5 Cheap or Free Tools That Will Magnify Your Small Business

Productivity appsBig business managers can do something small business owners can’t afford to do: They can throw money at a problem or project until they’re satisfied with the results.

Small business owners have to be smarter and today you are blessed with a wide variety of technology-based solutions that allow you compete with bigger businesses without draining your bank account.

In fact, many of the most clever solutions are geared to the small business market; the big guys can’t really take advantage of them.

Social Media

Hootsuite. A great way to boost productivity is to accomplish two things at one time. If you spend time on the Internet doing research of any kind, why not also use that time to line up your social media posts? Hootsuite (free) allows you to post to all of your social media accounts from any webpage. When you find great content, share it with your followers. With its “autoschedule” function it will even optimize the best time for your posts to go live. It’s like having a fully staffed social media department.

Organization and Ideas

Evernote. We’re doing business today in the information and idea age. Your ability to succeed correlates directly to your ability to have and find ideas, and keep them organized and ready to use. Evernote is designed to capture and organize your ideas from virtually any medium and have them ready for you when you – or others on your team – need them. Text, web clippings, photos, audio, URLs, and almost anything else can be pulled into Evernote and organized and tagged to meet your needs. Share lists and notebooks with whoever you want, or keep some private. Free and paid plans.

Phone Service

Cloudphone. Your small business can seem like a big business to callers with a service like Cloudphone. It automates answering and gives callers a menu to properly route their calls – even if they all end up going to you in your spare bedroom home office. eVoice is a similar service. There are other options in this realm from the bigger players, such as AT&T’s “RingCentral Office@Hand” cloud-based service. Various pricing options.

Customer Relationship Management

Zoho CRM. There are a lot of good CRM tools today. I singled out Zoho because there of fewer users and there is a free option. If your business has a web presence, you can easily create forms to capture user information and pull them into your marketing campaigns. It also integrates well with Google products, such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google tasks.

Email marketing

Constant Contact. You know I work with and use Constant Contact and I believe they do a great job making it easy for the busy small business owner to mount professional and highly effective email marketing and branding campaigns. Pricing starts at $15 a month. With excellent and easy-to-use list management and analytic tools, small businesses can always be on top of what works best with their customer base.

I confess that this is a closely curated list; there are many other excellent choices and I hope you share some of your favorites as comments below. The beauty of these is they that they turbocharge the productivity of any small business. Even the solopreneur operating off the kitchen table can use these services and cast a huge shadow in his or her industry niche.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: iPad Productivity Apps, © 2012 Wesley Fryer, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.