Whether you’re a one-person business with your office in your spare bedroom, or you’re a good sized firm with offices around the state or country, staying organized and staying within budget can be a challenge. Here are five free online tools and applications that will help you do both.
1. Chuck the Day Runner.
If you aren’t making good use of an online calendar you’re missing out. You and your entire team can be on the same page, literally. There are a couple of good ways to go with a free online calendar and I suggest you start out by taking a look at Zoho Calendar. This is a feature rich online app that allows you to send invitations, receive RSVPs, embed your calendar and share your calendar with others. It will also send you reminders, sync with Outlook and integrate with other Zoho applications. Of course, Google Calendar is probably the biggest player in this field, so it’s worth investigating as well.
2. Microsoft Office costs how much?!
For those of us who think Microsoft is already big enough, we’re thankful that the open-source movement has created OpenOffice.org. This office suite includes applications for spreadsheets, presentations, word processing, databases, graphics and more. Better yet, it is entirely free no matter how you are going to use it. It is easy to install and easy to use. You can download it for virtually any system so everyone in your office can be running this office suite. I already mentioned the free part, right?
3. The bill is in the (e)mail
If I learned anything in business school it was that you have to send out invoices if you want to get paid. Sage Billing Boss does this for free. This tool allows you to get your invoices out more quickly, which results in getting paid more quickly. Within a few minutes you can get signed up for the service, entire some basic information and start billing your customers. Invoices are sent via email, or you can print them out and trust them to snail mail. And, if you’re doing business on the road your billing tools are as close as the nearest Internet connection. You don’t have to get back to the home office to invoice our clients.
4. Be a task master
Back in the day we tied strings to our fingers to remind us to stop at the store on the way home. Staying on top of your business “to do” list is always a top priority and that’s where Remember the Milk shines. Remember the Milk bills itself as both a to do list and a task manager. This free application will sync with your computers as well as your mobile devices. You can set due dates and various project details, categorize and prioritize them and then share them with coworkers or clients. There are downloads for Android devices, iPhones. Blackberrys, and iPads. It also integrates with Twitter, Gmail, Outlook and iCal, among others.
5. Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Staying on top of industry news is vitally important and one of the best ways to do this in today’s hyper-busy office environment is with an RSS/News Reader. Google Reader is a good choice here. You can easily subscribe to blogs and news sites then when you go to Google Reader, you get all your news on one page, perfectly displayed for scanning. You can then drill down and take a closer look at the news and information you think is most important.
Any office can make good use of most, if not all, of the free tools described here. Do you have any favorites I’ve missed?
David Ching is a marketing strategist for EQA Office Furniture, an office furniture online retailer offering office chairs, workstations, conference tables, cubicles, receptionist desks and more.