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[ 0 ] Aug. 1, 2012 | SBO Editor

50 great businesses you can launch for $500 or less!

Gas prices have gone up in the past year and that means costs for anything that travels and ships are also increasing. Inflation is on the move in just about every category of our lives. But there is plenty of hope to start a business on a low or even no budget. Entrepreneurs launch everyday on small budgets.

You can start a small business on a part-time basis and pocket extra income every weekend, or go for the gold by starting a full-time venture. Even if you don’t have a lot of startup funds you can launch a business right at home. A shoestring startup is the answer. You can start at home.

Entrepreneurs have a knack for knowing what niche needs filling. Don’t underestimate your ability to come up with a perfect business idea. Take a look at your community. Is there a business that needs to be started? If you already have a job, you can test the small business waters with a shoestring start-up without leaving the comfort and security of a steady paycheck and perhaps even nice medical benefits. Visit our website at www.sbomag.com to learn about other business opportunities and even low-cost franchise ideas. You will also find tips and suggestions on how to find the business that is just perfect for you. Maybe you’ll turn a hobby you love into a profit-making venture. If you have been let go from a job during our troubled economy, perhaps you’ll turn that work experience into a small business.

As you conduct your own due diligence research, you might find that there is already a business that caters to your proposed market. Analyze the existing business. Could you complete the task faster? Cheaper? Better? If after careful analysis, the answer is “yes,” then you should prepare to take on the competition.

Thanks to the Internet, it is possible to do research on just about any topic quickly and easily from the comfort of your own home or local public library. Do a search online to look for business ideas and inspiration. And if you choose a seasonal business, combine it with other businesses to round out a full-time fortune. Planning is key to your success.

Whether you want to pick up extra cash or start a full-time venture, a shoestring startup is for you! Here are our 50 suggestions that can be started for $500 or less. The businesses are listed in no particular order.

1. Pet Biz: Pets are a $50-billion industry just in the U.S. alone! Shouldn’t you be grabbing a piece of this pie? Start a pet sitting/walking/furniture/clothing, etc., venture.

2. Sell Wholesale: Find a product that clicks with our culture and buy it wholesale: sell at a whopping profit.

3. Lawn Service: Americans love a green lawn but often can’t get results or take the time to care for it.

4. Window Displays: Every storefront has a window that could be your next moneymaking assignment. If you have a flair for design, consider offering this service.

5. eBay: Sell your wares on the online auction site.

6. Blog for cash: You can visit blogger.com and start blogging today. Sell ads on your own site or blog for others for money. Use social media to build revenue.

7. Tailor: If you have sewing skills you can make a mad mint hemming pants, taking in dresses or taking out an outfit. Work at home or piggyback on someone else’s facility.

8. Birthday Biz: You put together a few concepts and sell the package, the kit, the goods via your website.

9. Delivery Service: Find a number of businesses in your community that don’t offer delivery and ask them if you can start a freelance delivery service. It’s a win-win situation for you and your client.

10. Flea Market Entrepreneur: Become a professional flea market salesperson. You can keep your own job and just run your small business on weekends. Find an old table, and some goods to sell.

11. Detailing: Boats/Cars/RVs: People like a clean machine but don’t have the time nor the inclination to get the job done properly. There are a number of products you can purchase to make the job an easy one.

12. Holiday Decorating: There are dozens of holidays throughout the year that offer decorating potential. Scope out restaurants, diners and other small businesses to see if they’d be interested in your work. Create a portfolio.

13. Junk Removal: Plenty of people have junk around but don’t know how to get rid of it, or they don’t have a van or truck to haul it. This is where you come in and turn their trash into your treasure.

14. Personal Assistant: There are plenty of lawyers, accountants, small business owners, local figures and more who need help with their email, shopping, organizing, etc. You can take on as many clients as you can handle.

15. DJ: A mobile disc jockey business is a very lucrative career. You can work your own hours and party your way to profit.

16. Errand Service: There are plenty of businesses and individuals who need help with chores and errands and you can launch a service helping them get the jobs accomplished.

17. Gutter Cleaning Biz: Every homeowner dreads gutter cleaning. Combine this business with a few other seasonal offerings and you are on your way to success.

18. Concierge Business: You can start your own concierge service right from your home. Local businesses can use your service as well as tourists to the area.

19. Assembly Service: Have you mastered the little pieces from the IKEA box? Then you can start a business assembling furniture, gas grills, bikes, etc., for your customers. Big potential

20. Freelance Writer: If you have some talent as a writer, you can make money putting together anything from press releases to web content for a wide variety of clients.

21. Digitize Movies: That old video is fading fast and your customers will be delighted that you will transfer the treasured memories to a DVD. Google the various ways you can do it, and place an ad in your local paper today.

22. Just Weeds: Weeds are everywhere and there are a number of small business owners who make a living just pulling weeds.

23. Power Wash: If you have a power washer you can start a business cleaning homes, decks, etc., for your clients.

24. Garage Sale Organizer: There are garages all over the United States that are full of items that could be sold. You sell it for the homeowner and pocket a commission. Easy money.

25. Herb Garden: People love to cook with fresh herbs but who has the time to start a garden? You do, for money. Buy some pots and start growing. Set up the gardens for your customers.

26. Food Delivery: This is a good business in any community where there are senior citizens living or single parents who are too busy to get out and do the food shopping. You can also coordinate with local restaurants and diners to deliver their products.

27. Space Rental: Do you have extra parking space in your driveway for a commuter who can’t park at the local train station? Do you have extra space in your garage for that vintage car lover who doesn’t own a garage? Consider renting your space for cash.

28. Seasonal Pop-Up Shop: You can sell umbrellas when it is raining, watermelon on a hot beach, sunglasses when the snow is blinding, etc. Make sure you don’t need a local license to peddle your products.

29. Flowers Arrangements: You can buy wholesale flowers and finesse them in fine style for local restaurants, doctor’s offices and other businesses. Create a photo portfolio and go around and book your clients.

30. Window Washing: We talk to local window washers who make six figures every year. They have to hire help to get all of the clients’ homes and businesses serviced. It’s an enviable position.

31. House Painting: We know a retired fireman who makes more than $100,000 a year painting homes for six months a year. It’s a lucrative small business opportunity. Get a partner and have fun while you work.

32. Bed & Breakfast: If you live in a college town or resort area and have an extra room or two and a bath, you can rent it out. Find out what the going rate is and start your guest-house business.

33. Laptop Inventory Service: Every year people say they are going to make a video or a list of their home items for insurance purposes in case disaster strikes. You can carry your laptop and camera around, or just take your iPad, and prepare the documents for them.

34. Baking Biz: Cupcakes, scones, cake pops, bread and custom-made cakes are popular items in any economy. Start baking and find your own recipe for riches.

35. Maid Service: Cleaning businesses always seem to prosper. You can specialize in residential or commercial. Charge what the market will bear.

36. Social Media Maven: Every business today needs to have a Facebook and a Twitter account. Many don’t know what to do. You come in and start them on their journey to social media stardom. You can also help them make and post YouTube videos.

37. Appointments Plus!: There are many hours lost waiting for the cable guy, the plumber, the pool guy, etc. You can start a business arranging appointments for your clients and you’ll be the one to let them in and oversee the work.

38. Tutor: Do you have a language skill? Are you good in math? Can you play a musical instrument? Congratulations, you can start a tutoring business. You can offer the class on your premises or in the home of your student. Combine a few students in one session and you’ll maximize your time.

39. Sell Personalized Products: Who doesn’t love a pen emblazoned with the name of their business, or a hat or bag with a favored logo? You can go online and Google various opportunities to help you get started. You can outsource the actual printing process so you just book the goods and deliver them to your customers.

40. Photographer: You don’t have to be a world famous photographer to book a lot of jobs. Many weddings today book a pro for the wedding party shots but want a fun photographer to do the candid shots. Couldn’t that be you? Research various opportunities in your community.

41. Sell Your Crafts: Etsy.com has made it easy for you to formalize and professionalize your jewelry and craft making into a business. Check out the site, build you own virtual store and start selling.

42. Move-In Service: Haven’t we all moved into an apartment or home rental and wished someone had come in right before us and cleaned out the refrigerator, the shower and maybe painted the hallways? Yes! You can start a service performing these tasks for landlords, property owners and new renters.

43. Scrapbooks: You can offer memory books for special occasions such as 50th wedding anniversaries, business celebrations, grand openings and more. Any party or special event is a potential moneymaker for your business.

44. Video Business: You can take your old Flip video camera or invest in a better digital camcorder and start making clips of sports events, local rock bands, events, small business celebrations and grand openings, parades, local clubs, etc.

45. Gift Basket Business: These are eternal gifts as someone always needs to order something special, customized for a certain event. You buy the goods wholesale and then resell the end product at a large profit.

46. Organizer: Kitchen/Closets/Base-ments, etc., are your specialty. Charge by the hour, and get your clients’ homes and businesses in shape. Positive word of mouth will help you grow your business.

47. Handyman: We’re not suggesting you become a major contractor or home builder, but there are dozens of tasks that home and apartment dwellers don’t want to tackle. Make a list of what you feel comfortable offering and place an ad in a local newspaper or circular. It would be a good idea to make sure you don’t require a special license to perform these tasks before you start.

48. Parking Lot Cleanup: It seems hard to imagine, but we know of an individual who makes more than $120,000 a year sweeping up parking lots. Go around and book your clients. Return during off hours and pocket your earnings.

49. Organic Vegetable Gardens: You build Victory Boxes on the premises of your clients and establish an organic vegetable garden. Charge more if they want you to come back every week and care for it and harvest the crops.

50. Shuttle Service: Kids need to get to sports events. Pets need to go to the vet. Senior citizens need to get out to the store or go to a medical appointment. Beef up your auto’s liability insurance and see if you can establish this type of service business in your community.

Once you’ve selected a business to start, you’ll need to work on a plan to generate business.

Developing a Marketing Plan. Market-ing takes time, money and lots of preparation. One of the best ways to prepare yourself is to develop a solid marketing plan. A strong marketing plan will ensure you’re not only sticking to your schedule, but that you’re spending your marketing funds wisely and appropriately.

What can a Marketing Plan do for Your Small Business? A marketing plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position in that market, to how you intend to reach that market (your tactics) and differentiate yourself from your competition in order to make a sale.

Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan. Essentially, it will outline the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.

If you don’t have the funds to hire a marketing firm or even staff a position in-house, there are resources available to guide you through the process of writing a marketing plan and developing a market budget.

Bend Your Budget When Necessary and Keep an Eye on ROI. Once you have developed your marketing budget, it doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone. There may be times when you need to throw in another unplanned marketing tactic—such as hosting an event or creating a newspaper ad—to help you reach your market more effectively.

Ultimately, it’s more important to determine whether sticking to your budget is helping you achieve your marketing goals and bringing you a return on investment (ROI) than to adhere to a rigid and fixed budget.

That’s why it’s important to include a plan for measuring your spend. Consider what impact certain marketing activities have had on your revenues during a fixed period, such as a business quarter, compared to another time period when you focused your efforts on other tactics. Consider the tactics that worked as well as those that didn’t work. You don’t have to cut the tactics that didn’t work, but you should assess whether you need to give them more time to work or whether the funds are best redirected elsewhere.

Granted, some tactics are hard to measure—such as the efficacy of print collateral (brochures, sales sheets, etc.), but you need to consider the impact of not having these branding staples in your market tool kit before you reign in your graphic design and print funds.

Marketing plans should be maintained on an annual basis, at a minimum. But if you launch a new product or service, take time to revisit your original plan or develop a separate campaign plan that you can add to your main plan as an addendum.

At the end of the day, the time spent developing your marketing plan is time well spent because it defines how you connect with your customers. And that’s an investment worth making.

The Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers has put together the following:

20 Marketing Tips…Every Entrepreneur Should Know!

1. Understanding and adapting to consumer motivation and behavior is not an option. It is an absolute necessity for competitive survival.

2. The most important order you ever get from a customer is the second order.

3. In direct mailing, spend 10 percent of your budget on testing.

4. A well-designed catalog mailed to a qualified response list will probably bring a one-percent response.

5. Processing and fulfillment costs incurred from the time an order arrives until it is shipped should be kept below $10 an order.

6. Know the power of repetition. Be sure your message is consistent.

7. The two most common mistakes companies make in using the phone is failing to track results and tracking the wrong thing.

8. Marketing activities should be designed to increase profits, not just sales. Check your math.

9. It costs five times as much to sell a new customer as an existing customer.

10. Selling what your customers need, instead of what they want, can lead to failure. Do your homework.

11. Don’t think that product superiority, technology, innovation or company size will sell itself.

12. Don’t neglect or ignore your current customers while pursuing new ones.

13. People don’t buy products; they buy the benefits and solutions they believe the products provide.

14. Any decent direct-mail campaign will cost $1.25 per piece.

15. The average business never hears from 96 percent of its dissatisfied customers. Don’t neglect clients.

16. Fifty percent of those customers who complain would do business with the company again if their complaints were handled satisfactorily.

17. It is estimated that customers are twice as likely to talk about their bad experiences as their good ones.

18. Marketing is everyone’s business, regardless of title or position in the company.

19. Exaggerated claims can produce inflated expectations that the product or service cannot live up to, thereby resulting in dissatisfied customers.

20. Get to know your prime customers—the 20% of product users who account for 80% of the total consumption of that product class.

As you get ready to embark on starting a small business, mull over the following points:

Do I have any type of experience in this business? Many small businesses don’t require experience or skill to start. Others do. Do you have what it takes to run this business? Are you starting a business that involves talking to people a lot?

What type of interests or skills do you have that could translate into running a small business? Do you work as a chef in a restaurant? You could start your own or open a catering business. Do you love holidays and gift giving? You could start a personal shopping service or launch a gift basket business. Do you love children? How about a day care center? Use your imagination. No one can tell you what business you can best start and run. That’s up to you.

What types of businesses are needed in your community? Is there an errand service? Could your neighborhood use one? Are there businesses that would use your errand service? Are residential customers a possibility? Could you start a food delivery service, delivering meals-to-go from already established restaurants who don’t have the time or the inclination to deliver their own fare? You could start a business providing this service. Ask yourself: what is needed in this region and could I do it?

Where should I look to find a need or a niche to fill? Take a drive or take a walk. What’s missing? Gee, the civic center is busy all weekend, but there’s no place to have lunch. Could you buy or rent a food cart and set up shop there? Could you establish a business distributing fliers for other small businesses? Where would you distribute these fliers? What are some good, heavily trafficked areas in town? What about the zoning board? Can you distribute fliers on cars in the local mall?

Do I have the discipline to run a business? Would I make a good employer, or should I remain an employee? You’ll have to file documents, pay taxes, handle insurance, write letters, hustle, generate business, and then some. Are you ready for this experience?

Should I start from scratch or buy a business? You can buy an already established business, but it won’t be on a shoestring budget! You can also purchase a shoestring operation in the form of a business opportunity, but remember, let the buyer beware! Know what you are sending for before you part with your hard earned money. At the end of this section, we present 10 ways to check out a business opportunity.

Should I think about taking on a partner? There are a lot of reasons to turn to another individual to start a business. Maybe you have a friend in mind with whom you could start a business. Maybe he or she offers something you can’t really bring to the table, such as accounting skills, computer skills, wacky ideas or an uncanny ability to deal with people.

Think about taking on a partner if you think you can work with this person and view them as a partner in the sense that you will be wedded to your business partner for as long as you have the business. It’s an important step to take, so tread lightly. Once money gets involved in a friendship, it can often mean the end of a meaningful relationship.

What is the economy like in my area? Ask yourself how others are doing and if they have the money available to support your business venture. If you live in a depressed economy, then opening a thrift shop for baby clothes would probably work well, whereas designing custom kitchens and bathrooms on your computer would not work well. What can your market support?


What is a small business?

The Office of Advocacy defines a small business for research purposes as an independent business having fewer than 500 employees. Firms wishing to be designated small businesses for government programs such as contracting must meet size standards specified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Size Standards. These standards vary by industry; see http://www.sba.gov/size.


Before you take the plunge, answer these 3 key questions.

Here are a number of important questions for you to answer before you pursue a particular opportunity.

Do I like the idea of this business? You must enjoy the business because you are going to be spending quite a lot of time working on it. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you won’t enjoy succeeding at the business. This is a very important question to ponder.

Do I want to spend my days pursuing this business? It sounds like the first question, but it is not really the same. Start to think about the mechanics of these businesses. Will you really like pursuing this activity? Will you enjoy the nitty-gritty of it? Would you rather be an owner, but not an operator of this business? Could you hire someone to do the work for you and you just book the accounts and collect the money?

Do I have the space available to conduct this type of business? Do I have a room or workspace set aside? Could I rig up space in the garage, attic or basement? Will my neighbors complain if I run a business from my apartment? You can always call the local town hall and ask. Many towns now have brand-new regulations on home-based businesses in residential areas. Many are now perfectly legal. If you’re in doubt, check it out.


10 Steps To Launch Your Small Business

In starting your small business, you’ll have lots of details to check and fine-tune. Here is a checklist of 10 things you should do as you prepare your business launch:

1. Choose a business and pick a name.

2. File a “doing business as” form with your county clerk’s office so that you can open a business bank account.

3. Open a business checking account.

4. Prepare a marketing plan and outline ways you will generate business.

5. Brush up on accounting and bookkeeping techniques and choose a system—either on paper or on computer that you plan to follow.

6. Call the local Small Business Administration office in your area. Ask about their free programs, literature and seminars.

7. Call local community colleges and schools and ask about their programs in entrepreneurship.

8. Go online and find sites to help you brush up techniques you need to know: marketing, advertising, etc.

9. Write a business plan. It can be 2 or 20 pages, but a good business plan will help you answer all the questions you need to know about your business. It will also be a valuable tool if you need to borrow money from a bank.

10. Work on a plan to grow your business. Yes, you’re starting on a shoestring with $500 or less. Where will you be in one year? In two years? In five years? What are your plans and where are you going.


8 Ways To Elevate Your email Marketing

By Nicole Merrett

Successful email marketing campaigns are typically defined as such because of their higher open and response rates, and ultimately, revenue generation. Small businesses busy with everyday tasks often need a little help – a blueprint leading them to results they’d define as “successful.” Here are several suggestions to help you craft more effective email campaigns.

Subject Line is Key. Everyone has heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, there is a reason—because it’s a natural instinct. First impressions are critical in any form of communication. When people receive an email, the first thing they see is the subject line, which has the potential to either gain or lose their interest. Subject lines that include your company’s name as a reference and provide specifics supporting your email topic will typically gain higher open rates.

Pay Attention to Who It’s “From”. To understand how important this is, think about your own inbox. Would you be more likely to open an email sent from advertising@xyzcorp.com or nicole.merrett@sage.com? People don’t want to feel like they are receiving an automated email. If readers don’t see you putting time into personalizing the “from” address, they won’t spend time considering what you have to say.

Mail Merge. People love seeing their own name. It makes them feel the email was written to them personally and not sent to recipient #432. Online services have simple options to directly insert names from a contact database using a template editor.

Variety. Sending an email can be one of the most effective ways to grab readers’ attention. However, if you abuse the efficiencies email marketing provides, readers will stop showing interest in your emails. Consistency is essential with any marketing campaign, yet variety is equally important.

How often do you send out newsletters, event invites, and updates that aren’t just soliciting a purchase? Are you getting an active response from
recipients? If

not, try something new. Be conscious about how many emails you send out each week or month. How are individuals interacting with your emails? Are you following up accordingly? How are you engaging the people that seem uninterested? Some email services include click-through analytics that monitor which readers spend time with your emails or forward them along to colleagues.

Chalaran Direct Marketing represents tourism services and entertainment providers in Barbados and uses an E-Marketing tool from Sage to view open rates of its emails to hotels. Employees call recipients who spent the most time within an email and are thus more likely to be interested in its services. Chalaran likewise adjusts messages for recipients who do not spend much time in a particular email.

Quality Over Quantity. It’s far more important to send out content-rich emails than it is to send out long or multiple emails. When you provide your contacts with quality content, they’re more inclined to read your emails and even forward them to friends. Gain the trust of your contacts by emphasizing quality of communication over quantity. One option is providing information they can use immediately. A seller of gardening supplies might offer a series of horticulture tips; and when a prospect is in need of planting materials, is likely to think of the insightful supply marketer first.

Content Suggestions. How can you personalize your message content? Listen to your readers—the people who take time to contact you are most likely to become customers. Study their emails, questions, likes, and dislikes. Build or improve products with your customers’ input and they will notice you appreciate them and remain loyal. Social media monitoring is one easy way to listen to and engage your readers. Pay attention to what customers are saying online about your services and your industry. Use these insights to create valuable email content.

Test Everything. Test the way your email appears, not only through your own email service provider, but several providers. Test all links in your message to make sure they work. Test your graphics. Pictures are a great way to grab someone’s attention; but remember, pictures don’t always show up in email messages, so test the effectiveness of your email by viewing them in an email client with images turned off and making sure your message remains easy to understand and the call-to-action clear.

Finally, test your email with a spam check tool before sending. Spam check services review email content to see what might get caught in spam filters.

And Test Some More with A/B Testing. Your email has passed all the tests of looking good, having working web links, properly placed images, a call to action, and has made it through the spam check, but is not getting the open rates you expected. How come? There are many reasons including time of day, day of week, frequency, message, etc.

So why not test it? Test one change at a time. For example, explore what days your recipients are more likely to open your email. Split up your list and send each set the same email on different days. Does the open rate stand out more on one day than another? A next step could be to determine the time of a particular day people are more willing to open and interact with your email. Again split your list up and send out the same email at different times of the day. A good starting point is the start of the day and middle of the afternoon. Studies have shown these are the best times of day to send emails. See if your tests concur.

When you have a specific day and time recipients are most responsive, examine your content. What sort of subject line gains the highest response? Do your recipients react more to graphics or text? Consider the placement of your call to action. Is one position more effective than another? Do your recipients appreciate lengthy, informational emails or do they prefer a quick read? Test each element one at a time.

With email marketing you never need to settle for one formula because you will often have the flexibility to make improvements as you go. So make taking advantage of trends and technology the “constants” in your digital marketing programs. They will help you achieve more tangible results with your campaigns.  •

Nicole Merrett is vice president of CRM marketing for Sage North America, a supplier of business management software and services for small and midsized businesses.



How to Comply with Key Rules & Regulations

Each year, the federal government reserves 23% of its contracts for all kinds of goods and services for small businesses. For many small business owners, getting a piece of that annual portion–just over $109 billion in 2011– is crucial. Unfortunately, too many small business owners invest substantial time and money in winning a government contract, without considering what happens next. As many learn only after being hit with a hefty fine, losing their coveted contract, or facing the threat of jail time, government contracts come with strings attached–unique and complicated requirements and restrictions–and serious penalties for breaking them, even for those who plead ignorance.

Fortunately for small business owners, there’s an alternative to either finding the patience to wade through the jargon-loaded Code of Federal Regulations or finding the money to pay a procurement lawyer $300 or more per hour for compliance advice…or crossing their fingers, hoping for the best. The Small Business Guide To Government Contracts By Steven J. Koprince (AMACOM, $29.95) unravels all the strings attached to selling to the government.

As an attorney specializing in government contracts and small business matters, author Koprince knows exactly what small business owners, and their officers and human resource managers, need to know and do to take full advantage of the federal marketplace, violation-and-worry free. Arming his readers with critical information and valuable knowledge, Koprince stresses, “Hop is not a viable compliance strategy.”

Using everyday terms (non legalese) and examples, The Small Business Guide To Government Contracts explains not only what’s involved in qualifying for a federal small business set-aside contract, but also the rules small contractors must follow to remain in Uncle Sam’s good graces. Within its chapters, small business owners will find clear answers to the many confusing and to the most important compliance related questions, including:

Is my small business really “small”?

How to determined a business’s size for contracting purposes, based on the government’s revenue-based and employee-based standards, as well as specific criteria (and codes).

Does my small business have an affiliation problem?

How to weigh what a small business shares with a big company (i.e.: owners, managers, employees, office space), with the help of a 29-questions “Affiliation Risk Questionnaire.”

Who am I prohibited from hiring?

How to work within the government’s rules on documenting employees’ immigration status; when to adopt a written code of ethics and initiate employee ethics training.

Do I comply with treating employees fairly?

How to assess the need to establish affirmative action programs for women, minorities, and veterans; how to determine if employees are entitled to “prevailing” wages and benefits under the Service Contract Act or Davis-Bacon Act.


Business-Building Apps

These days, more and more businesspeople rely on mobile devices to help them handle not only voice and email, but a variety of critical business functions. For that reason, every passing week brings new business applications for those devices, designed to help time-pressed execs discharge tasks from booking air travel to scheduling appointments and collaborating with far-flung partners.

And because every business seeks to generate revenue more effectively and cost-efficiently, some of the most exciting new apps are those helping companies manage their marketing and sales functions on the fly.

A 2010 study indicated there were then more than 175,000 apps for the three most popular platforms: iPhone, Blackberry and Android. Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, predicted mobile app revenues would reach more than $15 billion in 2011, and total app store downloads 18 billion. Free downloads were expected to account for 81 percent of total mobile application store downloads in 2011.

Because records of customers and prospects are so essential, any sales department must rely heavily on customer relationship management tools.  The mobile apps of Salesforce.com are some of the best and most cost-effective in managing this crucial information. This cloud-based software lets you keep records of customer and prospect interactions while on the run.

You can also link this app to software that allows you to track how much time was expended in closing deals with each prospect.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office enables the sharing of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents by users on mobile or other devices. The application helps users merge the benefits of Google’s security and collaboration advantages with Microsoft’s editing platform. Pagemodo Custom Welcome Page App for Facebook allows companies to create their own highly customized and visually arresting welcome pages. For more information on best business-building apps, contact Walt Denny Inc. at 630-323-0555, email walt@waltdenny.com or
visit www.waltdenny.com.

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities Nov 2012

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