Small Business Tips: 5 Great Online Tools (That I’ve never mentioned before)

If I took the time to analyze the hours I spend doing my job online and then add in the hours I spend online doing non-work stuff, the result would probably choke a virtual horse. At any given time, I have several dozen browser windows and tabs open and am logged into numerous sites, working on multiple apps, and using many tools. Most of these are for work, though some overlap with my personal life, and others are purely for fun. All are great resources, and all of these provide value in the form of efficiency, economy, or entertainment.

My online tools for work run the gamut from email and calendars to conferencing, accounting, marketing, scheduling, and HR. I try out many of these tools on occasion to see if they might be better than what I currently use, and others are old standbys that have proven their worth over time. I often learn about new tools through colleagues, blogs, online reviews, or email marketing campaigns.

Periodically I write about some of the tools I am testing or those I use regularly. And post-holiday, I thought it was time for a new iteration. So without further ado, here are five tools I have recently had a look at, tried out, used, or heard about:

1. Expensify. Here is a sweet little app that allows you to manage your business (and personal) expenses. Your credit card charges can be imported, you can track time or mileage, and you can keep track of various billable costs to pass on to your customers. Like other online financial tools, Expensify has full support for bank import and automatically categorizes your expenses. Plus, over 160 local currencies and VAT and other international taxes are supported if you travel internationally. Expensify can be customized with user-set rules to comply with company policies and can be used online or offline.

2. GetSatisfaction: Want to deliver better service to your customers? Want to gain valuable insight into how people use your product or service? Build a community and ask them! Get Satisfaction allows organizations to quickly build and manage online user-based communities and leverage the expertise that others have developed by interacting with your products. The platform allows your customers to interact directly with one another – trading tips, solving problems, answering questions, and sharing knowledge in an intuitive, easily managed interface.

3. ZipRecruiter: Posting job openings is a pain. We all want to hire the best: most talented, very smartest, most experienced, best-cultural-fitting, perfect employees. The problem is, especially for small businesses, hiring recruiters is crazy expensive and doing it yourself is a massive strain on capacity and resources. Writing a great job description takes time and focus, but the most significant drain is managing the flood of applications, and that’s only after you get the thing posted to the right site to attract suitable candidates. This is where ZipRecruiter comes in. Post your job once, and it is automatically listed on over 50 job sites, such as Monster,, LinkedIn, and Craigslist. Responses are aggregated in one place, resumes are re-formatted for consistency, candidates can be pre-screened, and millions of potential employees can be searched in a huge database.

4. Intelius: Social media management is essential when you share your content. But there are many times when you must rely on others. Who can you trust nowadays? How do you know if a potential employee or partner has something in their background that might raise a red flag? How can you tell if that credit-seeking customer is worthy of the risk? Intelius is a simple online tool that collects data on just about anyone in a simple, easy-to-use interface that makes searches fast and inexpensive. For as little as $3.95, you can quickly look up basic information on just about anyone. For around $50, you can run a full background check that includes credit information, criminal background, pending legal actions, and more. Kinda scary but kinda handy, too.

5. Trademarkia: As someone intimately involved in the logo and design business, I clearly understand the importance of protecting your brand and your mark. Trademarkia has one of the world’s largest databases of trademarked logos, names, and slogans. The database includes domestic and international trademarks filed over the last 140 years and gets more significant daily. So before you invest in your new branding, take a spin through their site and make sure that the work you are getting is original and unencumbered.

Photo: Ancient agricultural tools – Wikimedia