Essential Business Tools
START with Tools Every Small Business Needs
In the first step of this quick start guide, we’ve tried to narrow in on the most essential set of tools for small business. Below is our guide to:
- Google Apps for Business
- Connecting to Your Customers with Google Places
The very first thing you’ll need to do is set up an account with Google. While you may already have a free Gmail account, using the full suite of business tools places all of your data and entire workflow in the cloud, meaning you can access it anywhere, at any time, and from any internet connection.
- Full Suite of Business Tools
- Use Your Company’s Domain Name
- Your Files are Secure
- Cloud Backup (No Data Loss)
- High Functionality with Low Cost
- Great for Collaboration
- Fully Integrated Across all Apps
- Simple Project Management
- Time Management
Google Apps will Benefit your Business
At $5 per month per user (or $50 per year per user, Google Apps for Business is the most cost-effective set of tools for your basic small business needs. Integrating apps like Gmail, Calendar, and Google Docs into your workflow will enable your employees to coordinate and collaborate in an easy, efficient and inexpensive way.
If you aren’t familiar with all of the features of Google Apps, here’s a quick look at how these tools will benefit your small business.
1. Get Your Own Business Gmail
There’s a reason Gmail is the world’s most popular email service: it’s easy to use and comes with a host of features that are perfect for small business. If you have your own domain name, or would like to have one (learn more about acquiring a domain name), Gmail makes it very easy to integrate. You will use the Gmail interface, and can access your company’s email account from any device with an internet connection.
- Synced across all your Devices
- Send and receive email as firstname.lastname@example.org
- 30 gigabytes of storage per user
- Chat and Video Conferencing with Google Hangouts
- Compose emails even without an internet connection
Stay Coordinated with Calendar
Google Calendar provides an efficient and intuitive way to keep appointments and events synced across your entire business. With calendar sharing and permissions (similar to those in Docs), you can add other employees’ calendars to your own, and vice versa, in order to see and manage the big picture of your team’s time.
- Coordinating meetings, calls, and shift staffing for multiple employees to avoid scheduling conflicts
- Sharing multiple calendars with one “master calendar”
- Creates a color-coded scheduling table for the coordinator that updates automatically when users make changes or additions
2. Store, Collaborate and Create with Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud-based suite for word processing, presentation building, spreadsheets, web forms and websites. All the work is done in a web browser, and all the data is saved in the cloud.
- Files can be shared with individual team members, or the entire group.
- Set permissions for specific users to view and edit documents.
- Users can simultaneously view and edit documents.
- Real-time collaborative projects or presentations during web-conferencing.
- Grant permission to employees, colleagues or clients to view, edit, or create documents.
Launch a Project with Google Sites
Google Sites is a drag-and-drop web development tool that allows you to create a functional website just for employees, or open to the public. The websites you create exist within your Google Apps domain, and the administrator can set permissions for employees to add, change, or contribute information.
- WYSIWYG web editor
- Integrates documents, chart or spreadsheets from Drive
- Serves as a project dashboard full of dynamically updating information
Sites here can be purely informational, or with the aid of some built-in templates, a fully-fledged dynamic public website for your business.
Googles Apps for Business is free for 30 days. Then the cost is $5 per user/month (or $50 per user/year). Administrators can centrally purchase and manage up to 16TB (16,000GB) of additional storage per user for as little as $4/month for 20GB.
Get Your Business Information Online
While you will definitely benefit from creating a fully customized website for your business, a simple first step should be to get your business information online so that your customers can find your place of business, your hours, or your contact information.
Google Places for Business
Most people search for businesses online, so it’s very important to make sure people can easily find your local business listing on Google.com and Google Maps.
Your Google local business listing is an easy way to maintain an online presence even if you don’t have a website.
You can visit Google Places anytime to edit your information or see how many people have seen and clicked on your listing.
Creating Your Own Page
Google Places also allows you to customize your listing with posts, photos and videos. This will allow you to reach out to customers with coupons or additional information.
Creating Your Own Website
Google Places is a free service, with some inexpensive premium options. While this is a great place to start your web presence, if you are interested in creating your own custom website, you can learn more here.