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5 Tools Small Businesses Love

| May 1, 2012 | Comments (1)

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This is a guest post by Kenny Nguyen, CEO/Founder of Big Fish Presentations, a company famous for designing rockstar slideshows, hosting presentation workshops, and producing commercial video.  He frequently speaks nationwide about strategies that can turn a presenter’s normal presentation into an experience for audiences. Most recently his company was selected as one of Inc.com’s Coolest College Startups of 2012

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As any owner of a growing startup, your job title may be CEO, but sometimes you may have to play other roles to get things done (such as accounting, sales, marketing, and, sometimes in our case, fish tank cleaner). Large corporations often have the “luxury” of having large departments handle their day-to-day operations while small business owners, like myself, are left multi-tasking quite frequently.

Luckily, there are some online tools out there that make life a LOT easier when it comes to handling finances, managing projects, tracking employee hours, and communicating with your customers.

While we’re sure that there are other great tools out there, below are 5 awesome online tools we use daily that we can vouch for: 

1) Wave Accounting:

Category: Finance

What is it: Wave accounting is a free easy-to-use online application that helps small businesses manage their accounting.

Why’s it awesome:

  • It pretty much can run as your small accounting department.
  • Generates organized and easy-to-read journal entries, balance sheets, expense reports, etc.
  • Very easy to use, even for accounting amateurs.
  • Syncs with most banks and updates automatically with your banking transactions.
  • Gives you an option to insight into your own personal finances.
  • It’s free. Period.
  • Offers great deals from various advertisers.

Bottom line: Awesome tool for small business owners wanting to keep track of their finances.

2) Clockspot:

Category: Payroll

What is it: Online application that lets employees clock in or clock out from any computer or phone.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Easily track employee hours.
  • Employees can post progress reports to show what was done for each clock-in session.
  • Generates payroll data to excel with online employee time sheets.
  • Free 30 Day trial with different pricing options for size of team. 

Bottom Line: Awesome web application that provides a very convenient way to track employees time records from multiple locations. Even more awesome this platform generates payroll reports.

3) Asana

Category: Project Management

What is it: An easy-to-use customizable project management tool that tracks projects while keeping your whole team in the loop.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Great way to keep track of projects and prioritize tasks.
  • You can update tasks through email.
  • Receive email updates when projects are updated
  • Shortkeys make it very intuitive to use.
  • Can assign tasks to certain individuals
  • Other individuals can follow tasks to receive updates on progress
  • Activity feed provides chat-room like updates on projects or tasks
  • The attach file feature is pretty handy.
  • It’s free for up to 30 users!

Bottom line: Founded by a former co-founder of Facebook, this web app provides a great way to track projects, reduce email clutter, and manage tasks with teams. We also love the clean interface.

4) Dropbox:

Category: Cloud Storage

What is it: Cloud storage for files that can be accessed through almost any computer and mobile device.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Great tool to access files anywhere on the go.
  • Syncs great to your desktop computer or mobile phone.
  • I can’t honestly ever remember a time when the servers were down.
  • Shows a track record of actions done on folders.
  • Can share dropbox to collaborate on projects with friends, family, team members, clients, etc.
  • Syncs with other apps like dropitto.me & Asana (see above) to provide better project management.
  • Starts off free with 2GB, but also gives option of various payment plans for more GB storage.

Bottom Line: Literally one of the handiest tools we have ever used at Big Fish Presentations. Keeps all our files accessible for all of our team members to access anywhere. Very handy also when wanting to send large files to clients.

5) Google Voice:

Category: Communication

What is it: One of the Google App features that allows users to register a free number that can be used to reach you no matter where you are. It also keeps track of your voicemail through an online portal.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Provides one number that can reach all your phones (i.e. cell,home, office) at the same time.
  • Can make calls with number through phone app or online portal.
  • Customizable voicemail greetings for different groups.
  • Can send free text messages with the google voice number.
  • Voicemails are transcribed and can be sent to your email.
  • Syncs with your google contacts.
  • Low rates for international calls.

Bottom Line: Very handy for small businesses when phone landline cost are deemed unnecessary and you would rather just designate a mobile phone as your office phone.

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While I’m sure there are tons of other great small business online tools out there, the tools featured above have proven to be very useful in our business.

We would love to hear about any useful tools that have helped changed your business below in the comments section. If you personally use any of the tools we mentioned above, please mention any creative ways you use them to get the most out of it.

 

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  • Robert

    I’d recommend Wave, EVEN IF it cost money,  as it’s free, why would you use anything else??