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Shireen Qudosi

Online Tools Small Business Owners Can’t Live Without

Feb 07 2012, 02:22 PM by

Most business owners are usually on the go. More and more people work remotely and even the most basic business services (i.e. banking) are now being tailored to target a multi-tasking/telecommuting customer base. So what can you do to make doing online business even easier? Try these tips and share yours below!
Easy Invoicing
A small business owner I knew would spend so much time fussing with and delivering invoices. He should have used ContractPal, which lets you go paperless. You can have your invoices created, validated, signed and processed online. Follow this up with having clients pay for services online, which saves the excuses of “I don’t have a check on me” or “The check’s in the mail.”

ContractPal doesn’t let you make online transactions, but Citrusbill does. While you can’t create your invoices with Citrus, you can upload them to the site where customers can view, download and pay for their invoice all in one spot. I highly recommend this for on-the-go service professionals.

GoToBilling is another one to consider. The app lets you manage invoices and payments, but also lets you manage marketing and customer relationships. Not quite on-the-go but easy and quick to use.

Then there’s Pulse, an important complementary app that business owners really need to get on board with to manage their cash flow. I don’t just mean checking your statements; cash flow is about managing your companies, projects and reports through a money-matters filter. Again, a great app for service professional, especially those committed in long-term budgeted projects.
Scheduling
On-the-go professionals don’t have time to always answer their phone calls. When they do, they certainly can’t book an appointment then and there without a calendar present. Even then, I know many people like to take a minute to see what else they may have coming up that requires their time. If you’re a business that accepts a lot of appointments, then you should consider SuperSaas, an online schedule software that lets you accept booked appointments on your website. This is great for conference call appointments, consultations, service calls, etc. Popular SuperSaas competitors include clickbook and BookingPad.

If you’re like me, you don’t like the idea of a client picking any time they like. You’d rather have some control of when appointments can be made based on your schedule. Scheduly let’s you do this. Add your business to their directory, pick your own time slots and let the appointment bookings begin.
Employee Scheduling
Beyond you own schedule, you may have to worry about your employees’ schedules. Shiftboard’s a great tool for that. It lets you schedule and coordinate online without having to worry about everyone meeting up to do it or having to track them down by phone to find out their availability. On the same note, workers don’t need to come in for a physical work schedule or call in. Also check out ScheduleOnce if this is the type of schedule tool you need. Personally, I also really like TimeBridge, which lets you see everyone’s availability. This tool’s great if you need to coordinate conference calls, meetings and work schedules around available times.
(The Right) Online Tools Are Integral to Your Business Success
There are a number of tools for on-the-go professionals to use. The key to making it easier to get more done efficiently and cost-effectively is to keep up to date on what’s out there. Take the time to educate yourself. The unfortunate downside to online tools and apps is that there are so many of them mushrooming up because of the market boom. Just because an app is there doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Same goes for the free ones. Free doesn’t always mean most efficient. I also don’t recommend starting with free then moving on to a paid one when the free app falls short; you’ll have to transfer data and readjust your comfort zone to a new system, which is only a source of unneeded frustration for busy professionals.

Posted in Online Tools and Applications, Growing Your Business

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