Tools for Growth
Despite their best efforts, small business owners face a significant challenge in growing their business. However, new technologies are now giving business owners opportunities they never had. Here are seven technologies and services that can help small business owners in their attempts to grow.
All successful companies know the importance of being able to communicate with their employees and clients. However, the software and technology needed to keep up with clients and employees who may be working all over the country can be expensive and difficult to decipher. Enter Speek, a conference calling service that is both easy to use and free. Users sign up, create a Speek ID and are able to jump onto a call in seconds. To start a call, organizers can send out a link, after clicking on that link, callers will be prompted to enter a phone number. That number will then receive the phone call. Since launching, the service has hosted more than 100,000 call participants.
The idea behind the service is that it will make conference call PINs, phone numbers and software a thing of the past. Additionally, the service turns users' Web browsers into a conference experience that allows them to see info about the call as well as who is speaking. Speek has a free version that supports up to five callers and a premium version that allows unlimited users and the ability to share files and record transcripts of the conversation for $10 a month. [The 10 Most Desirable Tech Skills]
ShipHawk is looking to solve many of the problems businesses face when shipping their products. Namely, the service is looking to simplify shipping for small- and medium-size businesses by allowing companies to get quotes instantly for nearly every product imaginable. All shippers need to do is enter the item they would like to ship. ShipHawk then gives prices from several shippers and will schedule a pickup or show users where to drop off packages.
The free service is currently being offered in a number of large cities. If businesses choose to make a shipment through the service they will pay what it would cost to ship the package had they not used ShipHawk. ShipHawk is paid a commission for referring the business.
PEX Card bills itself as the alternative to a business credit card, but the service represents much more for owners of small- and medium-size businesses. Namely, the service provides peace of mind to business owners, who are able to control and preauthorize employee spending on the prepaid card. Business owners can transfer up to $25,000 to an employee's card, which can then be made instantly available. PEX Card is managed through an online dashboard and application that gives business owners the ability to track spending, suspend cards and check in on transaction details.
The service costs a one-time fee of $49.95 to open an account and costs an additional $7.50 per month per card.
Weekdone is revolutionizing the traditional company status report. The company is doing this by making the reports easy for employees to fill out and easy for managers to understand. Team members simply fill in their portion of the report, telling their managers any plans, progress and problems along the way. That information is then compiled into an easy-to-read report that is shared with managers through email.
Weekdone is free for teams of up to three employees, then it's $10 per team of up to 10 persons and $50 for team of 25 persons.
Funding Gates is helping small- and medium-size businesses in one of their biggest areas of need: collecting overdue receivables. The service works by keeping track of the receivables owed to a company in an easy-to-read dashboard. Through integration with the accounting software QuickBooks, Funding Gates is able to keep track of all invoices within a company, including those that are overdue. The service also provides businesses with a number of support tools, including weekly reports and daily syncing with Quickbooks. Additionally, Funding Gates can help businesses schedule action with collection agencies for delinquent accounts.
The service has free, professional and premium versions, which cost $49 and $89 a month. The free version allows companies to manage up to 10 active customers and the paid versions offer unlimited customer management.
Small business owners can't be in two places at once, but DocuSign is making it seem like they can be. The electronic signature service does this by allowing users to sign important documents from any location. Users can securely send and electronically sign legally binding documents on their smartphones, tablets or computers. DocuSign also stores all documents in the cloud so that they can be easily accessed at any time. The service has a number of security checks, including email security, phone authentication, identification checks and knowledge-based authentication.
Users don’t need an account to sign documents, but they do need one to send documents to others. The service has free, professional, workgroup and enterprise versions. The professional version costs $15 a month and the workgroup version costs $20 a month. More pricing information is available on the company website.
Business owners who want to keep their finger on the pulse of their employees may want to look at a new app. Yopine helps to gather opinions and ideas by creating polls and allowing friends or co-workers to weigh in. Users can also call a brainstorm session that allows users to give their opinions instead of choosing from a multiple choice style answer. The app can be used in a business setting by managers who are looking to gather the opinions of employees on a particular issue.
Yopine is currently available on the Apple App Store.
Follow David Mielach on Twitter @D_M89 . Follow us @bndarticles, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.