At Chaos To Clarity there are several online applications that we use to work and run our business. They’re 5 main reasons we use online applications:
1. They’re platform neutral. Much of desktop business software is still Windows only, but my main computer is a Mac. Online applications are typically Mac-friendly.
2. Share with others. Everything is in one place and online so information can be shared easily among several users without having to maintain a company server. It’s like having an enterprise level application without the cost.
3. Access it anywhere. Because it’s on the Internet you can access your applications from different computers. When I need a change of scenery, I move from my desktop to my laptop (soon to be iPad) and take off while still having easy access to my programs and files.
4. Backup and security. Online business applications that come with file storage take care of daily backups and secure your information. One less thing to worry about!
5. Frequent improvements. Because the applications are housed on the provider’s servers, there’s no software for you to upgrade. Poof, improvements just appear.
Our Core Online Applications/Services
1. 37Signals has 4 main offerings: Highrise (contact management), Basecamp (project management), Backpack (information management & calendar), and Campfire (secured chat). We use all of them except for Campfire.
2. Toggl. We use Toggl to track our time. Although 37Singals Basecamp has time tracking, Toggl fits our needs better.
3. Mozy is an easy to use automated online backup service. Even though we store many project files on Basecamp, we still keep files on our computer. So we backup all our important files to Mozy. The cost of online backup is so inexpensive these days that its just silly to not do it.
4. GoToMeeting is an online meeting service. We use it internally and to meet with clients. Not only does it cut down on local travel, which in the Washington metro area is a must, it allows us to work with clients nationally.
5. Jing lets us create 5 minute videos and selectively share them with clients via the Web. Using a headset microphone, we can talk a client through a website in development while recording a visual tour from the computer screen.
6. Scribe makes it easier to write search engine friendly text. It integrates with WordPress (our website/blogging platform). After you write your text, you run an evaluation to see how it will appear to search engines. You get instant feedback on your writing and SEO efforts and helpful explanations on how to improve any areas that need it. Note: We participate in Scribe’s affiliate program.
7. MailChimp is a very easy to use email blast service. They have many email templates to choose from or, if you know html, you can create your own. Note: We participate in MailChimps rewards program.
We pay some amount for each of these online applications/services—our total monthly bill is well over $100. To some small business owners that might seem costly when there are plenty of free applications out there. There’s nothing wrong with using free applications, but when it comes to your business make sure that they meets your needs as well as your budget (see Free is Not Always Good for Business).
What online applications do you depend on to work or run your business?