Google Apps http://www.google.com/a provides e-mail, document, spreadsheet, web page and start page tools. With the e-mail service, each user, for a fee of $50 per year, can have a 1000 MB mailbox that is branded by your own domain (email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org). It will take a learning curve to become used to Google's e-mail, since it does not utilize folders; rather it focuses on labels and search.
The document and spreadsheet tool allows for you to collaborate with others that you invite and edit the same document simultaneously. Google Apps also comes with a rudimentary web page creator that allows you to easily create your own basic web page. The start page feature allows you to create a specially designed starting webpage to help organize yourself in one place (think of it as an online desktop).
Zoho Projects http://www.zoho.com allows you to affordably manage projects with a fair amount of complexity. If your needs are very basic, then I would recommend Basecamp http://www.37signals.com . If you have any projects that require multiple users, tasks and deadlines, then this service will help keep you organized and allow for easier management.
Zoho CRM http://www.zoho.com is a customer relationship management tool that you can use free for up to three users. This service is an affordable alternative to the more popular SalesForce.com. Consistent usage of this tool will help you better manage and track your client relationships and allow for a smoother transition process when you experience turnover in your sales staff.
MindMeister.com. http://www.mindmeister.com is a mind mapping / brainstorming tool that allows for simultaneous collaboration. This tool is useful for capturing requirements with clients, organizing your research and quickly outlining projects.
Next, I will discuss some more exciting new tools to help your business grow that I learned at the Web 2.0 expo http://www.web2expo.com.
Elmer Thomas Jr. is Founder of Above the Limit, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at www.AboveTheLimit.com.
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