Enterprise Grade IT for Free – 5 Web Services to Enable your Small Business

Many see our current economy as tough times but that’s not how I see it. I see this as an economy of opportunities, innovation, and a true test for our skills as entrepreneurs. There’s no better time than to start producing the many ideas that you have put on the back burner for so long.

One of the main factors that determine the success of any entrepreneurial effort is “timing.” This holds true regardless if you are trying to capitalize on the current downward economy or even just starting something new to prepare for the recovery.  “Timing” is a science in and of itself. While covering all aspects of “timing” is beyond the scope of this article, it is a critical factor that makes what I want to share very important. In a slow economy, one must boot strap their startups effectively in order to meet the demands of “timing.” It all boils down to one question:
“How do I do more with less so I can deliver on time?”

Many see our current economy as tough times but that’s not how I see it. I see this as an economy of opportunities, innovation, and a true test for our skills as entrepreneurs. There’s no better time than to start producing the many ideas that you have put on the back burner for so long.

One of the main factors that determine the success of any entrepreneurial effort is “timing.” This holds true regardless if you are trying to capitalize on the current downward economy or even just starting something new to prepare for the recovery.  “Timing” is a science in and of itself. While covering all aspects of “timing” is beyond the scope of this article, it is a critical factor that makes what I want to share very important. In a slow economy, one must boot strap their startups effectively in order to meet the demands of “timing.” It all boils down to one question:

“How do I do more with less so I can deliver on time?”

This is why I want to share 5 of my favorite free web services that can truly let you do more with less; services that can automate many of your business processes and allow you to focus more on what’s most important. Best of all, there’s no more managing servers, backing up data, or trouble shooting problems because these are all “cloud” applications. I also hope my recommendations will help some existing small businesses to find free alternatives for what they are currently paying a premium for as well.

With that said, here they are:

Google Apps
http://www.google.com/apps
Google Apps provide free e-mail, contacts, calendar, docs, chat, and website hosting services to a domain of your choice for free. Kudos to Google for having brought us essential business services for free; something that traditionally cost an arm and a leg. Remember those days when you worked for a big corp and enjoyed all the fancy technology provided by using Exchange, Outlook, and ActiveSync? You can now get all that for free. Of course, there is a premium paid account that brings you even more features but for a small business or a startup, the free service is really all you need.

Outright
http://www.outright.com
Looking for simple solution to do your accounting work? Here’s a simple and intuitive free service that can help you do all the things that you used to have to hire an accountant or buy a copy of Quickbooks and the like in order to accomplish.

Dropbox
http://www.dropbox.com
Do you find it frustrating to share files between multiple computers or with your co-workers? Dropbox is a free of charge service (under 2GB of storage) that syncs your files between every computer you work on and also people that you specify to sync with.  My favorite part about Dropbox is that it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux; which pretty much covers 99% of the platforms being used as desktop solutions for businesses. No more passwords and share portals. No more bombing your co-workers with 50MB e-mails. Just dropbox! If 2GB is not enough storage for what you want to do, you can pay for more storage.

Evernote
http://www.evernote.com
Do you take notes as much as I do? Evernote is a free of charge service that provides a way for you to take notes that will show up in every machine or mobile device you install Evernote on.  It is a great way to have all your notes at your fingertips wherever you are. If you ever need to quickly read off your notes from a meeting to your client during lunch, just pull out your phone and voila!

Facebook | Twitter
http://www.facebook.com | http://www.twitter.com
Why pay for marketing in the early stages of your business when you have free social networking services at your fingertips. Leverage these services to increase your company’s exposure.

That’s it! I hope that this article was informative and helpful to all you entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs out there. If you have any recommendations of your own or any feedback at all, please feel free to write me at Jeremy (AT) seattlechinesetimes (DOT) com.


Jeremy Cheng is a contributing writer for Seattle Chinese Times. He brings 13 years of experience in IT and entrepreneurship. Currently, he’s the managing director of Metacentrix, LLC, an international management consultancy and a consultant for Seattle Chinese Time’s online initiative.

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