Implementation of the right technology tools can empower you to save time, make money, and work smarter. Whether you're starting a new business or trying to bring an existing one into the 21st century, the Internet can work as your ally. It's loaded with tools that can increase productivity and improve efficiency. Here are three online tools that can help you communicate and manage information -- all available free of charge.
Hold small meetings online. Looking for ways to improve productivity and slice meeting costs with customers, colleagues, and partners? Then check out WebEx.com. The offering distinguishes itself from other virtual meeting centers with a unique mix of capabilities, enabling real-time meetings in which to discuss projects, mark up documents, and show presentations and product demonstrations. Six people can participate at no charge, although it's best suited for live meetings.
Manage your database online. You can easily set up and maintain a database with Bitlocker.com. With the free program, you can create multiple databases and organize, share, export, and publish data using only a Web browser. Bitlocker works as a stand-alone service or can be included in your Web site. The company participates in the Trustee Privacy Program, so its privacy policies have been reviewed by an industry-sponsored watchdog agency.
Respond automatically. The average prospect needs to be exposed to your message at least seven times to become a buyer. Work this "rule of seven" in your favor with Autoresponders -- automated mail systems that send a form letter to all inquirers. You write responses and then put these e-mail addresses on your Web site or other material, and inquirers will automatically get the information. You can set up several; for example, you could create one for your customers, one for job applicants, and one for general queries. Visit MyReply.com.