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 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:
- Gmail for email
- Google Calendar
- Google Docs including software for preparing documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, presentations, and more
- Google Groups
- Google Sites
- Google Video
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!
Dropbox 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.
Simplify 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.
Affordable 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.
Screen 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