12 New Tools to Help Your Business
By Daniel Kehrer
Answer: Small business is a vibrant and expanding universe - and an attractive market for many companies. I'm bombarded with a steady stream of product, service and solution announcements targeting business owners, including online applications, technology, software or new twists on old concepts.
Here are 12 new things that small business owners, home-based businesses and startups will find interesting:
1) FREE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE: QuickBooks Simple Start 2008 is full- featured (not a trial) accounting software that's free and easy to use. It's intended for first-time users and lacks powerful features of QuickBooks itself. But it's still a great tool to track sales, expenses and data for customers and vendors, plus produce estimates, invoices and more. Visit quickbooks.intuit.com.
2) LOW-COST WEB SITE ANALYSIS TOOL: For an affordable ($21.95/ year) new way to gather info on your Web site, check out
TheCounter.com. It offers instant reports that include traffic figures, plus the visitor's browser and operating system, which sites or search engines brought them there, and keywords used.
3) CREATE CUSTOM PHOTO LABELS: Seiko, which pioneered single- label smart printers, has new software that lets you take photos directly from a webcam to create custom labels with text and photos for name tags, security badges, inventory identification, envelopes, files, storage boxes, bar codes and other office applications. Visit www.siibusinessproducts.com.
4) LOW-COST VIDEO ADS: AditAll is a new Web-based platform for small and mid-size businesses to create, customize and distribute video ads. Average costs for AditAll video ads range from $300 to $700, well below costs of creating quality videos other ways. It's also a distribution channel for video and audio content producers and developers. Advertisers can post a request for specific audio/ video needs; producers can then create/post clips for potential purchase. Visit www.aditall.com.
5) USE WEB-BASED PERFORMANCE REVIEWS: Many biz owners dread paper- based employee reviews. Some are finding a better way, online. SuccessFactors (www.successfactors.com), Halogen (www.halogensoftware.com) and Softscape On-Demand (www.softscape.com) are popular solutions targeting small biz.
6) COLLABORATE ONLINE: Office Live Workspace, now in beta, will be a new place to store, share and access your Microsoft Office documents and preview them from almost any computer, even if it doesn't have Office installed. Pre-register (free) now to become one of the first to try it out. Open and save files directly from Word, Excel and PowerPoint. No more flash drives or sending docs by e- mail. Invite others to your workspace. You control who can view and edit your docs. Great for group projects. No downloads; just sign up and go. It's free, from Microsoft. Visit officelive.microsoft.com.
7) GIVE YOUR COLLECTIONS A BOOST. Got overdue invoices? Bill Collector in a Box is new, low-cost ($99) PC software that puts a complete bill collection solution on your desktop. It gathers all past-due accounts in one place and automates the steps to get paid. When combined with online services, it's like having your own in- house debt collection agency. Visit www.billcollectorinabox.com.
8) A NEW PHONE COMPANY: Phone.com offers virtual office phone service geared to businessowners and professionals who operate from home, multiple locations or off cell phones. Get one number (including vanity toll-free) to reach all locations. Quick online signup. No equipment to buy or maintain. Rates start under $10/ month. Offers custom recordings, customer queues, menus, voicemail, forwarding and much more.
9) RECYCLE OLD TECH SAFELY: Have you delayed recycling or disposing of outdated hardware due to security concerns? Storing and tracking old PCs costs your business money. Dell Recycling and Asset Recovery is an under-the-radar service that helps small businesses recycle all PC brands easily and securely. You can register online to have the equipment picked up. Dell can also help resell still- valuable assets. Visit www.dell.com/smbrecycle.
10) DIVE INTO DASHBOARDS: George S. May International has launched a new series of industry-specific management "dashboards" for small biz. They work in concert with QuickBooks. Check 'em out at GSMdashboards.com.
11) LOOK BIGGER WITH VIRTUAL OFFICE SOLUTIONS: For fast info on "going virtual" with all or a portion of your business, check out Davinci Virtual's new interactive Web site where you'll find a video presentation, news articles on virtual offices and helpful tips. Visit www.davincivirtual.com.
12) MANAGE MONEY ON THE MOVE: Quicken personal finance software will soon be available in an Apple iPhone version for $3 per month. Visit www.quicken.com.
Daniel Kehrer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Business.com and Work.com, a "how-to" site for small business. 2007 Business.com, Inc.
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