I’m finally coming into the 21st century, technology-wise. Prior to owning a business, I was computer literate and learned new programs quickly. Every job I had after college required computer work so I was familiar with the standard applications plus any company-specific programs.
Well, for the past three years, most of my work has been inside the B&B and using the least amount of computer applications as possible (i.e., Quickbooks, Word, Excel, my reservation software, etc.). When I first started, I took all reservations over the phone, but within the first 6 months, I had started using SuperInn and the majority of my reservations started coming in over the internet.
In the meantime, I’d hear all kinds of stuff about social networking programs (Facebook, MySpace, blogs, etc.), but never really had much interest in any of them. Well, the recession it, and BOOM! my thoughts changed.
Probably the biggest change has come because I finally got a laptop and can work pretty much all day long, in front of the TV, and in bed, instead of having to go downstairs to my cold office to work.
Since January, I have spent more time on the computer than I did almost all year long and I am so glad I have because I have come across a lot of goodies, for personal use and business use, many of them FREE!
If you have a small business, work from home, or want to start a business, check out any or all of this stuff:
- Facebook – not only is this a social network, you can advertise on the site and target your audience based on the types of people you want to reach. Your Facebook profile is free, advertising is not, but you choose how much you want to pay on a daily basis. Plus, you can put your business info. including your website address and/or your blog address in your profile and that’s free advertising for anyone who reads it.
- Gmail – powered by Google, this is free and you can forward any other email accounts to this one account. You can access your account from any computer, anywhere, at any time. Yahoo and others also offer free email accounts, but I really like Google because there are so many other programs that operate in conjunction with Google.
- Blogger – blogs are becoming essential to businesses for many reasons, one of which is that it seriously helps your rankings in the search engines. Blogger is supported by Google and it’s free and easy to set up. I figured it out in a very short time (although I’m still figuring it out). You can also earn money by including Google ads on your blog (you set up how many and where they appear) and any time someone clicks on an ad, you earn money. I already participate in GoogleAds so my account was set up. GoogleAds you pay for and like Facebook ads, you determine how much you are willing to spend on a monthly basis. You can set up mutiple ads too (it’s so cool). I prefer GoogleAds over Facebook ads because I think I get more bang for my buck.
- LogMeIn – this is probably one of the coolest FREE programs I have been using. It allows me remote access to my desktop PC from anywhere and I can work on documents and programs from my laptop that are on my PC. I can also print documents from the PC and they are waiting for me to grab them whenever I want.
- Mozy – this is another FREE program that allows me to back up my files to a third party. I no longer need to back up to a CD, an external hard drive, or pay another third party service to back up. You get 2GB of space with the free package, but you can pay $4.95/month for the next level up if you need more space. You can set up the program to run automatically, at whatever time you want.
- Zoho – this is another free service that offers all kinds of applications that you can use plus you can create up to 3 applications yourself. I just signed up for this one and plan to use it to create documents that would normally be created in Word, Excel, etc. I don’t have Office on my laptop so this free program is perfect for me. It also looks like you can import documents made in other programs. It’s free so I’m giving it a try.
Programs that are just cool. Here are some programs or services that I just like and want to share them:
- The Switchboards – cool resource for women business owners (mainly crafters, artists, and jewelry makers); however there are web designers, copy writers, and other business women ready to support each other, offer services, barter, answer questions, etc.
- Green America Today – if you want to go green, this is a great resource.
- Kick It Back – shop online and get kickbacks. There is a list of online stores that you can shop at, with ebay being a big one. Enter the sites through your KickItBack.com account and you will earn money on every purchase you make. Each business offers a certain percentage back, but just think of your credit cards that offer a cash back program. This is just like that.
- GoodSearch – Yeah, I love Google, but I do all of my online searches through GoodSearch. That’s because every time I search the internet, a little money goes to my charity, the Asheville Humane Society. You can designate what charity you want the money to go to and you can set this up as your default home page whenever you open your browser.