Here’s the good news: You know that big red Easy Button on Staples commercials that magically makes easy work of cumbersome tasks? It actually exists! No kidding—it’s only a click away.
Here’s the bad news: It comes magic not included. Sadly, that Easy Button is only a plastic desk adornment, nothing more. So click all you want, but the mountain of work staring back at you from your inbox isn’t going to disappear.
For small business owners, there is almost always more tasks than time, and the workload can get out of hand very quickly. The problem is, no one person can stay on top of every single thing every minute of every day. Inventory control, accounts receivable, accounts payable, offline marketing, social media marketing, customer service, sales, operations—these are just a few of the chores that must be crossed off the daily to-do list for small business owners. And if you’re like most, you don’t have nearly enough staff to reasonably handle it all. Here are 5 web tools that can help pick up the slack—there’s not an Easy Button in the bunch, but they’re helpful, and best of all, they’re free.
Kanbanize: A virtual kanban tool that includes unlimited projects and boards, card templates, customizable card views, activity history, and notifications. With it, you can keep a constant eye on overall and project workflow, suss out bottlenecks when they occur, and use the free metrics tool to track progress.
Echosign: Drowning in a mountain of paper? Save a tree (and your sanity) a little at a time with Echosign, which allows you to send, sign, track, and file paperless documents in just three easy steps. As they say on the site, if you can attach a doc to an email, you can use Echosign.
Mailchimp: It’s a crowded marketplace out there, and there’s no easier, more effective way to get the word out than a regular newsletter that keeps customers in the loop on current or upcoming specials, events, or other news about your business. Mailchimp not only has a great library of good-looking full-scale and mobile templates, the service will also allow you to build customized templates, and build and manage lists that don’t run afoul of CAN-SPAM laws. Tracking tools allow you to gauge performance, and multiple integrations for everything from Facebook to SMS text messaging makes Mailchimp as user-friendly as it gets.
Todoist: Manage projects big and small by creating nested-tasks,
adding deadlines, assigning priorities, and using color-coding to keep it all straight. This virtual to-do list also automatically syncs across all your devices—desktop, tablet, and smartphone—so you can keep up while you’re on the go, and it’s compatible with HTML 5 technology, there’s nothing to install, configure, or load.
Hootsuite: A social media power tool that allows you to manage your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, Myspace, Mixi, Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr, Youtube accounts all from one dashboard. Hootsuite streamlines the process by allowing you to schedule social media posts and blog posts in advance, while the analytics tool helps you to keep track of those all-important metrics.
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