Technology has given us so many incredible things, like modern medicine, instant toast, and spaceships, for example. For me, and many other entrepreneurs, one of the greatest gifts technology has given society is the virtual office. We now enjoy the ability to instantly access just about any person, piece of information, and resource imaginable—all from the comfort of a home office. In addition to the virtual container of the Internet, cloud-based small business software have made it possible to hold online calls and meetings, erect storefronts in cyberspace, and share schedules, data, and media of all kinds. Here are my top 10, can’t-live-without software applications for small business (in no particular order).
Harvest is an intuitive, easy-to-use, cloud-based time tracking system. Features include an on-screen stop watch/timer that can be started and stopped multiple times within a job and/or project, which allows accurate tracking even when interruptions occur. Harvest also generates time reports and has a time approval system, and can be accessed from the Internet, smart phones, and other applications.
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to enable teamwork and project management without email. My team and I use it to manage and organize tasks and client projects. Asana’s check-box task system offers a satisfying, intuitive format and questions, comments, and documents can be written and attached beneath each project, eliminating disorganized notes and emails about tasks.
WordPress, which began as a blogging system, is one of the most popular full content management systems and website building tools for small businesses and bloggers alike. With thousands of free plugins and widgets, customizable themes, and community forums, it’s an easy, professional-looking choice for entrepreneurs wanting to build their own site.
4. Mad Mimi
MadMimi is my go-to software for creating ezines and email campaigns. Built from the ground up, the founders created a software that allows business owners to deliver professional, elegantly designed emails and newsletters. MadMimi also has built-in features for audience management, tracking, and support.
Dropbox is a free data sharing system that allows teams to access media without sending endless back-and-forth emails. Because files are all saved within the cloud-based software, when one team member changes or moves a file, the updated format is available in real time to everyone else working on it. Dropbox also allows users to access their files from just about anywhere with a WiFi connection, eliminating the need to be at your personal computer or laptop to get work done.
1ShoppingCart is an all-in-one e-commerce software that handles purchases, memberships, subscriptions, and recurring billing—to name a few things. It is one of the best business automation systems for online stores that want to get up-and-running quickly. It does, of course, include shopping cart, checkout, and inventory features.
The days of being tied to a desk with a corded phone are over! Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that allows businesses to route calls to their cell phones, making business on the go more possible than ever. Features include the ability to keep your existing business number, multiple extensions for every team member, call forwarding to mobile numbers, and voicemail transcription.
Hootsuite is an online social media management system that allows users to post social media content (written posts, visual content, videos) to multiple social media platforms at the same time. The scheduling feature is one of my favorites because it allows me to compose a week’s worth—or two weeks, a month—of content and schedule it to be posted at specific dates and times on the sites I choose. This feature is perfect for forgetful business owners and those who know when their posts are most likely to be read by their audience. Hootsuite has the capacity to post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Myspace, and WordPress blogs.
9. Google Calendar
This is just what it sounds like—an online calendar that is compatible with all other Google accounts and applications. Google Calendar allows for calendar sharing between team members, the ability to set up reminders and invitations, and syncing with desktop applications.
vCita is a client engagement platform that allows clients to access you via online scheduling, payments, and document sharing. In my own business, clients can schedule meetings and consultations with me through vCita, and can do so from any page on my website.
What software have made small business management easier for you?
If you’re still not sure that utilizing a virtual assistant is for you, check out my free workbook. In it, I will tell you exactly what you want to look for from a virtual assistant to make sure you pick the best to work at your small business.