Business Resources : Software & Office Productivity
These are the products and services I use regularly in my business. I can personally vouch for each of them and swear by them all. If you need any further information, or assistance in getting things set up. I'd be more than happy to help.
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Specialized Computing - Specialized Computing, Inc. is a Seattle-based full service IT company offering computer repair and networking solutions to individuals and small businesses. IT Director Geremy Heath has been responsible for keeping several of my laptop and desktop computers out of the landfills. Just when I thought all hope was lost, he was able to pull them back from the brink of death and, several years later, these machines are still serving me loyally. He's also set up my home office network and the networks of several of my clients. Small businesses often find themselves needing the IT support a large corporation would have, but are unable to afford the large corporate costs. Working with Specialized Computing provides the "little guy" the personalized, ongoing IT support of a large company, without the high cost of a full time IT person.
Intuit - Makers of Quickbooks, Quicken and several other awesome financial software programs. As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, I'm able to offer special discounts to my customers on all QuickBooks, Quicken, checks and forms printing, and Merchant Services (up to 40% OFF plus FREE SHIPPING!), so be sure to click the link above to take advantage of this exclusive benefit; if you go directly to QuickBooks.com, you'll pay full price. I also offer consultation, installation and configuration services for all Intuit products, so if you're not sure what you need, or how to set it up, give me a call or email. FREE SOFTWARE DEMOS & EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS
MyCorporation - by Intuit, makers of QuickBooks and TurboTax.
To protect personal assets from business liabilities, you should consider forming a Corporation or LLC. Registering a trademark may be one of the most important business decisions; trademarks can protect a company's name and logo.
Do you need a DBA? Find out why a business may need to file for a fictitious name/DBA (doing business as). If you need any of these services, MyCorporation is an indispensable tool. They'll file all the necessary paperwork with the appropriate government agencies, leaving you free to run your business. Save $30 on a Corporation, LLC, DBA or Trademark when you click the link above; if you go directly to MyCorporation.com, you'll pay full price. EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT
Stamps.com - I used to stand in line at the post office for several hours each week, mailing packages. Then I found Stamps.com and my life hasn't been the same since. I can print postage and address labels online and then call USPS for pickup, or take everything to the post office and just walk right to the front of the line, drop them on the counter and leave. Click the link above to get $80 worth of free postage and supplies! FREE TRIAL, POSTAGE, SCALE & SUPPLIES
Mozy Remote Backup - If you've ever had your hard drive crash, you know how important it is to back up your files. If you've ever had your backup drive destroyed or stolen, you know how important it is to back up your files off site . Mozy is a quick and easy (and automatic) way to back up all your important files to a secure, off-site server. You can also retrieve your files at any time, from anywhere, over the web! No one should be without this invaluable service. Click the link above and your first 2 GB are free! FREE TRIAL
Dell Small Business
- I've owned more Dell computers than any other brand, and I've always found their online ordering system a breeze to use. Their customer service is better than most others I've dealt with (eclipsed only by Apple), and they've got some really sharp looking machines these days. Be sure to stop by the site once in a while; they're always running some sort of % off or free shipping special, and sometimes even free hard drive or RAM upgrades! VARIOUS SPECIALS - CHECK SITE
MyFax - Fax machines are so passe. If you're not sending and receiving digital faxes through email and web, you're severely handicapping your business' growth and needlessly killing a lot of trees. I swear by MyFax for it's simplicity and reliability, and it's priced great, too! Click the link above for a free trial and see how easy it is. Plans start at $10/month and you can add what you need, as you need it. I can send and receive faxes whenever and wherever I may be, without a fax machine or phone line. « Insert photo of someone sitting on the beach with a laptop, smiling and staring into the sunset. :) FREE TRIAL
TurboTax - For those of your who prefer to have complete control over your own finances, including preparing your own tax returns, TurboTax is a dream come true. I've found no other consumer-level tax software to be so comprehensive and yet so easy to use. They have four product levels to suit most individuals and small businesses: You can prepare, print and e-file your basic tax return at no charge with their Free Edition; Deluxe, Premier and Home & Business editions are nicely priced and well worth it. All include free Federal E-File, so you can get your refund in as little as 8 days! FREE FEDERAL RETURN & E-FILE
AVG Technologies - AVG is the least intrusive and most user-friendly anti-virus software I've ever used, and I've used them all. They offer a free basic version, as well as upgraded versions that protect you from a host of other threats including worms, trojans, spyware, adware, spam, hacker attacks, phishing, spoofing, and whatever the bad guys think of next. FREE BASIC ANTI-VIRUS
BluePhone Computer Support - Got computer problems? (Who doesn't?) Blue Phone offers unlimited tech support by phone, 24/7 for one fixed price, which covers both PCs and Macs, laptops and desktops, plus any connected device. You can choose a monthly or annual plan, and all of your computers are covered. Most software and hardware manufacturers are getting skimpy on the free tech support these days, and their pay services are often exorbitantly priced and never seem to cover the unique interactions between all the pieces of software, hardware, drivers, peripherals, portable devices, etc. that call your computer home. BluePhone will meet the challenge head-on, and they'll even help you do periodic tune-ups to keep your computer working at its best!
eVoice Receptionist - The whole virtual office thing is growing in popularity for a reason; it's nice to be able to maintain your mobility and take care of business without being tied down to one physical location. And it's way less expensive! Along with email and web communications, I'm a big fan of mobile fax (see MyFax above) and mobile voice services. eVoice Receptionist gives you complete mobility in your voice communications and also allows you to project the image of a "big" business without the expense. Click the link above for a free trial and see how robust their system is. You can have incoming calls routed in a variety of ways -- SmartExtension, department, dial by name directory, operator, or hotline information -- and your calls will follow you wherever you may go. Plus you get an 800 number, call screening, caller ID, call transfer, one-touch callback, advanced voicemail, email and web access, professionally recorded customized greetings and more. FREE TRIAL
Totally Free Conference Calls - Nothing says "business" like the almighty conference call. But if you don't have 3-way calling or you need to connect more than 3 people, you end up having to juggle who calls who: "If I call you and you call him on your other line and I call her on my other line, then they can call the other two..." Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could just call in to the same number and automatically be connected to each other, no fuss, no muss? And wouldn't it be even better if you didn't have to pay for it? I think so. What's even better than all that? You get free record & replay functionality and free downloads, as well. FREE BASIC SERVICE
ShareBuilder 401(k) - In my experience, one of the main things many small business owners (including myself) overlook is their own benefits package: Medical, Dental, Vision, Retirement, etc. Of the standard benefits, Retirement is the one that's most often left to chance, which can leave you in dire straits if you reach retirement and find that you're not able to sell your business for the millions you know its worth. I've had personal investment accounts with ShareBuilder for several years now, and recently set up an IRA, as well. My next step is the ShareBuilder 401(k), created specifically for small business owners. It's the most cost-effective 401(k) plan I've found, and you can start small and grow to accommodate any employees you may hire in the future. Click the link above for a free, no obligation quote, as well as lots of useful information on retirement planning and investing. FREE QUOTE
Franchise-Insider - If you've ever considered purchasing a franchise, you know that the cash investment is only one piece of the huge pie you're biting into. Franchise-Insider provides critical investor information to potential franchisees. These documents, UFOCs (Uniform Franchise Offering Circulars) are essential for anyone who wishes to purchase a franchise, providing potential purchasers with the important information they need to make fully informed decisions about investing in a franchise.
You must do your due diligence before making any type of investment, especially one that is so cash and time intensive. Franchise-Insider does all the information gathering, allowing you to concentrate on your research and analysis. And if they don't have a UFOC on the company you're interested in, you can place a custom order and they'll have it ready for you within a few business days.
FindLegalForms vs. RocketLawyer - FindLegalForms offers over 11,000 legal forms: Power of Attorney, Bill of Sale, Promissory Note, Rental Application, Lease Agreement, Bankruptcy, Confidentiality, Non-Compete, Non-Disclosure, Intellectual Property, Corporation, LLC, Partnership and more. All are drafted and maintained by real live attorneys, updated as laws change and precedents are set. Find your form, download it, complete the blank lines using the easy step-by-step instructions and you're done. On the flipside is RocketLawyer, which also offers professionally drafted legal forms, but they walk you through a simple interview process which then completes the forms for you -- no instructions to follow. Just answer the questions, review the document, print it and you're done. The main difference -- and the reason I offer them both to you here -- is that FindLegalForms is a pay-by-the-form service. They also offer bundles, but you basically find the form you need, pay for it and that's it. RocketLawyer offers a pay-by-the-form service as well as a monthly membership whereby you have access to ALL of their forms. On the other hand, FindLegalForms offers a complete on-screen preview of each form before you buy it, while RocketLawyer offers a 30-day Free trial... So, similar to the "Expedia vs. Travelocity" entry below, I usually compare the two and go with whichever one makes the most sense at the time. FREE FORM PREVIEW / FREE TRIAL
Expedia vs. Travelocity - Running a business is hard enough, but if you have to travel, it gets even harder. You don't have time to go running around (online) trying to get the best deals on airfare, car rentals, hotel accomodations, and the local attractions you'll be checking out between business meetings. I've found that a quick search at both Expedia and Travelocity usually yields better results than any other travel site, and much better than I could do on my own. I don't have a #1 pick between the two, because I've found that they each have their merits at different times and in different situations... So my advice is to check both and go with whomever gives you the best combination of price, terms, conditions and quality. Make sure you get on their mailing lists, because they each offer some amazing deals on "last minute" mini-vacations to places like Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Mexico, when they've got seats and rooms to fill. And we all need more mini-vacations.