In my last post, I listed some very nice Android applications which a Freelancer, Contractor or Small Business owner can use to streamline their processes. Today, I want to suggest some cloud based applications which will boost your business in ways you can never imagine.
I am going to bypass the obvious cloud applications such as Google Analytics, Adwords and Google Goggle Docs as everybody knows about these. My list is instead, the top 10 alternative cloud applications for small business:
FreeAgent – Cloud Based Accounting
This one product has revolutionised my business – and that is not an exaggeration. Before my company started using Freeagent, the accounts was always something of a black hole. I would find out how we were doing only at key dates – when VAT was due or at year end. Freeagent makes everything visible and clear as you carry out business activity. Which is why I cannot recommend it highly enough.
TeamWorkPM – Online Project Management
Good project management can add all kinds of benefits, and can take away a lot of pain – and cloud project management can make you much more visible to your customers whilst you work on their projects. I know a lot of small businesses rave about BaseCamp, but take it from me, TeamWorkPM blows basecamp out of the water.
DropBox – cloud based file storage
It took me a while before I started using Dropbox, and now I kick myself for not using it earlier. Dropbox, in a nutshell, allows you to share files between computers and locations without the need for a memory stick. It auto syncs computers via the web, and provides a fairly large FREE account to start with.
Evernote – cloud notes system
Evernote’s principle is ‘remember everything’ and that’s just what it does. Whilst Dropbox shares files, Evernote shares and syncs snippets between computers and mobile devices. I use it to store and sync notes, shopping lists, code routines, SQL scripts, how to notes and a whole host more. Any pictures or photos you add (from the web, your PC or mobile camera) are OCD’d by evernote, and everything is searchable and can be divided into folders. Evernote gives a very generous FREE account.
ToodleDo – cloud ToDo lists
I have spoken about ToodleDo (don’t let the name put you off) in the past as what I believe to be the ultimate ToDo list system, with built in Getting Things Done (GTD) configuration. With the FREE usage, and free mobile system as well, there is no reason not to be organised.
LogMeIn – cloud based remote Support
I have tried all the remote control systems for supporting remote customers, and for me, LogMeIn is the best. Again its FREE, its low footprint, secure, and has never let me down. Install the software on the client PC, and then use any web browser to access the client PC, see what they are doing (with their permission) and take control as required.
I will always recommend joining Linkedin for anybody in business. But the real power for a freelancer or small business owner is in the discussion Groups. For small business owners, I recommend the Small Business Ambitious Owner Manager LinkedIn group.
Xmarks – Cloud BookMark Sync
Plucked back from bankruptcy at the end of last year, the xmarks service is still running. Xmarks auto syncs bookmarks different browsers and different PCs via the cloud. So if you find a good web site whilst working at a clients site, bookmark it and when you get home, it will also be on your home PC. And once again, it’s FREE.
WuFoo/SurveyMonkey – cloud customer survey
There is not much between these two to choose from – they both do almost the same thing. Both offer limited free accounts – but the point of both is the same – crate a survey to ask your customers what they think of your quotes, prices, services, support etc, and get them to tell you what they think via quick online forms. The feedback you receive will help you improve your business.
ZenDesk – Cloud based support system
The final offering is one of the big names in online support systems. Having a place for customers to log issues, ask questions, and get help is important, and Zendesk provides all the features you would expect in a simple to use interface. It’s not free, but it is easy to use for both you and your customers