If you’re reading this post and are a small businessperson or aspire to be one, then I don’t have to sell you on the importance of using social media marketing. Moreover, if you’ve been following my articles and read:
Social Media: A Personal Experience
Is Your Organization Part of the Conversation?
…then you also know some tactics and tools that social media offers you for communication, collaboration, research and promotion.
But if you’re a small business, non-profit organization, church or proprietor, then you probably are among the masses struggling financially through this economy. However, your business does not have to suffer (as much). You can still project a professional image and do business like a pro with the help of the following free tools:
Yuuguu: Online presentation and meeting collaboration
Billing Boss: Online invoicing provided by Sage
Drop Box: Online file sharing and access
These tools will allow you to hold online meetings with up to 5 people who can see and share your computer screen; take care of your invoicing, quoting and customer database, and ensure that any files needed to be shared for completion of any project are readily available to all who need access to them. Let’s take a look at these one at a time.
While Yuuguu is not the first online presentation and collaborative suite (GoToMeeting and Webex have been around for years), they ARE the first to put together a first class suite that offers, albeit, a limited free version—not a free 30-day trial.
The free version will allow you to collaborate with up to 5 people at one time. If they are Yuuguu subscribers as well, then there is no time limitation (so get all your employees and prospects to sign up for a free account). For those times when it would not be professional to ask them to sign up for something in order for you to hold a meeting, Yuuguu gives you up to 100 free monthly minutes to use with a non-subscriber.
This is great if you’re a church or non-profit who needs to collaborate with different locations, or if you’re a club who wants to meet with members for fun. There are so many uses one can think of.
If maintaining your invoicing and customer information in the Cloud (online) doesn’t scare you away, then Billing Boss, by Sage (the makers of the most popular CRM [customer retention management] program, ACT!), is a great and simple solution.
Now don’t expect a complete and comprehensive program, after all, it is free. But what you CAN do includes:
4. Manage your customer database
5. Create an Invoice Report
6. Create a Payment Report
7. Share the data with your bookkeeper
So if you’re a small outfit, this is a perfect solution until you grow and need something like Peachtree Accounting or QuickBooks.
There are many cloud-computing solutions available. Microsoft offers a free online hard drive (as they call it) through Windows Live and MS Office. Google, of course, has Google Docs.
What makes this unique is the ability to save any kind of file to a folder on your computer and it will make those files available to any device (cell phone, tablet, work computer, etc.) to which you install Drop Box with your account. You get 2 Gigabytes of free storage (additional storage has a monthly fee). So if you are constantly working on the same projects, homework or graphics in multiple locations, you don’t have to worry that you forgot them at home. Oh, and you can share your folder. So if you have employees who
collaborate on the same files, you can give them access as well.
Don’t let the down economy keep you from trying to stimulate it with your business. While this won’t make you be flushed with capital, it will at least free up several hundred dollars that you can apply to other needs… like, say, an espresso coffee bar in the employee lounge! I love free, don’t you?