should be your compass as you chart the choppy waters of
self-employment. Being organized is sure to help you improve profits.
There are several online sites for cloud-based management of data and
software programs that you could download to take care of essential
tasks to run your business.
would require these tools to handle the following main tasks:
Document Management – Document Management tools allow you to
prepare and produce documents in a presentable format. It may be a
marketing proposal for a prospective client, an invoice for completed
work or a simple business plan for yourself. There are several tools
available out in the market. We have identified just the following few
based on their popularity.
- Microsoft Office-
Microsoft Office Home and Business edition not only includes document
management applications but also an Outlook 2010 email and scheduling
program. It comes with several ready-to-use templates for regular
documents, spreadsheets, analysis tools such Sparklines (that show a
tiny chart embedded in a cell), Slicers (for filtering data) or
Conditional Formatting to help you easily spot variances. With
Microsoft Office's charting tools and SmartArt® graphics, you have the
ability to graphically represent data too. It helps you organize all
your data in one place plus prepare presentations with ease. Tagging
helps you label documents and files for cross-referencing. The program
also includes Internet research tools. You could also generate business
report and share documents online with the Microsoft Office. Microsoft
Office comes for $278 approx. but you could go for a trial version from
their official website.
- Open Office – Good
things in life do come for free and one such thing is Open Office.
OpenOffice.org 3 is open-source software that is ideal for document
management as it handles everything - word processing, spreadsheets,
presentations, graphics, databases, etc. You can choose your language,
use any regular format or a new international open standard format.
Schedule Management – This is not just for scheduling daily
tasks but also for setting up milestones through the entire process for
every single project you undertake. Schedule management would also
include managing your employees' roster, attendance, in-house
Task Management – Being your own boss also means being
responsible for everything yourself. The whole idea is thrilling but if
you're not organized, you'll soon be one confused self-employed person
running around lost. Being self-employed requires being disciplined.
Managing tasks properly would mean more time for yourself, your family
and the things you want to do. Isn't that why you are self-employed in
the first place? Handling several projects at one time is not easy.
Taking several projects based on a task-wise segmentation is way
Mail Management – Communication is the key to any
relationship including business relationships. Then, there are tax
returns, bills, memos, etc. There is absolutely no replacement for an
electronic mail management system that keeps all mails sorted and
accessible quickly when you need them.
Contact Management – Building a self-employed consultancy or
business means building good will in the industry. Following up
contacts, making new contacts, nurturing contacts is all part of the
self-employed business life. Do it in an organized manner to maintain
productivity and not lose out on potential leads.
Tools – If your business
requires working in
collaboration with a team, where several members contribute to
discussions and deliverables, you may need a collaboration tool that is
powerful yet affordable. A couple of cloud based tools that I have used
(and been impressed with) are the Google Apps and Huddle.
are the best tools available online to handle productivity tasks?
Google Apps – The Google Apps Marketplace has a huge
range of products and services designed for Google users, including
installable apps that integrate directly with Google Apps. Installable
apps are easy to use because they include single sign-on, Google's
universal navigation, and some even include features that integrate
with your domain's data. You can easily download just any application
to suit your needs from the Google Apps website in categories like
Accounting & Finance, Admin Tools, Calendar & Scheduling,
Customer Management, Document Management, Project Management, Sales
& Marketing, Security & Compliance, Workflow, Archiving &
Discovery Implementation and even GeoSpatial Solutions. You need a
couple of hours to go through their Apps directory to find the right
application for yourself. Google Apps also allows you to work in
collaboration with your team where you can share and solicit input from
Microsoft Outlook - Microsoft Outlook is available for
premium business use and for your Windows 7 mobile as well. It comes
with advanced search, e-mail organization, communication and social
networking features. You save time creating, managing and viewing
emails even if the email amount is pretty large. You can set up
categories, condense and ignore mails with quick clicks. With new
conversation management tools and the improved Conversation View,
dozens of messages can turn into just a few relevant items. MailTips
instantly alerts you to potential distribution issues and Quick Steps
take the multi-stepped tasks you perform most down to just a single
click. The improved Ribbon, available across Office applications, makes
it easy to uncover more commands so you can focus on the end product
rather than how to get there. There is no problem configuring new or
existing account. You could also combine multiple e-mail accounts,
calendars, and address books and easily manage them from a single,
centralized view. Manage your schedule using the new Schedule View.
View multiple Outlook calendars, Windows Live, or other shared
calendars, in a streamlined horizontal display. Outlook Social
Connector is your window to all the social-networking sites.
Sales and Marketing Tracking Tools