Tuesday’s Top Ten: Top Ten Low-Cost or FREE Business Tools We Like

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Mar 6, 2007
More Articles by Janet

Most small businesses, like ours, face the challenge of finding good applications that can make them more efficient for a low cost. Here are just a few we like that are free or are a relatively low cost:

10. TimeFox
Timefox is a time tracking system — completely online — and only costs $15/year/user. And, if you pay for a year, you get a 10% discount. Timefox allows you to quickly chart time usage — which I used to do using pivot tables in Excel. This is much faster! Track client projects, tasks, etc. Great tool. Cost: $15/year/user

9. Google Documents
I only recently tried Google Docs, and now I’m hooked. Google Docs allows you to create spreadsheets and documents, hosted by Google. Much of the functionality of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are included. But the real benefit of Google Docs is the collaboration capability. Got a big team working in remote areas and on the same document? Google Docs allows you to collaborate and chat online on the same document. Cost: FREE

8. Basecamp
Basecamp is an online project management tool. Don’t have enough money to afford Microsoft Project? This tool may do the trick for you. Costs vary based on usage. Invite other employees or companies to view or change the project plans as well. Great for online project collaboration. Cost: FREE

7. Got vMail
Want to look like a big business? Got vMail is a virtual PBX system. It allows you to have one phone number, with extensions, and voicemail — and send those calls to any phone. Voicemails can be sent to your email as an MP3 attachment. It even has a “dial-by-name” option and auto-attendant. We love it! Cost: As little as $19.99/month.

6. eFax
Our company’s new landlord was shocked when I told him we don’t have a dedicated fax line. Who needs that anymore? eFax sends your faxes to your email, and you can send faxes online. Cost: FREE

5. PRWeb
PRWeb is an online press release distribution system. It’s not only great for promotion, but for SEO too. PRWeb allows you, for a fee, to insert links (with anchor text you determine) into your press releases. Cost: From $40/press release.

4. LinkedIn
Essentially, LinkedIn is the MySpace for business people. An online networking site, LinkedIn is a great way to build a contact list and network throughout your contacts. For instance, you may not realize that your best friend is two degrees away from a great prospect. Or, looking for a good employee? LinkedIn may be a good way to find qualified candidates. Cost: FREE

3. Google Analytics
I’ve been a bit skeptical of Google Analytics because I don’t always trust what Google may do with my data. And web log file data is valuable proprietary data. But for companies who can’t afford the expense of Omniture SiteCatalyst or WebTrends, Google Analytics is a good, solid alternative. Cost: FREE

2. Salesforce.com
OK, so Salesforce.com is the most expensive item on this list — but I think it’s worth it. Collect your leads and follow them through the entire sales lifecycle. Salesforce also makes it virtually dummy-proof to add leads from your website directly into Salesforce.com. It also has great dashboards to give you instant visibility into your sales pipeline. Cost: Priced by User

1. LeadLander
This is a very cool tool, and you may become hooked! LeadLander sends you a daily report, via email, of what companies are coming to your website. If you log into your account, you can see which pages the companies viewed, how long they stayed, etc. It brings web analytics to another level. But that’s not all! You can combine LeadLander with Salesforce.com and track the actions of customers, prospects, etc. Cost: $1900/year, +$250/year for Salesforce.com integration

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