These innovations will save you time and money
If you work from home—and particularly if you’re self-employed—saving time and cutting down business expenses is a top priority. Here are a few tools that will revolutionize the way you work, so you can make time for more important things. Most of them are free, and none costs more than $100.
6. Small business accounting software
If you want to spend less time on busy work, you can’t afford to track your revenue, expenses, and tax information on an Excel spreadsheet. Programming your own formulas is time-consuming, and can lead to costly mistakes; and any decent accounting software will sync directly to your bank, so you never have to input figures manually again.
5. Cloud calendar
Coordinating calendars with family, clients, and colleagues can be a hassle, especially for home businesspeople who usually keep non-traditional schedules. With a decent calendar app like Cozi or Google Calendar, you can sync all kinds of tasks, whether it’s updating a blog, completing a report, or remembering who needs a ride home from soccer practice. As any work-at-home mom can attest, miscommunications like this can be costly—so save yourself some headache.
4. VoIP calling
Most home businesspeople maintain a work line as well as a personal phone—but there’s no reason to pay for a landline if you have a plan that supports VoIP calling. Check out a FreeTalk phone adapter, which allows you to send and receive calls over Skype from a standard home phone. If you have regular meetings with clients or colleagues, don’t pay for the minutes, especially if they’re in another country—get everyone signed up for a free VoIP service. Skype is good, but FaceTime is another competitive option for Mac users.
3. Mobile credit card reader
No matter how small your business is, going cash-only is less and less feasible. Most people just don’t carry cash anymore. Fortunately, you can send out for a free app and iPhone credit card reader from Square, Intuit, or PayPal, and start accepting credit cards directly from your phone. This is especially useful for repair, crafting, or housekeeping businesses—busy customers would rather turn down a valuable service than run to an ATM, so it pays to be able to swipe a card right at the door.
2. Tablet PC
If you do any kind of face-to-face presentation in the context of your home business, a basic tablet is a worthwhile investment. Beginner options like the Kindle Fire or the Lenovo IdeaPad are cheap, and getting cheaper—and having the freedom to run a Prezi or PowerPoint that prospective clients can physically touch and manipulate can be invaluable. Tablets are also a great way to check email and track tasks on the go—which means you can get more done while you’re out running errands.
1. Cloud storage
The ability to access important files from any device with an internet connection can absolutely change the way you do business. Instead of sending endless attachments to yourself (and then digging through your inbox), check out a service like Google Drive or Dropbox for cloud storage.
Dropbox is definitely the most intuitive option—you simply drag and drop files into your Dropbox folder, and they sync across all authorized devices automatically—but if you need more storage space, Google Drive has the most competitive rates.
Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.