We hear everyday that we live in the Golden Age of small business. That technology is making it easier and cheaper than ever to build up an empire from the comforts of home.
But if you’re like many a busy mogul, you don’t have a lot of time to try every new freemium app or 30-day trial that crosses your browser window. So we’re here to help.
Read on for what you can ditch, and the free – or very cheap – options you now have to make running your business simpler than ever.
How Technology Can Make Running Your Business Easier and Cheaper (With Examples!)
Ditch that Scanner/Fax/Copy Machine
Not only does this dusty old thing take up valuable space in your office, but it’s almost totally obsolete!
Did you previously fax contracts to clients? Forget that hassle. Sign up with a free service like Docracy. They’ll help you send and receive signed contracts paperlessly, and even give you access to free legal documents should you need a contract, non-disclosure or other form.
Are you accustomed to making “copies for your files”? Don’t let a hulking filing cabinet ruin your office’s pleasant atmosphere. Use a service like Dropbox to store all of your documents on the cloud instead. You’ll get up to 2 GB of storage space absolutely free just for signing up.
Receive some mail you’d like to digitize? You can do it right from your iPhone with TurboScan! For just $1.99 this app allows you to scan a document simply by taking 3 pictures of it with your device’s camera. TurboScan also integrates with Dropbox and a number of faxing apps.
Ditch that Bookkeeper
Back in the old days, a busy business owner who needed to buckle down and get things done outsourced non-moneymaking tasks like bookkeeping, billing and collection. No longer.
Need to easily track income and expenses? Services like Outright automatically import income and expenses from business bank accounts, credit cards, and even online marketplaces like eBay so that you don’t spend hours a month on endless financial data entry. For just $9.95/month, Outright will also help you with taxes at the end of the year.
Think of invoicing as a necessary evil? Take your invoices to the cloud. Services like WePay and Freshbooks allow you to create and send professional, branded invoices directly through email. An online dashboard allows you to see, at a glance, who owes you and how much. If you’re having trouble with a slow paying client, consider adding an option like ZenCash. They take over the uncomfortable chore of hounding late paying clients, and their service is currently almost entirely free while in beta mode.
Ditch that Landline
As dependent on technology as we’ve become, there’s no substitute for a good old-fashioned telephone conversation. But we might not want to give our personal cell number out to everyone, nor spring for two phone lines.
To handily separate your business and personal phone lines, look no further than Google Voice. Google Voice will give you a dedicated business phone number, forward your calls to any phone, allow you to set up different voicemails for different numbers (so mom doesn’t have to listen to your office hours every time she calls) and transcribe your voicemails for when you’re on the go.
For free international calls or meetings where screen sharing is required, there’s always trusty Skype. While Skype now charges for services like adding a 3rd party to a call, they’re the top name in the industry and almost everyone already has a Skype handle. They even have a mobile app for answering Skype calls when you’re out and about.
What are your can’t-live-without apps and services for running your small business? Veterans, have you noticed a significant change in your business practices with the advent of all this new small business technology?
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/