Software and productivity tools for small businesses that are ideal for use in a home office environment.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of software I use. This is the “short list” and the focus is primarily on software uses within the Internet environment.
To preface this short discussion – really, I’m going to try and keep this short – I’m not a software engineer and I don’t like things too complicated; I want the digital whatnots in my computer to just do their thing and I’ll do mine. My end goal is to complete a task as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Here are some good programs to keep the bugs from reeking digital mayhem on your PC (Precious Companion). They are all freeware or shareware and do a wonderful job of keeping my PC running at click-happy speed:
AVG Anti Virus (free version works great)
SOFTWARE TO MAKE SOFTWARE
This is a great concept. HyperNext has created a neat little software tool that lets you churn out your own software applications. Yep, you can make your own software for small businesses. It’s surprisingly easy to use.
EMAIL FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Managing your email can be real drudgery… such tedious work and it can really eat into your time.
Automation is the key. I take several approaches to email. I manage some of my lists with a service called MailChimp. I can quickly sort and send email to hundreds of people with just a few clicks.
I’m also a fan of autoresponders. I can create email messages on any topic I choose, folks can then request the information and get it instantaneously. Perfect time saver. I use GetResponse, not just for autoresponders, but to send out newsletters as well.
One more email option I like is Constant Contact. It’s completely web-based. Extremely simply to use with high-end results. If you like sending HTML emails, they’re got a great selection of pretty templates. Their subscriber management tools are superb and you can track and analyze your email campaigns effortlessly.
I’m just not willing to give up to spammers. Unless you want to use a web-based service to get all your email, or allow your ISP or a third party spam control intermediary to control the flow of unwanted trash, you need something to filter through the mounds of rubbish coming into your computer’s email client.
For this I use MailWasher. It’s a learning program that you teach to discriminate between what you want to keep and what you don’t. My life has gotten much simpler since downloading this gem.
Before building a new site, entering a new market, or creating new pages for your existing site, it’s a good idea to research the keywords people use to find information on the Internet. Keyword research will alert you to under-served or over-served areas within your market and allow you to burrow down and really target a particular market segment. Once you know fundamental keywords to attack, you can pick an appropriate domain name, perform more effectively with PPC advertising, and score more traffic from search engines.
One of the best online tools is Keyword Planner from Google. This is a free tool nested within Google Adwords. You’ll need to sign up for Google Adwords to use the planner.
Good Keywords is another tool to to help you research what people are searching for based on news trends, social media buzz, and overall online popularity. For another more sophisticated perspective you can use WordTracker.
If you’re using keyword research to identify a new domain name, NameBoy has a great online tool. It allows you to input a term or phrase, find out if the domain name is available, and gives suggestions for names similar to your chosen name.
WEB PAGE DESIGN SOFTWARE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
I’m a bit nostalgic when it comes to HTML editors. I still like to use Microsoft Expression, though it does have its drawbacks. It tends to muddle up the code and Microsoft has a way of making you jump through hoops to get the full use of their products. But I’ve grown familiar with it and can easily glide through page building.
Then there’s Dreamweaver. It has a lot of nice features. It’s a slam dunk on Frontpage. Pricey software. But it’s capable of delivering the goods.
WordPress is used to manage this site. It is the most popular content management system. You can use a free theme (design) provided in the WordPress installation or choose from thousands of free and paid themes for more versatility.
You can also choose from a plethora of web-based services, such as Webs and Squarespace, that require no special coding knowledge.
Getting back to basics, you can’t go wrong with NoteTab. No matter what software you use, NoteTab can be counted on as a simple and efficient text/HTML editor. I pull up this program nearly everyday for all my text editing needs and for tweaking and touching up files. This is software for small businesses that can really help you customize your site.
SITE ANALYSIS & SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
It’s hard to improve your visibility in search results if you’re not taking proactive measures to improve your rankings. If you’re tracking your site’s performance you’ll know what steps to take to monetize effectively.
For time-strapped business owners a tool is needed that streamlines page optimization practices and helps you monitor your progress easily. Google to the rescue with Search Console and Google Analytics.
There you have it! This is but a small sampling of the tools available to help streamline your tasks and optimize your output. With proper implementation of the software and services at your disposal you can focus on the more important stuff, like running a successful business!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. He is the founder of HomeBizTools and the publisher of Straight Talk, a syndicated column that offers a unique perspective on today’s business issues.