their project management tool (actionmethodonline.com), but once we switched to Mavenlink I probably won’t go back. Action Method’s online tools are great, but they are more design than function and they seem to have stopped development to keep up with the other project / task management solutions out there.

    However, the notepads are essential for my analog life. You can’t rely on technology all the time and it simply takes too long to fire up your iphone, launch a task list or similar app, and post your thought or to-do. Just scribble quickly in your notepad, keep things organized, and move one.

    Those are my essential tools that help us run more efficiently

    Justin
    Founder
    The Small Potatoes

  4. These are more or less spot on with what I’m using, though I’ve got a couple additions.

    Google Apps Premier – simply for the extra uptime guarantee and super storage capabilities. The whole suite is perfectly suited for small businesses.

    Mavenlink – Manages all of our projects in a single workspace and connects with GApps. Our clients can respond to messages via email and it posts to a thread (similar to gmail) in Mavenlink to keep everything together. Inside Mavenlink, everything from our documents, files, time tracking, budgeting, and tasks / deliverables is visible and editable for the parties involved in the projects. And, of course, everything syncs to Google Docs for real time collaboration. Mavenlink has the best support of any company I’ve worked with.

    Working Point – Accounting solution for small businesses. At only $10 a month (or a free version), this is a steal. The reports are great and the system is as complex as you need it to be and as simple to use as you want it to be. It “syncs with Google Apps” apparently, but that function is truly lacking. All it really does is redirect you to your login page, like a bookmark. Great support too.

    Action Method – this is a nice little notepad system from Behance. I used to use their project management tool (actionmethodonline.com), but once we switched to Mavenlink I probably won’t go back. Action Method’s online tools are great, but they are more design than function and they seem to have stopped development to keep up with the other project / task management solutions out there.

    However, the notepads are essential for my analog life. You can’t rely on technology all the time and it simply takes too long to fire up your iphone, launch a task list or similar app, and post your thought or to-do. Just scribble quickly in your notepad, keep things organized, and move one.

    Those are my essential tools that help us run more efficiently

    Justin
    Founder
    The Small Potatoes

  5. These are more or less spot on with what I’m using, though I’ve got a couple additions.

    Google Apps Premier – simply for the extra uptime guarantee and super storage capabilities. The whole suite is perfectly suited for small businesses.

    Mavenlink – Manages all of our projects in a single workspace and connects with GApps. Our clients can respond to messages via email and it posts to a thread (similar to gmail) in Mavenlink to keep everything together. Inside Mavenlink, everything from our documents, files, time tracking, budgeting, and tasks / deliverables is visible and editable for the parties involved in the projects. And, of course, everything syncs to Google Docs for real time collaboration. Mavenlink has the best support of any company I’ve worked with.

    Working Point – Accounting solution for small businesses. At only $10 a month (or a free version), this is a steal. The reports are great and the system is as complex as you need it to be and as simple to use as you want it to be. It “syncs with Google Apps” apparently, but that function is truly lacking. All it really does is redirect you to your login page, like a bookmark. Great support too.

    Action Method – this is a nice little notepad system from Behance. I used to use their project management tool (actionmethodonline.com), but once we switched to Mavenlink I probably won’t go back. Action Method’s online tools are great, but they are more design than function and they seem to have stopped development to keep up with the other project / task management solutions out there.

    However, the notepads are essential for my analog life. You can’t rely on technology all the time and it simply takes too long to fire up your iphone, launch a task list or similar app, and post your thought or to-do. Just scribble quickly in your notepad, keep things organized, and move one.

    Those are my essential tools that help us run more efficiently

    Justin
    Founder
    The Small Potatoes

  6. These are more or less spot on with what I’m using, though I’ve got a couple additions.

    Google Apps Premier – simply for the extra uptime guarantee and super storage capabilities. The whole suite is perfectly suited for small businesses.

    Mavenlink – Manages all of our projects in a single workspace and connects with GApps. Our clients can respond to messages via email and it posts to a thread (similar to gmail) in Mavenlink to keep everything together. Inside Mavenlink, everything from our documents, files, time tracking, budgeting, and tasks / deliverables is visible and editable for the parties involved in the projects. And, of course, everything syncs to Google Docs for real time collaboration. Mavenlink has the best support of any company I’ve worked with.

    Working Point – Accounting solution for small businesses. At only $10 a month (or a free version), this is a steal. The reports are great and the system is as complex as you need it to be and as simple to use as you want it to be. It “syncs with Google Apps” apparently, but that function is truly lacking. All it really does is redirect you to your login page, like a bookmark. Great support too.

    Action Method – this is a nice little notepad system from Behance. I used to use their project management tool (actionmethodonline.com), but once we switched to Mavenlink I probably won’t go back. Action Method’s online tools are great, but they are more design than function and they seem to have stopped development to keep up with the other project / task management solutions out there.

    However, the notepads are essential for my analog life. You can’t rely on technology all the time and it simply takes too long to fire up your iphone, launch a task list or similar app, and post your thought or to-do. Just scribble quickly in your notepad, keep things organized, and move one.

    Those are my essential tools that help us run more efficiently

    Justin
    Founder
    The Small Potatoes

  7. This is a great list! I’m familiar with most of the products here except Batchbook. You are correct that one weakness in the Google lineup is a good contact management system. I’ve been looking for a good one for sometime and think I’ll give Batchbook a try.

  8. This is a great list! I’m familiar with most of the products here except Batchbook. You are correct that one weakness in the Google lineup is a good contact management system. I’ve been looking for a good one for sometime and think I’ll give Batchbook a try.

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