Time is the most precious commodity for any new business; there’s so much to achieve and so little time or resources to get it all done.
Money is also pretty tight, so getting a valuable, proven service at a reasonable rate will be an essential part of the deal for any startup or entrepreneur.
The rise of cloud services means that those horrifying initial costs for products and services are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
However, with so many services to choose from, finding the right one for your business can be a challenge.
While some tools are focused on specific markets or verticals, many are aimed at any business, performing universal tasks or allowing for customization to provide a tailored service.
From managing meetings to invoices, handling unified communications to project management, there are many tools available; these could be just the right ones for your business.
1. LibreOffice Online
LibreOffice had a long history as OpenOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft’s Office Applications. They have moved with the times and are now available for free use in the cloud via rollApp. This enables users to can work on any document on a device without having to sign up to Google Docs, Office 365 or other subscription services.
If you do not want to be tied down to Microsoft’s stack, then Viber makes an excellent third-party communications alternative. It offers desktop and mobile apps, free voice and video calling among users, with chat and photo sharing, all in an easy-to-use package, with cheap calls to networks and other countries available.
Note taking and organization skills are vital for any leader. An idea and project manager makes this easier with a teamwork-based approach to sharing notes, information, and schedules. Communication and collaboration are encouraged between team members with messages sent via the app or email all appearing in one place.
Billing and invoicing, then tracking payments can eat into the time of any small business. Hiveage helps act as your office accountant it enables users to send invoices and receive payments, monitor expenses, time spent on tasks and business costs like travel and mileage, across teams and business units, all from one front end for clarity across costs and revenue.
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You might not have time to write the content for your website, or be proficient at logo design, translation, creating brochures and so on. However, there’s an army of web talent out there that can do the job on a budget and timescale that meets your needs.
Specify your needs and pick from the best of the applicants to get the job done, with secure payment only when you are happy. With many businesses relying on the gig community to get things done, Upwork can prove a valuable resource.
There are a huge number of cloud storage services, all offering broadly the same deal with varying degrees of security or redundancy. The primary cloud storage services are trimming their waists again, limiting just how much you can keep online.
With local servers and disaster recovery services still a costly expense, the likes of Dropbox offer a reasonable way to store plenty of data, with Dropbox offering 2Gb for free and the Pro tier offering up to 1TB of data.
Finding advice and information is easy across the web, finding the right tips and information increasingly see business users turning to LinkedIn as a professional social network.
Full of useful resources and posts, it can help build out your business contacts, both locally and around the world, and be a source of inspiration and information for any company. It can also help improve your business prospects as more people discover you, your talents and products.
Online security is a serious business, yet with accounts for all these services, plus the many others you may have, you might not know if a breach has taken place. If your email address or password has been stolen, then it could put your accounts at potential risk.
Use this service and if your name ever pops up after a hack (LinkedIn and MySpace being recent examples), however, small or high profile, then you’ll know to take steps to protect yourself and your business data.
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If you used to enjoy the features of Rapportive, you'd know it went downhill after being acquired by LinkedIn. Discover.ly is a similar tool that makes it easy to find social media links for your email contacts including Facebook and LinkedIn information; that may prove valuable to your business. Available as a Chrome browser extension, it is a useful way to get in touch beyond email.
10. Google Hangouts
Google Plus might be considered among the more niche social networks, but the Hangouts feature is a brilliant way to communicate and collaborate, with ease of connection and flexibility to key to helping you get working with colleagues, clients or customers, wherever they are in the world.
Working straight from a browser, there are apps for mobile users, and the conversations can be stored (if you use On Air mode) to help you recall what was said.
Let us know what your most useful or favorite service is that helps benefit your business.