It seems like everyone is looking for a way to start a business online. Some try and sell their services online, others their manufactured product, still others even start online social networks and "Web 2.0" SaaS (Software as a Service). Many of these companies are started by college friends or people who leave their jobs to join the hundreds of self-made CEOs across the country. Now, while their talent and motivation account for their success, all of them make use of many tools to help better their productivity, communication, and organization for project management. These entrepreneurs know how important it is to arm themselves with the right tools when trying to launch a business. Â Here are some of the tools that anyone looking to start an online venture should look at:
1. Any Product from 37signals
Over 5 million people use products from 37signals – that alone says just how important this company is to the business community. 37signals makes four main products that provide a wide range of features and functionality. Â They are as follows:
Basecamp: Insanely easy to use online project management software. You can create project files, manage deadlines, collaborate, share files, and meet deadlines, all while being in the spirit of efficiency and effectiveness.
Backpack: A great way to organize and share information across various teams within a business – the most effective way to share important information quickly and easily.
Highrise: Very useful online CRM software for tracking contacts, leads, and deals. This service works great for organizing sales and internal contacts, as well as task management and enabling easy to execute follow-ups.
Campfire: Instant messaging chat, specifically designed to share files and code for specific groups within development teams, both onsite and remotely.
Rework is a book by the two founders of 37signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier. The book is a New York Times best seller and has received very high praise from such business authorities such as Seth Godin. Check it out!
Freshbooks is an online web service for tracking all income and expenses in your company. This service helps you complete a task which is absolutely critical to any small startup – money management. Using Freshbooks, you can send and manage invoices online, track time online, manage contractors, track company expenses, bill clients, and keep a running record of the company's entire financial portfolio.
3. Google Apps
There's no way to leave out Google. Over the past few months Google has rolled out an entire online suite of programs for the business community, ranging from enterprise level Gmail with personal domain functionality, to Google Sites and project sharing functionality. Any startup should take advantage of Google's free services, because they're reliable and for the most part, seen as the standard. Effectively using Google Calendar with iCal or Microsoft Calendar is an extremely useful idea when it comes to planning meetings, scheduling office hours, appointments, and inviting others to meetings and events. Not to mention Google's useful webmaster tools, and analytics program that every company with a website (which should be everyone) must use to increase their online traffic and maintain an effective system for web metrics.
Skype is a desktop and mobile VOIP (voice over internet protocol) client used by millions of people around the world for audio calling as well as video conferencing. Skype is widely used by many businesses, whether used for text chatting amongst office partners, or large scale recorded international conference calls, Skype is considered invaluable by many, if not most all, entrepreneurs. Additionally, people can purchase a SkypeIn number in their local area code, as well as SkypeOut credit for national and international calling at low yearly fixed rates. Call Recorder is a great tool to have if you use a Skype with your Mac, because it allows you to record important calls as MP3s. There are also recording tools for Windows.
When used properly, these tools in combination with one another help allow anyone, whether a single individual, or a few people spread out across the country, effectively operate and present themselves publicly as a professional business.
Michael Costigan speaks to teens and adults about effective communication so that they may make better informed decisions together. Read more about Michael here.