Technology is a wonderful thing. Used appropriately, it can be a small business owner's best friend -- a valuable ally in the battle to maintain a productive and efficient SMB workplace.
Yet many entrepreneurs lack an awareness of the tools that are available to them. In today's tech climate, affordable SMB tools and solutions can be found from a variety of sources. Although some solutions exist in a cloud computing environment, others can be easily downloaded to PCs, smartphones and other devices.
The key is to identify solutions that not only improve your organization's productivity and efficiency, but also encourage company-wide use by being simple, convenient and fun.
Christian Lanng, CEO of Tradeshift, an online business network that offers free invoicing tools for small business owners, suggest five fun and useful tools entrepreneurs can use to enhance their workflows and offices:
- Ambiance (ambianceapp.com). Does your workplace feel a little stale? Is the radio distracting to your workforce? Billed as an "environment enhancer", Ambiance ($2.99) is an iPhone app that substitutes pleasant white noises (e.g. wind chimes) for music or other background sounds, enabling your team to better concentrate on the job at hand.
- Edison (verdiem.com/edison). Energy conservation is a concern for many SMB workplaces. Edison is a free SMB tool that uses Windows power settings to reduce the energy computers consume when idle. The solution can be tailored to each user's schedule and it will calculate estimated savings based on the settings you choose.
- SoonR (soonr.com). Soonr gives mobile users anytime, anywhere access to shared documents. For SMBs with field personnel, Soonr (starting at $9.95/month) offers the assurance of knowing that your team can retrieve important documents from their PCs or Macs using their mobile phones.
- GroupPrice (groupprice.com). Daily deal sites have become extremely popular with consumers. Now GroupPrice lets small businesses into the game with B2B daily deals. Deals feature discount offers on a wide range of products and services, from local Google listings to Twitter services and more.
- RetroCalc (retrocalc.com). RetroCalc ($1.99) is an iPhone app designed to give users a fully functional calculator solution with a hint of nostalgia. Users can customize the interface using one of twelve vintage calculator designs from the 1970s and 1980s. Will RetroCalc help your team add better? No -- but they will have a lot more fun doing it.