If you run a business and still think of Google only for search and AdWords, you may be missing something that could help your business work smarter and cheaper. The search giant is really a softy when it comes to small business, and has been working to woo biz owners and startups into its Google Apps for Business bundle.
It’s a bundle bursting with productivity tools small businesses need, starting at, well, free. And these aren’t stripped down versions, either. With little fanfare Google Apps for Business has already signed up some 5 million firms – most of them small.
Basically, Apps for Business is a cluster of cloud-based tools you access via web-connected computer or mobile device. They include documents, presentations, spreadsheets, online storage and sharing, calendars, email and more. The free version for individuals and teams of up to 10 includes the basics, while the paid “business-ready” version offers more (including 24/7 customer support) for $50 per year, per user. Get full details at www.Google.com/apps.
Here are 10 reasons to consider Google Apps for your business:
1. Custom Gmail for Business: A business class version of Gmail lets you create a custom email address using your own business domain name and have email you can access anywhere, anytime on any device you choose.
2. Storage galore: With the paid Gmail version, you get an astounding 25 GB of storage capacity for each inbox. That’s essentially a bottomless email inbox, so you’ll never have to delete emails. Even the free version has 10 GB.
3. Super search: Gmail’s search feature lets you find anything in your email, while labels and filters help keep your email organized. What’s more, text, voice and video chat features let you see who’s online and connect instantly. You can even see your contacts’ profile photos, recent updates and shared documents next to each email.
4. Google Calendar is a great tool for organizing your day, week or month. You can get reminders on your phone or in your inbox. Attach files or docs to your event so you have the right materials when your meeting starts.
5. Keep everyone together: Use calendar sharing to find time with others in your business, and let the smart scheduling feature suggest meeting times that work for everyone.
6. Schedule Clients Too: You can even create a calendar and embed it on your website or set up appointment slots so customers can choose the best time for them. Calendar lets you automatically send invitations and track RSVPs via email.
7. Core Needs are Covered: Google Docs (like Word), Spreadsheets (like Excel) and Slides (like PowerPoint) give you all the power you need to create documents with images, tables, drawings, links and more. Keep and share lists, track projects, analyze data and track results. Sheets includes tools such as advanced formulas, embedded charts, filters and pivot tables. Slides lets you create presentations with embedded videos, animations and fancy transitions.
8. Easy to Import and Convert: With Google Docs, it’s easy to import your existing work and convert it from most common text, spreadsheet and presentation formats so you can edit and share. Optical character recognition (OCR) even lets you import editable text from PDFs and images.
9. Access Your Files From Anywhere: Google Drive – included in the Google Apps bundle – lets you access your files from anywhere. With Google Drive on your PC, Mac or mobile device (as well as your browser), you’ll have a single place for the latest versions of your files, accessible anytime, anywhere. You can upload and store any type of file you choose. Share files or entire folders with individuals, your team, as well as customers or partners. In the Docs, Sheets and Slides editors, multiple people can work on the same file at the same time.
10. Shared Online Workspaces: Google Sites is the app that helps you build a project website without writing a single line of code. It’s like writing a simple document. Or choose from hundreds of prebuilt templates. Use your team site to organize everything from calendars to documents to presentations, to videos. Google-powered search makes it simple to find what you’re looking for later. Share your site with co-workers or customers with a single click.
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About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.