5 Awesome Online Collaboration Tools for your Small Green Business

If you’re just getting your green business off the ground, the technology side of things can be a time-sucking and expensive rabbit trail, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. That said, you still need the collaboration tools, office applications, and other technical stuff to be in place so that you can communicate with customers and team members, market your green business, and sell your ideas.

Fortunately, running a lean, green virtual office doesn’t have to be complicated. To make your business collaboration tasks a little easier, we’ve put together an essential list of free and low-cost online collaboration tools that any small business can use.

Google Apps - green business online collaborationGoogle Apps For Easy Business Collaboration

Your first stop should be Google Apps. With a host of alternative, low-cost collaboration software tools (compared to purchasing entire office suites), Google Apps helps you solve many of your most basic office organization problems:

Most of these apps allow multiple people to work on the same file simultaneously, making true online collaboration a reality. Small green businesses can use Google Apps for just $50 per user per year, which is much more affordable than traditional software. And the best news – there’s no installation required!

File sharing for green business with DropboxDropbox Makes Online File Sharing Simple

Forget passing files using USB sticks or emailing documents to your colleagues. You can share files quickly and easily with file sharing software like Dropbox. Whether you need to send images of your available recycled paint colors or are looking for a way to run your green website design past co-workers, you can send files – large and small – through Dropbox in a few easy clicks. Simply register, upload files, and send notifications to your colleagues to view them. And for $20 per month, you get 100 GB of storage space, which is more than enough for most small green businesses.

Basecamp for simple green business internet collaborationSimplify Your Internet Business Collaboration With Basecamp

This online project collaboration tool is a must if you’re a small green business working in teams on shared projects and tasks. For example, if your green business is about to host a major eco event for your customers, use Basecamp to assign tasks and organize for the big day. Or perhaps you’re designing a new line of eco-friendly clothing and you need feedback on product descriptions – Basecamp is great for that as well. It centralizes feedback, helps you manage project timelines from near and far, and allows you to set milestones and track conversations. You can even use their whiteboards for really creative online collaboration.

Web conferencing for green business with SkypeAffordable Web Conferencing With Skype

Most small green businesses today rely on home-based offices as the base for work, but that can make having in-person meetings a bit of a challenge, especially if you’ve got active kids or are juggling piles of stock (where to put all of those organic chocolate bars?). That’s where Skype comes in. This great web conferencing tool offers a simple way to conduct online meetings, either voice-only or with video, making it possible to meet with a client from down the street or catch up with your supplier in Hong Kong. You can also exchange files and make comments during a Skype web conference, and it’s very easy to set up and use.

DimDim for green business file sharingScreen Sharing For Everyone With Dimdim

Do any of these challenges sound familiar? You’re trying to convey your green blog design idea to a designer or attempting to demonstrate how the feedback displays on your energy meter function and they’re just not getting it. If so, then try Dimdim, an online collaboration tool that puts the power of screen sharing in your hands. Once used only by the technically-inclined, Dimdim is now widely recognized as a simple way to visually show someone exactly what you mean by revealing what’s on your screen to them, all within your web browser.

These five online collaboration tools should make your small business setup a breeze so that you can get on to the more important green work you’re all about!

Image Via Flickr: Stephen Cummings

This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at www.JadeCreative.ca.

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  1. Mike Taylor says:

    Nice list. Cloudware seems to have appeared at the perfect time for me. I can’t even imagine how people conducted business in the past…

    If I was going to update your list, check out GoogleWave: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDu2A3WzQpo

    Also, you can actually save the $24/mo subscription to Basecamp by using AirSet.com. Unfortunately, they stripped down the free accounts in July/2010 so you may need to pay $4.95/mo (per user) for a premium account – Still less than basecamp for managing small projects with less than 5 people and it comes with an extra 15Gigs of storage (and probably other features too). I’m just glad I have a couple of their free grandfathered accounts. Bling bling!

    I’m still a student so I’m trying to figure out which cloudware works best for what. I haven’t tried GoogleWave yet but would be willing to bet it comes out as the ultimate champ in this.


    M!ke Tay!or

  2. Theresa says:

    Cloud apps definitely aren’t going anywhere. It costs about as much for one user desktop license of an office software as it does for multiple users to use an online collaboration tool for a year or longer of service.

    The company I work for used to use backpack and basecamp and we really liked them but we started using http://calendarcruncher.com a few months ago. It’s not as feature rich but the speed and ease of use makes it very adaptable to us. Plus, you can’t beat a price of free lol

  3. Nick says:

    Good article! As for small green businesses, I`d recommend an online collaboration tool that`s called kpi.com I`ve been using it for a year now.

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