As an entrepreneur, I often face challenges when it comes to deciding on the best business tools for my company. Lately, I’ve started using more practical methods of producing financial reports for investors rather than trying to figure it out with templates and a calculator. These are just a few of my favorite, affordable tools that have helped my business grow starting from the business plan up.
1.) Business Model Toolbox for iPad – $30. What’s great about this app is that you can create a custom business canvas and as you move through each section, not only does the app give you an explanation of the field but it also asks you questions to help you find your answers AND provides examples of what well known companies would answer. All of your thoughts are movable by using little post-its in the section. Once you dig deeper into the financials, the app will help you come up with figures based on the information that you entered.
2.) LivePlan – $20 per month. I’ve read a lot of business books and many tell you that you don’t need to come up with a business plan. If your company isn’t expecting to build extremely high revenues then that’s probably the case but for a business that requires capital, your investors are certainly going to want to see a plan. I’ve tried using other methods and just recently found LivePlan to be exactly what I needed. I love that the formulas are built into the software and there are many examples to help guide you along the way.
3.) Google Apps – Free. I use everything that Google offers: Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Reader, Analytics, AdWords, Alerts and more. These are great products and they work so cohesively with each other. I have a total of 5 email addresses that are all synced into Gmail and it makes my work flow so much better. If you aren’t using alerts for your business, you need to start now! It’s a greta way to stay on top of industry news and updates. Also, it’ll help you find out who’s talking about your company and what they have to say.
4.) Zoho – Free – $25 per month. I’ve used several CRMs and although I love Salesforce, it is a little pricey. Zoho is very affordable and offers many things that Salesforce does such as scheduling mass emails for marketing, setting up templates, tracking the leads through the sales process and connecting with Google Apps.
5.) RingCentral – $10 per month. RingCentral is where I house my 800 number, the e-fax and I am able to add a local line for each of my clients (if needed) for an additional $3 per month. Each number is set up with a separate voice mail or call center rules. My favorite part of RingCentral is the mobile app. I can ring out from my cell phone from any of the business numbers.
6.) IdeaPaint – When I get an office, I am totally painting it with IdeaPaint. It looks like such a creative way to collaborate, brainstorm and interact with your colleagues!
7.) MailChimp: I love mailchimp’s brand. They offer great resources and advice on email marketing and you can add up to 2,000 subscribers to your newsletter list on the free account. It’s a great way to build and track your email marketing campaign.
8.) Dropbox, Basecamp, Square, Hootsuite… These are some of the other tools I use for business on a daily basis. Square offers free credit card processing (with a low processing fee), Dropbox allows you to share documents seamlessly, Basecamp is a great project management tool and Hootsuite is my favorite social media manager!
What are your favorite business tools?