6 Cloud Tools for Small Business

By Heather Allard on 31 May 2011 (Updated 12 July 2011) 0 comments

Whether you’re running your small business out of your home, your garage, or even Timbuktu, there are incredible technologies, tools, and services that’ll make managing your small business easier and help you work and earn better, faster and smarter. Here are a few I've found particularly helpful.

Accounting

I know, I know. Accounting’s not my thing either. But like many things in life (and business), it’s is a necessary evil.

So make it easy – and automatic – with Outright, a company whose tagline is,“Free yourself from accounting”.

Outright was created specifically for small business owners like us and provides a simple way to record income and expenses, pay the right taxes, and keep our businesses on track and growing. The nifty (and comprehensive) reports alone make the $9.95 monthly fee well worth it.

Outright takes just minutes to set up and then all your business stuff is safe, secure, and accounted for.

File Storage

Have you ever lost a file that you’d been working on for hours? Forgot to save your big presentation on your laptop? Or how about this – your computer crashed and you lost your entire email database, contacts and all. Sounds familiar, right?

Yep. We’ve all been there, lost that.

Fortunately the folks at Dropbox offer a free service that lets you safely store 2 GBs of photos, docs, and videos in one place. Of course, they'll sell you more GBs if you need them.

Any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website. Even if you accidentally spill a juicebox on your laptop, you can relax knowing that Dropbox always has you covered. Beyond safe backups and easy file synching, Dropbox lets you quickly share files and folders with clients and colleagues.

Time Tracking

Working from home certainly has its upside, but one of the biggest downsides is how easy it is to lose track of time and spend the whole day surfing the web. One minute you’re busily working and the next, you’re sharing The Oatmeal cartoons with your Facebook friends wondering how it got to be 5 o’clock.

Losing track of time is especially bad for service providers who bill clients by the hour and have to provide a project status update each day. Ruh-roh.

Enter Chrometa, the app that tracks your time without notes or timers. Chrometa logs all your computer activity and breaks down your time by application, e-mail, Web page, and document.

Chrometa installs in minutes on both Mac and PC and makes time tracking an easy task. And the depth of its reporting may also keep you on task and off Facebook.

Scheduling

Ring, ring…

If your business involves booking appointments, then check out Schedulicity, a web-based scheduling tool that will instantly plug your business into three of the fastest growing trends in America – social media, mobile internet, and online scheduling.

With Schedulicity, you have full control over your calendar and can access it anytime, anywhere.

And Schedulicity puts your calendar where your clients are, online. Clients can book appointments with you 24/7 – on your website , on your Facebook page, or from their iPhone, Android, or Blackberry – instead of using them to play phone tag.

Information Organization

Let’s face it, we’re all on information overload.

Sticky notes covering the fridge, mile-long bookmarks online, and a desk somewhere beneath all those papers.

Enter Evernote, digital storage that lets you capture anything and remember everything, right from your computer, desktop, and even your mobile devices.

Everything you capture is automatically processed, indexed, and made searchable with Evernote. You can add tags or organize notes into different notebooks. Later, you can search your notes by keywords, titles, and tags. Evernote even makes printed and handwritten text inside your images searchable.

So go ahead, type a text note. Clip a web page. Snap a photo. Grab a screenshot. Record a voice memo.

Evernote will keep it all safe and ready for you when you need it.

Email Signature

If you’re looking for an easy way to transform your boring old email into a powerful marketing tool, Wisestamp is the coolest way to do it.

With Wisestamp, you can easily customize your email signature with your social profiles and add auto-updating dynamic content to your outgoing email, like your newest eBay item for sale, most recent blog post, your latest tweet or a cause that you promote. You can also make your Wisestamp signature match your branding by getting creative with fonts and colors, and by adding images and logos to your Wisestamp signature.

The recipients of your email will see the updated content of the Email App and will be able to interact with it directly from the email – for example, they can link over to your latest blog post, follow you on Twitter or buy an item in your eBay shop.

Pretty cool, huh?

Wisestamp is currently available for the Firefox, Chrome (my favorite browser) and Safari browsers and works with Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail email platforms. It’s fast and easy to install and configure, which means your email will be ready to do your marketing for you in no time.

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