Five Tools to Make Small Business Owners’ Lives Easier
For small businesses, doing more with less is a pretty standard mantra. Thankfully, there’s a slew of software and applications that can help small businesses run their operations without breaking the bank. Here’s a look at a few of them:
Running a small business is hard, but paying someone to draw up contracts and business proposals is even harder on a business owner’s wallet. Biztree’s Business-In-A-Box software is a do-it-yourself software application that contains more than 1,500 templates of common business and legal documents used by small businesses. According to the company, the templates are professionally written and pre formatted; all users have to do is fill in their information and send it to the printer. Business-in-a-Box, which counts more than 2.5 million customers, is available in eight languages and is used in more than 200 countries. The price tag: $249.95.
Extra fees are annoying and can slowly eat away at a business’s bottom line. FeeFighters.com aims to combat extra charges associated with sales and take the pain out of choosing a credit-card processor.
The free Web site offers businesses a head-to-head comparison of credit-card processors, similar to what Lending Tree does with mortgages. All the small business has to do is start an auction and in minutes it will get bids from credit-card processing companies. Businesses can review the bids, and decide what processors best meets their needs. FeeFighters.com claims a small business can save up to 40% on credit-card processing fees. FeeFighters.com gets paid from the credit-card processor, which enables it to keep its services free.
Small business owners that do a lot of traveling overseas are all too aware of the cost to send text messages outside their network. LiveProfile aims to lower that cost with its free group messaging app available on the iPhone, Android-based mobile phones and the BlackBerry. Users can send messages, photos, videos and post status updates similar to how they would do it on a computer all in real time. The app uses the phone’s existing data plan or WiFi and not the SMS texting plan, which enables free texting. Although the app sits in the background of the phone, it doesn’t use any resources and therefore won’t drain a phone’s battery life. The app keeps small business owners up to date by showing when messages are delivered, read, and when the recipient is typing a reply.
For small businesses that work on the road, accepting non-cash or check payments can be tough. To combat this, a host of companies, including Intuit, are making mobile apps that make existing phones accept credit-card payments.
Intuit’s GoPayment works on the iPhone, Android-based phones and the BlackBerry and enables small business owners to easily accept credit-card payments either by using a card reader or entering the credit card number into a mobile payment Web site. According to Inuit, card authorization will come back within seconds and the software can e-mail or text receipts directly from the mobile phone. Since the credit card information is not stored in the phone, it claims to be safe from hackers. For small businesses that don’t do a lot of transactions, Intuit has the low-volume plan that has a swipe rate of 2.7% and a key in rate of 3.7%. For those that process more than $1,000 worth of purchases a month, the company offers a high-volume plan that costs $12.95 a month with a swipe rate of 1.7% and a key in rate of 2.7%. Each plan comes with a free Intuit credit card reader.
For small business owners that surf the Web a lot and find useful information, ideas and data, MyStickies.com will help keep track of all their findings. MyStickies lets small business owners take notes on little yellow squares of digital paper and place them anywhere on the Internet. The application also comes with a browser interface to allow users to search, sort and edit the sticky notes from any PC that’s connected to the Internet. The App is free, although MyStickies.com will take donations to continue to offer the product for free.