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Time-saving tools for small businesses

Is the web your greatest time saver or time waster? If you’re like most business users, it’s probably both. Fortunately you can tip the scales in favor of saving time with online tools for your business and personal use. Some are free, while others charge a monthly fee; many have a free basic version with upgraded features for a modest charge. Focus on areas where you can save the most time and evaluate these solutions for your business and personal use.

Project Management/File Sharing

  • Basecamp, a Web-based tool for project management and collaboration, lets you share files, messages, and calendars with team members.
  • Google Docs allows you to create, share, and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Box.com is a cloud-based file sharing solution that lets you access, manage and share content from any location on any device.
  • DropBox, another cloud-based solution, stores documents, photos and videos and allows individuals or teams to access or share them.

Accounting/HR

  • Bill.com automates business bill payment and invoices, keeps track of cash flow, and is compatible with popular business accounting software.
  • Catch the Best helps you find the best candidates for open positions by creating a database of job applicants and tracking which job boards and ads are most effective.

Communications/Scheduling

  • Skype, widely used for video calls, also has useful business applications which include video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing.
  • Phone Tag converts voicemail messages to text and sends them to you by email or text message so you don’t have to listen through messages repeatedly. The voice file remains available if you need it.
  • Groupon Scheduler (formerly OpenCal) cuts down on phone calls by allowing customers to make appointments online and enabling you to manage your schedule online.

Information Organization

  • Google Reader helps you keep up with the Web sites and blogs you read most by constantly checking for new content and then notifying you by email.
  • Evernote captures any audio, video or text you select and lets you search from your computer or mobile device when you want to retrieve information.

Security

  • MozyPro provides online backup for small business computers and servers with 24/7 phone support.
  • Last Past keeps all your passwords in one secure location and generates secure passwords automatically. You can access it on any computer or your smartphone.
  • Roboform keeps all your login information secure in one location and allows you to fill in forms automatically.

Personal Productivity

  • Rescue Time is an analytics tool that allows businesses and individuals to examine how time is spent and how to become more productive.
  • Freedom actually locks you out of the Internet for the time period you designate so you work without interruption.
  • Shortkeys lets you save blocks of text that you use repeatedly and places them in any Windows document quickly without errors.
  • The Pomodoro Technique is a simple time-management system that helps you break large projects into small, manageable chunks so you can stay on task.

It’s probably not a coincidence that many of these time-saving tools were invented by small businesses. Finding the right ones for your business is the next best thing to adding hours to your day.

 

Kelly Burkart is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, Minn. While she has spent most of her time writing about financial services the past 15 years, she has also explored and written about everything from cardiovascular health to travel, higher education and sustainable energy practices. 

©2012 All rights reserved.

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