Lots of Search Engine Marketers talk about the tools they use. Tools for SEO such as keyword research, link analysis and site audits. Tools for PPC like bid management and reporting. Tools for conversion tracking, analytics, and optimization. SEM is rapidly evolving and new tools are introduced every week.. ItsTheROI uses many of those tools and we never stop looking for new ones and hearing what people have to say about what they like.
There is a whole different category to tools that we use every day that have nothing to do with Search Engines. These are online tools that make it possible for us to run a small business. Some business tools are so mundane that they are not worth a detailed discussion — No one really wants me to tell them about my DSL connection, my iPhone or what hardware is on my desk. Some are services such as hosting that go beyond the scope of this article
EchoSign: Do you hate printing agreements so you can sign them and then scan them again? Ever wonder how you are going to get those hours of your life back? Does your paper filing system lack organization? Do you ever forget to follow up on an agreement you sent out? Have you lost track of all of those NDAs? If you answered yes to any of these questions or most of them, then you will fall in love with the powerful yet simple contact management and electronic signature service offered by EchoSign.
It is really very simple.
- Upload a Word Document, PDF or just about any other text doc.
- Open the document in their preview screen and place the fields you require such as name, date, title and signature.
- Email the document to the other party. You can e-sign it first or you can wait for them to send it back with the electronic signature.
- Get a completed agreement.
- You now have a legal agreement that has a digital signature, document management with an archive, the works.
Efax: If you are like me, you haven’t owned a physical fax machine for years. None the less, business still occasionally demands that 20th century form factor. When that happens, nothing is easier than an fax to email service and Efax delivers for a price that is hard to beat… Nada. Ok, they do push some advertising my way and a bunch of emails that Gmail intercepts, but overall it is hard to beat.
Freshbooks: If you are not an accountant, accounting software tends to have a relatively steep adoption curve. Freshooks small business accounting software offers a hosted solution that is easy to use. While it is more expensive than Quickbooks or other desktop accounting solutions, Freshbooks makes it easy to setup repeat billing and sends the invoices automatically each month. That feature alone is worth the $14/month it costs.
PayCycle: Payroll is another one of those tasks that takes a lot of time and creates lots of stress. Have you filed your payroll taxes this month? Did you fill the form out correctly? How about calculating the withholding? Why does the Franchise Tax Board keep sending me letters that could be reminders about something I have already done or a threat to sue me or possible an invitation to an all day seminar about properly completing a payroll stub? Whatever the reason, I don’t have time to do that s**t and online payroll software means I don’t have to think about it.
Special bonus feature, I have all of my contractors setup on direct deposit, so I can pay them immediately without addressing an envelop, finding a stamp or giving it another thought. Paycycle.com does for employees and contractors what online banking did for paying your bills.
Task Squid is a online task management software developed by one of my clients for their own use and now coming out of beta as an actual product. Task Squid is really cool because it leverages the social networking tools I already use every day like twitter, SMS, IM, Google Calendar and Facebook to let me stay on top of tasks, invite others to participate and update the status of each task. The most interesting thing about Task Squid is that it is designed to remove the friction of adding a new user to an individual task without adding them to a team or setting permissions for other projects.