We live in an age where everyone is on the move, and if you run a business, you’re more mobile than most. It’s challenging to keep up with your business when you move at such a high pace, and you need the right tools to get the job done. But with so many technological innovations popping up every day, how can you even know where to begin?
To save you time, we’ve rounded up the 6 best web-based productivity tools out there so that you can run your business from anywhere without ever installing any software.
Google (Apps, Drive, Mail, Calendar)
What can be said about Google that hasn’t already been said a hundred times? Probably nothing. Google’s application suite is robust, cloud-based, mobile-friendly and — perhaps best of all — free. Google Drive can house your files remotely so you can access them from anywhere or collaborate on them with your team members and Google Calendar has become a web-based staple. These applications are easy to navigate and some are even fun to use.
PayPal is the 800 lb. gorilla of online financial transactions. It’s free to set up an account, and after a few additional security steps, you can wield the full power of PayPal through a Pro account, essential for offering recurring payment options, subscriptions and free trial periods.
One feature that sets PayPal apart from other online payment services is that you can accept payments via credit card and in over 20 different currencies without forcing the payer to sign up for a PayPal account. With a newly re-designed mobile app and the recently rolled-out “Bill Me Later” credit line service, PayPal boasts huge name recognition in both the merchant and consumer space. If you take payments over the internet, or you want to, you can’t afford to not use PayPal. Although free to use, PayPal does take a small transactional service fee from each payment it processes.
Social media has become a basic truth in the wheeling and dealing of modern businesses, but if you don’t have the patience to learn all of the ins and outs of each and every social networking site (and who does?), then HootSuite has all the platforms and features you need to be heard in a noisy world.
You can schedule posts, receive recommendations on who to friend and follow, pull clickthrough data from your social networks and keep in touch with your customers and partners in one easy-to-understand place. HootSuite has both paid and free account options.
If you run a small business, or if you just need specific personnel or talent for a one-off project, you’ve probably already considered hiring a freelancer or consultant to fill in the gaps. oDesk is a global freelancer marketplace with features that allow business owners (or anyone who needs to hire a freelancer) to find, evaluate, hire and manage workers remotely.
Instead of asking around if someone in your network knows a professional with a certain skillset, you can use oDesk to instantly search thousands of freelancer profiles. You can also manage their time, set benchmarks, see work portfolios and post jobs for freelancer to apply to. Then you just sift through the proposals, choose the right candidate for the job, and let them get to work. oDesk is powered by a secure escrow payment system that keeps you protected from being charged for sub-par work that doesn’t meet your expectations.
This free tool allows you to conduct painless online meetings, bringing together seamless screen sharing technology and robust conference tools, join.me lets you conduct virtual presentations. The Pro account features even more slick tools, like conference recording and annotation, customization and user management options. Whether you’re demonstrating a new concept or teaching your mom how to upload photos to Facebook, this simple tool goes all the way in bringing you closer to your audience, and your audience closer to your content.
Let’s just face it: we live in a day and age where legal services are costly, but not having them at all could be the most expensive mistake you ever make. LegalZoom offers business owners a cost-effective alternative to being saddled with steep lawyer fees or wasting days, if not weeks, figuring out complicated legal documents.
It works like this: you answer a simple questionnaire based on the type of documentation or service you need, and LegalZoom draws up the documents for you. You can preview the forms before you buy them and use an error-corrector that will double check all of your details for inconsistencies and errors. LegalZoom also offers a healthy spectrum of totally free, relatively simple do-it-yourself legal forms for those of you willing to put a little elbow grease into the process. Important: LegalZoom does not offer legal advice, but rather “general information on legal issues commonly encountered.”