Boost Your Productivity with Free Cloud-Based Business Tools

It's always fun to share the tools that make my life easier. Here are five of my favorite free, cloud-based business solutions. If you don't use them already, give them a try - you'll be glad you did!

EVERNOTE - A notebook for every aspect of your business and personal life.

Evernote is amazing - I use it all the time for my business, family, hobby, committee and club information. I even use it to write this blog. It has simplified and organized my life in ways I never imagined.

If you've never used it, here are the basics: Set-up "Notebooks" for different clients, subjects, or categories of your life such as "Financial", "Marketing", "Travel", "Family Activities" or create one for each of your clients.….the options are endless. Then create themed notes under each of those notebooks. For example, I use individual notes to sort and categorize each project I'm working on for my clients. Each note can carry multiple tags, and there are extensive search and sort features to help you find exactly what you're looking for in a flash!

It's cloud-based and accessible from any computer and your smart phone, so it's always at your fingertips whenever you need it. You can even send photos and audio files or voice notes from your phone to your Evernote account. The functionality is amazing!

CUTE PDF - Converts any document into a printable file for email or presentations.

I use this simple little tool all the time and it couldn't be easier or more convenient. Basically you just download the application and it then resides as a printer option. You then create a file in any program (word, excel, publisher or adobe applications) and when you're done just select "cutepdf" from your printer options and it will allow you to save it as a file which can be emailed and printed by anyone. Whola!

FREEDCAMP - Project collaboration- modeled after the popular Basecamp, but free!

If you've ever tried to keep track of multiple emails from several individuals on one particular subject, you'll find this an indispensible tool. It's worth its weight in gold for any groups that are involved in discussions or regular communications such as committees, boards, clubs, teams, business departments, schools, etc. Instead of receiving a multitude of conversational replies from collaborators via email, you simply create a topic or "discussion" and all of the individual replies are included in full text on the same page in chronological order as received. What could be simpler than that? There are additional functionalities that are extremely useful as well, such as the ability to upload files and a dashboard for all your projects and communications. Give it a try today!

DROPBOX - Access, Manage and share your files from anywhere!

There are so many benefits to using Dropbox; it's difficult to name them all. But here are the top few that come to mind:

  • File storage and back-up - The files you store in your Dropbox folders on your computer are backed-up and accessible online. This can be invaluable if your computer ever crashes. It even saves previous versions of documents.
  • Access files from any computer's hard drive and the web - You can install your Dropbox account on other computers and your files will appear on that hard drive as well. When you need to access your files from a computer that doesn't have Dropbox installed, just go to the Dropbox website and your files will be waiting for you.
  • Share folders with others who have Dropbox - Are you collaborating on a project, have clients you want to keep up to date, or just want to share and edit files on a reciprocal basis. Dropbox can do that too. Just go to your Dropbox account online, create a folder and then 'invite' the person to join it. You can now each add, delete and edit files in the folder and each of you will always have the most recent versions. It's Works Like Magic!

GOOGLE CALENDAR - Keeps everyday organized so I never forget a task or event.

Google Calendar makes scheduling a breeze. For each event scheduled you can set unlimited email, pop-up or text message reminders, designate a color for each type of event, set start and finish times and even include lengthily text descriptions and links. View your calendar as a daily itinerary list, weekly summary or monthly overview. There's also an integrated task list. And of course, it's cloud-based and can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection and your smart phone. You can even print your calendar when needed. I can't think of any significant features that are missing. This calendar has it all.

Although these tools are some of my favorites, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Today's free, cloud-based software solutions are growing everyday, and I'll soon share several more tools to help make your life a bit easier. If you're looking for a specific solution for your business, let me know and I'll try to find the perfect recommendation for you.

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Comment by Marshall Davis on February 8, 2012 at 1:40pm

Love Dropbox! We use it to (among other things) share tax related documents with our CPA. Saves us a trip to his office each month!

Comment by Carol M. Aldridge on February 8, 2012 at 6:26pm

Hi Marshall, yes Dropbox is a staple for my business too. I often work from different locations (and different computers) so it's really an indispensable tool, allowing me to access my files wherever I might be. 


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